Saturday, April 21, 2018
Politics

As Rep. Rob Schenck's term expires, things looking up for Hernando

To those of you who think this paper doesn't print enough good news, consider this:

Rep. Rob Schenck has likely served his last regular session as a Hernando County legislator.

If that seems flip and dismissive, well, you could say the same about Schenck's attitude toward public service.

First, his "work" on the pill mill issue.

He often has bragged about his 2011 bill that cracked down on the careless prescribing of pain pills and that has helped cut the state's oxycodone deaths by 52 percent since 2010.

What he doesn't mention: Earlier in that session he tried to do away with the prescription drug database that is a crucial part of reining in pill mills, and his bill would have been toothless if not for the changes demanded by Attorney General Pam Bondi and then-Sen. Mike Fasano.

And if Schenck, a Spring Hill Republican, really cared about the crisis of prescription drug addiction, he could have demonstrated it this session. He could have used his power and freedom as a well-placed, term-limited representative to make sure the database received the money it needs to keep going — a tiny sum considering the lives it saves.

But the Legislature set aside nothing for this purpose, leaving it to Bondi to find the money to keep it running.

All in all, Fasano said, Schenck "has been a thorn in the side of continuing a valuable program."

But Schenck has been good about bringing home cash, right — bagged his share of turkeys?

Yes. But his funding priority this session, $4 million for an environmental educational plaza in Hernando Beach — money that seems to have been secured mostly on the strength of a spiffy architectural model and that stands to help the site's land owners as much as the public — is looking more and more like a true turkey.

Schenck could have, on the other hand, sought $750,000 to partially fund improvements called for in an established state plan at an established attraction, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, who represents all of Hernando County and much of Pasco, had secured it on the Senate side. And he did so at the request of people in the community, the Friends of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, whose emails and telephone calls Schenck didn't even bother to return.

"He was nonresponsive, completely," said Friends president Denise Tenuto.

Schenck claimed another big victory this year, bumping up the state threshold for small school districts, which made Hernando eligible for about $2 million in additional funding.

Good for him. But Fasano says his contacts in the Legislature have told him that Simpson had a lot more to do with this than Schenck did.

Which brings us to yet more good news. Based on his performance this session, Simpson seems to be as responsive as Schenck is not. And his term limits won't kick in for eight more years.

He was among the sponsors of a springs restoration bill that ultimately died but that, partly because Simpson and other Senators made this a major issue, seems to have a better chance of passage next year.

Though Simpson seriously tarnished his environmental credentials by agreeing to sponsor the Senate version of a mindless, scattershot environmental deregulation bill, he restored most of this shine by getting it killed.

He deserves credit for standing up for residents of a West Pasco subdivision and against the Public Service Commission with a bill that ties rate increases to the quality of drinking water.

An especially high percentage of Hernando and Pasco homeowners are covered by the state-run Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

That means it's especially appropriate that Simpson was in the Senate minority that voted against a bill that would have allowed policyholders to be funneled into inadequately backed and regulated private outfits.

So somebody in Tallahassee actually seems willing to look after our interests, which sounds good to me.

Comments
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18