Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mud-bogging promoter tries to tap stream of corporate welfare

I wonder where Mike Barbee got the idea that he didn't have to play by the rules.

I wonder why he thought he could hold his events on a farm near Brooksville without the proper zoning for a full year — or, you know, long enough to find out whether this mud-bogging/reality show thing really works out.

I wonder where he got the nerve to tell Hernando County commissioners last month that he'd be back with demands that he, by God, expected to be fulfilled.

"I really will want something as we move forward," he said.

And: "Please tell us what you can do to help us. I'm sure you all have tax incentives and a whole bunch of other stuff that you can help us with."

And: "Show me how we can do it, not how we can't."

Fortunately, when Barbee returned Tuesday, the commissioners showed him a path to "can do" that is the same smooth one that staffers had already tried to lead him down:

Pay the fee for a rezoning application and, while it starts to move through the approval process, go ahead and stage two shows.

For backing up its employees, for affirming that businesses have to follow basic rules, commissioners deserve our congratulations.

And to be told that it's about darn time.

Because, really, there's no mystery where Barbee got his massive sense of entitlement. It's no surprise that he thought unsubstantiated promises to create jobs and pump money into the local economy would be enough to justify a break here and a handout there.

That's the way things are done all the time, both in the county and the state.

Witness the $4 million in state and county incentives offered to Accuform Signs last year to expand its factory near the county airport.

Look at the recent resolution asking the Florida Department of Transportation to do road work near Interstate 75 that banker Jim Kimbrough and his partners had promised as a condition for building a massive residential development.

Think of the most outrageous handout of all: axing impact fees to benefit builders.

Also, and especially, consider the recent evidence that corporate welfare is not as effective as its beneficiaries and the politicians who take their campaign donations would have you believe.

A report released by the watchdog group Integrity Florida last week documented, among other problems, that businesses receiving millions of dollars in state tax breaks over the past two decades have created only about half as many jobs as promised.

Maybe, as some say, the report is tainted because it was paid for by a partisan group run by the conservative Koch brothers.

Or maybe this just shows some people on the right are starting to question government handouts, no matter who receives them.

Of course, not all incentives are created equal. Accuform's history as an employer in Hernando, for example, is very solid. Barbee's claim that his shows could pump $5 million a month into the local economy is extremely shaky.

The commission was right to distinguish between an economic "transfusion," which is what Barbee said he was offering, and the donation that he was actually seeking.

But, really, you can't blame the guy for asking.

Mud-bogging promoter tries to tap stream of corporate welfare 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.