The retired English teacher schooled the whipper-snapper Tuesday morning, questioning his motives and sources before failing him on the sloppy execution of a pet project.
The teacher was Commissioner Pat Mulieri, who retired eight years ago as a Pasco Hernando Community College English professor. The whipper-snapper was Jack Mariano, who ranks third in seniority on the five-member commission, but who still comes off at times as a clumsy Eddie Haskell....
If this was a hotel, the sign outside would be flashing "No vacancy.''
The nondescript cinder-block structure looks like a lot of others in Hudson. It has a pale yellow exterior with rust-colored trim and an aging basketball hoop on the edge of the driveway. Just a block off U.S. 19, this place was built in 1960, but took on its current mission in the early 1990s. Six parking spaces are out front and six bedrooms are inside; three are shared by 10 single women and three more are reserved for mothers with children. It's a total of 22 beds for people with no place else to go....
Hernando County commissioners are staring back at the short-sighted view of their predecessors.
More than a decade ago, a different commission declined to set a tax rate on retail telephone and cable television services, opting instead for the minimum under a 2001 state law. That decision is having real implications now as the county figures out how to pay for $4.5 million worth of new communications equipment for its public safety departments....
Six months into his first term as a Pasco County commissioner, Ted Schrader persuaded his colleagues to give $250,000 to Sunrise, a domestic violence and sexual assault center, so the agency could acquire a building.
Opening the public purse in 2001 for a worthwhile cause was one thing; acknowledging the relevance to his own life has proven to be another. A dozen years after the public benevolence, Schrader stands accused of domestic battery....
If a room could be miscast as the temporary Hernando Commission chambers, this was it: the Praise Center.
Glorifying government was not the topic of this town hall meeting Monday afternoon in the annex of the Spring Lake United Methodist Church. There was no repenting nor tithing. Just sermonizing from pro-gun, anti-tax, less-government advocates.
Four commissioners, two constitutional officers, 10 county department heads, and County Administrator Len Sossamon listened to comments from the sparse gathering of perhaps 30 citizens. Empty seats outnumbered the occupied chairs for the session that ended an hour earlier than scheduled. Many of the critiques, often based on hearsay or personal pet peeves, were familiar to anyone who has listened to the voice of the public at the weekly commission meetings....
Here's what having the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives as your neighbor won't get you: A medical institute or a new state university.
Former House Speaker Johnnie Byrd of Plant City pushed through the Byrd Alzheimer Institute as a legacy to his father. Former Senate budget chief JD Alexander's parting gift to his district was the 12th state university — Florida Polytechnic in Polk County....
The end of December and the end of year are rapidly approaching, but as a reminder of the things that occurred over the past 12 months, we present the Pasco County 2012 month-at-glance calendar:
Play Santa: Pasco County government started the year with a $300,000 bill from the holidays after a commission majority, following the lead of Henry Wilson, decided at their final meeting of 2011 to grant their employees an extra day off on Dec. 23. It meant pulling money from three separate accounts to cover the unbudgeted overtime for firefighters, ambulance crews and utilities workers. ...
Most of us see a pity. Craig Carmichael sees potential.
"Can't you just see it?'' Carmichael, 47, says waving his arms.
Well, sure. Look past the plywood covering the broken windows that were never replaced, the unkempt landscaping, mildew, torn screen, the skeleton of the air conditioning unit, broken light fixtures, exterior cracks, nonworking elevator, dingy paint and all round dumpy appearance and this place could really be something. ...
Collectively, they've served the public for more than 126 years including 64 years as elected constitutional officers in Hernando County. They've gone from punch card ballots and handwritten records to electronic banking, voting, tax certificate sales and GPS mapping.
But, next week, Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Nicolai leaves office followed in early January by Tax Collector Juanita Sikes, Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek and Elections Supervisor Annie Williams. All are retiring. None have regrets. At least no regrets they cared to share with a group of Tampa Bay Times journalists when the quartet agreed to a group interview....
It was a reasonable request from a well-respected public servant: How about a little something for the effort?
Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made the pitch on behalf of his 420 employees, but he could have been speaking for public servants across Florida. It's been six years since state workers received a cost of living raise. Teachers, deputies, firefighters and other local government workers in Pasco have gone five years without a salary bump....
John Gallagher likes to build stuff. Lately, his county administrator's position has been more about planning stuff. As he prepares to depart county government next spring after 31 years as administrator, the duel focus of his career leaves Pasco well-positioned to replace its prevailing status as bedroom community with that of regional economic player.
Two weeks ago, Gallagher, 65, confirmed his planned departure — likely in April — and the commission now will be searching for a top administrator for the first time since 1982. His steady leadership and drive to get the best deal possible for the public are well-known traits. Ask anybody who sat across from him at the negotiating table or stood at the podium during a Development Review Committee meeting....
My father once served on a criminal court grand jury in upstate New York. His lasting impression? He didn't vote for the prosecutor several years later when he ran for judge. The district attorney, my father had said, acted like a horse's behind during the proceedings.
It's a good lesson. Inside the courtroom, the defendant isn't the only one being judged and not everybody appreciates the gamesmanship being played....
Ann Hildebrand's swan song sounds a lot like one of her opening numbers.
The refrain is familiar because Hildebrand, 74, is winding down her seventh and final term on the Pasco County Commission the same way she began her first — pushing for community investment.
In 1986, after less than two years in office, she and the rest of the commission asked voters to approve new property taxes to build parks and libraries. In 2012, in the waning days of her 28th year in office, Hildebrand is touting the benefits of renewing the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax known as Penny for Pasco. The current sales tax is scheduled to expire at the end of 2014 and supporters are asking voters now for a 10-year extension. The referendum is the final item on Tuesday's ballot....
Hernando's County Commission and School Board members gathered in the same room this week, congratulated themselves for doing so and talked about the need to get together more often to work through shared concerns.
Then they spent three hours talking but not listening.
By the close of the meeting, it was clear two commissioners (and likely a third who was absent) will ignore the School Board majority seeking to restore school impact fees to pay for classroom construction....
Six days until the election and Kurt Browning is fretting.
You wouldn't expect that to be the case. He defeated two-term incumbent School Superintendent Heather Fiorentino by 38 percentage points in the August Republican primary and faces only a write-in candidate next week. That means only Browning's name will appear on the ballot.
This should be a breeze. Order the party platters. Keep working on the planned transition. Book your stay for the new superintendents' orientation in Gainesville later this month....