Good news on the local election front (unless you happen to be a candidate): Joe Redner is seriously considering another run for office.
Tampa's strip club king — and recent haunter of Congress with his beer-brewing rock star of a son Joey on a beer tax issue — sounds feisty following his battle into remission from Stage 4 lung cancer. At 72, he is fiery Joe again, and checking the newspaper for who's running where.
"I wouldn't mind running against Ronda Storms," he says when I mention the fire-and-brimstone former state senator as a for-instance, since she is also rumored to be considering a run. "I would have no problem with that."
City Council? County Commission? Not mayor — Bob Buckhorn, once Joe's nemesis over that rule to keep dancers and customers 6 feet apart, is to Joe's eye doing "a hell of a job." He also likes Mary Mulhern, a City Council member who wants to be a county commissioner. And what's the point of running against someone who would vote like him? "I want to be able to change something," says Joe.
He's run a bunch of times, one City Council loss often attributed to his offer of free admission to his Mons Venus strip club with an I-Voted sticker. That one got national press. Joe admits the mistake, even if he still sounds a little surprised by its backlash. So bring it on. We can only hope the city's best-known rabble-rouser, nose-thumber and kicker of shins will revive that campaign ad of him wrapped in the American flag with the slogan: My Name Is JOE REDNER, and I am NOT for sale.
Tallahassee? That "big old-boys' club up there," he muses, all that special interest money …
"They need somebody up there with a loud mouth," he says.
Speaking of people we miss, credit the scoop on the latest piquing of Joe's political interest to former longtime local TV news guy Warren Elly, when Joe was his guest on a recent call-in WMNF radio show.
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When a politician reverses course, some call it flip-flopping and others simply evolving. Just this week came a big one when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson saw the light on gay marriage.
Over at the Hillsborough School Board, where apparently they have not had enough dubious headlines lately, members voted this week to make it harder for the public to find out about teachers and other school employees in trouble.
Before, names of employees facing suspension or termination were posted on the board's online agenda before the meeting. This meant any parent or interested party could know who was in hot water and find out why before it hit the meeting. But the board voted 5-2 to no longer post online. Never mind Pasco and Pinellas make it easier for the public to know what's going on. Never mind making public matters more private tends to breed politics and other nefarious business.
A surprising vote for this came from Chairwoman April Griffin, who is running for County Commission (risking being dubbed the against-transparency candidate). After reflection this week, Griffin said she was acting out of concern for employees, but her vote was a mistake. "I recognize we need to have another conversation about this," she said. And hopefully another vote, this one for the public's right to know.