Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

These days, retired Pasco County Sheriff Bob White is best known as Papa

The baby backs at Rib Country in Hayesville, N.C. commanded full attention, so I confess my wits might have been elsewhere when the man with a white beard and baseball cap shoved me down the picnic bench.

The two other men at the table must know him, I figured, but they also seemed surprised. Then the man spoke and it immediately became clear.

You don't expect to run into an acquaintance in a country town 575 miles from home. But our delay in recognizing this man had more to do with his appearance, a dramatic departure from the starched uniforms, badge, gun belt and ostrich boots.

Bob White had added "retired'' to his title as Pasco County Sheriff only a few months earlier, leaving in the middle of his third term. He insisted his early departure had everything to do with family obligations and grew impatient with pundits and others who didn't believe him.

He took a vacation in the mountains — and ran into me.

We laughed about that on Friday when we met at the Panera Bread in Trinity. I hadn't seen White in more than a year, hadn't seen him quoted in news stories. Rumors of him accepting a big statewide law enforcement position from Gov. Rick Scott had long ago subsided. White, if anything, looked even more relaxed than he did that day at the rib shack.

He wore a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, flip-flops and a white Stetson. He had lost 15 pounds, trimmed the beard. And just as he did when he walked away from being sheriff after 10 1/2 years, he talked most about his granddaughter.

"Boy, I didn't see this coming,'' he said, "but this is the best.''

White and his wife of 24 years, Diane, watch Kaylyn five days a week while her mother, Amy White, goes to work as a detective in the Pinellas Sheriff's Office division that investigates crimes against children.

White ramrodded a department with 1,200 employees and an $85 million budget. He loved being sheriff. Now he gets more joy from a 2 1/2-year-old who calls him "Papa.''

He formed a company after retiring, Lonestar Strategies LLC, but so far he hasn't done a whole lot. He lobbies the Florida Legislature for CenturyLink, the nation's third-largest telecommunications company with headquarters in Monroe, La.

It still doesn't take much to get him going about the underfunded Sheriff's Office or the liberal media and its distrust of law enforcement. He defends firing several longtime employees at the beginning of his third term, even though they sued for age discrimination and collected $2.2 million in a settlement. He said those employees undermined his leadership. "I should have done it sooner,'' he said before adding to an already long list of "Bobisms":

"Divorces are expensive because they're worth it.''

White, who turns 62 in August, says he enjoys relatively good health. He had a heart blockage in 2005 but says his cardiologist is pleased with his recovery. Recently White gave up riding horses and sold his motorcycle. "My back can't take either,'' he said.

Every chance they get, the Whites enjoy camping. He recently bought a 35-foot Keystone Sprinter travel trailer, which meant he then had to get a bigger truck to pull it. On the side of that big white Dodge Ram is a green and yellow magnetic sign supporting Chris Nocco for sheriff.

This, of course, is no surprise, since Nocco had been groomed by the Republican hierarchy and White recommended him to the governor to fill his term. Nocco has had 15 months to show what he can do — and to enjoy all the other advantages of incumbency. White didn't go into it a lot when he retired, but he told me his wife was adamant that he not seek a fourth term.

"She said if (Nocco) runs against you, I'm voting for him,'' White said. "In law enforcement, we call that a clue.''

White says it doesn't bother him that Nocco is changing some policies and personnel. "It's his job now,'' he said. "I'll cherish my memories. I have no regrets.''

Comments
Part of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard closed through at least 5 p.m.

Part of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard closed through at least 5 p.m.

Both southbound lanes of Bayshore Boulevard between W. Barcelona and W. Rubideaux streets are closed while the Tampa Water Department repairs a water main break.The repair and roadway restoration work is expected to be completed by 5 p.m. Sunday but ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Meteorologists are calling Alberto a ‘subtropical storm.’ What the heck is that?

Meteorologists are calling Alberto a ‘subtropical storm.’ What the heck is that?

We’re all waking up to the impacts of Alberto: dreary rain, gusty wind, the reluctant change of Memorial Day plans.But while the effects are routine for storm-weathering Floridians, the category of storm Alberto falls into is a little less familiar. ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Temple Terrace applauds progress on downtown project

TEMPLE TERRACE — A round of applause from the audience followed the recent vote by the Temple Terrace City Council to negotiate a contract with a company that plans to build and manage luxury apartments in the long-idle downtown redevelopment area.Th...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

NEW PORT RICHEY — Florida Highway Patrol troopers are looking for a driver who hit and killed a 46-year-old bicyclist then drove from the scene.Shawn Michael Grady, of New Port Richey, was biking south on Rowan Road south of Massachusetts Avenue abou...
Updated: 4 hours ago
FHP: 30-year-old motorcyclist killed in Hudson crash

FHP: 30-year-old motorcyclist killed in Hudson crash

HUDSON — A 30-year-old man died after he was struck by a car and thrown off the motorcycle he was riding.According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Derek Fingerle, of Hudson, was traveling south on U.S. 19 in the center lane about 8:20 p.m. Saturday. M...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A wet Memorial Day weekend continues as Alberto treks north

A wet Memorial Day weekend continues as Alberto treks north

Subtropical Storm Alberto continued its trek north-northeast overnight and is expected to make landfall in the northern Gulf Coast late Monday.The storm was about 85 miles north of the Dry Tortugas as of Sunday morning, producing winds up to 40 mph a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

Rays journal: After Alex Colome trade, Rays’ closer situation is fluid, Kevin Cash says

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have had to get creative in how they start games. Now, after Friday's trade of closer Alex Colome, they might have to get creative in how they finish them.How they handle the ninth inning going forward will be a fluid ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

Vegas envy: Is Tampa Bay ready for a Vegas’ birth-to-best story?

What in the name of the 0-26 Bucs is going on here?The breathtaking Vegas Golden Knights are the greatest expansion team in professional sports history. They are the best (or worst) thing to ever happen to our games, having won 51 times during the re...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

Rays pitchers Ryne Stanek, Anthony Banda dominate in 5-1 win over Orioles

THE BASEBALL LABORATORY IN ST. PETERSBURG — Up is down. Down is up. Hello is goodbye. Goodbye is hello. A reliever is a starter. A starter is a reliever.These are your 2018 Tampa Bay Rays.You never know what's going to happen. And just when you...
Published: 05/26/18
Updated: 05/27/18
Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs QB Josh Freeman says he’s retiring from football

Former Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was trying to resurrect his career with the CFL's Montreal Alouettes, said Saturday that he is retiring from football.Freeman, 30, was a first-round draft pick of the Bucs in 2009 and was their starting ...
Published: 05/26/18