Doling out those happy "proclamations" at public meetings has to be one of the least controversial things elected officials do. Or it should be, anyway.
Suitable for framing, the fancy gold-sealed documents peppered with ornate "whereases" and "therefores" ceremoniously acknowledge everything from retiring librarians to National Empowering Women Day. No, I did not make that up.
But around here, even ceremonial proclaiming can get political — and tell you a lot about the politicians involved....
It's the morning after Tampa's city elections, and surely the question on everyone's mind is:
Just how did Mayor Bob Buckhorn manage to fight off that fierce election challenge from the lone write-in candidate who, interestingly, once tried to run for the Legislature while in prison?
Kidding — the popular mayor had no real race.
But for the kingmakers, gadflies, gossips and political junkies among us, it's never too soon to speculate. So the real question is:...
John Jonchuck, the clearly mentally disturbed father accused of throwing his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, from a bridge near the Sunshine Skyway to her death in the waters below, is incompetent to stand trial.
Given no motive we've heard that could begin to make this make sense — revenge, greed, anger — no kidding.
And there is something grimly notable about this latest....
To the surprise of pretty much no one, former neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, poster-guy for Florida's flawed "stand your ground" law, will officially not face federal civil rights charges.
The non-news came this week as the Justice Department closed its investigation into the infamous shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager Zimmerman spotted walking through a Sanford neighborhood on a rainy night three years ago and assumed the worst....
Call me cheesy, but I vote on election day.
No mail-in or early voting for me — I like the bustle of the old-church-down-the-street-turned-precinct, the supporters waving warring campaign signs, the neighbors streaming in to vote and, finally, the I-Voted sticker I wear all day. (I really like my I-Voted sticker.)
But this year, for Tampa's upcoming city elections, I gave up.
Not on voting. But with turnout Tuesday predicted to be somewhere in the pathetic teens, election day seems lackluster. This week, I early-voted at the library. Had the place to myself. Tumbleweeds blew by. No sound but the crickets....
02/20/15 Human Interest
If you care about such things — if to you Cuban bread is not just what's holding together the meat, pickle and Swiss but a tradition in itself — the story in the newspaper a while back might have made you wistful. At least until you heard the rest.
It was about the bread at La Segunda Central Bakery in Ybor City, one of those disappearing neighborhood places you step into like time travel....
People say there's not enough good news in the news. (Seriously, would you read it? Today, not one elementary school went on lockdown due to a criminal on the loose. No horrible crimes happened. Lawmakers did not push idiotic legislation like, say, allowing guns on college campuses, and not one person you elected made you regret it.)
Still, in the spirit of good news, here are pending legislative efforts neither earth-shaking nor life-changing, just small and sensible and sane. Hey, it could happen....
He was all but ousted from politics because of the questionable provenance of a certain lovely lakeside vacation home in Arkansas.
Housegate, you could call the scandal that felled the once-powerful Hillsborough County Commissioner-turned-state Sen. Jim Norman.
But around here we do like to recycle, even our politicians. Norman is in the headlines again.
To hear him tell it to the Tampa Tribune recently, his problems were really just badly handled PR. And what's more, he's considering a countywide commission comeback run next year....
Like the initial headlines about Hillsborough County Judge Eric Myers weren't troubling enough.
The judge stands accused of hitting his wife until she blacked out during an argument at their home. He has reportedly countered by saying she attacked him first. Both are under investigation in what promises to be a spectacularly messy case — although not one that was generally expected to end Myers' career on the bench....
02/10/15 Human Interest
“Fifty-nine cents," Helen Gordon Davis says, shaking her head. She is sitting up in bed, receiving visitors — at 88, rather elegantly, in black velour.
On her dresser is a Molly Ivins book next to a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Outside her high-rise window is Bayshore Boulevard, that defining line of the South Tampa powerful, winding along the water to the tall buildings downtown.
Davis is taking in neither the view nor the fine day. She is making a point:...
Twenty-six years ago, it was a blond 2-year-old named Bradley McGee grinning at you from the picture in the newspaper, right under the horrific headlines about what happened to him.
In state care for most of his short life, he was returned to a mother and stepfather who had no business with a child and punished by being brutally dunked headfirst into a toilet. His death, and his name, became synonymous with Florida's inadequate, underfunded and overwhelmed child welfare system, then the notorious HRS....
02/03/15 Public Safety
It's me, Gov. Rick Scott, just starting my second term. (Turns out you disliked Charlie Crist even more than me!) Truth is, I'm already in a bit of a pickle, at least if you ask the "media."
Me, I think things are just peachy, given jobs and tax cuts and jobs and what a beautiful day it is here in Florida and also jobs. But you may have heard something about the "media" poking its Mrs. Kravitz nose into the completely willing, totally planned, everyone-knew-about-it, utterly amicable "resignation" of the respected head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gerald Bailey....
01/30/15 Human Interest
So it's Gasparilla again, Tampa's rich, historic tradition of pirates and parades, beer, beads, and the occasional bawd, a town at its best and, okay, sometimes its worst.
The weather the mayor ordered should arrive on time, cool enough Saturday morning that even hardcore partiers won't start bending elbows early because it's hot and hate stumbling by noon. Because on this day, it is not unusual to spot someone enjoying a frosty beverage with the sun barely up, Tampa partying Mardi Gras style. ...
It's almost refreshing that Jeff Vinik, the money man ready to transform a chunk of once-sleepy downtown Tampa into something bigger, does not much care for the nickname "Vinikville."
That's the working title some use for a planned and ambitious remake of the southern end of downtown into a vibrant business, residential and entertainment district. With, if all goes well, a medical school to boot....
So this local lawyer who got in hot water with the Florida Bar while running for judge now has the ear of the highest court in the land.
And what the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides in her case could change the way judges run for office — and not for the better.
Lawyer Lanell Williams-Yulee did not win her race five years ago against Dick Greco Jr., a longtime Hillsborough County judge who has a family name that's big in Tampa to boot....