March Madness at the circus

The Circus is in town again today. No, not Barnum and Bailey, more like Barnes, Lee, and Bean for the sequel of last week's taxpayer funded train wreck under Hillsborough's Big Top otherwise known as County Center. But today the circus meets March madness since none of the three embattled county employees (who are battling each other) submitted their resignations by yesterday's deadline set by Chairman Ken Hagan. Will Commissioners vote to fire the trio of top employees whose emailgate scandal have ground progress on any real issues the County is facing to a halt?

Both the Times and the Trib have editorials out calling for an end to this circus so as Commissioners ponder if it is curtains for these three during this afternoon's meeting maybe these reminders will help them decide.

How do you know when it's time?

In center ring of Cirque du Dysfunction last week embattled County Administrator, Pat Bean, gave Commissioners copies of her polygraph results regarding the emails in question. She admitted she had obtained the emails (how?) but she did not read them. Uh-huh. When your County Administrator has to come in with her own polygraph results, it might be time. Correction - it is way past time.

In the second ring there was embattled County Attorney, Renee Lee, who brought her own attorney in to represent her. Ms. Lee has maintained her innocence and now the FDLE is investigating that too but either way..... when your County Attorney feels she has to come to work with her own attorney, yeah, it might be time.

And in the last ring we had embattled County Auditor Jim Barnes (who CL Contributor George Niemann calls 'Columbo') refusing to resign. Spending over a hundred thousand dollars on someone who doesn't meet professional standards to satisfy his own vendettas? Yeah, it is time. We need somebody objective and professional in this position.

The only person who seemed to be having any fun at all at last week's meeting (besides our own George Niemann who was sitting up front with a Grim Reaper poster that stated: It's about time) was Commissioner Kevin White. Recall White is costing taxpayers close to $500,000 (or 9.1 hookers) for his own sexual harassment suit and the other Commissioners recently voted to sue him in an effort to get him to help pay. The trial, the verdict and the fallout have made Commissioner White a constant spectacle at recent Commission meetings and last week was no exception as he rudely interrupted Renee Lee's attorney with cracks about his own recent troubles. How is that lawsuit Commissioners that have against him coming anyway? Hey district three voters......it's time!

The discussion on the fate of the three stooges will be held in the afternoon performance of today's circus where as always there are sure to be elephants, jackasses, donkeys, and clowns performing. Be sure to bring your own popcorn if you go. This NIMBY predicts they will fire Bean on the spot (they have to fire somebody and she admitted obtaining those emails) so this is a no brainer (even for them). Lee denies the accusations that Barnes made regarding her office so they should hear how she disputes them before deciding on her fate  (you can his report and decide for yourself if he defended his claims). And Barnes, well, he is already on borrowed time after that poor review recently but it would seem to be in bad form for them to fire him now after possibly toppling Bean and Lee. I suspect he will survive to see yet another bad review.

While this has all been very entertaining to watch, there is that little issue of actually running the county which include major budget worries, a rail or should I say transit referendum, and that lawsuit against their fellow Commissioner. My first instinct was to urge them to fire all three and get on with doing their actual jobs but considering some of the things that this and past Commissions have been responsible for doing as a group we could be better off letting them just spin their wheels on scandals. If Commissioners drag this on they won't have time to cook up any more ideas like selling thousands of acres of publicly owned and preserved land to private developers,  launch assaults on the wetlands that we have left, name awards after deceased pardoned ex-felons, or even figure out ways to relax what little growth management laws we do have. Now that I think about it, I hope Commissioners keep the Greatest Freak Show on Earth going because  our environment just might be better for it!

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

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

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]