Perhaps when he awakens in the morning and preoccupies himself with which tin foil hat to wear to work, Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche looks into the mirror and sees a man of mystery staring back.
After all, the commissioner is a man of many identities. Sometimes he is Roche, Norm Roche, crusading public servant inveighing against the evils of that Marxist/Fifth Columnist/Jane Fonda-inspired conspiracy to put zombie-inducing fluoride in the water.
At other moments he is "Reality," a sort of online version of a Guy Fawkes mask, anonymously posting diatribes against his commission colleagues, gays in the military and race. V is for vainglory.
And Roche is also the virtual impresario behind YRTTNRTT, which also has posted unavowed diatribes.
Think of this guy as the Sybil of Pinellas County.
Roche admitted to the Times' David DeCamp that he is in fact the man behind the pen name "Reality," who frequently posts pouty, petulant, peeved online comments to the paper's tampabay.com website.
Roche's alter ego has railed against gays and the military's "Don't ask, don't tell'' policy, while suggesting St. Petersburg is a den of iniquity filled with thugs, drug dealers, blood in the streets, unwed mothers and welfare moochers.
Roche's little imaginary friend has attacked his commission colleagues as well. He accused Karen Seel of doing favors for a developer, implied Ken Welch used his political influence to get his daughter a job and suggested Chairwoman Susan Latvala has a "God complex." Do you get the feeling the next commission meeting is going to be frostier than a Lohan family Thanksgiving dinner?
If Roche thinks Latvala has a God complex now, wait until he discovers his office has been moved to Two Egg and his commission assignment consists of chairing the Select Sub-Sub-Sub Committee On UFOs, Snow Removal and Flossing.
To be sure, America has a long history of veiled writing. But it's rather doubtful anyone would confuse Reality's observations with "The Federalist Papers," which were written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison under the nom de plume: Publius. While they argued for a system of government, Reality observes, "Someone should have just shot the punks and been done with it. … it is freaking pathetic example of how truly f-up this uber PC liberal society has become.''
You also have to wonder how Roche, a county commissioner who has taken an oath to uphold the Florida and United States constitutions, could so cavalierly advocate denying criminal defendants due process in favor of vigilante justice.
I've read Benjamin Franklin's anonymous writings. Benjamin Franklin was an inspiration to me. Commissioner? You're no Silence Dogood.
Roche didn't use an alias as if he were a political dissident in Syria fearing government reprisals for his views. He didn't use a fake name like author Stephen King occasionally does when he writes in a different genre.
This was little more than a gutless gesture of an elected poltroon who lacked the courage of his convictions to attach his name to his ramblings and his back-stabbings.
Well, you get what you vote for.
Roche long has had a reputation for being loopier than Capt. Queeg. There are times when you half expect the commissioner to start rolling brass ball bearings in his hand during board meetings while wondering aloud who stole the strawberries.
And he still got elected to office on the "You talkin' to me?" ticket.
This is an elected official who should be held to a higher standard of public behavior. And skulking around on the Internet using an alias to launch cyber-bully attacks on the very people he is supposed to be working with for the good of the community hardly meets the most modest of civil benchmarks.
If Roche believes Seel is a willing tool of development interests, he should say so to her face. If he thinks Welch pulled some strings to help his daughter, he should say so to his face. And if he thinks Latvala views herself as the Goddess of Government, then he should man-up and run the risk of being turned into a Vienna Choir Boy and say so to her face.
Otherwise, maybe Norm Roche might want to think about renaming his online pretend buddy: "Banality."