1. Archive

Babysitting stalls a Senate race. Bugs in the bureaus and dancing days in Tampa.

Two key moments led Mayor Sandy Freedman to decide against a race for the U.S. Senate. The first was a comment by the man who was urging her to make the run _ U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. Graham promised Freedman Democratic campaign money and his full support, but during a conversation about the life of a U.S. senator, Graham also told her: "You'll have to learn that this is the life of a nomad."

Freedman knew what he meant. A presidential appointee can escape Washington regularly and can quit anytime. A member of the U.S. House comes home to the district regularly. But a senator's home is the entire state, and even when Congress is not in session, that means a life on the road.

Then, on Feb. 15, the day after Valentine's Day, Freedman babysat her granddaughter. She saw up close what she would be leaving behind. That night clinched it, Freedman said. The next morning, she called Graham's aide, Buddy Shorstein, and told him her answer was no.

Freedman says now that she still believes she could have won the race, but she thinks the campaign would have been "gruesome and painful," and included attacks on her husband, Michael, a Tampa lawyer, who was among those arrested and later cleared in the Key Bank investigation.

"Michael told me, "If you want to do this, don't worry' " about any attacks on him. But for Freedman, who works fiercely to keep her private life out of the public arena, the idea of putting her family on the line was not comforting.

"I was trying to convince myself this race was something I ought to do," she said. "As logical as it was, it wasn't right for me."

They should have kept the new furniture: There's a horrible infestation on the second floor of the new county office building. No, it's not the county commissioners, who moved in a few weeks ago. And it's not the reporters, who lurk in dark corners, ready to scramble out for a leftover scrap of news. It's roaches, brought to the new digs by budget-conscious county commissioners. The bugs had hidden inside the commissioners' old furniture.

Rumors, hunches, half-truths, etc: Former Republican state Rep. Chris Corr is being urged to run for Lydia Miller's county commission seat. Word is that commissioner Phyllis Busansky is whispering in his ear. . . . Tampa businessman and landowner Bob Thomas may end the county's messy search for a state prison site by donating some of his land in eastern Hillsborough County. . . . Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman has been mentioned as a possible leader of the state anti-casino campaign.

Bu knows dance but not football: Tuesday was a two name tag day for Fernando Bujones. The newly hired artistic director of the Bay Ballet Theater was tagged at a corporate arts breakfast at NationsBank and later at a reception in his honor at the Landmark Building. They could have skipped the name tags. The internationally recognized dancer, in his cropped teal jacket with a black collar, stood out from the suit and silk crowd. While movers at both events were gushing over the new possibilities for the ballet company and the city, Bujones took them one better. "I really feel the time is right. This is a growing city in every aspect. The company will be a success and the Buccaneers are going to start winning. That is my prediction."

This week's message from Tallahassee: While a Senate committee was voting against a ban on assault weapons, two Hillsborough legislators, Sen. John Grant and Rep. Buddy Johnson, were proposing legislation outlawing nudity in Florida. That means Floridians would be able carry the automatic weapon of their choice, as long as they wouldn't do it in the nude.