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Note Crist: Don't let your political ambitions derail Hillsborough elections cleanup

Dear Governor Charlie,

Hope you don't mind us calling you "Charlie." You have that big-smile man-of-the-people non-Governator thing going on up there in Tallahassee, so we thought it'd be okay.

Anyway, hi from down south.

As you probably know, a lot of people in Tampa (just across the pond from your hometown St. Pete) are very sad about the unexpected death this week of local politician Phyllis Busansky.

Already we miss her big personality and even bigger passion for causes like health care for the poor. She was something, that Phyllis.

Just last November we elected her to her latest gig, supervisor of elections.

She had just gotten her sleeves rolled up for the big job of cleaning up the morning-after-the-frat-party mess left behind by the last guy.

You remember Buddy Johnson, right?

Former Republican legislator from Plant City? The one who, when the elections job opened up after Pam Iorio left to run for Tampa mayor in 2003, threw his name in the ring the last possible day and got appointed by governor-before-you, Jeb Bush?

Buddy, who some worried got picked more for his connections in Tallahassee than his actual ability to be an elections supervisor?

Here's what a Jeb spokeswoman said before Buddy got the nod:

"I think the governor will be looking for someone who has a respect for the democratic process and understands the importance of fair and efficiently run elections."

And we know how that worked out.

Around these parts (maybe even up there in the capital) Buddy made us awfully nervous with his tenure of uncounted votes, secrecy in office and questionable financial decisions.

Hey, wasn't just us. After being ousted by Phyllis, he's under investigation by the FBI .

So do you think it's fair to say that around here, we've pretty much had enough?

Now we know you're eyeing a new job in Washington, and whether you get there might depend at least a little on whom you appoint to positions like this one, who can give you the most juice.

Oh, yeah. We know about "patronage."

Maybe a lot depends on the letter next to a person's name, though you've been known to put a "D" in there despite your own "R," like Bob Butterworth when he headed up the Department of Children and Families.

Call us naive, but we hope that won't be the main criteria this time. Or even a deal-breaker.

Some interesting folks from across the alphabet — R, D, even I! — are coming forward.

Your own spokesman said you're more interested in picking the best person to lead the office. And we wouldn't want that quote to come back to haunt anyone!

What we're hoping for is someone to carry on what Phyllis started: Running an office that's efficient and open. Getting the vote — and every single vote — counted and on time. Restoring confidence in a place that has lacked for it and then some.

Restoring confidence in the political process in general would probably be asking too much.

But we can hope, right?

Thanks for listening, governor.


Hillsborough County voters

Note Crist: Don't let your political ambitions derail Hillsborough elections cleanup 06/25/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 12:21pm]
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