tampabay.com

Board's stand on mayor is a joke

A Times Editorial
Published December 17, 2007


So that's their argument in opposition - that creating a county mayor would hurt minorities? Hillsborough commissioners do virtually nothing good for minorities, then they conscript black voters as pawns when faced with losing their political clout. This is laughable, and deplorable from a board whose record exposes its hypocrisy.

Commissioners agreed last week to oppose a referendum next year on creating a county mayor. That's not news - the board has trashed the effort for months, spinning falsehoods about the costs and mobilizing the staff to work against it, in violation of the county charter. The proposal would give the mayor broad executive authority to run the county and relegate commissioners to more parochial roles. That's why board members, who have grown accustomed to bullying the professional staff, oppose the change. They would lose their status as big shots and the authority to direct tax money and favors to their districts and campaign supporters.

There are arguments against a county mayor, but this board has no credibility claiming to speak for minorities. In recent years, county commissioners have tripped over themselves to appeal to conservative, suburban voters. They blocked any real investment in public transit, demonized the bus service, cut access to health care for the working poor, delayed redevelopment of public housing and killed attempts to spend more for Head Start programs. The board's sensitivity to minority concerns is quite a turnaround, coming just months after it adopted a proclamation honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. This is another gasp from a board with no real concept of pluralism, or the voters' ability to see through the malarkey.