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2002: The Year in Review

2002, Part 1: 6 months of naked TV and Bubba's unhappy boar

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By HOWARD TROXLER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 27, 2002

The Tampa Bay Area Year In Review, Part 1:

Jan. 5: Most manatee deaths recorded in Florida since 1996. "See? Didn't we tell you?" boating industry spokesman says. "The danged things are all over the place."

Jan 13: Tampa Bay Bucs try controversial "no touchdown" strategy against Eagles.

Jan. 24: The police chief of Inverness in Citrus County calls in a SWAT team when his hamburger order is misplaced.

Feb. 4: Gays are kicked out of the Ybor City Knight Parade. A parade spokesman explains: "We're afraid they might get drunk in public, act lewdly and encourage people to take off their clothes."

Feb. 8: State Rep. Frank Farkas, R-St. Petersburg, gavels through a bill removing mandatory insurance coverage for kids with cleft palates, without hearing testimony from concerned families. That night he sleeps restlessly and is visited by three ghosts.

Feb. 27: Pinellas sheriff's deputies draw their guns on a teenage babysitter in Safety Harbor, little Betty Lou "Mad Dog" Simpson.

March 1: Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, the controversial radio DJ, is acquitted of cruelty charges for castrating a boar on the air. Clem announces he will lead opposition to pregant-pig amendment on the November ballot.

March 15: Florida Legislature kills sales tax "holiday" for parents buying back to school clothes and supplies, so that corporations can get a $220-million tax break. "Think about all the pencils WE have to buy," complains an Associated Industries spokesman.

March 21: Actual news item: Hillsborough County Commission dissolves into dissension over who gets to ride in parades.

March 28: Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms watches cable-access TV, is horrified. In a related development, Hillsborough County residents watch commission meeting on government-access TV, are horrified.

April 25: City of Tampa stunned to learn that every city employee has banked an average of 243 years of paid sick and vacation leave. Investigation is hampered when fire chief, senior staff take city vehicles to Orlando to play jai alai. Chuckles Mayor Dick Greco: "Those fellas!"

May 29: Pinellas Sheriff Everett Rice and Clerk of Court Karleen DeBlaker win lawsuit throwing out term limits. They say in joint statement: "We're not doing it for ourselves, but for the right of future sheriffs and court clerks to pull guns on babysitters and lose thousands of vital driving records."

June 6: Land speculator Don Connolly is revealed to have bought half of another guy's house. Tables are turned when neighbors announce they have bought half of Connolly's internal organs.

June 14: Designers announce "urban canopy" for new Tampa Museum of Art. The ceremony is spoiled when an innocent young child says out loud, "It just looks like a bunch of metal sticks to me."

June 15: Pandemonium erupts at Disney's Animal Kingdom when agents for Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson drop down from helicopters, declare the "Tree of Life" to be a citrus canker risk, and chain-saw it down.

June 25: Charles W. Cope, a circuit judge in Pinellas and Pasco counties, attacks a woman's personal sexual and abortion history to save his own neck. Cope's lawyer commits misstep by also accusing her of "stumbling around drunk in public," then realizes he is reading the charges against his client.

* * *

Coming Monday: Flying sturgeons attack; Greco hangs out with Fidel; McBride launches ill-fated "Dukakis" strategy.

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