Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Of judges, chickens and mayoral pants

I have this cynical theory on how we "elect" judges around here — one that might soon be put to the test.

Two lawyers are in the race to replace retiring Hillsborough Circuit Judge Manuel Menendez next year. One, Kim Hernandez Vance, has run before. She is a commercial litigation attorney and shareholder in the Tampa office of Gray Robinson. Okay, sounds solid.

The other is Michael Scionti.

He is (deep breath here) a former prosecutor and state legislator who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was appointed by President Barack Obama to be U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and intergovernmental affairs. His late father was head of the Hillsborough Democratic Party and a true political character in Tampa.

More? Eight pages of supporters listed on Scionti's campaign website include many current and former legislators, county commissioners, City Council folk, members of Congress, well-known lawyers and business types, and also the current mayor, state attorney and public defender. The sheriff, too. Fair to say Scionti is known and liked in these parts.

My theory, from two decades of watching and covering judicial elections: Voters sometimes do not know for whom they are voting.

This is not entirely their fault. Judge races are odd ducks, since the candidates aren't allowed to say much politics-wise. Maybe voters get to the end of the ballot and pick names with appeal.

Hispanic names are said to have the edge, locally at least. Women's names, too. Candidates with gender-neutral first names have even been known to add to the ballot unambiguous middle names (such as Ann), just to be clear on the subject.

All of which makes this race one to watch.

•••

Now, to the politics of chickens.

These days chickens are no longer considered pure country, pecking the roadsides of rural Ruskin and wandering Wimauma. Apparently, there's not much hipper than an urban chicken.

In fact, should the city of Tampa pass its proposed chicken ordinance that would allow genteel South Tampa ladies and Seminole Heights hipsters alike to keep a couple of cluckers out back, it will be officially easier to have a city chicken than one in unincorporated Hillsborough County.

While declining to comment on the relative hipness of city chickens, County Attorney Chip Fletcher confirmed it: "Basically farm animals including domestic fowl are prohibited in residential areas of the county," he says.

Farm animals? In the city, we prefer the term "pets with feathers."

•••

Finally, a note on mayoral fashion.

Yes, I often invoke Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's Brooks Brothers look that says much about him, and how it is sometimes balanced by his penchant for, let us say, eye-catching pants at certain festive events. He wears green shamrock slacks for St. Patty's — not shamrock green, but really, really green with shamrocks on them.

So what did he wear as the first mayor in the St. Pete Pride parade? Not a suit, nor, sadly, his famously plaid pants, but standard-issue khakis and button-down. "Light starch," he reports. "That's as casual as I can be."

Sue Carlton: Of judges, chickens and mayoral pants 07/02/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 7:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Interview: Steve Martin, Martin Short bringing 'best version' of their show back to St. Petersburg

    Stage

    Hot celebrity-spotting tip: Stop by the Salvador Dalí Museum on Jan. 19. You might catch a glimpse of Steve Martin.

    Steve Martin, left, and Martin Short will bring “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” to the Mahaffey Theater on Jan. 19.
  2. Report: Well-being of black and Hispanic children continues to lag in Florida

    K12

    Despite making progress in health care access and parental employment, Florida has not improved its poverty rate for children over the past five years, a newly released national report shows.

    Students line up in the courtyard at predominantly black Lakewood Elementary in St. Petersburg. A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds that Florida ranks 28th in the nation on an index that measures the well-being of black children. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Second lady Karen Pence to speak at Tampa art therapy summit

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Second lady Karen Pence will visit The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday to address advocates of art therapy programs for military members and families.

  4. With classrooms to spare in urban areas, Hillsborough wants to fill empty space with preschool kids

    K12

    TAMPA — Hundreds of low-income children could have access to quality preschool next year under a plan now under development in the Hillsborough County School District.

    A new plan announced by Hillsborough County school superintendent Jeff Eakins would use empty space in a number of schools to start preschool programs. The set up would allow kids to stay in the same school from preschool to kindergarten. "We are literally creating the pipeline and the transition for kids," Eakins said. [Times | 2005]
  5. What you need to know for Tuesday, Oct. 24

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]