Some I'm-not-making-this-up moments from the week that was and the one to come:
You would think Hillsborough Circuit Judge Dan Perry had heard it all.
The longtime judge presides over probation violations, known to the cynical as "excuse court." By now he must have heard every possible reason a person on probation might test positive for drugs besides knowingly ingesting them, from borrowing another man's pants (don't ask me) to a tale involving mango-scented body lotion (you don't want to know). He has heard every conceivable reason someone wasn't home when he was supposed to be, including a love of Taco Bell.
But he's never duked it out, so to speak, with Jerry Springer.
Monday, Judge Perry is scheduled to hear the case of Deborah Boyles, 22, on probation for a dealing in stolen property charge. Boyles is now accused of leaving the state without permission from her probation officer because she could not resist the lure of bright television lights.
From court documents: "This (probation) officer was able to confirm that the offender had been a guest on the Jerry Springer show, on an episode titled 'It's not my baby.' "
If you are unfamiliar with the infinite variety of humanity and oddity Mr. Springer manages to ferret out across America, know the show often culminates in an on-stage slap fight. It is class with a capital "K," and of course, we provide lots of fodder from around here.
The episode, which aired earlier this year, is tame by Springer standards. Viewable on his Web site, it features a "Debbie" who confesses to her female love interest that she has been, if I understood this correctly, pretending to be pregnant in order to keep their relationship together.
Might the judge play the actual show in court for identification purposes? Stay tuned.
A final thought: Springer fans are legion at your local courthouse. Do you suppose they might rally Monday, altering their standard chant of enthusiasm for Judge Perry? (PER-ree, PER-ree, PER-ree)
Now for more dignified doings over at Tampa City Council. Wait, did someone on the dais just throw a chair?
In what should have been a mundane hearing on a restaurant's request to serve beer and wine, two council members threw down when Joseph Caetano called out John Dingfelder for being out of town the last time they talked about the issue. Voices rose.
"Don't start with me," said Dingfelder. "I'll start with you," said Caetano, and hey, great comeback.
A grown-up in the room, Chairman Tom Scott, wisely called a recess, after which Linda Saul-Sena chastised the boys. "That is unprofessional," she said, aghast. "Yelling." And yes, it ended with a big he started it, a proud day all around for local government.
Over in federal court, Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White defended himself against accusations that he hit on his young aide and fired her when she, well, wouldn't. His explanation: He was actually helping her hook up with a politically powerful elderly man. (Hmm. Isn't there a word for that?)
My vote for most-telling-if-inadvertent exchange came when her lawyer asked White how a "normal, moral person" could agree to this sort of arrangement. "I don't know the definition of a normal, moral person," said White, and enough said.