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A welcome change in the political atmosphere

For a guy whose critics once nicknamed him "Nap," Hap Clark has a way of livening things up. And, even if he doesn't like this newspaper, I welcome his entry into the Pasco County Commission race.

Not that I have anything against Steve Simon, whom Clark will be facing in the Democratic Primary in September. I like Simon and think he has done a good job.

But I have a selfish interest in the liveliness of Pasco County politics, which have gotten so boring lately that I'd rather watch paint dry.

It has taken Pasco County Sheriff Bob White well over a year and a half to get himself into even a little flap _ occurring when he drastically raised the levels at which his department will seek competitive bids on purchases _ and even then his critics' angst has to be because of what he might do instead of anything he has done in regard to making those purchases.

His predecessors, trust me, have gotten into bigger and much more interesting flaps much earlier in their incumbencies.

Pasco County Commission meetings of late have been about as exciting as those of the Pasco County School Board meetings, which recently went through a three-year period in which only two votes taken weren't unanimous.

Like him or not, at least Clark will liven things up.

One of my favorites is his oft-repeated "brain surgeon" remark.

Hap, who announced last week that he is trying to get back on the Pasco County Commission, which he left two years ago in a spectacularly unsuccessful bid to unseat Mike Olson as Pasco County tax collector, once said, and I quote, "I don't think you have to be a brain surgeon to figure this out. The St. Petersburg Times is a Pinellas County paper, and they want us to get rid of Mr. (Clyde) Hobby as a lobbyist."

I don't want to tell inside stories, but most of us up in these northern counties believe that we are Pasco, Hernando and Citrus county newspapers and that we wrap the editions from Pinellas and Hillsborough counties around our newspapers to protect them from the elements.

Actually, we were kind of flattered to hear that Hap thought we were organized enough for a conspiracy.

Hobby did eventually fulfill his contract with the county, leaving at his own pace and time, which, I guess, would mean we are conspirators but just not very good at it.

When Clark was running against his former friend, Olson, he warmed up the campaign by saying that Olson had pulled a female employee into his office to discuss her crotch.

Responding to Clark's comments, Olson said he had been acting at the behest of the woman's supervisor, also a female, who felt that the dress she was wearing was in danger of revealing her crotch.

Olson filed a lawsuit that is still pending, although he slung a dab or two of his own mud during that campaign trying to make political hay out of the fact that Clark was renting property to gambling ships.

Believe me, we just don't get the words "crotch" and "gambling" into that many political stories in these parts.

If Mike Fasano and Lee Cannon wind up facing each other in the general election for a new state Senate seat, fireworks are almost sure to occur.

Fasano and Cannon both have primary opposition. Cannon blames Fasano and former Pasco County Commissioner Ed Collins of engineering his defeat in the 2000 sheriff's race.

Of course, as I recall, it seemed like Cannon, whom Collins had once accused of threatening to "squash" him "like a bug," also blamed journalists, the position of the stars, El Nino and several other factors for his defeat.

He left out, incidentally, incidents when he engaged in an angry confrontation with another county commissioner (besides Collins), called a judge a liar, chastised a grieving teenager for asking a question he considered impertinent after a school shooting, and yelled at a resident at a neighborhood meeting.

Mike Fasano and I aren't actually members of a mutual admiration society either, and I sincerely don't have a dog in that fight.

I'm just joyfully anticipating the possibility that there might, for once, actually be a dog fight.

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