Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Carlton: Signs of progress for police, bay area

I can't decide if this makes us a big cosmopolitan region or a small town where pretty much everyone is related to everyone else. Or both.

Among the finalists for the St. Petersburg police chief job is current assistant chief Melanie Bevan. Should she end up as Mayor Rick Kriseman's pick in this very big decision for his city, it would make for an interesting juxtaposition with the town across the bridge.

Bevan is the ex-partner of Tampa police Chief Jane Castor. The two are said to have a very amicable relationship and share custody of two sons they adopted from the Ukraine. The boys, both 15, spend time in both households.

I ask Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn if he too finds this interesting.

"What's even more remarkable, given from where we've come, is the fact that she and Jane are gay has no bearing on their ability to do the job, and in the eyes of most people in the community is not an issue at all," he says. "That, to me, is progress."

I know — familial connections in the public eye are not unheard of. Val Demings was the first black female police chief in Orlando while husband Jerry Demings was (and is) Orange County sheriff. I once covered a murder trial with husband and wife prosecutors who, when their nanny got sick, briefly had to hand their baby off to a bailiff outside the courtroom.

Whether Kriseman decides he likes the support that's been shown for Bevan or plans to go outside for a new direction remains to be seen.

For her part, Castor called her ex "more than qualified."

"And," she said via email, "it would mean the boys can't get away with anything anywhere in the bay area."

Speaking of progress, it's generally agreed the bad old days at the Hillsborough County courthouse are over, that time of scandal and strife and some really interesting headlines a thing of the past.

So why is Circuit Judge Greg Holder — known to butt heads with the old guard back then —sporting a healthy shiner on his left eye? Could it have to do with him opting not to run for chief judge after all — a job once believed to be more about courthouse royalty than democracy?

Nah. Holder says he decided instead to throw his support to Judge William Levens, who's running against Judge Ron Ficarrotta — his intent all along being a contested election.

And that shiner? Turns out he took a header down some camper steps in the wilds of Alaska. Not a bad story. (Though adding a bear would make for a better headline.)

Finally, on moving forward while going back, but with an adult beverage.

Lots of fans who cut their teeth on Harry Potter are well into legal drinking age, so maybe the new libation due soon in Ybor City will hold special appeal for them.

The folks from Tampa's Cigar City Brewing, with its notable craft beers, hope to be up and running in August on 15th Street, this time making hard cider and mead.

Mead, you say? Stuff you'd expect at a Renaissance Fair next to the giant turkey leg booth by the hay bale maze?

Turns out mead — from fermented honey, since you ask — is a niche market perhaps comparable to craft beer in the '70s. Given the current, uh, buzz over craft beer, cider and mead could well be a very cool next step for Tampa. And fellow Potter nerds — can't you just see Hagrid ordering one up at the Three Broomsticks?

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