1. News
  2. /
  3. Pasco

Pasco commissioner unlikely to forget his ‘Never Forget’ 9/11 post

Commissioner Jack Mariano shares a 9/11 social media post that people found offensive. He takes it down. Some want his resignation.
Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano removed a Sept. 11 Facebook post after strong public criticism of its contents. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Sep. 17
Updated Sep. 17

An attempt by Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano to turn a 9/11 remembrance into a political statement blew up into a social media firestorm last week.

Mariano shared to his Facebook account a meme showing the moment United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The attacks from Al-Qaeda in New York, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and aboard United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pa., left nearly 3,000 dead.

The meme included the statement, “‘Never forget’ - you said..,’’ above the photograph showing a fireball from the exploding jet. But below that picture, it says, “I am the proof you have forgotten,’’ across an image of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., a Somali-American and a Muslim.

This is the Facebook post shared by Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano on the 18th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. [Facebook]

Mariano offered no commentary or explanation at the time for the social media post. But it attracted a blizzard of critical commentary from the public. Some called Mariano’s post racist and xenophobic and asked for his resignation. Several Twitter posts included the hashtag #DemandJackResign.

“Stuff like this only comes from ultra right wing hate groups,’’ David TK Hayes of Zephyrhills said on his own Facebook account, “but sadly gets promoted by the representatives that are supposed to be working for everyone. This is vile.’’

“This kind of hateful rhetoric not only fuels violence against folks that may worship differently or look differently than us, but it labels Pasco as a backwards, hateful county. We are not, we are better than that,’’ Kelly Smith of Wesley Chapel said on Twitter. She was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for the commission in 2018 and for the state House earlier this year.

In an interview, Mariano, the father of Florida Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, acknowledged that he shared the post, but removed it “when I saw people were upset.’’

“It had nothing to do with race or religion,’’ he said.

Mariano said he shared the meme because of Omar’s comments in March, when she referenced the 9/11 attacks as “some people did some things.’’

“It always bothered me, and when I saw that post I shared it,’’ Mariano said. Omar’s description of the terrorist attacks were divisive, he said, and “hid who did it.’’

Over the weekend, Omar appeared on the CBS news show “Face the Nation’’ and answered people who had criticized her, including the son of a 9/11 victim.

“So 9/11 was an attack on all Americans. It was an attack on all of us, and I certainly could not understand the weight of the pain that the victims of the families of 9/11 must feel, but I think it is really important for us to make sure that we are not forgetting the aftermath of what happened after 9/11,” Omar said.

“Many Americans found themselves now having their civil rights stripped from them, and so what I was speaking to was the fact that as a Muslim, not only was I suffering as an American who was attacked on that day, but the next day I woke up as my fellow Americans were now treating me as a suspect.”

On Sept. 12, Mariano added a second post to his Facebook account showing a video from NBC News of U.S. Rep. Daniel Crenshaw, R-Texas, a former U.S. Navy Seal, defending the criticism of Omar. That, too, drew strong disapproval of Mariano, and the post can now only be viewed by his Facebook friends.

“Further proof that he didn’t take that post down because it was wrong, but because people were calling him out on it,’’ said Smith.


  1. Colleen Beaudoin is selected Pasco County School Board chairwoman for 2020, and Allen Altman is named vice chairman. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Altman chosen as vice chairman.
  2. In December 2017, two masked motorcycle gang members were accused of assassinating Paul Anderson, 44,  president of the Cross Bayou chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club while his pickup was stopped at a traffic light in Pasco County. [Pasco County Sheriffs Office]
    Evidence from the federal trial of two members of the 69′ers Motorcycle Club offers a rare glimpse of the world of outlaw biker gangs.
  3. Deputies were able to extricate the person with the aid of a Taser.
  4. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  5. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Charges are pending, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
  6. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  7. Beau, Vivi, Peter and Meredith are available for adoption at Tampa Bay area shelters. Times
    Tampa Bay area shelter pets
  8. BayCare Health Systems now plans to build a $200 million, 60-bed hospital along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The company previously planned to build on 111 acres further north adjacent to Interstate 75 and an interchange to built at Overpass Road. Shown his the main entrance to BayCare's St. Joseph's Hospital North on Van Dyke Road in Lutz. Times
    BayCare plans a $200 million, 60-bed hospital on land it owns along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard
  9. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that two-thirds of Medicare Part D beneficiaries, or about 9 million people who don’t receive low-income subsidies, will see their monthly premium increase for next year if they stay in their current plan. To sort through your options, visit the Times' Medicare guide at or contact Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, a state program commonly known as SHINE. Contact them at 1-800-963-5337 or MICHELE MILLER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    About 9 million people with Medicare Part D plans will see higher premiums if they don’t make a change before Dec. 7, a new study says.
  10. A cat named Karma finds a comfortable spot in the lap of Taylor McKenzie during the Kitty Cats and Yoga Mats wellness activity at the Land O' Lakes Library. Michele Miller
    Two Pasco County agencies partner to bring the interactive activity to local libraries.