Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former fire chief puts irony in running

Jim Adkins' stand on cutting taxes was the kind of brazen hypocrisy that makes this job easy.

Running as a Republican candidate in County Commission District 5, he has received the endorsement of the Hernando Taxpayers Alliance. He pledges on his Web site to "curb the spend-a-holic, shop-a-holic attitude of the current county commissioners.''

Last year, he backed the Government Gone Wild seminars that pilloried longtime public employees for the offense of earning competitive salaries.

Adkins, of course, used to be one of those employees. During his 13 years as Brooksville fire chief, he not only owed his living to taxpayers, he talked proudly about all the stuff he acquired at their expense: new fire engines, an air compressor, an $8,000 washing machine to sterilize firefighters' clothes during the height of the AIDS scare.

Since Adkins retired in 1998, at age 48, taxpayers have also paid his retirement benefits, which came to $33,000 last year.

The irony deepens when you remember all the previous opponents of government waste who came after Adkins or his department.

Adkins fended off several county efforts to take over all or part of the city's coverage area. When Adkins retired, former police Chief Ed Tincher assumed his duties with no apparent loss of service; the arrangement ended after Tincher realized that taking this new job, public safety director, would compromise his law enforcement retirement package.

In 1993, School Board member and former Brooksville City Manager Jim Malcolm tried unsuccessfully to eliminate both Tincher's and Adkins' jobs, which he said would save the city $100,000.

"It was top-heavy,'' Malcolm said Tuesday of Adkins' department. "Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. … If government ever went wild, that was the time.''

I told you it was easy.

I say was because Adkins is now striking a more moderate tone about property taxes, saying they need to be cut only slightly.

"I'm not radical radical,'' he said this week.

About the statements on his Web site, he said, "I have to redo that. It was a campaign. That's all.''

So, I guess, political reality has helped charge his heart; it's hard to advocate deep cuts when tax revenues are already plummeting. Also, I think, people tend to have second thoughts about slashing taxes once they start to see the consequences: dwindling services and crumbling public institutions.

Especially if you helped build one of those institutions.

Because, as much as I used to laugh at Adkins' ability to persuade the City Council to buy, for example, a Chevrolet Blazer as his personal take-home vehicle, his lobbying for equipment helped bring professionalism to a neglected and underfunded department.

When he first started working for the city in 1973, one of the engines had to be kick-started by pushing it out of the old downtown fire station and coasting down Liberty Street. Before Brooksville acquired a compressor, firefighters filled their breathing tanks at the Weeki Wachee mermaid attraction.

Said current fire Chief Tim Mossgrove: "Jim Adkins brought this department out of the dark ages.''

I hope he doesn't want to go back.

Former fire chief puts irony in running 07/17/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  3. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  4. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  5. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990