Monday, June 25, 2018
Politics

Senate district map for Pasco draws critics

Ever since lawmakers in November released proposed new boundaries for the Florida Senate, the way Pasco was divided has produced quiet grumbling.

But those concerns reached a new volume this week when House Speaker-designate Will Weatherford called the map a "head scratcher."

"It's still early in the process," he said Friday. "The House and the Senate still have a long way to go before these things become law. We've got time to iron out all the differences."

Under the proposed Senate map, a half moon-shaped slice lumps Zephyrhills with portions of Trinity and north Tampa. A neighboring district includes west Pasco and Dade City, along with much of Hernando and Sumter counties.

Several Pasco critics point to a July public hearing in Wesley Chapel. Many residents there asked to either keep Pasco whole in the Senate map or to split the county into east and west halves, using the Suncoast Parkway or U.S. 41 as a dividing line.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is in charge of the redistricting effort in the House. His counterpart, incoming Senate President Don Gaetz of Niceville, is shepherding the Senate map.

A Senate committee plans to vote on the proposal Wednesday, and House subcommittees are set to narrow the field to three choices for both the House and Congressional maps on Monday.

Some observers say the map benefits incumbent state Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa. His new district would pick up more Pasco voters and would shed some north Tampa areas that might better remember a recent scandal stemming from a $500,000 loan Norman's wife received from a political supporter. She used the money to buy a waterfront home in Arkansas. The transaction occurred during his 18 years on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Federal prosecutors announced last month that they found no evidence Norman broke the law, and he said recently he is "clean as a whistle."

The map would also put two well-funded hopefuls in another district: term-limited Rep. John Legg, R-Port Richey, and Trilby egg farmer Wilton Simpson. A first-time candidate, Simpson is currently a constituent of Norman's. The new district would shed much of east Pasco.

The Senate map wasn't drawn with those political considerations in mind, argued Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who sits on the Senate redistricting committee.

"What they did makes sense," he said. "I think that the folks that live in Land O'Lakes and in Wesley Chapel are more attuned to Tampa than they are to Sumter County."

Latvala, who previously served in the Senate a decade ago during the last round of redistricting, said House leaders traditionally draw a map for their own chamber while Senate leaders draw the Senate map.

"Some of the (House) maps I've seen in Pinellas County frankly don't make sense to me," he said. "I'm not going to go micromanage the House map. I certainly hope they won't micromanage our map."

Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, is vacating the District 11 seat that would include Legg and Simpson. He has removed himself from the redistricting process, but said he shares Weatherford's concerns.

"My question would be, what do the people in Holiday … have in common with the people all the way up in Sumter County?" he said.

But Latvala said he hasn't heard any senators who disagree with Pasco's treatment and that the lines don't always come down neatly. "Unfortunately you've got to split some counties," he said.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

A jogger accidentally crossed into the US from Canada and was detained for two weeks

The coast of White Rock, British Columbia, in western Canada looks to be an ideal place for a run, with its sweeping views of the Semiahmoo Bay to the west and scores of waterfront homes and seafood restaurants to the east. That’s what 19-year-old Ce...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

LEXINGTON, Va. - Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned...
Published: 06/24/18
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18