Monday, November 20, 2017
Politics

Just who's giving whom the business?

RECOMMENDED READING


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.

Comments
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Updated: 11 hours ago
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Published: 11/19/17

Many Christian conservatives are backing Alabama’s Roy Moore

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Alabama’s Christian conservatives see Roy Moore as their champion. He has battled federal judges and castigated liberals, big government, gun control, Muslims, homosexuality and anything else that doesn’t fit the evangelical mold. ...
Published: 11/19/17
Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

Senate ethics, relatively silent, could face busy year

WASHINGTON — It’s been nearly six years since the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a major investigation of a sitting senator. Next year, the panel could be working nonstop, deciding the fate of up to three lawmakers, including two facing allegation...
Published: 11/18/17
Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

Hillsborough seeks payback for ethics complaint but history shows that could be pricey

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners recently decided to go after the pocketbooks of several residents who filed unsuccessful ethics complaints against one of their colleagues.If history is any indicator, the maneuver is more likely to cost taxp...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/19/17
In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

In struggling upstate New York cities, refugees vital to rebirth

UTICA, N.Y.Pat Marino pulled into the shop on a cold, wet Thursday and stood close as a young mechanic with gelled-up hair and earrings lifted the truck and ducked underneath."You need a little bit more oil," the mechanic said."Five quarts wasn’t eno...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17
As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

As sex scandals topple the powerful: Why not Trump?

WASHINGTON — "You can do anything," Donald Trump once boasted, speaking of groping and kissing unsuspecting women. Maybe he could, but not everyone can. The man who openly bragged about grabbing women’s private parts — but denied he really did so — w...
Published: 11/17/17
Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

Allegations against Alabama’s Roy Moore dividing GOP women

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Standing on the white marble steps of Alabama’s Capitol, Kayla Moore surrounded herself with two dozen other women Friday to defend husband Roy Moore against accusations of sexual misconduct that are dividing Republicans, and women...
Published: 11/17/17
Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

Franken apologizes to woman who says he kissed, groped her

WASHINGTON — Minnesota Sen. Al Franken personally apologized to the woman who has accused him of forcibly kissing her and groping her during a 2006 USO tour, saying he remembers their encounter differently but is "ashamed that my actions ruined that ...
Published: 11/17/17
Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

Negative mailers trace back to campaign of state House candidate who denies them

An 87-year-old widow from Melbourne, a mysterious direct mail company in tiny Buffalo, Wyo., and a tangled web of political committees all were linked to the onslaught of negative mailers that helped Lawrence McClure win the Republican primary in Pla...
Published: 11/17/17