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The will to secede shared by rich, poor

Come on, admit it. If you were one of the people who read about last week's tentative exploration of whether some of Kings Bay Drive could secede from the city of Crystal River, it touched a nerve.

We all get the urge to secede every once in a while. Key West did it years ago, forming the "Conch Republic," which has no governmental power but has been very good for T-shirt sales.

And, of course, about once a month some nut case announces that the fillings in his teeth have just showed him a secret clause in the U.S. Constitution that says he doesn't have to pay income tax and his hay barn is a sovereign state.

Several militia and survivalist groups have decided they are no longer part of the United States and have the right to issue currency, order executions and make the sheriff (I'm not kidding) the highest-ranking legal government authority. (Scary if you've lived in Pasco County as long as I have).

But there is just some independence gene on the human cussedness chromosome that makes us all, every once in a while, just want to drop out and get away from the political system. If Bill Clinton, George Bush or Sandra Mortham haven't made you feel that way at least once, you haven't been paying attention.

So, many of us silently cheered when the Kings Bay folks, most of whom are, well, comfortable, decided that they wanted out of Crystal River, a municipality that has a government that is, well, colorful.

I mean, a City Council where a member suddenly whips out a banana at a meeting and asks people to consider it a .357 Magnum and to see his briefcase as a bomb . . . a city where politicians squabble ceaselessly over allegations of favoritism and cronyism and then, trying to quash media reports of their squabbling, start squabbling over whether they squabble or not, is more amusing to write about than to pay for.

And let's be honest, folks in Kings Bay, because of their high land values, pay a lot for a city government with which some of them are less than thrilled.

And, lest some immediately leap to the belief that this is a case of wealthy waterfront dwellers (who do, occasionally, slip into a belief that they own the river) wanting to disassociate themselves from their less fortunate neighbors, let me interject a point.

Belleair Shore, population 70, has about the same number of people as the proposed secession area of Kings Bay, and, like Citrus County in general, it has battles over pollution, access to the water and, yes, politics.

Residents in that posh beach town in Pinellas County, where the average house goes for about $700,000 _ a tad more than the average Kings Bay homestead _ have a government in which the town commissioners once impeached the mayor (at a meeting held in the mayor's living room), saying the mayor had sandbagged them by urging incumbents to run against them and taking advantage of the fact that they hadn't filed qualifying papers because nobody ever ran against them.

And folks in Belleair Shore also have a problem with those who think they own the Gulf of Mexico.

Another mayor was convicted of battery for attacking a couple and 2-year-old child for illegally parking in a lot at the town's beach . . . the same mayor who tried to prosecute two women for daring to drink iced coffee on the beach.

Nobody, as far as I know, has started a secession movement in Belleair Shore lately, but I'll bet there have been some tense meetings in which residents have tapped on their wineglasses with oyster forks and indulged in loud harrumphing.

There has, occasionally, been talk of consolidating Belleair Shore with other upscale beach communities, or doing away with town government there altogether and, as the Citrus folks wish, turning it over to the county.

But then there wouldn't be any way to deal with parkers and coffee drinkers.

My point, I guess, is that you don't have to be middle-class or poor to have Bubba running the show.

Sometimes he just dresses better.