Sunday, December 17, 2017
Politics

Carlton: Has the world moved beyond intolerance?

Once upon a time, an antigay, anti-Muslim, "pro-Christian" platform could do wonders for getting you elected in the conservative corners of Hillsborough County.

But the world keeps turning.

Slowly, state by state, people are being allowed to marry whom they want. Even here, miracle of miracles, county commissioners are warming to the idea that gay and transgender citizens deserve the same basic protections as everyone else.

Is the world leaving Terry Kemple behind?

At 67, running for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board, Kemple one-on-one seems an affable man. "I'm not a caricature," he insists. "I'm not some guy with flaming hair that is rallying people about tin-foil-hat issues."

Affability does not translate to open-to-everyone, however. His has been a loud voice against allowing a Muslim leader to speak at a high school and against prohibiting discrimination against gays. (Discriminates against Christians, he says.) Abortion restrictions (yes), school clubs that support gay students (no), sex education beyond abstinence-only (heavens, no), the Valrico bikini bar that resulted in his Community Issues Council — count on the Kemple quote.

He has written of his own demons — his former "self-imposed slavery" to drugs, alcohol and sex. He says he was headed to an early grave via those "unbridled passions" before he found his way. It's true that none are more fervent than the reformed.

Has the world changed? When he ran for School Board two years ago — that time, for a countywide seat — he lost overall but won in the east county district for which he is now vying by nearly 3,000 votes.

But there are other signs. Recently he witnessed a County Commission he once could count on for some like-minded thinking instead vote to move forward on extending basic protections to gay and transgender residents. (Really radical stuff, like preventing people from being denied a job or housing because of who they are.)

Kemple says he was only surprised the vote was unanimous. "All five of the Republicans on the commission have in one way or another supported the same position I support," he said. Change happens.

Kemple wanted to be on a county diversity board even though he said "diversity" was often code for advancing "the homosexual agenda" and the work wasn't important. Some commissioners worried about figurative hand grenades he might lob from that perch. And then, the board's openly gay member dropped his opposition to Kemple with a Pope-ly "Who am I to judge?" Kind of a nice moment, tolerating the intolerant.

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, says you take someone as "dangerously divisive" as Kemple seriously. His message, she says, "continues to resonate with a rapidly dwindling but engaged segment of voters."

Kemple says (affably) that the list of those who want his issue-oriented emails and newsletters "continues to grow at a fairly steady and pleasing pace." He says what happens at County Center downtown is not reflective of "the moods and attitudes of the majority of people in eastern Hillsborough."

He says on election day, Aug. 26, we'll see. And on that at least we can agree.

Comments
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Published: 12/16/17
CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

CDC gets list of forbidden words: ‘fetus,’ ‘transgender,’ ‘evidence-based’

Trump administration officials are forbidding officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases - including "fetus" and "transgender" - in any official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.Polic...
Published: 12/16/17
Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

Female congressional candidate leaves race after sexual harassment allegations resurface

A Democratic candidate hoping to flip a hotly contested congressional seat in Kansas has dropped out of the race after allegations that she sexually harassed a male subordinate resurfaced amid her campaign.Andrea Ramsey, 57, who was running to unseat...
Published: 12/16/17
Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

Highlights of GOP compromise bill to overhaul tax code

WASHINGTON — Republicans in Congress have blended separate tax bills passed by the House and Senate into compromise legislation that seeks to achieve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s tax code. GOP leaders are looking toward passage of the final pa...
Published: 12/15/17
Updated: 12/16/17
With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

With Rubio, Corker back on board, GOP speeds ahead with tax plan

WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Friday secured enough votes to pass the most sweeping tax overhaul in decades, putting them on the cusp of their first significant legislative victory this year as party leaders geared up to pass a $1.5 trillion t...
Published: 12/15/17
Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

Experts chart path for Hillsborough to grow smarter before sprawl takes over

TAMPA — Nearly 600,000 more people will live in Hillsborough County by 2040, and if elected officials and county planners don’t take bold steps now, the population boom will turn the county into the soulless sprawl of Anywhere, U.S.A.That’s the messa...
Published: 12/15/17
Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

Tillerson retreats on offer of unconditional N. Korea talks

WASHINGTON — America’s top diplomat stepped back Friday from his offer of unconditional talks with North Korea, telling world powers that the nuclear-armed nation must earn the right to negotiate with the United States. Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
Published: 12/15/17
Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

Judge signals release of ex-Trump chair Paul Manafort to Florida home under curfew and GPS monitoring

A federal judge Friday said a bail package has been put together that would release former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from home confinement in his condominium in Virginia and allow him to reside at his house in Palm Beach Gardens, but unde...
Published: 12/15/17
The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

The meta-soap opera of Omarosa Manigault’s White House exit

WASHINGTON — As the spooling drama of Omarosa Manigault Newman’s White House departure spun into its 36th hour, Washington began asking itself: "Does it actually matter whether Omarosa quit or was fired?"Dumbest story ever," tweeted John Harwood, the...
Published: 12/15/17