St.Petersburg Times columnist, Sue Carlton writes:
"There are plenty of contenders for Cheap Shot of the Week, but the award has to go to Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan for invoking the death of a sheriff's deputy while taking a political poke at a colleague."
It's been a tough week for Hagan and his fellow Four Horsemen of Cement who had made a move to eliminate the wetlands division of the county's Environmental Protection. Democracy roared back with overflow protests from the people of the county and the division was saved.
Daniel Ruth wrote:
In the midst of public outcry about the developer-driven action Winkin', Blinkin' and Nods of yes men, Kevin White, Ken Hagan and Jim Norman, had been blissfully sailing along as the obliging handmaidens of real estate development interests in their effort to get rid of those annoying wetlands and those ooey-gooey animals when the likes of Ferlita came along to gum up the works.
Ferlita had implored Blair to hold the public hearing in a larger venue to accommodate what promises to be a sizable attendance and asked that those wanting to speak to have at least three minutes instead of the mere 60 seconds Blair allowed last month.
AS if it wasn't bad enough that Ferlita has prevailed upon developer driven colleagues to let the people be heard, she drew the fire of Hagan who had put yet another developer/contributer ahead of the peoples' business earlier in the week.
As Carleton explains:
the county administrator sent a misleading memo announcing the morning session of the next day's meeting was postponed until the afternoon "due to a light agenda." In truth, most commissioners weren't coming anyway.
At least four planned to attend a memorial service for Charles "Wes" Kearney Sr., an influential developer and father of money man politically active Bing Kearney. The family or related companies gave to the campaigns of all of the seven commissioners except Ferlita, who said she declined the contribution.
Ferlita objected to the last-minute cancellation, pointing out that citizens arranged workday schedules to attend the meeting. Couldn't the commission send a member of the board, the chairman, to pay their collective respects?
So when a respected public official was killed in the line of duty this week and the Commission voted to attend his funeral Ken Hagan suggested fellow Commissioner Rose Ferlita considered it "bad government" and "inconsiderate" to reschedule a meeting for a funeral, preferring they "just send a designee or a card."
Carlton notes, "For an elected official, there is a difference between the funeral of a distinguished public servant who was murdered doing his job and a memorial for a personal friend and campaign contributor. To zing a fellow commissioner who is often on the opposite side of your issues on this emotional topic seems a low blow."
And although the peoples' voice prevailed, the people are not fooled by Hillsborough's developer-driven commissioners, Blair, Hagan, Norman and White.
TIMES EDITORIAL, "Hypocrisy, arrogance and spin" (August 18, 2007):
Several of Blair's colleagues praised him for forcing the issue. That is like thanking the arsonist who called in the fire. Blair, White, Hagan and Norman showed from the start their allegiance was to the development industry. That was not lost on citizens, many of whom spoke Thursday not on the wetlands but the corrupting influence development money has had on county government.