Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Junk mail' is too nice a term for this stuff

My mailbox is screaming. Or maybe that's me.

In the waning days of Tampa's municipal elections, it spits out great piles of fliers onto the oak-pollen covered porch daily.

Pick me, not him! they call out. Look, I have a cute dog! A nice family! A great tie!

Look, I talk to old/young/black/white/Hispanic/disabled people — see, right here in the picture! And speaking of pictures, did I mention that my opponent, shown here in grainy black and white looking like Charlie Sheen with a wad of spinach in his teeth, does not scoop up after his dog and also is a distant relative of Satan?

Inside the house, the phone sags with the weight of dozens of robo-messages, the candidates, spouses, influential friends, children, grandchildren and strangers who happen to have nice speaking voices all saying their guy is hands down the one I want. My finger hovers over "delete," but no. Best to be informed about who will next run your city.

And so this week, we were treated to a new low in layers of mud. But maybe an instructive one.

In the final frantic days in the race to replace Mayor Pam Iorio, a flier surfaced calling candidate Rose Ferlita "Unmarried. Unsure. Unelectable."

And, really? Is some troglodyte out there actually implying a woman is unworthy without a Mrs. next to her name?

But as happens in politics, all was not what it seemed. The "mailer," which made news after a political blogger said someone uploaded it anonymously to his blog, bears an invalid postage-paid permit number. No one seems to have actually found it inside a mailbox. No one took responsibility. And when you look closely, the flier seems a parody about as subtle as a jackhammer. (A picture of a withered rose? Seriously?)

Ferlita's opponent, Bob Buckhorn, who has campaigned steadily as the Family Man With a Plan, denied having anything to do with it. (For the record, he has generally resisted attacks on her.)

Theories run amok. A shadowy group of Democrats is attacking the Republican Ferlita! No, a shadowy group of Republicans cooked this up to reflect badly on Democrat Buckhorn and win Ferlita votes!

And how easy to believe either.

And by the way, might these pieces talk more about, oh, I don't know, getting big companies to like Tampa enough to move here, or jobs, or our pathetic excuse for public transportation?

Another mailer (actually mailed!) went after Buckhorn with a picture of a little kid in a cowboy hat, a list of his runs for office and a snarky line about how he doesn't know what he wants to be when he grows up. Ferlita said she had nothing to do with it. As with "unmarried," some people who appeared to be connected to it couldn't be officially connected to it.


Excellent! Just what they're after, the smear without the responsibility, the new normal even in an allegedly nonpartisan race. They hope we'll look at a candidate and think, Isn't that the guy who …? Isn't she the one who …?

The trick, then, is cutting through the muck to pick who's best for the job and refusing to give credence to unsourced drive-bys that have little to do with doing the job.

Anyway, that's my plan until Tuesday, election day, also known as Mailbox Emancipation Day.

'Junk mail' is too nice a term for this stuff 03/17/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What to watch this weekend: 'Star Trek: Discovery,' 'DuckTales' returns


    Boldly go: Star Trek: Discovery

    It's been more than 50 years since the original Star Trek premiered, but the new CBS series is set 10 years before Kirk and Spock. Star Trek: Discovery explores the war between the Federation and the Klingons while following the USS Discovery, an exploratory …

    Sonequa Martin-Green in Star Trek: Discovery on CBS.
  2. First lady Melania Trump heads to White House garden for planting, harvesting


    WASHINGTON — Melania Trump is heading out to the White House garden to do some planting and harvesting.

    First lady Melania Trump picks peppers with a girl with the Boys and Girls Club of Washington in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Washington. [Andrew Harnik | Associated Press]
  3. New aerial photos show Puerto Rico devastation; at least 6 dead in Hurricane Maria aftermath


    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Early aerial images of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria here show waterlogged neighborhoods, roofs peeled off homes and shopping centers, and once-lush landscape …

    Aerial photo of flooding in the costal town of Loiza, on the north shore of Puerto Rico. [Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo for the Washington Post]
  4. State rolls out food assistance program for residents affected by Hurricane Irma


    Help is on the way for Florida residents struggling to put food on the table after Hurricane Irma.

    The Salvation Army Mobile Food Pantry hlped out with free food in Largo after Hurricane Irma. Now, the federal government is expanding access to food for people affected by the storm. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  5. Kriseman proclaims Buy Local week in St. Pete to quicken storm recovery


    Mayor Rick Kriseman has proclaimed next week to be "'Burg Buy Local Week" in an appeal to residents to help small businesses struggling to recover from Hurricane Irma.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman wants St. Pete residents to help small businesses recover from Hurricane Irma