The vaguely accurate Tampa Bay and Florida year in review, Part II.
Power shortage: In a span of a few days, Duke Energy officials hand Bill Johnson a three-year contract as CEO, complete their merger with Progress Energy, force Johnson out in a palace coup and offer him $10 million as a farewell gift. Consumers are pleased the merger does not appear to impact the trademark greed and deceit they have come to expect from their local utility company.
Anarchy rules: Stung by criticism that their movement lacks focus and ambition, Occupy Tampa protestors promised to bring chaos to the Republican National Convention. Their plan should be finalized any day now.
Lower ed: Less than a year into his reign, Florida Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson resigns. He says his abrupt departure has nothing to do with criticisms regarding the manipulation of FCAT standards or bungled school grades. Scorers for FCAT essays say his explanation shows little attention to detail, no supporting facts and zero creativity.
An attendance problem: A proposed baseball stadium in the Carillon business park does not draw much interest from Tampa Bay Rays officials. They said the drive was too far and, besides, it was more comfortable to watch the presentation on TV.
Lap of luxury: Investigators say a man's $50,000 bill from a night at a Pinellas strip club appears to be legitimate. It goes under the category of economic stimulus.
Save the whatchamacallit: Attendance continues to dwindle at St. Petersburg's famed Pier. Polls suggest residents are far too busy distributing petitions and filing lawsuits to waste time supporting the Pier's retailers.
Hooray for incompetence: Upon reviewing seven-hour poll lines and last-in-the-nation results, Gov. Rick Scott and his Cabinet declare Florida's election procedures a success. (Sorry, but that sentence is funny enough all by itself.)
The subtle approach, law enforcement version: Pinellas Park police use a Taser on a man who refused to stop fighting a neighbor's house fire with his garden hose. When asked why the two officers did not simply turn off the hose, a police spokesman explained, "HANDS ON YOUR HEAD, DIRTBAG!"
The subtle approach, political version: Longtime Republican Charlie Crist waits until he is a guest at a White House reception before announcing he is becoming a Democrat. Days later, Crist invites reporters to the Pinellas County elections office to see him turn in the paperwork. Also poised to participate were a marching band, acrobats and a VW filled with clowns, but Crist demurred because he did not want to look like a political opportunist.
Army maneuvers: Tales of socialites having access to U.S. Central Command in Tampa send reverberations up the military chain. Visitors at CentCom must now show at least three forms of picture ID to gain entry. Either that, or one platinum Neiman Marcus card.
Refusing to hit the brakes: St. Petersburg officials insist the city's red-light camera program is not driven by economic factors. Yet Mayor Bill Foster made plans to substantially expand the program without bothering to inform City Council members, and the city's comprehensive staff reports failed to include data on increased traffic accidents. Kind of gives new meaning to rear-end collisions.