Monday, January 22, 2018
Politics

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."

Comments
Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

Congressman combating harassment used public money on own case

WASHINGTON — Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa., who has taken a leading role in fighting sexual harassment in Congress, used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle his own misconduct complaint after a former aide accused him last year of making un...
Published: 01/20/18
The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The longer the shutdown lasts, the further the economic ripples will spread

The early days of the federal government shutdown won’t slow the U.S. economy much. No workers are missing paychecks yet, and because it is a weekend, few businesses expect to feel the effects of lost customers or suppliers.That could change, quickly...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They aren’t just up for debate, they...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18
Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

Battle lines already forming for Menendez corruption retrial

NEWARK, N.J. — U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him. Prosecutors from the Department of Justice told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic sen...
Published: 01/19/18
Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

Congress likely racing toward a government shutdown

WASHINGTON — A bitterly-divided Congress hurtled toward a government shutdown this weekend in a partisan stare-down over demands by Democrats for a solution on politically fraught legislation to protect about 700,000 younger immigrants from being dep...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 ...
Published: 01/19/18
Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he’s now considered part of the old-guard. Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his ...
Published: 01/19/18

Q&A: Government shutdown looms. Here’s what you need to know

Lawmakers have until midnight tonight to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown.Here’s what that means. Why would the government shut down?Every year, Congress has to approve laws, known as appropriations, that provide money for federal agen...
Published: 01/18/18
Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

Redington Shores mayor, commission positions filled with no opponents

REDINGTON SHORES — There will be no election this year, but the changeout of commission members that began last year will continue. When the new commission is sworn in this March, four of five members, including the mayor, will have changed within th...
Published: 01/18/18