By SUE CARLTON and AMY HERDY
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 2001
No crime, not even the murder of a human being, can inflame public passion like animal cruelty -- whether the victim was a cat, dog, llama or wild boar.
Witness the hundreds of calls, e-mails and letters of outrage that poured into the Hillsborough State Attorney's Office in recent weeks after a boar was castrated and then slaughtered during a radio broadcast by shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge on WXTB-FM (98 Rock).
Then, after the decision was made to charge the deejay and others with animal cruelty, a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison, in came the thank-you notes.
One, addressed to State Attorney Mark Ober, promised a special accolade.
The writer said she had some potbellied pigs that were expecting piglets.
"One of the babies will be named Ober," she promised.
"It is one of the highest of high compliments I can pay to you," she wrote. "Really."
WORDS TO RUN BY: Still wondering if soon-to-be-former Chief Judge F. Dennis Alvarez is serious when he talks of running for mayor?
His wallet might hold a clue.
First, a bit of background. Alvarez recently announced he was retiring from the bench after a courthouse year that could best be described as troubled. That brought much speculation about whether his longtime interest in one day being hailed as Mayor Alvarez might be hindered by the bad publicity that still hangs over his courthouse like a cloud.
In a St. Petersburg Times story last month, political consultant Wayne Garcia gave his take.
"He won't win," Garcia said. "The courthouse stuff, it's like death by a thousand little cuts."
Did Alvarez take that to heart? In answer, he extracts his wallet and pulls out a small piece of paper. It is Garcia's quote, carefully cut out of the newspaper and laminated.
Is it for inspiration? Words to keep him motivated, until, say, Election Day 2003?
THE BETTER TO BITE YOU WITH: Under the category of What Was He Thinking comes the following blotter entry from the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office for Sunday, April 1. (We assume it was not an April Fool's joke).
"Travis Sharp and Sidney Simmons were trespassing on IMC Mining property. Sharp attempted to wrestle an alligator, 10 feet in length, when it bit him on the arm."
The entry noted that the Sheriff's Office was assisting Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission with the case.
Sgt. J. Meggison of the state agency said the case was under investigation, but did clarify a couple of details. "He was 9 feet long," Meggison said. As for the exact nature of the alligator and human contact: Sharp "was not trying to wrestle it so much as capture." Sharp could not be reached for comment.
So what happened to the gator?
"That's under investigation," she said before revealing that it had, in fact, been shot dead.
Shot by whom?
"We did not kill the gator," she said, and is instead trying to figure out who did in the reptile.
Sharp was taken to the hospital to be treated for a bite to his left arm that broke the skin. Alligator bites are known for their bacteria, since their primary food source is usually dead animals, Meggison noted.
"Nasty creatures they are," she said, and we assume she meant the gator.
- Sue Carlton can be reached at 226-3346 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Herdy can be reached at 226-3386 or email@example.com.