Monday, August 20, 2018
News Roundup

Supermajority preservation an unexpected plus for Hernando

Hooray for Jim Adkins, crusader for the environment!

Three cheers for Jeff Holcomb, enemy of ill-conceived mining plans!

I know. Reading those sentences might be disorienting, even a shock to the system.

Writing them definitely was. But I had to do it.

Last week, Hernando County Commissioners Holcomb, Adkins and, more predictably, Diane Rowden voted to stick to one of the best rules the County Commission has ever established: the requirement of a supermajority vote to change the Comprehensive Plan, the county's blueprint for future development.

Their stand was especially crucial because if the attack on the supermajority (spearheaded by Commissioner Wayne Dukes) had been successful, it would have likely been permanent. And that's because the supermajority was, itself, an unexpected burst of government responsiveness, the product of a strange, brief era when the political tables were turned on developers.

The Suncoast Parkway was new, the boom was nearing its peak and voters were starting to express alarm at the advancing ranks of rooftops. County commissioners responded by shutting down so many planned projects, including a few good ones, that after one meeting I actually remember feeling sympathy for a development lawyer.

Told you it was strange. And brief.

It lasted just long enough for Jeff Stabins to be elected on pro-growth-management platform in 2004, and the next year to pass the supermajority provision. Previously, amendments to the plan needed votes from just three of five commissioners. From that point on, such changes required four.

The backlash was fierce enough that even the supermajority requirement couldn't prevent the commission from approving the 2,800-acre Hickory Hill development on the county's biggest parcel of agricultural land in 2007 and, a few years later, the delusional plan to build a city of 13,000 called the Quarry Preserve.

But the supermajority provision did help kill an idea almost as dumb the Quarry and much more dangerous because it would have actually happened in our lifetimes — the conversion of the pastoral western gateway of Brooksville into rock mine. Think of it as the real quarry preserve; it meant the continued creation of the wastelands that have destroyed thousands of acres of the county's best land.

When the owners of the proposed mine saw they didn't have the needed four votes last year, they at least temporarily pulled the plan.

The desire to reverse this decision was undoubtedly one reason Dukes suddenly thought the time had come to also reverse the supermajority requirement.

In other words, it had nothing to do with Dukes' stated excuse — Holcomb's deployment to overseas service in the U.S. Navy — and everything to do with bowing to the powerful landowners behind the planned mine.

As Stabins put it recently to Times staff writer Barb Behrendt, "Any commissioner voting to repeal should be looked at askew and assumed to be bought and paid for by local big business and lobbying interests."

Actually, that's my working assumption about most of the commissioners, which is why the decision last week is cause for celebration.

And, though I'm not sure of Holcomb's motivation, it's important to note that this show of independence is in line with several of Adkins' more recent positions, including withholding support for the mine plan last year.

What, then, should we make of Dukes and Nick Nicholson, who also supported scrapping of the supermajority provision?

Just take Stabins' advice: Look at them askew.

Contact Dan DeWitt at [email protected] Follow @ddewitttimes.

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What a difference in Bucs quarterbacks

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: What a difference in Bucs quarterbacks

Ryan Fitzpatrick struggled while Jameis Winston dazzled, showing improvement in his footwork and scrambling, in the Bucs' preseason victory over the Titans. Tampa Bay also has gotten good play from DeSean Jackson, while rookie Ronald Jones ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
USF at 15 commitments for Class of ’19

USF at 15 commitments for Class of ’19

The Bulls picked up their 15th verbal commitment from the Class of 2019 on Sunday, continuing a mild summer recruiting surge for head coach Charlie Strong.Miami Carol City first-team all-state DL Malcolm Ray's commitment via Twitter late Sunday night...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The reason powerhouse Plant missed a full week of practice in pads

The reason powerhouse Plant missed a full week of practice in pads

TAMPA — Plant High football coach Robert Weiner has been involved with the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual summer camp for nearly 40 years.That relationship appeared to be temporarily on hold this summer when the directors called about ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Potent thunderstorms are forecast to return across Tampa Bay

Potent thunderstorms are forecast to return across Tampa Bay

A powerful line of storms created a ferocious lightning show on Sunday afternoon while dumping lots of rain and producing wall-rattling thunder.Tampa Bay can expect to see similar thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday night as the coastal breeze collides ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Documents: Sandhill cranes among 150 birds killed at UF to protect research work

GAINESVILLE — Documents show more than 150 birds were killed in the past 10 years to protect plant science work for a research unit at the University of Florida. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service documents show that 47 of the birds, which were killed by...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Three victims identified in fatal Zephyrhills head-on crash

Three victims identified in fatal Zephyrhills head-on crash

Three people were killed Sunday night and two children were seriously injured in a head-on crash in Zephyrhills, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Elvin Benitez, 30, of Zephyrhills, was driving a 2015 Mazda 6 westbound on County Road 54, west o...
Updated: 3 hours ago
PepsiCo buys Israel’s SodaStream for $3.2 billion

PepsiCo buys Israel’s SodaStream for $3.2 billion

JERUSALEM — Beverage giant PepsiCo on Monday purchased Israel’s fizzy drink maker SodaStream for $3.2 billion, a boon for a company that has enjoyed a resurgence after being targeted by anti-Israel boycotters in the past. PepsiCo said it was acquirin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Pope issues letter to Catholics condemning ‘crime’ of sex abuse

Pope issues letter to Catholics condemning ‘crime’ of sex abuse

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the world Monday condemning the crime of priestly sexual abuse and its cover-up and demanding accountability, in response to new revelations in the United States of decades of misconduct...
Updated: 3 hours ago
The Daystarter: Spanish relic may be clue in death; the latest on ‘Zombie Campaigns’; Barber’s quest to be Bucs’ starting RB

The Daystarter: Spanish relic may be clue in death; the latest on ‘Zombie Campaigns’; Barber’s quest to be Bucs’ starting RB

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • We’ll be partly sunny with scattered showers and thunderstorms developing, mainly in the afternoon and early evening, according to the National Weather Service. High t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Ernest Hooper: Sometimes you gotta take inventory

Ernest Hooper: Sometimes you gotta take inventory

Random thoughts, because sometimes you gotta take inventory.I like Kelly Clarkson, but she’s no Aretha.Tax cuts? Overrated.Vote. Stop making excuses.To earn a man’s support, you must acknowledge his pain.The older I get, the more I love baseball.Sly ...
Updated: 10 hours ago