Saturday, February 17, 2018
Politics

Sue Carlton: How to leave political office lacking all dignity and grace

We were so ready to let Rob Turner go.

We were totally okay with having that messy Hillsborough property appraiser porn scandal fade away, at least until the next one hit the headlines. (And sure enough, an on-the-job porn-posting school official in Hernando soon obliged.)

So yep, it was goodbye Rob and hello Bob, as in Bob Henriquez, the high school football coach and former state legislator elected to restore the property appraiser's office to its former boring state.

And then, on his way out the door, Turner showed his colors by refusing to help the new guy the voters chose, declining to provide a smooth transition and leaving the office with what sure looked like the symbolic version of a rude hand gesture — an exit sans grace.

When you have made a major mistake in your job, in your life, there's this saying: Sometimes it's not what you do, it's what you do after that shows character.

Or, lack thereof.

So okay, in Turner's case it was what he did before and after.

We liked the guy enough that he looked to be headed for a fifth term in office, until we learned he repeatedly sent pornographic emails to a female employee he once dated. It was, at the least, a distasteful infringement on his public duty.

Though he said it was a mutual, two-sided exchange of emails and a personal mistake, his human resources director characterized it as his attempt to rekindle their relationship and said she was punished after his wife found out. All that he-said she-said aside, a boss sent an employee porn and left taxpayers on the hook for settling her lawsuit. Not okay.

Then, the after: The Times' Bill Varian reported this week that in the two months since Henriquez was elected and Turner finished up, the new guy was not given simple courtesies like being able to set foot in the office or shown the ropes. There was no nod toward providing a smooth transition on behalf of the citizens. Henriquez instead interviewed current employees outside the office and got basically no guidance from the about-to-be-gone guy. And, how very classy.

Turner apparently upheld the sad tradition of the property appraiser before him. (Note to Henriquez: You might want to avoid drinking from those office water fountains.) Ron Alderman, whose own headlines included him bar-hopping during work hours, treated Turner similarly in handing over the keys. From Turner, we expected more.

There is such a thing as grace in politics. Gov. Rick Scott had enough of it this week to revise his contention that President Barack Obama's health care plan would cost Florida a startling $26 billion over 10 years, the state softening that to $3 billion.

Even gun-selling Walmart backed off its embarrassing early position of: Sorry, we're just too darn busy to meet with the White House to talk about gun violence in the wake of the mass school shooting.

And there was Henriquez, saying good things about how Turner ran the office.

Presumably Turner, lauded for his professional chops, is seeking employment, and you wonder what a future boss might make of that last small but telling act. Voters should not forget this final slight either, even as the memory of Rob Turner's fall from grace finally, thankfully fades.

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