Ignorance and belligerence remain top characteristics of the Pasco Republican Party leadership as it picks petty fights over perceived slights from highly regarded civic institutions.
Two months ago, the party went public with unfounded allegations that partisan politics kept its float out of the annual Chasco Fiesta parade in New Port Richey. Wrong. The parade rules didn't allow any political-themed entries in the fiesta, an annual fundraiser for the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce and multiple nonprofit groups. No matter. State Committeeman Bill Bunting laid the blame on Chasco coordinator and former New Port Richey Mayor Wendy Brenner, who he incorrectly identified as a Democrat.
Now, the party leadership of Bunting, Committeewoman Lona O'Reilly and Chairman Randy Maggard are sore over a nonexistent flap at Pasco-Hernando Community College's commencement ceremonies. The trio signed a letter to PHCC registering their and the party executive committee's dismay at invocations being removed from the college's commencement.
One little problem, as Times staff writer Jodie Tillman reported, PHCC hasn't had commencement invocations in at least a decade and the college has no knowledge of student complaints nor of a formal decision by administrators or trustees to ban a graduation prayer. Bunting promised to challenge gubernatorial appointments of the trustees if the invocations aren't part of future graduations.
Bunting should refocus his typically arrogant blustering. Instead of relaying inaccurate information to the party's executive committee to create an issue where none exists, he would better serve the people who elected him state committeeman by tackling more substantive policy issues. Offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, relaxing class-size amendment requirements, Hometown Democracy or public safety financing are just a handful of national, state and local issues worthy of public debate among the party faithful.
It beats bullying, political intimidation and a narrow-focused ideology that now appears to include a healthy dose of paranoia.