Daniel Ruth: Great moments in public administration

Published October 13 2016

And now another exciting episode of "Great Moments In Public Administration," brought to you by our sponsor, Roto-Rooter.

The action begins with our hero, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, walking the moors of the city when he is interrupted by his aide-de-camp.

"Yes, well, Murgatroyd, what is it?" the mayor snaps.

"Your excellency, I am afraid I have some bad news, sir. It appears the citizenry has adopted a new nickname for you. And I fear you won't like it."

"Go ahead, tell me," Kriseman sighs. "I can take anything."

"Rumor is, sir, that you are beginning to be known around town as … ahem, Mayor Poopy Pants."

"Curses! Simply because I've been at the helm of the ship of state when 200 million gallons of raw and partially treated sewage were pumped into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay, retention ponds, city streets and parks during some horrific storms, and this is the thanks I get?"

"The good news, my liege, is that Mayor Stinky Face has not caught on as we first thought."

"I simply don't understand why I am being called to account for the sewage dumps when everyone knows it is the fault of all my predecessors."

"My sympathies your grace, but we're working on a solution we hope to have in place before anyone comes up with Mayor Icky-Sticky."

"And you better make it snappy before the next election."

"Indeed, my holiness. That's why you might want to consider a recommendation from Claude Tankersley to reopen the Albert Whitted wastewater treatment facility to handle any excess drainage in the future."

"Haversham, or whatever your name is, who is Claude Tankersley?"

"He is your public works administrator, my divinity."

"Oh, okay then. But wait a minute. Didn't we shut down the Albert Whitted plant to turn it into a fish farm? What happens to all that tilapia I was looking forward to?"

"Here's a question for you, my beacon of light. Do you want a piece of some pecan encrusted fish, or do want to be known as Mayor Oh Boy That's Some Ripe Cheese!"

"Good point, Bumstead, or whatever your name is. How much does Tankersley say it will it cost to put Albert Whitted back on line?"

"Oh about $11 million to get it functioning in time for next year's rainy season, my Adonis."

"Really? It will cost the city $11 million to reopen Albert Whitted? That's a great deal of money, Fernwood."

"Yes it is, my prince. Or would you rather be known as Mayor Malodorous? One more thing. Do you really want to run for re-election next year and have the streets awash in sewage? Say, there's a winning political strategy."

"Jeeves! I've just had a stunning realization. Here's a great idea. The fish farm be damned. Here's what we're going to do. We're going to reopen Albert Whitted and get that puppy fired up before next year's rainy season. And we're going to do that because I'm the mayor of this great city and I have an obligation to lead and protect the public from the dangers of partially treated and untreated sewage threatening the people who I love very much. Did I mention I thought all this up by myself?"

"Brilliant, my colossus! You have that rare gift of grasping the obvious. And that is why you and only you can guide the city with your expansive vision and unmatched leadership."

And that ends today's riveting installment of "Great Moments In Public Administration." Tune in next week, when we find Mayor Rick Kriseman pondering ways to relocate his beloved fish farm to the city's pier, renaming the project: Tilapia World. Genius. Sheer genius.