Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5-2 votes shouldn't dishearten Beckner

Memo to the newly elected Kevin Beckner

Re: Your first foray

Welcome to public office, Commissioner Beckner, Hillsborough County style!

Oh, sure, we know you've lived and worked in these parts long enough to know about that sometimes dysfunctional family you just joined.

We know you're well versed in how the board has, in the past, become mired in self-interest, personal prejudice, petty politics and the occasional religious rant.

In fact, that's partly why you ran for office, right? And managed to oust one of the top offenders, professional-wrestler-turned-podium-pontificator Brian Blair.

Well, Commissioner Beckner, this week you got a taste of what the next few years might be like after you had the audacity to suggest that county staff members be allowed to gather information on expanding health care benefits to unmarried domestic partners of county employees.

Yes, we heard you say these benefits usually help more opposite-sex couples than gay ones. Yes, we know governments and agencies across Florida, including the city of Tampa and the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, offer the benefits. Yes, we heard your contention that this could attract industry and jobs.

And yes, we know you were only asking to be allowed to get information, not to have the commission decide yea or nay that very day.

That didn't matter to some of those citizens who showed up to accuse you, the board's first openly gay member, of pushing a gay agenda.

But what really seemed to get lost is how you were also trying to undo a nasty precedent set by a previous board, with then-Commissioner Ronda Storms front and center.

Years back, that board voted to forbid the staff from any effort toward gathering information about domestic partner benefits (also known as the You Will Never Speak of This Evil Again motion). Boy, that Ronda sure liked to nail the door shut behind her, didn't she?

This week, only Commissioner Rose Ferlita seemed to grasp the indignity of a long-gone board member keeping current members from exploring any issue they chose. Ferlita alone voted with you. She made it clear she could not see supporting new benefits that would cost more money in these lean times, though she wanted to see the information and look at future options.

And some of the others who voted no? It was about cost and nothing else, honest. At least this dismal economy's good for something, if only a little duck-and-cover.

Now you have to give your colleague Jim Norman credit for straight-out saying he was voting no because he believes family benefits mean husband and wife, period. Points for at least owning up to who he is.

So, Commissioner Beckner, you ended up on the short end of a 5-2 vote, which, given the makeup of that board, you may well see again. If you start to get discouraged, remember former Commissioner Kathy Castor, who often found herself on the lonely side, too, managed to get elected to Congress anyway.

"This is what good government is about, having open conversations about new ideas," you said at the meeting before you made your pitch. And in your time in Hillsborough County government, Commissioner Beckner, we wish you the best of luck with that.

5-2 votes shouldn't dishearten Beckner 01/23/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 26, 2009 10:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa police arrest 22-year-old man in July murder

    Crime

    TAMPA — Police arrested Sunday a 22-year-old man who detectives said shot and killed a Tampa man after an argument.

    Tampa police arrested Dejonta Felder, 22, in the murder of 32-year-old Julius R. Carter. [Tampa Police Department]
  2. The rise and humiliating fall of Chris Cantwell, Charlottesville's star 'fascist'

    Nation

    The white supremacists, nationalists and far-right trolls who starred in last weekend's violent Charlottesville, Virginia, rallies have suffered no lack of humiliation in the days since.

    White nationalist Chris Cantwell has had quite the week after being featured prominently in an HBO news program on the march in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend. [Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post]
  3. MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive player behavior'

    Ml

    Major League Baseball umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

    Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn wears a wristband to protest "abusive player behavior" on umpires by players as Rayburn heads to his position to call the first inning of a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and and the Colorado Rockies late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Denver. [Associated Press]
  4. Tropical Storm Harvey could regroup but stay clear of Florida

    Weather

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop into severe weather.

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]