Times columnist Howard Troxler bids farewell with rousing speech

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Troxler said it is time for residents to take the state back from the "nut bags" who have taken it over. He said that almost by design, civil engagement is minimal, largely due to the trend toward cynical campaigning, insisting that Gov. Rick Scott's current approval rating of 29 percent shows that a great reawakening is going on in the state.


Troxler noted the most important issue is not about Democrats versus Republicans, but it is about creating a mature system as opposed to an immature system that is currently controlled by money. He specifically cited the leadership fund, suggesting that politicians be labeled like NASCAR drivers. He called the bill that would allow certain politicians to raise unlimited funds separate from political party fundraising a "direct bribery of the legislature."


Referring to the 1970s and 1980s as a hangover that resulted from the postwar development boom, Troxler criticized local officials who, to this day, ignore the Growth Management Act of 1985. He specifically took aim at the city of St. Petersburg for enabling the unethical private development of the Tierra Verde barrier island. He argued that the most important issue facing Florida's future is local governments' unbridled authority to amend their comprehensive plan whenever they want, without public input.


"All over the state all you have to do is go to your county commissioner's office or your city council, and they continue to say yes to whatever the person with the most money wants," he said.


Next in his series of zingers, Troxler mocked the state's House of Representatives for repealing a law that would have required movers to give customers their belongings after receiving payment. The law was drawn up by a Republican, but the conservative legislature called it a liberal job-killer.


The columnist said the Florida legislature uses job creation as an "all-purpose justification for any dumb thing they want to do, the same way that terrorism was a decade ago."


He ridiculed many despicable bills he has read throughout his career, naming one that would have abolished sprinkler systems from highrises, another that would crack down on petitions, one more than would discourage voter registration and early voting, and yet another that would limit the workers' compensation term "catastrophically disabled" to employees who suffer not one, but two catastrophic injuries. He also mentioned Charlie Crist's late-term, wishy-washy, flip-flopping charades.


Regarding his parting, Troxler said it was a walk on a mountain road that inspired him to move to North Carolina with his wife.


"I will get up in the morning and walk the dog, and I will come back to the house, and I will not have to read 50 insults about how lousy I was at walking the dog," he said.


Troxler's departure is optimistic and voluntary. He hopes his decision serves as a sign that job change in the industry is shifting away from layoffs and downsizing toward more deliberate career choices. Though he is not lacking in opinions, the columnist said he simply got tired of hearing himself talk. His last column will appear on June 12.


"I definitely do not want to do this for another 20 years," he said.

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St. Petersburg Times metro columnist extraordinaire Howard Troxler took on Florida politicians Wednesday in a farewell speech at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Troxler, who will end his 20-year run at the Times in June, was sent off with a standing ovation and thunderous applause by the non-partisan Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.

The ballroom luncheon's clinking plates hushed to a blanket of silence as Troxler demonstrated his signature common-sense approach to political discourse. As many hoped and anticipated, neither side of Florida's aisle was spared the columnist's aggressive yet exceptionally comical censure.

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