The Water Cooler: Rick Scott’s mo; Pat Bean’s gotta go; Kevin White’s got dough

What people are talking about in politics

By Chris Ingram

Rick Scott’s Momentum

Rick Scott clearly has momentum as he climbs in the polls and his millions in TV ads make Bill “but it’s my turn!” McCollum have a hissy fit. With a comparatively paltry sum of campaign dollars to counter Scott’s millions in very effective and non-traditional (he admits mistakes) TV ads McCollum responded with the typical campaign tactic of negative campaign ads. Once again, Bill McCollum has proven he’s no leader, he hasn’t learned anything in 20 years, and he’s part of the problem – not part of the solution.

But Rick Scott isn’t perfect either. His former company’s $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine (the largest in U.S. history) makes you question his honesty and judgment, but alas, Scott was neither formally investigated nor found guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. And unlike most politicians, he’s willing to admit his mistakes — a refreshing change.

The very colorful former Louisiana Governor and U.S. Senator Huey Long once said about his reelection chances, “The only way I can lose is if they find me in bed with a dead girl or a live boy.” Right now, after watching what career politicians like Bill McCollum have done to our state and our nation, I’d vote for Rick Scott or any other non-career politician despite their past transgressions – dead girls or live boys notwithstanding.

I spoke with two county party chairmen today (both from large population counties) who both said they like Rick Scott, though both remain in the closet about it, or officially “for” McCollum. I also spoke to a prominent Tampa Bay area elected official who said about the same thing: he’s got buyer’s remorse with McCollum and now prefers Scott. Good news for Scott. If he can keep up the momentum and show he’s a serious threat to McCollum’s coronation, some of these folks will start defecting.

Bean’s Beans

Suspended Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean and the pathetic fiasco most of the members of the Board of County Commissioner’s (BOCC) have created continue this week.

The latest from County Center is that the BOCC will vote on Wednesday to keep Bean on the county payroll as a “consultant” for a period of 18 months. The agreement would allow Bean to take stay on as a consultant with a 15 percent reduction in pay over the course of the 18 month consultancy period. Bean would be paid $190,400 during this time. Bean would also receive a $176,334 in a lump sum payment at the end of her consultancy period.  This payment provided for Bean’s accumulated sick and vacation time which she believes she is due. As part of the agreement, Bean would not collect any additional bankable vacation or sick time.

But Bean would keep her county provided health insurance and she would receive indemnification from legal action while serving the county as a consultant. In other words, if she goes all Kevin White on some intern while on “county time,” the county will be on the hook for her deeds.

And though Bean would not have an official office, she would receive administrative/clerical work from the county if she needed it.  That costs money too by the way, but no telling how much.

The total payout if the county just flat out fired Bean without cause is $434,000. If they fired her with cause they could deny Bean any salary due and force her to prove she wasn’t fired with cause in civil court. Or under the newly proposed plan she receives at minimum $366,000 and the county gets her as a consultant for 18 months.

I vote for fire her with cause and let her prove she didn’t do anything wrong when she gave herself a pay raise when other county employees were getting laid off. And don’t forget about her little e-mail snooping problem she and County Attorney Renee Lee had. Bean is a disgrace to anyone who works for the county, the Board of County Commissioners, and of course county residents and voters.

With the exception of Commissioner Mark Sharpe, the actions of the county commissioners on this issue are inexcusable. Most of them have ducked and dodged the issues, and failed to do what is right for the citizens of this county.

The question in my mind which no one on the BOCC recognizes (again, with the exception of Commissioner Mark Sharpe) is this: if Bean is has performed so poorly/inappropriately that you feel like you need to remove her, why would you turn around and hand her a golden parachute and pay her for 18 months as a consultant? She’s incompetent. She has shown zero leadership, and has acted in a questionable manner which has lead to an investigation by state law enforcement officers. Now you want to keep her around? Do you really think the next county administrator is going to want to call on Pat Bean for anything? For that matter, does the BOCC have any confidence in Pat Bean? Remember, you wanted to  get rid of her for a reason. So now why are you calling on her to stay as a “consultant?” Only in government…

Clearly the clowns on the Hillsborough County Commission don’t get it. But I think voters will later on this year. So look out Kevin White, and Ken Hagan (both seeking election again this year), and Rose Ferlita (next year when she runs for Mayor of Tampa — puh-lease!)…I think your days are numbered. Voters are looking for leadership not excuses. Right now excuses are all you have to offer. Thanks but no thanks. We don’t need your kind of leadership.

But thanks certainly do go to Commissioner Mark Sharpe for being true to his convictions and having the interest of voters in mind. We need Sharpe’s type of leadership. He’s not afraid to take on tough issues and do the right thing — this, as opposed to the kowtowing and dodging tough choices his fellow commissioners are so good at.

Call Mark Sharpe and tell him “thank you” for doing right. His number is: 272-5735.

And while you’re at it, call the these other ”public servants” and suggest they start looking for a new job. Each one of the six other commissioners have been inconsistent on the Pat Bean fiasco or, like Norman, Higginbothom, and White have been Bean supporters/apologists — at the expense of YOU the taxpayer.

Reach them by calling: Ken Hagan: 272-5452; Rose Ferlita: 272-5470; Kevin White: 272-5720; Al Higginbothom: 272-5740; Jim Norman: 272-5725; Kevin Beckner: 272-5730. Or visit the BOCC website to send them an e-mail.