"Buddy Johnson is a native of Hillsborough County who has been a dedicated public servant. As a past member of the Florida House of Representatives, he has shown the leadership and dedication needed to serve as supervisor of elections." — Jeb Bush's office, January 2003, on the governor's appointment of Johnson to succeed Pam Iorio as Hillsborough elections supervisor.
Fast-forward six years. The elections office is a disaster, and Johnson is a disgraced former supervisor whose performance is under review by the FBI. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio lays some of the blame squarely at the feet of Jeb Bush, who appointed a man whose main qualification appeared to be party affiliation.
"It was a very poor appointment," Iorio said, contrasting the Johnson pick to Crist naming former Pasco Elections Supervisor Kurt Browning as secretary of state. "When governors have these constitutional appointments to make, they really have to look at individuals who have solid backgrounds, particularly in elections. … You have to have that attention to detail and high standards."
Bush did not respond to a request for comment.
Iorio said she's been heartbroken about what's happened to her once highly regarded office since Johnson took over, and welcomed the FBI investigation: "There have just been so many things that have just been so terribly negative coming out of there somebody needs to look into it, that's for sure."
Bush, in a Wall Street Journal interview published Saturday, mentioned Republican governors he admires, including Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Hmmmm. Surely it was just an oversight that he didn't mention Florida's current governor.
When Henrietta Hughes, homeless after losing her home to foreclosure in 2003, pleaded for help from President Obama during his town hall meeting in Fort Myers last week, she not only received a sympathetic kiss from the president but a helping hand from state Rep. Nick Thompson, R-Fort Myers, and his wife, Chene. Mrs. Thompson, a former prosecutor, on the spot offered Hughes, 61, and her son use of a second home they have been unable to sell or rent. Call it a random act of kindness.
But before long, Rush Limbaugh was on the air casting Hughes as an "embarrassing" poster child for Americans expecting free handouts from the president. And Rep. Thompson started receiving calls bashing him as a disgrace to Republican principles of self-reliance. Thompson made no apologies, noting that after losing her home to foreclosure in 2003, Hughes is paying credit card debt, car insurance, even tithing to her ministry, while living off Social Security and food stamps.
"There is nothing more American or Christian or freedom-loving than someone of their own volition using the resources they have to help someone, and not going through some government program or using tax dollars," Thompson told the Buzz.
Greer straddles on stimulus
Okay, this is getting confusing. Charlie Crist backs the $789 billion stimulus package, even if he doesn't care to talk about the details. But Crist's anointed state GOP chairman, Jim Greer, after publicly chastising Republican critics of that package, issued a clarification last week to stress that he wasn't sold on the proposal yet, but loved the idea of bipartisan cooperation demonstrated by Crist. Why the backpedaling? Nothing like a press release from Nancy Pelosi, featuring quotes from Crist and Greer, to get a GOP chairman's attention.
Fasano on 'Political Connections'
Check out state Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.