The case currently playing out in Tampa's federal court looked like a done deal, like a thousand done deals before and a thousand more to come.
Not that the allegations aren't incendiary.
A 28-year-old son of a gynecologist is accused of tricking his pregnant ex into taking an abortion pill disguised as a common antibiotic. She miscarried.
So yes, there are plenty of life-versus-choice implications in this one....
You go, University of South Florida.
Way to look like a wise and forward-thinking academic entity in our midst.
(Well, yeah, you might be saying — isn't that what colleges are supposed to be? Except this is not always so. Remember that USF faculty member who dared equate the images of a priest and a toilet as part of a behavioral psychology presentation at an academic conference?...
The headlines from around the state were enough to make a person slosh her margarita or spill her chardonnay:
Tampa prepares to curb late-night drinking!
City to consider closing Tampa bars at midnight instead of 3 a.m.!
Okay, so I added the exclamation points. But seriously — what kind of sad-sack, roll-up-the-streets, Mayberry burg are we running around here? What about this city's thriving, throbbing Ybor City entertainment district, the bustle of Hyde Park, the cool vibe of the Heights neighborhoods?...
Thirteen years ago, Valessa Robinson was a dark mystery — a teenage girl from the comfortable suburbs convicted in the stabbing death of her own mother, the body left stuffed in a garbage can while the girl and her friends partied.
Jurors saw Robinson at the defense table dressed in good-girl clothes — Mary Janes, pastel sweaters, tights. They also heard testimony about a rebellious 15-year-old deep into drugs, ugly to her mother and mad for a sinister older boy....
11/29/13 Human Interest
Dick Greco recently turned 80, a big birthday that nearly snuck up on Tampa's four-time mayor and perpetual man-about-town.
"I don't ever think about age. I never have," says Greco, whose mother last voted at 97. "My life has been so busy, and suddenly people are talking about how you're going to be 80."
It would prove to be an interesting birthday.
There were the inevitable joke calls and emails about how a lucky day would now mean being able to find his car in the parking lot, how he shouldn't be insulted if people think he's wearing alligator shoes when he's barefoot. Ha ha. The curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center joked at a recent ceremony that Tampa's first mayor was elected in 1855 "in a tight race with Dick Greco."...
11/28/13 Human Interest
Late at night you hear them, even from my neighborhood a few miles away, the trains that roll through downtown Tampa past the quieted high-rises, blowing their horns.
It sounds faraway and a little sad, and even at 2 a.m., I like it. It seems part of the city.
But downtown Tampa is no longer the ghost town it once was at night, back when the saddest McDonald's you ever saw was pretty much the hub of activity, except of course for an old bar actually called the Hub....
11/26/13 Human Interest
I like to cook, especially for the holidays. The house smells amazing and you get to use your hands instead of your brain for awhile.
Mine tends to be a freewheeling sort of cooking, requiring pretty much no precision or discipline of the mind. I like to make things to which you can add a little more of this, or not, and it generally turns out fine.
This Thanksgiving, I wanted to be different. So for my birthday this year, I asked not for a purse or a gift card, but a secret. Okay, not a secret exactly, more like a mystery, at least to me, one about flour and water and maybe — eggs? I wasn't really sure whether eggs were involved....
11/23/13 Public Safety
TAMPA — With one email to the most powerful lawman in town, a Tampa attorney had two top Hillsborough sheriff's detectives investigating his client's enemy.
The attorney: Stephen Diaco.
The client: loudmouth radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
The suspect: a 46-year-old AAA employee with perhaps a little too much time on his hands.
Morgan "Joshua" Morey now says Diaco used the Sheriff's Office to have him criminally investigated last year. And that's an eyebrow-raising claim, since Diaco is at the center of separate allegations that his firm used a Tampa police connection to set up a courtroom enemy for a DUI arrest....
From the desk of Florida Gov. Rick Scott
Dear (new mom, new lawyer, Lotto winner, business owner or state employee whose job I know so little about I asked your boss to write that part for me):
Congrats on the big whatever good thing just happened to you! Say, have I told you what a good job I've done as governor? And by the way, wasn't the guy before me just awful?
11/21/13 Human Interest
It is an understatement to say that, at 75, Dick Corbett has been busy leading an interesting life.
He broke his nose no less than five times as a young boxer before he even got to college. He started out with not much and made it into a lot.
He came to Tampa an outsider, looked around, saw promise and became the creator and driving force behind what's now our swankiest mall, International Plaza. He and his wife, Cornelia, owned the Rowdies soccer team and gave millions to Tampa's art museum....
Mark Sharpe is talking crazy.
Remember when Sharpe, a Hillsborough County commissioner, thought we were ready for rail? And maybe willing to back a tax for it? Ha.
Remember how he talked with great enthusiasm about how we could be connected by light rail and a beefed-up bus system? Ha again.
Tea partiers shook their fists. Some Republicans started muttering about how Sharpe wasn't Republican enough. And rail died with a resounding no from the voters....
Surely there is a secret committee that meets regularly, probably up in Tallahassee, to keep Florida vying for the title of State of Absurdity.
Possible motto: You'll never think up something too ridiculous to happen here!
This week, we had the guy charged with pretending to be a cop so he could get a discount at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through. Seriously, how much would you risk for a cheaper apple fritter?...
We tend to have little sympathy for people who find themselves pictured in jail mug shots.
For the record, though, there is a chance the charges that led to that almost always unflattering portrait will get reduced or dropped.
Or that the person frozen on camera at that low moment will be acquitted.
Or even that part about letting people have a shot at a normal life once they've paid their debt....
They lined up outside the courtroom Tuesday morning, the reporters and the curious, the loved ones of the dead and of the accused. Some brought seat cushions from home for the courtroom's unforgiving wooden benches and the long hours to come.
More than three years ago and a few miles east, Tampa police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab were working a midnight shift, making what they surely thought was a routine arrest, when they were gunned down on a dark roadside. Since then, about a million miles of lawyerly argument, judicial ruling and tedious jury selection led to this, the trial of Dontae Morris....
The audience at Thursday night's Tampa Theatre premiere of the evocative documentary JFK in Tampa: The 50th Anniversary included a who's who of politicians past and present.
There was former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio with husband Mark Woodard and their son Graham Woodard, 23. Speaking of politicians past and present.
Turns out Graham Woodard — who is tall, friendly and charismatic, who works in a bank and looks a lot like his mother — has an eye for politics....