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Summer silly season has begun

Published Oct. 13, 2005

Sometimes the summer silly season sneaks up on you. Before you know it, you're hearing about the Kuwaiti kid who got 15 years in the slammer for wearing a T-shirt with Saddam Hussein's picture on it, and wondering if anyone knows for sure where Citrus Circuit Judge Gary Graham really spends his vacations. Nobody is sure why the silly season comes and goes around this time of year. I once heard a theory that there is something called the Bozone layer which, unlike its cousin the ozone layer, usually screens out special interstellar rays that turn public officials into clowns.

The theory was that some unknown force, perhaps the escaping gas from aerosol-inflated whoopee cushions, causes a temporary hole in the Bozone layer between late May and mid-July.

I wasn't paying attention when the first red rubber noses and big floppy shoes showed up, so the first real hint I heard was when I was trying to push open a door at the Pasco County Government Center, and found it being held firmly shut by a large, ungainly man whom I recognized as Matt Prahasky.

Prahasky, one of the first Republicans elected to the Pasco County Commission, but who has since found productive employment, is sort of like the mythical Scottish village of Brigadoon. He only appears to me every hundred years, or any time something ridiculous is going on in Pasco County. The last time I saw him was years ago when he got my attention by purposefully (but lightly) rear-ending my car on U.S. 19.

Shortly after that, I checked, and sure enough, vast tomfoolery was to be uncovered. The Pasco pols were building two identical massive courthouses so nobody's feelings would get hurt, and so they would never, ever, run out of space again. The mobile homes outside those buildings, I assume, are merely for use as museum pieces so they can show new employees how crowded things used to be.

After this appearance, I only had to look to that day's paper, and see that the city of Port Richey suddenly decided to have a moratorium on high-density development _ guess what? _ right when somebody wanted to build a high-density project there that would have benefited needy people.

Nominally, the moratorium purports to be aimed at waiting for the Department of Community Affairs to review zoning regulations in the city's comprehensive growth plan.

There's a good chronological cubbyhole to hide in. The DCA already declared that plan to be in non-compliance two years ago. A recent report from the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council on a proposed amendment to fix the problems took only a mere 15 pages to say, "Close, but no cigar."

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Wells showed up at the meeting where the moratorium was declared, however, to tell the Port Richey City Council what a bang-up job it was doing. The council, alerted to Wells' plans to attend the meeting, "as a city resident," just happened to have a plaque handy congratulating him for being such an all-around nice guy.

It's sort of reminiscent of members of the Donner party praising the meat selection at a barbecue, or Andrew Dice Clay thanking Guns n' Roses for its help at a National Brotherhood week rally.

Gee, the last time this many backs got scratched at the same time, Hernando County wound up with $300-million it doesn't know what to do with.

Maybe Wells and Port Richey have the right idea.

Or, maybe what Prahasky told me the other day is right.

Things really don't change that much.