Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Just who's giving whom the business?

Surprise, surprise.

Republicans think Diane Rowden is anti-business.

So said Hernando Republican Party chairman (and state party vice chairman) Blaise Ingoglia in a recent fundraising email.

No doubt, this is a good way to fire up loyalists.

But is it true?

That's shaping up as the central question in Rowden's campaign for the District 3 County Commission seat.

She's doing all she can to live down her anti-business reputation, including being one of the few Democrats to venture into the crowd of Republican backslappers at Thursday's unveiling of plans for the new Accuform Signs factory.

And judging from the tens of thousands of dollars commercial interests spent to beat Rowden in 2008, you can bet they'll pour big bucks into fighting this rebranding campaign.

"I know she's supposed to be the new and improved Diane," said Gary Schraut, a Republican who helped mobilize the anti-Rowden forces four years ago, when she was a two-term incumbent on the commission. "But I don't think she understands how business functions."

When developers appeared before the commission, Schraut said, she never failed to put the squeeze on them for goodies such as roads and firehouses. She also voted against plans for several big projects, including the 3,700-unit Lake Hideaway in northwest Hernando and super-posh Hickory Hill in Spring Lake.

The first step in answering the anti-business charge is to point out that not so much as a spade of dirt has been turned for either of these developments.

Also, during the land rush days, Rowden was not only against sprawl, which was her beef with Hickory Hill. She spoke out against "speculative rezonings" — approvals intended only to make properties more valuable so they could be unloaded to buyers who might very well unload them to somebody else.

Now, what's the major obstacle to business in Hernando today? The gutted real estate market, of course.

How did it get to that point? Speculation. Too many developments diluting demand. Too many lots. Too many houses.

When the real estate frenzy was at its peak, Rowden was about the only elected official to consistently argue it couldn't go on forever, that it might come back to haunt us.

Yes, she cast a few knee-jerk votes against worthwhile projects, especially when there was a roomful of voters to please.

But, generally, I think she should be congratulated for her foresight. And I think the local economy would be better off if more people had listened to her.

One other thing. Consider who is leveling this charge, who wrote the Sept. 24 email stating that Rowden was defeated in 2008 because voters were fed up with her "big government policies and anti-business rhetoric."

Ingoglia was the biggest local builder during the boom. He sold mainly to speculators. And as late as March 2007, he was at a Los Angeles real estate seminar handing out fliers — "Housing Bubble . . . What housing bubble?" they stated — dismissing the idea of a bust that by many measures was already under way.

If this is the person Republicans have chosen to lead them, you have to wonder what, exactly, they mean by pro- or anti-business.

Just who's giving whom the business? 10/06/12 [Last modified: Saturday, October 6, 2012 11:53am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.