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2002, Part 2: Fish that fight back and other, assorted oddities

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By HOWARD TROXLER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published December 30, 2002

The Tampa Bay Area Year In Review, Part II:

July 4: The president of the Florida Bar announces a new PR campaign to improve the image of the legal profession. Ceremony is spoiled when ambulance passes by outside and the audience stampedes.

July 26: Giant, leaping sturgeon attacks boater on Suwanee River. Note found left in boat: "No more cement plants around here -- or else."

July 30: Pinellas stunned to learn that departing assistant administrator Rick Dodge has secretly turned over deed of courthouse for a new Kissin' Cuzzins restaurant.

Aug. 1: Tampa Mayor Dick Greco sneaks back into town from Havana. "Yeah, I met some guy with a beard, but I didn't catch his name," he says when caught. "Look, I just went for the cigars."

Aug. 11: MacDill Air Force Base accounts for missing laptop computers. "But, listen," a spokesman says, "Has anybody seen a couple of stray fighter jets?"

Aug. 16: Florida's university presidents meet and vote to oppose the campaign for smaller class sizes, in hopes that their kindly maker "Jebpetto" will turn them into real little boys and girls.

Aug. 17: True, actual news item: Gov. Jeb Bush's new pick to head Department of Children and Families is listed as co-author of 1989 article advocating "biblical spanking" as long as it causes only "temporary and superficial bruises or welts."

Aug. 20: Florida Republican Party decides the governor's race is not close enough; it launches TV ads to boost Democrat Bill McBride's name recognition.

Sept. 4: St. Petersburg Times pays secret amount for naming rights at the Ice -- uh, St. Pete Times Forum. Newspaper, hoping to sell tickets, adopts new slogan: "The people have the right to go."

Sept. 10: After two years of preparation and millions of dollars in improvements, Florida still botches the primary election. Mystery is solved when Al Gore is caught sticking voodoo pins in state map.

Sept. 16: Pinellas school superintendent J. Howard Hinesley explains county's new school choice plan to School Board: "Have you ever heard of 52-card pickup?"

Sept. 28: Florida's teacher unions launch "Vote For McBride Or Else You Are A Mean Republican Who Hates Kids" campaign.

Oct. 1: Blue Cross accidentally bumps into Bay Care in a crowded bar. Bay Care accuses Blue Cross of looking at his woman. Shoves exchanged. Melee erupts.

Oct. 2: Not until several hours after a dangerous pressure drop in its pipes, city of Tampa issues a public warning: "Dudes, like, uh, maybe you should, you know, boil your water or something."

Oct. 5: Gov. Jeb Bush holds news conference to declare: "For the last time, I said I had PREVIOUS plans."

Nov. 5: Florida voters overwhelmingly approve amendment for smaller class sizes. In related news, the sun is blotted out.

Dec. 1: Sixteen whooping cranes finish an awe-inspiring migration from Wisconsin to Florida. Asked for comment, the lead crane replies: "Things were much better up north."

Dec. 3: A state panel decides that Florida's successful prepaid tuition program "works too good."

Dec. 5: The search for a new president for Florida State University is delayed when the straw stuffing of several finalists catches fire.

Dec. 9: Community radio station WMNF-FM announces it will split into 336 individual radio stations, each owning a half-hour block of air time each week. Program director Randy Wynne is accused of "unilateralism" when he denies a show to left-handers.

Dec. 13: The Federal Reserve holds emergency meeting to stabilize the monetary supply when Florida's university presidents deposit their first new paychecks.

Dec. 18: To eliminate the middleman or the hassle of voting on future contracts, St. Petersburg City Council decides to leave big piles of money at the city limits with a sign saying, "Y'all Just Take It."

Dec. 30: Gov. Jeb Bush announces St. Petersburg Times columnist Howard Troxler is so danged smart, he's making him the new lieutenant governor.

Dec. 31: State sinks into ocean.

Previous column:

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

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