Monday, November 20, 2017
News Roundup

Alleged scheme to rid Pasco County uniforms of American flags causes stir

RECOMMENDED READING


NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County Commission Chairman Jack Mariano hadn't heard about the flag controversy, but slowly and methodically over the past few weeks the emails started showing up around the county.

And what a stir they caused.

They questioned the county's patriotism. They asked about certain apparel choices, of all things. They alleged, specifically, that Pasco County was planning to ditch the embroidered American flag patches worn on the sleeves of government workers' uniforms.

All in the name of savings — about $6,000 worth.

Finally, the emails showed up last week in county commissioners' inboxes, setting off alarms.

"I am sure that the 54,000-plus veterans in Pasco County did not serve in the South Pacific during World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East for you to show what I feel is a lack of respect for the Country we served," the email said.

Commissioners wanted answers.

County Administrator Michele Baker investigated and found — you guessed it — there are no plans to omit the flag patches. In fact, purchasing director Scott Stromer said, they're being issued now and will continue to be issued.

Nonetheless, commissioners — echoing the dustup created when then-Sen. Barack Obama failed to affix a flag pin to his lapel in 2007 — were quick to affirm the county's patriotism.

"At the present time, the uniforms still display the patches and if the issue ever comes before the board I will not support the removal of the patches," Mariano said.

Commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Ted Schrader said much the same. They didn't believe the rumor, but if the issue does come up, they'll oppose it.

As far as Baker could tell, the rumor originated from the preliminary findings of an ad hoc employee group called the Process Improvement Team.

The team, which started meeting a few months ago to seek cost savings in the county budget, suggested department directors be given latitude to choose uniform materials and colors. This somehow was interpreted to mean the patches were getting the boot.

"However, no changes to the uniform policy have been finalized or distributed," Baker said flatly in an email response to commissioners last week.

Her declarations might be too late, though. The genie is already out, and, seemingly, no one is certain who let it out.

Kathleen Allen of the Ladies Auxillary of VFW Post 7845 in Port Richey said she was one of those who forwarded the email to commissioners.

Who sent it to her?

"I have no clue," she said. "Somebody sent it to me and it said if you agree, send it on. That's what I did."

And so it goes. Officials said they wouldn't be surprised if more such emails show up.

"There's a lot of confusion around this," Assistant County Administrator Heather Grimes said. "A lot of confusion."

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week’s Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Tampa Bay...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

Buccaneers-Dolphins Turning Point, Week 11: Cool, calm Fitzmagic

On Sunday, the Buccaneers and Dolphins played one of those football games that gets only an obligatory mention at the end of highlight shows. In that spirit, this week’s Turning Point will focus mostly on the final three minutes of Tampa Bay’s 30-20 ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

Sex assault reports declining at MacDill despite increase militarywide

TAMPA — The number of sexual assaults reported to officials at MacDill Air Force Base has decreased dramatically during the past three years even as reports across the military have increased slightly, new Pentagon statistics show.Officials at MacDil...
Updated: 1 hour ago
David Straz adds $10,000 to reward for arrest in Seminole Heights killings

David Straz adds $10,000 to reward for arrest in Seminole Heights killings

TAMPA — The David A. Straz Foundation is contributing $10,000 to the reward for information leading to an arrest in the Seminole Heights killings.The contribution brings the total to $110,000.Straz is a philanthropist and retired banker who is explor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s Coco was more enjoyable three years ago when it was titled The Book of Life and came from Twentieth Century Fox.Both animated features spring from Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, the annual "day of the dead" when departed rela...
Updated: 2 hours ago
UPDATED: Crocodile spotted lurking on Florida beach has been captured (w/video)

UPDATED: Crocodile spotted lurking on Florida beach has been captured (w/video)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Authorities say they’ve captured a 6-foot (2-meter) crocodile that came ashore on a Florida beach.News outlets report that wildlife officers caught the large reptile Monday afternoon on Hollywood Beach.Hollywood spokeswoman Joann Hu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
UPDATED: Crocodile spotted lurking on Hollywood, Florida beach has been captured (w/video)

UPDATED: Crocodile spotted lurking on Hollywood, Florida beach has been captured (w/video)

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Authorities say they’ve captured a 6-foot (2-meter) crocodile that came ashore on a Florida beach.News outlets report that wildlife officers caught the large reptile Monday afternoon on Hollywood Beach.Hollywood spokeswoman Joann Hu...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago