Monday, April 23, 2018
Politics

Here's hoping Mike Fasano keeps fighting the good fight

The fighter has grown weary.

Nearly 20 years later, he has grown tired of the odds. Tired of how the game has changed. Tired of too many losses in too many important battles.

State Rep. Mike Fasano wants to come home.

Fasano, 55, has asked the governor to consider appointing him tax collector of Pasco County, a job for which he is eminently qualified, eager and deserving.

And so it is from the bottom of my heart that I say:

I hope the governor blows this call.

I hope he lets personal feelings get in the way. I hope he does not let bygones be bygones. I hope he does the spiteful thing and ignores Fasano's candidacy.

Yeah, I feel terrible for thinking that way. Fasano has certainly proven himself worthy of replacing longtime tax collector Mike Olson, who passed away last month.

But in a state where most legislators are despicably loyal to their political parties instead of their constituents, Fasano is a necessary nuisance.

He fights Democrats. He fights his fellow Republicans. He fights the governor. He fights whenever he thinks people in Tallahassee have forgotten who they are supposed to serve.

I don't always believe Fasano is right, but I am always sure he cares.

"There are times when I leave the chamber floor and walk back to my condo and I think, 'Gosh, does anybody really see what we're doing here?' '' Fasano said. "We're in Tallahassee to do good policy and to stop bad policy, but it doesn't always seem that way. Special interests have so much more influence and power than they used to.

"What worries me is that people are going to hear that I have an interest in the tax collector's job and think I'm copping out.''

I don't think Fasano is copping out. And I don't think he is chasing the money. Between his salary as director of public affairs at Florida Hospital and his legislative position, he is making roughly the same as he would in the $138,000 tax collector's job.

So why is Fasano prepared to walk away now, after 10 years in the Senate and nine in the House?

He talks about providing customer service to Pasco residents, and he talks about the vast responsibilities in the tax job. In other words, he talks in a lot of generalities without a one-size-fits-all answer.

My guess is he is tired of the petty indignities he endures because he does not goose step behind Republican leaders. They don't support his initiatives or give him choice committee assignments. They stick him in a crummy, out-of-the-way office as if they were banning him from the reindeer games.

I think he just wants a job where he is appreciated.

So I asked Fasano if he was running toward the tax collector's job, or running away from his House job.

"I wish I could answer that,'' he said.

Republican legislators in Pasco and Hernando have endorsed Fasano's candidacy for tax collector, which is another way of saying they fully support getting him out of their hair.

As for the governor, I assume he would also prefer Fasano in a lower profile job, such as tax collector. But I could also see him not wanting to reward a politician who has openly criticized the governor in the past.

So what do you say, governor? Think you can botch this decision for us?

Comments
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