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They act, you decide: Credible, or hardly so?

Seems the issue of credibility keeps popping up in the news.

Or maybe it's the lack thereof.

Take Republicans trying to get some cred as an evolved, forward-thinking group after a top Hillsborough party member made news by e-mailing a racially insensitive joke.

Holding your head up as the subsequent shrapnel flies is even tougher when it's the third time your party has weathered race-related e-mails. Teachable moment, anyone? Maybe in a class called "When Not to Send."

Carol Carter, a state committeewoman representing Hillsborough, followed with: I am sorry that it was received in a negative manner. I do hope that we are going to be allowed to keep our sense of humor.

Well, that's … sorta like an apology.

Yes, you have the right to decide what you find funny, even if your punch line involves people left homeless and destitute by a killer hurricane, even if others might find it mean-spirited, insensitive or offensive. If it reflects on your job, your colleagues might get to weigh in, too.

Republicans made appropriate sounds of regret and resolve. Credibility-wise, maybe it helped that as this was happening, the Republican National Committee announced its first black chairman. (See? We're not like that!) Carter resigned.

And now, she wants her job back. Incredible or predictable? You decide.

•••

Questions were raised this week about the credibility of a group that touts our state as a tourist destination using, in part, your tax dollars. VisitFlorida hired a call center to market the Sunshine State as a fine place to visit.

A call center in Missouri.

Because apparently, we don't have enough out-of-work folk of our own. You know, ones actually living in the place they would be boostering.

Imagine the conversations, credibility-wise: "Yes ma'am, Florida's great. Took the family down to Disney myself a couple years back. Kids took pictures with Mickey Mouse. Awful humid, though, compared to back home here in Kansas City … Hello? Hello?"

•••

And, finally, the judge and the stripper. (If only we were making that up.)

Thomas Stringer, a respected appeals court judge, is officially done after fallout from the news of his relationship with said stripper.

"Relationship" he might have survived. But the state Judicial Qualifications Commission accused him of helping her hide assets from creditors. They say he leased an apartment for her and took cash for rent, and that he accepted expensive gifts from her without reporting them.

A vigorous defense was vowed. The judge's open-to-the-public deposition was scheduled for today. Reporters planned to attend.

Talk about your timing: Tuesday, the judge quit. "It was time," said his lawyer J. David Bogenschutz. "At some point, you spend your whole career being a good judge and a decent public servant, and when people begin to cast aspersions on you and your record, it just isn't worth it."

Hmm. So let's get this straight. You earn respect and a reputation over a long career on the bench — and you get scared off by a little aspersion casting? There's that word again: Incredible.

They act, you decide: Credible, or hardly so? 02/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 13, 2009 12:20am]

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