Best Of 2006

Ain’t it great to have juice? Mayor Baker has done fundraising and numerous favors for Gov. Jeb Bush (not to mention Bush’s brother Dubya). So when it came time to cash in one of those chits, the winner was the Salvador Dali Museum. A $4 million grant for the relocating museum was dubbed a “turkey” by Florida TaxWatch, as was $5.5 million that Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio wanted for her Riverwalk and for a new parking garage for the Tampa Bay Lightning. But Baker personally lobbied Bush for the Dali dollars, and on veto day Jeb axed Pam (a Democrat) and rewarded Rick (a Republican).

People & Politics

People, Places & Politics 2011

After being named to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in early July, the Devil Rays’ ace-in-waiting celebrated by shutting down the Red Sox. The lefty pitched a complete game, allowed just two hits and struck out 10 (and seemed to especially befuddle MVP candidate David Ortiz). Oh, and the Rays won 3-0, back before the team went into the post-All Star Game dumper, when Kaz looked like a Cy Young candidate.

It’s not that the notion of opening up Tampa’s long-neglected waterfront is a bad thing. It’s just that Mayor Pam Iorio’s pet project — a $40 million Riverwalk that will run from near the Forum to the pending Tampa Heights redevelopment — seems designed to disappoint. The sections of it that are already built are boring as hell. The entire walkway will be underserved by retail and restaurant establishments. And it doesn’t really connect any place where there are lots of people to anywhere they might want to go. Oh, and let’s not forget the wonderfulness of walking along the river in Tampa’s summertime swelter?

Sure, California has eBay and Apple, and Washington state can lay claim to uber-tech evil empire Microsoft, but the Bay area has its own cyberspace heavyweight. Would you believe that Internet darling Wikipedia was created by a guy living in St. Pete? An online open-source encyclopedia (that means anyone can edit it), Wikipedia was created by ’burg resident Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales in 2001. Since then, Wikipedia has become an Internet phenomenon and Wales has kept it local, setting up the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation (which oversees the operation of Wikipedia and off-shoots like Wikiquote and Wikibooks) in St. Petersburg. Up next for Wales is the for-profit Wikia, Inc., based out of California. Hey, even new-technology brainiacs have got to earn a living somehow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Wales.

In between firing its attorney to cover its members own ethical lapses and opening the Brandon-downtown Tampa Collapseway, the braintrust over at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority came up with a new scheme: building a four-county toll road from northern Manatee County, through eastern Hillsborough, Pasco and finally northern Pinellas. Environmentalists immediately raised the specter of more sprawl. Media reports pointed out that board members and powerful supporters own land near the proposed route, which would enhance its value. The Hillsborough County Commission’s reaction when asked to fund preliminary studies for the Sprawlway: Bring it on!!

We’re not big fans of the guy kicking us out of the bar after last call. Sure, Derek means it when he tells you to drink up and get out, plus he’s got the burly, intimidating exterior that any good bouncer should have — but Derek clears the bar with finesse, making it seem like it’s the right thing to do.

217 Central Ave., 727-896-3800

Runners Up: Mike Alstott, Ronde Barber

Anyone who ever read Lee DeCesare Drury’s acerbic and convoluted column in the trilingual La Gaceta weekly knows that she had it in for the folks over at the Hillsborough schools. She was a constant critic of doings over the school board central. But when she intimated that some administrators got their jobs through the “casting room couch,” Superintendent Elia had enough. During a meeting withLa Gaceta publisher Patrick Manteiga, Elia complained about the tone and accuracy of Drury’s columns and reminded Manteiga of the school district’s long business relationship (it spends tens of thousands on advertising). Shortly thereafter, Drury tendered her resignation. Fortunately, Manteiga was able to replace her with the equally loopy Andrea Brunais.

A quirk in the system of electing school board members in Pinellas pitted these two incumbents against each other in this month’s primary election. Bostock, who’s supported by the Republican Party’s right wing, is a fan of Pinellas School Superintendent Clayton Wilcox; Russell — a maverick board member who has trouble holding her tongue — thinks he stinks on ice. Bostock won the race easily, but the feline ferocity was fun to watch.