Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

William March: Frank camp turns tables on Beckner over work time

County Commissioner Kevin Beckner is calling Clerk of Court Pat Frank "part-time Pat" in their bitter Democratic primary for the clerk's office, saying she doesn't show up at the office enough to provide leadership there.

But Frank's campaign said Beckner sang a different tune when he described his own work as a commissioner in sworn statements he gave during a 2014 lawsuit against a former business partner in a financial planning services firm.

Beckner cut his involvement in the partnership after he was elected to the county commission, but he sued Lance Becatti over the terms of a buy-sell agreement between the two. They reached a settlement.

During depositions in the case, Beckner was asked about time he devoted to the planning services job and to the commissioner's office. He replied that hours spent in the office on their own don't provide a clear measure of performance on the job.

"I have never measured my work … by the object of time," Beckner said in one deposition. "It's by the object of what you get accomplished and completed based on the business needs or individual needs."

Beckner has based his criticism of Frank, in part, on records showing her key card use entering or leaving her office parking deck.

Asked when he comes and goes at the office, Beckner said in a deposition, "It would all depend on the duties that would be, that would come upon us versus constituent services. So there has never really been specific set times."

He also said at the time that making public appearances and dealing with constituent concerns means he spends 24 hours a day as a public servant. "That's the way we live in public service despite what some people may perceive."

Questioned by the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday about his statements in the depositions, Beckner said, "There's a big difference between managing a small business with two people vs. leading an office of over 700 employees.

"The criticism of her time in the office didn't originate from me – it was her employees who came forward and named her part-time Pat because she hasn't been in the office to exercise leadership. There's no comparison. "

Redner says he won't hinder Buesing in state Senate race

A second poll has shown a tight race between Democrat Bob Buesing and state Rep. Dana Young for Tampa's District 18 state Senate seat and at least one suggests that no-party candidate Joe Redner could be taking votes away from Buesing.

Name recognition and money probably make Republican Young the favorite in the race, but with redistricting making the district more Democratic and expectations for a Democratic wave year, the Dems hope this is one seat they could flip.

Could Redner act as a spoiler for those hopes?

"I've thought about it and I do think it's a possibility," Redner said.

Asked whether that means he would leave the race, he said, "I don't think it's time for me to answer that question. I think it's real early in the race and we have to wait a while and see how things play out."

But he added, "I am not suicidal, believe me. If I can't make a difference and I don't have a chance to win, I won't hinder him from winning."

A StPetePolls survey last week showed Young leading Buesing 35-31 percent with Redner at 16 percent. Redner got support from 20 percent of the Democrats in that poll.

A Times poll that didn't include Redner or the fourth candidate in the race, Sheldon Upthegrove, showed Young and Buesing tied at 36 percent.

Church, guns and Greco figure in District 19 Senate race

The Democratic primary for the bay-crossing District 19 state Senate race is turning into one of the toughest local legislative races, pitting against one another Reps. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg and Ed Narain of Tampa, former Rep. Betty Reed of Tampa and St. Petersburg consumer lawyer Augie Ribeiro.

Some developments:

• The battle of the pastors. Narain and Rouson of St. Petersburg, are publicizing lists of pastors endorsing them, and they suggest the degree to which it's a Tampa vs. St. Petersburg battle. Rouson's list of 18 last week were all from his side of the bay, and Narain responded with a dozen from Tampa, plus the Florida Sentinel Bulletin, Tampa's black community paper. "I'm working on my Tampa list," Rouson said.

• The gun battle. Narain scorned an NRA Political Victory Fund mailer boosting Rouson, who has a C-plus NRA rating and was who's one of 12 House Democrats to vote against repeal of the Stand Your Ground law. "I got an F and I'm proud of it," said Narain. Rouson shot back, "I can't control what grade people give me, but I can say I'm the first Democrat since 1987 to pass gun restriction legislation" — restrictions he pushed on back-yard gun ranges in residential areas.

Ribeiro, meanwhile, boasts an endorsement from Tampa icon and former Mayor Dick Greco. Greco made headlines last year by moving to St. Petersburg and lives in the same downtown condo building as Ribeiro.

Narain partisans including outgoing District 19 Sen. Arthenia Joyner were outraged by a Ribeiro mailer that depicts Narain as "the darling of Republicans and big business" and the recipient of campaign money from "Republican PACs and Rick Scott's friends and supporters."

Ribeiro cited donations to Narain from insurance, utilities and other corporate interests, and Republicans including Al Cardenas, a heavyweight GOP donor and lobbyist.

"It's desperate, it's disgusting," Narain said. "I've been fighting the Republicans on everything from Stand Your Ground to Medicaid expansion."

Contact William March at [email protected]

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