Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

How we do things in America, large, small and not always pretty

Sometimes doing things the American way is like watching sausage get made — not pretty, from national cases that make you wince down to a gentler dispute over whether two local pols get to stay on the ballot.

Take the infamous Phelps family (please). Does it get any uglier than a "church" that goes to military funerals to rant about the deaths being God's wrath against gays? Hard to imagine them coming up with anything more offensive or cruel.

But this is America, and even hate-filled gas-bag attention mongers get the same free-speech protections as the rest of us, which is what a federal judge ruled this week in declaring Missouri's ban on protests near funerals unconstitutional.

Pretty, no. But the rules are for even the lowest of the low.

In America, the president can defend plans for an Islamic mosque blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (even if he won't comment on the "wisdom" of putting it there) because we're all about religious freedom, even now.

Forgive the pairing of those notable national disputes and their sausage-making tendencies with one of infinitely smaller impact, but a little hard to watch just the same. At least no one hated anyone, though we had plenty of party politics and some lawsuits to boot.

Two seasoned Tampa City Council members running for the Hillsborough County Commission missed the deadline for filing required letters saying when they would resign their seats. According to the rules, you must turn in that letter well before the deadline for candidates to qualify to run for office. This gives others time to know a seat is opening up before it's too late to run for it. It makes sense, but more on that in a minute.

In the scramble that followed the mistake, first John Dingfelder and then Linda Saul-Sena abruptly resigned their City Council seats to try to stay on the ballot under the rules. (Side note: The English, Spanish and Italian newspaper La Gaceta opined that, "the loser was the Jewish community. They went from two council members practicing their faith to none. Oy vey!" A little Yiddish in your tri-lingual paper — now that's America.)

Next, both ditched their County Commission campaigns. Madness, you say? Nope, just politics. The Democratic Executive Committee, which gets to fill such vacancies on the ballot, made you-guessed-it picks: Dingfelder and Saul-Sena.

Which is where things started to smell a little gamey.

Naturally, this being politics, they got sued in an effort to oust them. But the judge in Dingfelder's case reminded everyone about the value of our right to vote and how disputes like this one should be resolved in the candidate's favor.

As in: more choices on the ballot, not fewer. It was nice to have a little perspective in there while everyone was busy playing politics.

Saul-Sena similarly got a judge's thumbs-up, though appeals, and the election, loom.

Bottom line? You could argue that, politics aside, both had to give up City Council seats they loved much earlier than intended, something of a punishment for busting deadline. You could also call no harm, no foul, since the aforementioned qualifying for the city seats they vacated doesn't happen until next year.

Pretty? No. But pretty American anyway.

How we do things in America, large, small and not always pretty 08/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 7:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?

    Blogs

    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.