Joe Henderson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 12

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. I covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. I also was the City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. I served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. I have numerous local, state and national writing awards. I have been married to my wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and have two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

Joe Henderson: 5 things we’re curious about the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate

Things we are curious about for the Trump-Clinton I: The Debate.

The television audience

How many people will be watching? Well, a lot – that’s for sure. Some predict the audience could exceed 100 million people. The record audience for a presidential debate is 80 million people for Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1983. By comparison, the audience for the first 2012 debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was 67.2 million. Even at 100 million though, Clinton and Trump will have to go some to top the 115 million people who watched the Broncos and Panthers February in the Super Bowl. It could surpass the 105.9 million people who watched the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983, which was the most-watched regular TV show ever. For both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, this likely is their best (and last) chance to make a dynamic impact. Even though there are two more scheduled debates, it is likely neither will be watched as closely as this one.

Lester Holt

Being the moderator at an event like this is almost an impossible task, especially considering the volatility of emotions from supporters of either candidate. Lester Holt accepted the seat on the dunk tank for this one and both camps already raised doubts about him. He can expect to have more barbs thrown in his direction if he challenges either candidate on their answer or if, like Matt Lauer, he lets things pass. Trump already labeled Holt a Democrat (he’s a registered Republican), and since facts don’t much matter in social media, that’s red meat for the hungry hordes. If either candidate, but most likely Trump, decides to make Holt an issue during or after the debate, Twitter might explode.

What’s at stake for Florida

With polls showing a tight U.S. Senate race between Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy, a bad performance by either candidate could create a down-ballot tsunami that swamps either Senate candidate. Rubio could have the most to win or lose there, since the person at the top of his party’s ticket is potentially volatile. If Trump appears presidential and in control, it could be a boost to Rubio’s campaign. But if Trump is goaded into saying something stupid, or worse, Republican candidates everywhere could be affected – including Rubio.

What they need to show

Clinton is on a tightrope. Likeability is one of her major deficiencies according to the polls, but even with the need to gain wider acceptance she can’t just let Trump walk on her. On the other hand, Trump trails by large amounts among women and various minority groups. That creates a special dilemma. He has gotten this far by stoking anger among white males against immigrants, against – well, basically anyone who doesn’t look or talk like them. But he also can’t win in November unless he cuts into Clinton’s margin with all those groups. Trump also needs to show that he has a mastery of the complex global and domestic issues that would confront an American president, although saying “Make America Great Again” without explaining how he would do that has served him well so far.

Oh those pesky facts

One of the great unknowns is the impact of real-time fact-checkers. This has the potential to really mix things up, especially if Holt decides to engage either candidate on misstatements. Trump likely would be the one affected most by this, given his penchant for making statements that get graded pants-on-fire. Even if Holt decides to stay out of that arena, social media will be a major part of this debate and people there aren’t known for their restraint when someone is guilty of a lie or gaffe.

Joe Henderson: St. Pete’s stinky mess, sewage and politics

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is angry — MAD, I tell you! — that Gov. Rick Scott is playing politics just because the city’s streets and waterways were covered in sewage following Hurricane Hermine.

Um, Mr. Mayor?

I suspect you already know this, but you have a lot bigger problems than the Republican governor of the state turning a major mess in the city controlled by a Democratic mayor (that’s you, sir) into political capital.

Of course, politics will be involved, and Scott did what politicians do when he quite properly ordered the state Department of Environmental Protection to investigate just how badly St. Petersburg screwed this thing up. It was political, too, when Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly asked for federal intervention into the matter.

Jolly’s move is a bit snarky. Like Charlie Crist, his opponent for the CD 13 seat in November, pointed out in their debate Monday, where was Jolly when the streets started looking and smelling bad? Jolly said he wasn’t asked to get involved.

Bad answer.

But Scott’s moves, while political, also are things the governor should be doing. He ought to be turning up the heat to broiling. That includes his order for the state health department to test whether some beaches and water for lingering effects of the sewage flood that turned parts of a lovely city into a stinky mess.

That prompted this rebuttal from Kriseman:

“The Department of Environmental Protection is already involved in this issue, and given that the governor is singling out St. Petersburg and ignoring the actions of governments across our region, we have to chalk this up to politics,” he said in a statement released by his office.

Actually, the governor said spills in other parts of the area are being investigated as well. But unless there is some information that has yet to become public, none of those other places had a blunt warning two years ago to expect this result if a big storm hit.

That is what a city-commissioned study predicted in 2014 after officials shut down the Albert Whitted treatment plant to save money. Kriseman said he never saw that report and apparently neither did city council members, but everyone knows about it now after an official in the wastewater department produced it last week.

That official promptly asked for whistleblower protection, which is an indication of how volatile this report is. Kriseman has already suspended two major leaders the wastewater department, and we’ll all be surprised if there isn’t a top-to-bottom overhaul there.

Well and good.

St. Petersburg follows the strong mayor form of government, which essentially means Kriseman is the CEO and oversees the city’s day-to-day operations.

When something like this happens, the buck naturally is going to stop at his desk, and there will be fallout from the political opposition. Kriseman’s better response for Scott’s decree would be to welcome the DEP investigators, the health department, and any other agencies who show up at his door.

Sure, they’re coming for his scalp. Welcome them anyway. They will write scathing reports about how badly things got bungled here. The public already knows this, so the mayor should just swallow the medicine coming his way and do whatever it takes — beg, borrow, whatever — to make sure this never happens again.

In the meantime, consider this. Upgrading the city’s water treatment system to handle a storm like Hermine, or worse, could take a couple of years. Hold your breath.

Or at least your nose.

Joe Henderson: Cross-Bay ferry – an idea whose time has finally come

One Saturday afternoon several months ago, I needed to drive from Brandon to St. Petersburg. As always, I took Interstate 4 to I-275 in downtown Tampa and headed toward the lovely ‘Burg.

Most days, that trek would take me about 40-45 minutes, assuming the weather was good, and there wasn’t a wreck at Malfunction Junction or on the big bridge. On this otherwise lovely afternoon, though, the journey took nearly 90 minutes.

Was there a wreck?


Police activity?


There were just a lot of cars, maybe headed toward the beach or, like me, toward one of the fine attractions in St. Petersburg. And as my wife and I inched along through the traffic quagmire, I may have once again opined (screamed?) that we need some freaking mass transportation in this area!

So, I will give two thumbs-up to Ed Turanchik’s ballyhooed Cross-Bay Ferry service between downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg will begin offering weekend service (Friday through Sunday) November 4.

As Mitch Perry of reported, tickets are $10 each way for the 50-minute voyage.

A ferry ticket will earn you discounts for goods and services at many merchants, and local transportation – much of it free or very cheap – can take riders to Rays games, the beach, Ybor City, and other spots right after they disembark.

“It is simply the best transportation option we have in the Bay area,” said Turanchik, the former Hillsborough County commissioner who was a driving force behind the ferry.

A word about Turanchik: He is a forward-thinker. He was derided as “Commissioner Choo-Choo” in the 1990s for strongly advocating light rail as a way to head off our now-choking traffic problem. He also pushed to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to Tampa and Central Florida (OK, so maybe not all of his ideas are great).

But this ferry seemed right from the start, and if it can survive the initial shakedown period, it can be a game-changer.

You know how things go. Something new comes along and it’s trendy, so people will love at first. Then after a little while, inertia sets in and they return to old habits, so I would expect ridership to drop off for a while.

With more people moving in every day (meaning more cars) and our roads under a perpetual state of construction, though, the ferry is a practical alternative that could make people wonder why it didn’t come along sooner.

Joe Henderson: Five takeaways from the Charlie Crist-David Jolly CD 13 debate

TAKE 1: Who won? I would call it a draw. Both candidates got in zingers at the other and both successfully reinforced the message they are trying to sell to voters.

In Jolly’s case, he wants to remind voters he has been a maverick in his two-plus years in the U.S. House of Representatives. That’s especially necessary for this race in a newly redrawn district that would seem to favor Democrats.

Jolly made sure to stray from the Republican Party line when asked if he would support the GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump does not have my support today,” Jolly said. “I won’t be voting for Secretary (Hillary) Clinton, but I’m not there with Mr. Trump.”

He also showed his independent chops by saying, “I have tried to shatter the mold of modern politics.”

Crist, on the other hand, was reliably (and cautiously) Democratic in his responses, especially answering “absolutely” when asked if Gov. Rick Scott should push for expanded Medicaid protection in Florida.

Crist was his usual affable self, but Jolly managed to make him play defense a little while avoiding the trap of becoming shrill in the one-hour debate at St. Petersburg College on WTSP–Channel 10. That wasn’t easy to do. Breaking even in this tussle might be considered a win for Jolly in a tight race, which has national implications. But Crist didn’t do anything I saw that would damage his chances.

TAKE 2: The testiest exchange of the night came when Jolly tried to bring up the image of Crist once embraced as “Chain Gang Charlie” in 1996 when, as a member of the state Senate, he embraced Alabama’s practice of shackling prisoners in what was known as a chain gang.

Crist saw it as being tough on crime. Others saw it as hearkening back to the days of slavery, and Jolly went there in this debate.

“When you were in the Florida Senate, you coined yourself as Chain Gang Charlie. You stood on the side of the road over three African-American prisoners in chains on their knees on the side of the road,” he said.

Crist counter-punched hard.

“For you to suggest that it had anything to do with race is appalling, and it’s beneath you, and I’m embarrassed for you that you would say that about your fellow Floridian,” he said.

“The only concern that I had was for the citizens of Florida who were subjected to a violent crime every three minutes and 45 seconds. We were No. 1 in violent crime in America at that time. Some of the measures we took, including the STOP Act requiring 85 percent of sentences (be) served, has made Florida a safer place ever since. And of that, I am very proud.”

Jolly: “You cannot be the candidate today who embraces civil justice reform and did not have a second thought with TV cameras and news photographers taking photos that will live forever, that most viewers have not seen until tonight, that had you standing over African-American prisoners.”

Crist: “In all fairness, as the governor of the state of Florida, I was asked right before the election in ’06, ‘Charlie, if you’re elected, would you support automatic restoration of rights for former felons who are non-violent?’ David, just so you know how I feel, I am compassionate for people who are subjected to crime and I am compassionate to people who deserve to have a second chance. I don’t think the two are inconsistent whatsoever.”

Winner: Jolly. Bringing up Crist’s “Chain Gang” past is fair game, and it would have been nice to hear Crist state flatly that his views have evolved with the changing times. Either way, though, Crist opens himself up to the common charge against him of being a flip-flopper depending on who is listening.

TAKE 3: On the highly partisan question of whether illegal immigrants should have a pathway to citizenship or face, as Trump advocates, deportation with the possibility of returning to the United States through the legal immigration process, there was this exchange:

Crist: “I believe they should get a pathway to citizenship. I think it would be inhumane to take children away from parents and send them to different places. It’s unreasonable to deport 11 million people in the first place.”

Jolly: “I don’t support a pathway to citizenship for people who came here illegally. I do support a pathway to legal status and residency.”

Winner: Crist. The idea of deporting millions of people, as Trump champions, is ridiculous and unworkable. So what is left, especially for those who have been here for years and raised families while paying taxes and so on? Crist made the stronger point.

TAKE 4: On the ongoing problem of a massive sewage spill in St. Petersburg in the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine.

Crist: “What I don’t understand why our member of Congress, our representative of Pinellas County, which is at the epicenter of this problem, is not advocating day, after day, after day, for federal emergency help to get this cleaned up. Our country has done this for Flint (Michigan). Why can’t we do it for Pinellas County?”

Jolly responded: “May I? It is because the mayor who has endorsed you (Rick Kriseman) and oversaw this catastrophe has not asked for it. That’s why.”

Crist: “If you have to be asked when the people of your district are suffering, something is wrong.”

Winner: Crist.

TAKE 5: Line of the night. That goes to Jolly, who got in a great zinger against Crist with this quip: “Charlie, just because you’ve been a member of both parties doesn’t make you bipartisan.”

Winner: Jolly.

FINAL NUGGETS: The question that should never be asked goes to co-moderator Mark Rivera of WTSP–Channel 10, who probed deeply to both candidates, “What are your two favorite restaurants in the district?”

They live here. We get it. They don’t have to prove it.

On medical marijuana, Crist is all for it, as well you would figure since he is great friends with attorney John Morgan, who is a major advocate for marijuana as medicine. Jolly countered, “Only if the FDA approves it. We don’t approve medicines on the ballot. I don’t want my niece taking cold medicine or marijuana because voters approved it on the ballot.” And finally, the laugh of the night came when Crist said of Hillary Clinton, “I believe she is honest.” There was spontaneous laughter from the audience.

Joe Henderson: Polluted water in St. Pete leaves little room for mistake

We love the water around here. We boat on it, haul fish from it, swim in it, and build houses that provide spectacular views of it. Water is such a big deal around here that many people identify us not by the actual places where we live, but by the catchall name of Tampa Bay.

So while having local waterways polluted with millions of gallons of untreated sewage would be a major story anywhere, it is a catastrophe here. And that is what we have, stretching from St. Petersburg into Pasco County.

It has been called a “spill,” but that’s a little like calling the Johnstown Flood a “leak.” Fingers are being pointed in all directions, and we can only assume follow-up investigations into this will narrow down the culprits. A mess of this size almost certainly was a group effort.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Saturday on Craven R. Askew, chief operator of the Northwest sewage plant in St. Petersburg. Askew asked St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman for whistleblower protection after publicly revealing a two-year-old study that warned something like that could happen.

In 2011, the city council voted to close the plant as a cost-saving measure. Askew had warned the three remaining treatment plants could be overwhelmed by the kind of rain that accompanied Hurricane Hermine two weeks ago.

That’s just what happened, as the remaining plants couldn’t handle the load and about 150 million gallons of sewage were loosed on city streets and waterways.

There were warning signs even before then, though. There were other, smaller spills that should have sounded an alarm, but apparently did not.

Kriseman, who took office in 2014, says he was unaware of Askew’s concerns. Well, Kriseman and everyone else knows about them now, so once the finger-pointing and backside-covering stops, the question becomes what the plan will be to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

Hermine was a modest storm as tropical systems go, and yet the areas along the coast from Pasco and Pinellas were belted by widespread flooding and this wastewater nightmare. What would happen if there was a Category 3 or higher storm that took the path Hermine did?

Experts have been warning for years that all the land hugging the waters in our area could experience a Katrina-like disaster in the aftermath of a major hurricane. Hermine, comparatively, was a little puppy.

Damage and flooding would be unavoidable in that case, but there are steps the most vulnerable cities — and St. Petersburg qualifies — can take now that could mitigate the impact. I wonder if council members would have found another way to save money in 2011 if they could have looked into a crystal ball and foreseen what their pound-foolish approach would unleash.

Water is this area’s No. 1 resource. It forms the backbone of tourism and our quality of life, so let this be a lesson to all the officials and agencies charged with keeping that water clean. If you don’t get this one right, whatever else you do won’t matter much.

Joe Henderson: For solar energy supporters, Amendment 1 raises red flags

In the Aug. 30 primary, Florida voters made it unmistakably clear how they feel about solar energy. Nearly 73 percent of them voted to approve an amendment providing a tax break for businesses that convert to solar power.

That was just what backers of clean energy in Florida wanted, of course. Now they have a new request for voters: When Amendment 1, otherwise known as Florida Solar Energy Subsidies and Personal Solar Use Initiative, comes up in November, those same people want you to vote NO.

Got it?

The opponents sure do. They say it’s a pre-emptive play by big companies to restrict individual rights when it comes to solar power. Those pleading for voters to reject the proposed amendment appear to have considerable support that cuts across party lines.

“The Corporate Solar Energy Bill, known as Amendment 1 on the November ballot, is a Big NO for the Green Party of Florida since this bill will do nothing to help residential and commercial solar efforts grow from the citizen grassroots level and would, in fact, would limit that effort tremendously by keeping all energy generation under the control of Big Energy providers like Gulf Power, Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light and TECO,” said recently as the opposition pushed its counter-attack into high gear with an email release from the Florida League of Women Voters.

The email was headlined: “We need to get the word out about this nasty trick especially considering how the voters overwhelmingly voted to allow solar tax breaks in Florida.”

They claim the amendment language promises rights and protections that consumers already have. They claim the initiative would allow power companies to protect their monopolies and actually set barriers that would restrict solar use by individuals.

“Amendment 1 is a sham designed by the utilities to turn out the lights on solar in Florida,” said FLWV President Pamela Goodman said.

In an ad, backers of the amendment argued,” Amendment 1 helps those who choose solar by allowing state and local governments to pass commonsense consumer protection regulations, designed to prevent fraud, abuse and overcharging.”

It is those “commonsense consumer protection regulations” that are sending up all the red flags.

Environmental supporters have another reason to be wary. In 2014, 75 percent of voters approved the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative. Voters stipulated that 33 percent of an existing excise tax would go toward the purchase of land for conservation purposes.

Legislators, being who they are, immediately circumvented the of the amendment and re-directed large amounts of money to pet projects.

Opponents of this proposed amendment see it as just another opportunity for big money to thwart the will of the people.

“This amendment is an attempt to manipulate people into falsely believing it is currently illegal to buy or lease solar. It is deplorable that Amendment 1 proponents seek to enshrine Florida’s current, noncompetitive, anti-free market solar policy into the state’s constitution,” said Tory Perfetti, Chairman, Floridians for Solar Choice.

“It is my hope that Floridians will see through this charade and vote no on Amendment 1 in November.”

Joe Henderson: Open government office goes behind closed doors

According to the Associated Press, the governor’s office just got a $153,000 makeover. Well, technically it was to the reception area outside the place where Gov. Rick Scott conducts the weighty affairs of state.

There was new carpet to replace the 13-year-old stuff that covered the floor. That’s good. We want visitors to think we run a classy joint here in Florida.

There was what AP called “bulletproof material” in the reception desk. No problem there. I don’t make jokes when it comes to protecting the chief political officer in the state and his staff. People who know about security said that was important. So be it.

But …

Wait for it …

The “upgrades” included putting the Florida Office of Open Government under lock and key and restricting admission to just the working staff. That’s the place where worker bees respond to those pesky open-records requests that can cost a lot and take forever to complete, although the state says those things are expected to be filled “in an expeditious manner.”

Creating the office also was one of the first official acts by Scott after he was inaugurated in 2011.

Anyway, here’s how the state’s web page describes the mission statement of that office:

“The Office of Open Government is charged with providing both the Executive Office of the Governor and each of Florida’s agencies with the guidance and tools to serve Florida with integrity and transparency.”


That always has been the issue since Scott was first elected. That’s why the lock-and-key and admission restrictions on the “Open Government” room is dripping with symbolism.

I checked his ballyhooed “Project Sunburst” website. That’s the place where Scott’s executive staff emails are supposed to be available to the public to, as the webpage says, “increase transparency in government.”

There are a lot of emails on there, but nothing that looks like anything to do with actual government, much less transparency. If you wanted to read conspiracy theories and anti-Hillary correspondence the governor and other select officials — some no longer working there — received from a certain fringe of the public though, there were plenty of those.

Long before Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state became an issue, Scott and members of his staff used private email to conduct some official business.

That’s not transparency.

Florida once had one of the toughest sunshine laws in the country, and people were proud of that. Scott, along with many other officials, talks a good game about the public’s right to know, but I don’t think he really believes it.

Putting the Office of Open Government behind a locked door may not actually mean the flow of official information will get worse — I mean, how could it? But if you’re looking for a symbolic gesture about what Tallahassee thinks you should be allowed to know however, you have it right there.


Joe Henderson: Cutting through the maze of political blame over Zika

There was an interesting news release Monday on the Florida Department of Health website. The agency issued a lengthy rebuttal to a Miami Herald report last month that its data on the state’s Zika problem was wrong, late or both.

“This story is misleading and the claims made in it are inaccurate,” the agency said.

It added, “The Department is absolutely committed to transparency as our state continues to combat the Zika virus. … On a daily basis, our staff work with the public to provide up-to-date information on all of the agency’s Zika response, prevention, and education efforts.”

It’s remindful of the line in “All The President’s Men” when Jason Robards as Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee says, “Well, if they call us —damn liars, we should start circling the wagons.”

Sounds to me that’s just close to what they just called the Herald.

Gov. Rick Scott has earned this kind of mistrust, though. He hasn’t exactly been Governor Transparency during his time in office — the tendency of his staff to edit out things like “climate change” from reports and stuff like that. And let’s not forget that one of the acts during his first term was to slash the state budget for mosquito control.

He has earned the skepticism coming his way.

There is time to focus on that later, though.

What matters now is eradicating a small flying pest that threatens to cause serious long-term havoc here. So Scott is doing what he should do when he heads back to Washington to arm-twist a reluctant Congress into approving a $1.1 billion fund to combat Zika. He’ll first have to help cut through the maze of blame going on there over which major party is blocking the money.

Good luck with that.

U.S. Rep. David Jolly of St. Petersburg even threatened to release mosquitoes on the House floor if his colleagues didn’t quit messing around. That might have been a stunt, but the danger is real.

There are at least 756 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Florida, which may not sound like a lot in a state of more than 20 million people. This is just what we know about, though, and the number of confirmed cases almost certainly will spike.

With the health of unborn babies potentially impacted by this virus, along with the threat to the economy, that’s 756 Zika cases too many.

That’s a problem for the state’s tourism industry, too. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re about to see the annual influx of snowbirds trying to escape the cold, frozen north.

For now, the state seems to be doing what it can, although the aerial spraying with the insecticide Nalad over Miami’s famed South Beach — recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — has its critics. Some residents in Collier County also are upset at spraying in the Naples area.

If that isn’t troubling enough, now residents are told that the popular bromeliad plant might be breeding ground for infected mosquitoes.

Zika cases have been confirmed throughout the Caribbean and in every South American country. The Dominican Republic is considered one of the top locations for Zika infestation.

So what do we do?

This might be time to dust off the old “Do you know who we are?” line.

The better number to focus on now isn’t the number of Zika cases in Florida. The best approach might be to keep repeating the number 29 — as in the number of electoral votes in this state. Does one party or the other really want to be seen as the obstructionist here while the state finding more Zika-infected mosquitoes?

Some things should just rise above politics. This should be near the top of the list.

Joe Henderson: Pam Bondi is no ‘victim’ in Trump U scandal

Let’s get this straight: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says “Hillary Clinton will not bully me” over the legitimate scrutiny being paid to the timing of a campaign donation Bondi received in 2014 from Donald Trump.

Bullying is a pretty stern accusation, so let’s explore this further. What did Clinton do to rise to that level of schoolyard terror?

Start with the fact that Bondi admitted hitting Trump up for a campaign contribution, right around the time a lot of people in her position would have instead asked for a deposition.

“Of course I asked Donald Trump for a contribution; that’s not what this is about,” Bondi told Fox Business News. “She was saying he was under investigation by my office at the time, and I knew about it, none of which is true.”

Proving she is adept at doing the Tallahassee Two-Step, Bondi is absolutely telling the truth. Trump was not under investigation by her office for allegations that his Trump University bilked Florida consumers.

But, um … why not? That’s the real story, and it makes the contribution look downright slimy, coming as it did just days after Bondi decided she saw nothing wrong with Trump’s for-profit venture.

This doesn’t count the fine Trump just paid to the IRS because the check to Bondi came from his charitable foundation. Tax laws prohibit charities from giving political donations.

So Clinton is “bullying” Bondi by bringing this up? Either that was an unfortunate choice of words on live TV, or she is delusional — place your bets. Bondi, no stranger to big league politics, should know better. At this point, she is lucky this is only a campaign issue and not a legal one for her.

She is not the victim here.

Then again, Bondi’s record suggests she is a supreme opportunist who will shape-shift to whatever platform or alliance seems to work best. Remember, she originally endorsed Jeb Bush for president. She even declared, “This is the most important election of our lifetime, and he is the hands-on man we need to run our country.”

Then, after Trump mocked and tried to humiliate Bush during the campaign, Bondi shifted her allegiance to the man Bush probably loathes most of anyone today in politics.

Bondi has made the flimsy explanation that she elected not to join an investigation by New York state into Trump U because it was unnecessary. That’s ridiculous, of course, given Bondi’s enthusiasm for joining the legal actions of other states in the past.

In 2014, she even joined in an attempt to stop a large-scale cleanup of Chesapeake Bay. For the geographically challenged, that’s in Maryland.

This issue has the potential to dog Bondi in much the same way the email scandal has been impossible for Clinton to shake. Since Bondi is term-limited as attorney general and will have to find another gig in 2018, it could be a problem.

I just keep wondering what Bondi’s approach would have been if that was a Florida Democrat caught in a web like this. There would be investigations piled up on top of each other, and she would VOW to GET TO THE BOTTOM OF THIS immediately!!!

Instead, she calls one her accusers a bully, hoping this classic bob-and-weave makes everyone forget this isn’t Hillary Clinton bringing up an uncomfortable item from Bondi’s recent past. It calls her whole performance as attorney general into question.

That’s not bullying. It’s just reality.

Joe Henderson: Hurricane Hermine leaves Category 5 mess in unprepared Tallahassee

While city officials play those favored political parlor games of finger-pointing and pass-the-blame, thousands of residents remain without power. That’s all we ought to care about now.

There are reports of price gouging.

Large trees are down all over the city.

People are steaming as they wonder about the competence of the power they have elected to office.

Yes, folks, that is life in Tallahassee as residents there try to cope with the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine. This Category 1 storm has created a Category 5 mess that should serve as a warning to every other city in the state.

Hermine was barely a hurricane when it barreled into the Big Bend area of north Florida. Even as a “small” storm though, it was going to do some damage. People were going to lose power. There would be storm debris.

A well-prepared city would have sprung into action immediately to the benefit of its residents, but Tallahassee wasn’t ready. Incredibly, there are reports that hundreds of volunteer power workers from other cities sitting idle because the city can’t figure out how to direct them to where they are needed.

In a news release Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott reported more than 16,000 residents in Leon County are still without power five days after the storm.

In an earlier release, Scott said he was “incredibly disappointed” at the city’s response to restoring power.

Ominously, and correctly, Scott noted, “The hurricane season is not over, and next time we could be facing an even stronger storm. Cities and counties must be prepared.”

That’s why Tallahassee’s inept response is especially troubling. The first rule for a city in a situation like this is to get power back on as quickly as possible and coordinate with relief agencies and clean-up crews. Power is everything. Power is how cities function. Without power, businesses have to stay closed and recovery is slowed.

It’s standard for power companies from other cities to offer assistance in times like this.

Scott noted that more than 1,000 workers combined from Duke Energy, FPL, Gulf Power, Jacksonville Electric Authority and TECO were offered to the city, but as and other media outlets noted, the clumsy response from the mayor, city manager and utilities director in Tallahassee resulted in that help going unused.

People are rightfully furious.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum told TV station WCTV in Tallahassee “I get it” and adamantly maintaining his city didn’t turn down offers of help, but still fell back on the excuse of needing to “coordinate” volunteer workers to the areas of greatest need.

That takes five days? I would take that as Exhibit A that Gillum doesn’t get it.

What he really is saying, once you cut through the double-talk, is that he failed to have his city prepared. He says his top officials didn’t make him aware that volunteer crews were going unused. If that’s true, why are they still his top officials?

Some people need to lose their jobs over this. And residents throughout the rest of Florida need to take this as a mandate to demand that their cities and towns don’t repeat this fiasco.

Imagine what Tallahassee would look like now if Hermine had been a major hurricane. That thought should terrify us all.

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