Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 2.14.13 - Craig Latimer fumbles

Posted By on Thu, Feb 14, 2013 at 8:16 AM

During last year's campaign for Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, Plant City Republican Rich Glorioso struggled at times to describe why he would be a better choice than Craig Latimer, the chief-of-staff to outgoing SOE Earl Lennard, to succeed Lennard in office. Specifically Glorioso's support of HB 1355 (the measure that reduced the amount of early voting days in the state in 2011) hardly seemed to be a calling card to be the man in charge of voting in the county (then again it didn't hurt Mike Bennett in Manatee County, did it?)

But Glorioso also told reporters that he believed that Latimer was in effect, shaking down employees to help out on his campaign. Latimer denied that charge, but the Tampa Bay Times Bill Varian this morning has documented emails that verify that Latimer made requests to employees to contribute to his campaign.

And Varian reports that since the election, the SOE's press spokesman, Travis Abercrombie, has been demoted to "a lower-paying job involving education, recruitment and training." Incidentally he was one employee requested to contribute to Latimer's campaign who refused to do so.

You should read the whole story and make up your own mind about all of this. But the fact of the matter is that Latimer was part of the team that came in with the late Phyllis Busansky in 2008 to clean up the wretched mess that Buddy Johnson made of that office for five embarrassing years. He's taken pride and credit (along with Lennard) in cleaning the office up since that time. Though this incident doesn't at all descend to the levels of the Johnson era, it's definitely disappointing.

In the news yesterday: there was a considerable amount of hype and excitement yesterday north of downtown yesterday with the official groundbreaking event to convert the deserted former federal courthouse on North Florida Avenue into a luxury hotel and restaurant a year from now. As exciting as it was, we left the event thinking about the excitement that occurred last summer when the Floridian hotel was reopened just two blocks south. Can the area handle two big time hotels in that part of town, with more on the way? Just wondering.

Like President Obama, Kathy Castor is pushing hard to get a bill on comprehensive immigration reform passed this year, and the Tampa Democrat used the State of the Union address Tuesday night to bring a local resident whose career path is being blocked by his illegal status with her to D.C., where he had the opportunity to meet the president.

And earlier this week in Washington, a bill was introduced to try to overturn the Citizens United decision from 2010 that opened the floodgates for large campaign contributors in our elections.

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