Hillsborough County looks for 1st Moral Courage winner since 2008

At that time, Jim Norman told his fellow Board members that he respectfully disagreed with their assessments. Norman said that the nature of the award was about going up against the establishment, and so by nature the award recipient will be controversial.

Of course, that was about a year before we learned that Hughes gave Norman, er, Norman's wife, Mearline, $435,000 to buy a home in Arkansas, a purchase that Jim Norman failed to list on his financial disclosure form when running for a state Senate seat in 2010. It has been reported since then that the FBI is investigating.

Even though the award is no longer named after Hughes, there still seems to be some taint on it, since there hasn't been a Moral Courage Winner in HIllsborough since Dave Brown received the award in 2008.

Know somebody who is worthy? Listed below are instructions on how to nominate him or her, with the deadline set for 5 p.m. on August 15:

The nomination form for the 2011 Moral Courage Award is available at www.hillsboroughcounty.org/bocc, click on “Special Awards”, then click on “Moral Courage Award”. Nominations should be submitted in one of three ways:

· E-mail: [email protected]

· Fax: 813-276-8495

· Mail: Hillsborough County Communications Department

Re: Moral Courage Award

P.O. Box 1110

Tampa, FL 33601

Anyone may submit a nomination. All Hillsborough County residents — individuals and groups — are eligible to receive the award. The Hillsborough County Citizens Advisory Committee will review nominations at their meeting on August 26, and may recommend a finalist to the Hillsborough County Commission. Nominees are welcome to appear and speak on their behalf during public comment at the beginning of the meeting. The nomination will then be considered by the County Commission in September.

Commissioners created the Moral Courage Award in 1992 to recognize individuals and groups who have courageously challenged government actions for the good of the county and its residents, and demonstrated the willingness to take a moral or ethical stand against decisions of government.

Past award recipients include a staunch Sun City Center resident advocate, a local government whistleblower, and civic groups that spearheaded efforts to clean up landfills, fought the installation of giant power poles in their neighborhood, and started an affordable housing program.

  • During his prime, this perception was widely shared

One of the lasting legacies of Jim Norman's 18-year reign on the Hillsborough County Commission was his call for his colleagues in 2008 to rename the county's Moral Courage Award after the late Ralph Hughes.

At the time, the just deceased Hughes had contributed financially to everyone serving on the Commission, with the exception of Rose Ferlita (Ferlita and Mark Sharpe voted against renaming it after the former concrete mogul).

Several environmentalists and community activists denounced the Commission for honoring Hughes with the award, but the board blew off those objections regarding the conservative power broker, leading to the 1996 winner of the award, Eileen Hart, showing her displeasure by returning the award back to the board.

Realizing their folly after it was reported that Hughes owed an astounding $300 million in back taxes to the I.R.S., a year later the board rescinded their move, and removed Hughes name from the award.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.