A Common Sense Guide for All Politicians

These rules will generally keep you out of trouble with the media. However, in Hillsborough County, politicians feel free to violate the rules, take their licks in the media and continue to get re-elected, no matter how sleazy they are. Still, if you are a politician who wants to avoid embarrassing Mama with your media coverage, abide the wisdom of Discomfort Zone:

General behavior. Don't do anything you wouldn't mind seeing on the front page. Imagine everything you do in the worst possible light. That keeps you honest and us off your back.

Travel and Entertainment. Stay in the Day's Inn and go to conferences only in places like Omaha and Fargo. In the winter. Eat in cheap restaurants; don't drink alcohol at our expense. Freebies. Don't take nuthin' from nobody.

Campaigning. Don't do it in the office, from your office or on our dime. And don't keep drawing a paycheck from us if the only work you are doing is campaign business.

Car allowance. Get a Taurus, keep it for at least six years and make sure it's clean when you bring it back.

Sleeping around. You can generally get away with this for several years until your luck runs out and then we hear all the details. (Would somebody please tell Dick Greco to stop talking about that one embattled former city official's vasectomy reversal?)

Employees. Don't make them get your dry cleaning, type envelopes for your campaign, call friends for contributions, install new cabinets in your kitchen or babysit your kid for even five minutes.

Friends and Family. Tell them to get their own jobs, contracts and zoning variances and not drop your name for gain.

Lame excuses. Don't say, "The reporter is on a witch hunt" or "It wasn't illegal." The reporter wouldn't have anything to write if you behaved yourself, and something doesn't have to be illegal to be sleazy.

Get in front of a situation. Don't be stubborn. Cut your losses. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

Contact Fawn Germer at [email protected] or 813-248-8888 ext. 134

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