Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. Florida reverses decision to shield information from nursing home inspection reports

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida regulators decided Friday they will abandon the use of software that allowed them to heavily redact key words from nursing home inspection reports posted online, choosing instead to link to the more complete reports available on a federal site.

    Officials for the state Agency for Health Care Administration said Friday they will no longer use software that allowed them to heavily redact key words from nursing home inspection reports posted online. The agency has been under increased scrutiny since Sept. 13, when eight residents of The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, pictured here, died after power was lost to an air-conditioning system during Hurricane Irma. Two more residents died this week. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  2. Trump's travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans told the New York Times on Friday.

  3. Maria: Clearwater Coast Guard plane aids rescue near Puerto Rico

    Military

    Eight minutes. That's how long it took the Petty Officer 3rd Class Darryn Manley of the Coast Guard said it took him to spot the boat that capsized off a Puerto Rican island on Thursday.

  4. Mom of girl who died looking for candy seeks to keep husband away

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eight days after her 4-year-old daughter died in the care of paternal grandparents, pregnant Lizette Hernandez sat in a Hillsborough County courthouse Friday, attempting to seek full-time custody of her 19-month-old son.

    Lizette Hernandez, 22, completes paperwork Friday for a motion for protection from domestic violence against her husband, Shane Zoller. Their daughter, Yanelly, 4, died in a reported gun accident at the home of Zoller's parents Sept. 14. She alleges that her husband hit her and caused her to fall on a grave marker at their daughter's funeral Thursday in a tussle over their remaining 1-year-old son. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  5. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]