Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Commissioner Jim Adkins holds the key vote on proposed new mine

The slim hope of avoiding the worst local land-use decision in years rests with county Commissioner Jim Adkins.

All it would take is a "no" vote on Tuesday, when the commission will be asked whether to approve a 573-acre rock mine just west of Brooksville.

Permission to mine this land requires a change to the county's comprehensive plan, which needs a super-majority — four votes to approve and, more to the point here, two votes to kill.

Or, considering that Commissioner Diane Rowden has said she's against the mine, one additional vote.

That's it. One vote.

But I did say "slim hope" for a reason.

The mining property is owned by people with last names such as Bronson, Kimbrough, Mason and Buckner. Adkins started working as a firefighter in Brooksville in 1972, which means he's had more than four decades to learn that life is easier in this county if you don't tick these people off.

And, to be honest, Adkins doesn't have a long history of standing up to the powerful and for the public.

The previous big, bad land decision came five years ago, in the depths of a housing bust, when the commission approved a planned city in a mining pit, the Quarry Preserve, over the objections of just about everybody who didn't stand to make money on the deal.

Adkins was an unequivocal "yes."

And Adkins was first elected in 2008 as one of that era's classic government haters. He voted against funding for parks and libraries, against the extravagance of installing picnic tables at county-owned Peck Sink and against — absolutely against — THE Bus, the county's public transit system.

But there is reason for at least some hope. Last week, Adkins opposed extending the break on school and transportation impact fees for nearly another year. And if the puppet masters tried to pull his strings via text messages, as they did with Commissioner Jeff Holcomb, he showed that he wasn't quite as firmly tethered as we might have assumed.

The texts to Holcomb's phone last Tuesday, made public at the Times' request, came from former Hernando County Association of Realtors president Ana Trinque and former Hernando Builders Association president Mary Mazzuco, who asked Holcomb how he could possibly vote to restore impact fees.

"Our industry is dead, you guys just stomped us down ... further," Mazzuco wrote.

Holcomb said he didn't see the messages until well after he had made it clear, later in the meeting, that his vote never meant he wanted to bring back impact fees, that it was actually a vote to bring them back later and at a lower level.

In other words, he wanted to make it absolutely clear that he does and always did support the idea of robbing school kids to pay for our continuing gift to builders and Realtors.

Glad to know you're standing by your guns, Mr. Holcomb.

Adkins made no such reversal or clarification. He told me this week that he just thinks the impact fee breaks have gone on long enough.

And he didn't commit to voting one way or the other on the mine. But he did say that he will meet with mining opponent DeeVon Quirolo today, and that he wants to hear what she has to say about the proposed mine's economic impact.

Which is, basically, that tourism is a much bigger part of our economy than mining and that the wrong vote would do much more harm to tourism than it would benefit mining — that, in fact, the benefits won't extend much beyond Cemex, the Mexico-based mining giant that will use this land, and the local giants who will get to lease it to them.

They get a big pile of money, and, in place of one of the county's trademark, highly marketable limestone ridges, we get a big hole.

So, come on, Jim. You're not going to be in office much longer. You've cast enough votes to make your home county a place people are less likely to want to move to or visit.

How about one of the other kind of vote? Just one.

Contact Dan DeWitt at [email protected]; follow @ddewitttimes.

Comments
Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Lightning watch party tonight for Game 6

Tampa Bay Lightning fans can gather to witness the team's possible clinching of a Stanley Cup final berth tonight in downtown Tampa.The watch party for Game 6 in Washington starts at 6 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.It will include three screen...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Softball: Scouting the Admiral Farragut vs. John Carroll semifinal

Admiral Farragut (17-5) vs. John Carroll Catholic (11-11)When/where: 4:50 p.m. Monday at Historic Dodgertown, Vero BeachHow they got hereAdmiral Farragut defeated Naples St. John Neumann 17-0; defeated Bradenton St. Stephen's 3-1John Carrol...
Updated: 19 minutes ago
The Daystarter: Lightning back in DC for Game 6; crisscross interchange comes to I-75; persistent rain continues; Scott omits mentions of Trump in speeches

The Daystarter: Lightning back in DC for Game 6; crisscross interchange comes to I-75; persistent rain continues; Scott omits mentions of Trump in speeches

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.• The week ahead sees rain and storm chances every day with highs in the lower to middle 80s, according to the National Weather Service. • As you head out for your morning commute, chec...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

Florida has a gem of an idea to move traffic on and off I-75. It's called diverging diamonds

TAMPA — Driving on the wrong side of the road isn’t just for the British any more under an innovative plan for moving traffic through three local Interstate 75 interchanges. Construction will soon begin on a $37 million, three-year proje...
Updated: 1 hour ago
PolitiFact Florida: Did Gwen Graham vote against President Obama 52 percent of the time?

PolitiFact Florida: Did Gwen Graham vote against President Obama 52 percent of the time?

A progressive super PAC slammed the congressional record of Democrat Gwen Graham as too conservative for Florida’s next governor.The Collective super PAC paid for the 30-second spot. The group supports black, progressive candidates and is backing Tal...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hooper: Vote against the politics of division

My friend says instead of boycotting Publix, people upset about the company’s support of gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam should back voter registration drives and get more people to the polls.And when they register those voters, ask if they suppo...
Published: 05/21/18
Unveiling for ‘Fortune Taylor Bridge’ marker rained out, but celebration continues indoors

Unveiling for ‘Fortune Taylor Bridge’ marker rained out, but celebration continues indoors

TAMPA — There’s a saying that everyone dies twice, Tampa City Council member Guido Maniscalco said Sunday: Once when they take their last breath. And again the last time someone mentions their name.So in this case, he said, the name "Fortune Taylor" ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

For Bolts radio duo, being fans at heart is key to their success

As the last tension-filled seconds of a tight playoff game wind down, high above the Amalie Arena ice, the play-by-play man becomes increasingly animated.Dave Mishkin, eyes bulging, face purple, jumps from his seat, holding the headset with his left ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

Eckerd College hosts a royal celebration of its own

A day after England’s royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, St. Petersburg hosted a royal celebration of its own. Among the estimated 500 graduates to receive an Eckerd College diploma at Sunday’s graduation ceremony held...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

Traffic lights restored at Pinellas Park intersection

PINELLAS PARK — Traffic lights have been restored at the intersection of 66th Street N and Park Boulevard, police said. About 5:45 p.m., Pinellas Park Police announced the outage. 
Updated: 1 hour ago