Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 12.12.21

A mangled wild goose chase lands on this week's losers list.

Robert Scott Palmer of Largo made a poor decision on Jan. 6 of this year. He was an active participant in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and for that, he was sentenced Friday to more than five years in prison. It is the longest sentence handed down so far for that riot.

The point, however, is not to belabor the seriousness of his actions, which included spraying a fire extinguisher at police and then hurling it at them. That kind of speaks for itself.

The bigger issue is that Palmer believed he was doing something noble for the country he loves, but he did so because a con man sold him on a lie.

“They kept spitting out the false narrative about a stolen election and how it was our duty to stand up to tyranny,” the Tampa Bay Times reported Palmer said in a handwritten letter to the judge.

“Little did I realize that they were the tyrannical ones, desperate to hold onto power at any cost, even by creating the chaos they knew would happen with such rhetoric.”

Yeah, Palmer came to the right realization too late. However, the saddest part is how millions of other Americans still refuse to accept that much of what they fervently believe today are fabrications.

Remember how Donald Trump and top Republicans tried to blame the insurrection on Nancy Pelosi and/or antifa?

“Don’t forget, President Trump requested increased National Guard support in the days leading up to January 6. The request was rejected — by Pelosi, by congressional leaders, including requests, by the way, from the Capitol Police chief,” misinformation spreader Sean Hannity said on Dec. 13.

However, the Washington Post debunked Trump’s claim that he ordered 10,000 troops to protect the Capitol on Jan. 6, but I’m sure it was a tree falling in the forest of lies and deception.

The renegade politicians who spread manure as truth count on the gullibility of their followers.

Robert Scott Palmer and others facing jail time for their roles in the insurrection learned that bitter truth the hard way.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention — Ken Welch: The Mayor-elect of St. Petersburg joined nine other newly elected mayors from around the country on a visit to the White House. They met with Cabinet officials and other senior leaders and then received a tour of the Oval Office by President Joe Biden.

Biden stressed how his Build Back Better infrastructure plan would impact cities.

“Other mayors have had these kind of challenges, but no other mayors have had this kind of financial support for these items,” Welch said. “Mayors are supporting each other, and this administration is getting dollars down to the local level.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner — state workers: They received some holiday cheer from Gov. Ron DeSantis in the form of two extra paid days off.

State offices will be closed on the 23rd and 30th of December, in addition to the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve closures outlined in state law. Both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve fall on a Friday.

“Our state employees worked hard throughout the year to ensure that Floridians were free to earn a living, to operate businesses, and to choose educational options tailored for their children,” DeSantis said.

“Closing state offices on December 23rd and December 30th will provide these employees with well-deserved time to spend the holiday season with their loved ones. The First Lady and I are thankful for the dedication of our state employees as we continue to put freedom first in Florida.”

This is the third consecutive year DeSantis gifted state workers extra paid days off during the holidays.

The biggest winner — Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe: Thanks to the efforts of Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Republican U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, Cashe, of Oviedo, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Cashe rescued seven of his fellow soldiers from a burning, bombed vehicle, but died of his own injuries in 2005. Cashe’s family, in recent years led by his sister Kasinal Cashe White, campaigned to have him awarded the Medal of Honor, and Murphy and Waltz lobbied to make it happen.

Murphy said she was “overjoyed” that Cashe received his due.

“I wish this amazing man were alive to receive it himself,” she said. “I am so happy for his family and fellow soldiers who fought for years to ensure that Alwyn received the recognition he earned. This nation is beyond grateful for his service and ultimate sacrifice.”

It required changing the law that said soldiers had to receive the honor within five years of their action. U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw joined the effort with Murphy and Waltz, with House Resolution 8276 to waive the five-year rule.

President Trump signed the resolution, and President Biden awarded the medal. Biden praised Casche’s “acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty.”

Waltz, a combat veteran, said he was happy to see Cashe’s heroism formally recognized with the nation’s highest award.

“America can never fully repay the ultimate debt paid by our heroes like Alwyn Cashe — the best we can do is bestow the nation’s highest honor. This is a monumental accomplishment for the entire Cashe family, who has waited 16 years for this moment,” he said.

“Alwyn, without a doubt, is worthy of the Medal of Honor — and I’m so proud to see him recognized appropriately for his heroism and acts of valor.”


Dishonorable mention — Fowl play in Miramar: This is one of those “only in Florida” things.

The community association in the SilverLakes development in Miramar hired Rolando Calzadilla, the owner of Pest Wildlife Pro, to remove 25 noisy geese from a nearby lake. It was a controversial move, however.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel described it this way: The geese were “majestic beauties to some neighbors and honking-loud poop machines to others.”

Did we say it was controversial? Well, it got a lot worse.

Calzadilla said he fed the geese a sedative hidden in bread, planning to remove them then. Alas, the birds were startled by a noisy car and took flight. They didn’t get far, though, before the sedative kicked in. Uh oh. The ducks began falling into the lake, where about 10 of them drowned.

Calzadilla retrieved the other 15 and took them elsewhere to humanely euthanize them. Before he could, though, he had to put up with screaming from angry neighbors. He even called the police for help.

Then, there’s this.

Miramar is a bird sanctuary, and its city code reads, “It shall be unlawful to hunt, wound, molest, injure, or kill any bird in the lands embracing the city.”

The community association could face fines.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser — Voter security in The Villages: Republicans turned voter security into a front-burner item in Florida and other states. Otherwise, Democrats would surely steal every election without some tougher measures to ensure ballot integrity.

So went the theory.

Sure enough, three Florida residents face charges related to election dishonesty.

However, there’s a twist. They live in the sprawling deep, deep red Florida development known as The Villages.

Joan Halstead, Jay Ketcik and John Rider were arrested, accused of casting absentee ballots in other states while also voting in Florida. Officials haven’t released who the trio voted for, but the Orlando Sentinel reported Halstead and Ketcik are registered Republicans.

Rider has no party affiliation, but the Sentinel said his Facebook page had pro-Trump posts.

All three are free after posting a $2,000 bond.

The biggest loser — Urban Meyer: When Meyer was winning national championships at the University of Florida, he was undoubtedly familiar with the phrase used by then-Athletic Director Jeremy Foley.

Foley’s mantra said that whatever you’re going to do inevitably, you should do that thing immediately.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Kahn did just that, sacking Meyer just 13 games and at least that many controversies into his NFL coaching career.

“After deliberation over many weeks and a thorough analysis of the entirety of Urban’s tenure with our team, I am bitterly disappointed to arrive at the conclusion that an immediate change is imperative for everyone,” Kahn said in a statement on the team’s website.

The last straw came when the Tampa Bay Times reported Meyer kicked former Jags kicker Josh Lambo in the leg during warmups before an exhibition game last August.

“I’m in a lunge position. Left leg forward, right leg back,” Lambo told reporter Rick Stroud. “Urban Meyer, while I’m in that stretch position, comes up to me and says, ‘Hey Dips–t, make your f–king kicks!’ And kicks me in the leg.”

Meyer denied it, of course. With Meyer, it was always someone else’s fault. Or the story was overblown. Or … oh, whatever.

Meyer stayed behind in Cincinnati after a Thursday night loss to the Bengals earlier this season. He told the team he would visit relatives in Ohio but was later caught on video the next night behaving inappropriately with a woman at a bar in Columbus.

After that incident, Khan said Meyer needed to regain the owner’s trust and respect.

The inevitable end of their relationship picked up steam in recent days. There were multiple reports of extreme discontent in the Jags’ locker room, and one where Meyer reportedly berated his assistant coaches as “losers.”

Kahn gave Meyer a five-year contract last January, estimated at around $10 million per year. It remains uncertain if Kahn tries to say he fired Meyer for cause, which could void the rest of the money Meyer would otherwise be due.

The Jags were 2-11 under Meyer.

Put another way, Meyer earned about $5 million per win.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Alex

    December 19, 2021 at 7:08 am

    “Little did I realize that they were the tyrannical ones, desperate to hold onto power at any cost, even by creating the chaos they knew would happen with such rhetoric.”

    – A MAGA fan that finally woke up to the reality of Trumpism after it was too late.

    The simple fact is Fox modern conservatism now no longer makes much sense, and refusing to admit it out of stubbornness does, and will do far more harm than good if kept up.

    • Ocean Joe

      December 19, 2021 at 6:15 pm

      You actually take the word of a guy who sprayed police with a fire extinguisher and then threw it at them?
      Like most criminals, the only thing that guy is sorry for is getting caught. And maybe for failing to block certification of the electoral votes. The only reason he uttered the words you quote is because his lawyer told him to.

      • Alex

        December 19, 2021 at 6:31 pm

        Most folks contrition when faced with the evidence of their crimes are telling the truth, some are lying, and some mean it but fall back into old bad habits that led them there in the first place.

        Only time will tell.

      • Tom

        December 21, 2021 at 12:53 pm

        No one knows what you mean or talking bout river joe.

  • Tom

    December 19, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Good morning Joe.
    As you know it’s always about the “economy stupid”! Winner: Gov Ron, America’s Governor as we know him by continues to Shepard Florida’s economy. 51,000 jobs created, out of 200,000 nationally btw. Florida’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.5% in November, 13 consecutive month of job growth.

    Without question Gov Ron’s decision to continue to keep Florida’s economy open allowed businesses and Floridians to prosper.

    Blue states are at least 2% higher in unemployment along with economic and social despair. Florida’s present economy and $15 billion in financial reserves demonstrate its strong present economy and future.
    Gov Ron, America’s Governor Winner!

    • Tom

      December 19, 2021 at 8:47 am

      Loser and Hutzpah:
      Perennial, Nikki Fraud.
      Unsubstantiated and irresponsible charges made related to Trustees at University of Florida. No proof, no examples and no documentation. As irresponsible as you can be. Classic Nikki.

      Conversely, few days earlier Florida Ethics Commission finds probable cause of her misleading public on earnings and lack of proper disclosure.

      Any objective observer saw this coming the last 24 months or longer. To say she has mishandled it is being kind. America’s Governor wins again. Clown show in DC built him up
      ( notice crickets lately) and the local gubernatorial show picks up and adds to it. Winner: America’s Governor.

      • Sister Saint Lucy, Balzac Academy for Boys

        December 19, 2021 at 12:12 pm

        My goodness, Tom, you certainly are a master debater. You love to string words together for as long as you can and listen to yourself with fervent admiration as many times a day as you possibly can! Keep it up, Tom! Few men can have their way with themselves as thoroughly and often as you. Bless your heart.

        • Tom

          December 19, 2021 at 2:50 pm

          I am the best! Legend Sista.
          Jump in anytime. You gotta have depth of issues with me Sista! Get up early and stay up late. Not your nonsense stuff,
          Feel free to defend the fraud show in state, or the clown show in DC. Either way I win. I suffer Manchurians gladly.
          Can’t make this manure up.

  • Bob doles ghost

    December 19, 2021 at 8:22 am

    I’d say people still have a right to be upset after the fraud that keeps coming out in Wisconsin, Georgia and Arizona

    • Alex

      December 19, 2021 at 12:13 pm

      When your side can get a Judge to simply accept this alleged fraud as evidence in a trial, nevermind winning with it. let me know.

      • Tom

        December 19, 2021 at 3:22 pm

        Are the polling places still open in all those states?

        Are they still counting votes in PA?
        Did the corrupt Gov of PA allow extra week of voting, without legislature approval. Which called for three days of write ins. Not seven.
        Small details, corrupt Dems never mind.

Comments are closed.


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