Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Political Junkie

Political junkie: Hillsborough tourism board slot goes to GOP loyalist

Hillsborough County commissioners passed over the leader of one of the region's top tourist attractions in making an appointment this week to the county's Tourist Development Council.

They opted instead for a guy known as Alligator Bob.

Commissioners were looking to fill a seat that for several years has traditionally gone to the head of Busch Gardens. Donny Mills, who took over as executive vice president and general manager of Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island in December, had applied for the slot.

Instead, commissioners voted 6-1 in favor of Bob Young of Plant City, a longtime member of the county's Republican Executive Committee who leads eco tours and sells "alligator meat products," such as jerky.

Commissioner Jim Norman, the lone vote in favor of Mills, described Busch Gardens as one of the leading drivers of county tourist tax collections.

"We just kicked their head guy to the curb," Norman said. "I'm embarrassed by it."

Young said Norman is making a fuss because he and the commissioner don't get along. Young said he was a vocal opponent of the county's community investment tax, which Norman helped get on the ballot, as well as the commissioner's $40-million championship park proposal.

"Jim Norman and I have been adversaries for years," Young said. "His vote had more to do with that.''

Young hopes to bring a greater emphasis to the board on ecotourism, a market that he says has largely been untapped.

Norman vs. Ambler?

Speaking of Norman, he did indeed file his papers to run for the state Senate District 10 seat in 2010. The seat is currently held by Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa.

With the campaign season still unsettled for this year, his filing touches off an intriguing campaign for the next election cycle. His pal and fellow Republican, Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz, filed for the same seat a day earlier.

One missing word

At the end of Wednesday's County Commission meeting, board member Brian Blair took a moment of personal privilege. On behalf of the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Blair wanted to let the rest of the commission know that it is "sexual awareness month."

April is sexual assault awareness month.

One person in charge

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio apparently likes the idea of creating an elected Hillsborough County mayor. Or at least she's not a fan of the current commission form of government.

Iorio was asked about the issue, which is on November's ballot, while speaking during a Leadership Tampa alumni luncheon Monday. She said that during her own time on the County Commission, "I could tell that the form of government wasn't very good."

After becoming mayor and working in a government where one person is accountable, it solidified her earlier assessment.

"When everything is scattered and done by committee it's hard to put your finger on who's responsible," she said.

However, she said whether or not the measure passes will have no impact on her.

"I'm not involved," she said.

Times staff writers Bill Varian and Janet Zink contributed to this report.

Political junkie: Hillsborough tourism board slot goes to GOP loyalist 04/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 7, 2008 12:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Clearwater eyes hiring new downtown director within two months

    CLEARWATER — Now that the city director tasked with revitalizing downtown has resigned after his arrest on a battery charge during Oktoberfest, City Manager Bill Horne said the goal is to not leave the position vacant long.

    Clearwater Assistant City Manager  Micah Maxwell will oversee downtown until the city hires a replacement for Seth Taylor.
  2. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17


    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida


     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.
  4. Tampa-based Checkers testing delivery, aims for record expansion


    TAMPA — Tampa-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants continues to fly under the radar compared to dominant burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King.

    Checkers Franchisee Shaji Joseph, of Tampa, hoses down the front walkway of his store at 6401 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park. The business has a new look including signage and exterior tile. One drive through has been eliminated for an outdoor dining area, right. Joseph owns nine Checkers and is planning to open his tenth in Tampa.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  5. Advice for presidents from military families they've tried to console


    One family returned the letter because it was full of errors. Another was left cold when the letter they got screamed "robo-pen." Still another was puzzled to find 17 copies of their letter in the mailbox.

    Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Cowan, 37, was killed in a helicopter training accident in South Korea on Feb. 26, 2005. [Courtesy of Kari Cowan]