County Commission set to change the way it selects its leader. Outcome could result in hate-monger as chair
By Chris Ingram
Updated 9:07 a.m. on 11/15/12
Updated at 12:15 a.m. on 11/15/12
Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller is back at his attempt (it failed last year) to change the way the Hillsborough County commission elects its chairman. Miller introduced the item and it will be considered at the commission’s meeting next week before a packed house — if you believe there will be a packed house at commission chambers one day before Thanksgiving.
While the current situation is flawed, Miller’s plan is even worse.
Here is how Mr. Miller’s power-altering proposal works (if you know how to play Russian Roulette, you’ll understand the Miller plan and you can quit reading now).
Miller’s plan would change the commission rules so that instead of the seven commissioners electing a chair each year by a majority vote, the chairmanship would rotate every year in numerical order from 1 to 7. So over the course of two terms, every commissioner would be guaranteed to serve as chairman at least one year. If they changed districts, it is possible they could be chairman multiple consecutive terms (I’ll betchya’ ol’ Lessie-pooh never thought about that).
Les’ plan sounds great on paper — just like “campaign finance reform” did — we saw how that worked out. Les’ plan is nothing short of a limp power-play that deserves about as much respect as the student ombudsman and public liaison at USF deserves: zero. For more on that, read the book I am writing titled: No Value Added: Useless Government Bureaucrats with Six Figure Salaries — the book is currently 7,187 pages long, single-spaced with one name per line and consists of 39 volumes. The short title is: Les has good company.
Had Les’ hare-brained idea been in effect over the course of the last few years, there would have been a four-in-seven chance that disgraced (now former) Commissioner Kevin White would have been commission chairman while he was sexually harassing county employees and taking bribes. White now wears orange jump suits 24/7, clings to a bar of soap on a rope, and lives in a 8’x9′ room with a stainless steel toilet that doesn’t have a seat.
As for Miller’s plan, personally, I prefer dysfunction to just plain stupid. I guess that’s what makes me a 1980s “Reagan Republican” and not an Obama Democrat — or a 2012 McConnell Republican.
So what’s the answer? Last year I spoke at length about this issue with Commissioner Mark Sharpe. I suggested they pass a simple rule that no commissioner could serve more than one term as chairman in any consecutive 8-year period. Sharpe considered introducing the plan and started calling it “the Ingram plan” — though I preferred “Miller lite.” But Sharpe failed to deliver when Miller’s plan died.
Today, Sharpe is considering supporting the Miller plan — though he didn’t tell me why as he walked away from our conversation wondering aloud about which economics textbook he would start reading that night.
Hillsborough voters should demand better than Miller’s lame power play. Yes the current system is corrupt, but letting the corrupters know whom to corrupt years in advance isn’t going to make their job of corrupting any harder. The opposite being true.
Call Mark Sharpe and the rest of the commissioners and tell them you want Miller lite because it tastes great and is less filling. Commission switchboard: 813-272-5900. Or click here to go to the BOCC webpage where phone numbers and emails are listed.
(Editor’s note: portions of this column were lifted from a previous column on the same subject last year. Because in politics, the names may change, but the clowns are still the same).
9:07 a.m. UPDATE #1: Word is Miller figured out a way to get Sharpe’s vote. This from an email from an insider at One County Center: “Chris- he is supporting Les’ plan because Les changed the plan a bit to give the longest serving members [of the commission] the opportunity to be chair first so it would be Sharpe, Beckner, etc.” (Editor’s note: This claim is confusing/only partially accurate. Correction identified in update below). Presumably this would be done by starting the “rotation” with the District 6 seat held by Beckner or the District 7 seat held by Sharpe. The commission chair position has heretofore eluded both Sharpe and Beckner who have never received the votes of their commission peers to serve as their leader.
Kudos to Les Miller for knowing how to game the system. Shame on Mark Sharpe for supporting this plan and playing Miller’s game for selfish reasons — it appears he is supporting the Miller plan because it is likely the only way he will ever get elected chairman of the BOCC (his peers won’t elect him, so he has to support a change in the rule that entitles him to be chairman — at least once in his long career as a commissioner). Remember, last year he opposed this plan and supported the alternative plan (though he never introduced it).
Call Mark Sharpe and tell him, “Vote no on the Miller plan.” Commissioner Sharpe’s office number is: 813-272-7054.
12:15 p.m. UPDATE #2: For something many of the commissioners will publicly claim is a mostly meaningless post, they sure do get in a tizzy over this issue. To clarify and correct my earlier post on this matter, Mark Sharpe says he did not horse trade his support of Miller’s plan this year for being first on the rotation order. Sharpe points out that Miller’s plan last year also had the rotation starting with him (Sharpe). That is true if you go by the written proposal submitted by Miller, however it is not true if you go by the meeting minutes from when the plan was considered. Here’s a verbatim from the BOCC as Les Miller tried to explain his plan.
BEGINNING IN 2012 THE CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR SHALL BE DESIGNATED ON A ROTATING BASIS. THE CHAIR OF THE 2012 SHALL BE THE CHAIR REPRESENTING THE DISTRICT NUMBER THAT SUBSEQUENTLY FOLLOWS THAT OF THE COMMISSIONER ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF 2011.FOR INSTANCE, COMMISSIONER HAGAN IS ELECTED CHAIR TODAY. THAT MEANS IF WE PASS THIS, COMMISSIONER BECKNER WOULD BECOME THE VICE CHAIR IN 2012 — THE CHAIR — I’M SORRY — THE CHAIR IN 2012. THE VICE CHAIR FOR 2012 SHOULD BE THE COMMISSIONER REPRESENTING THE DISTRICT NUMBER THAT SUBSEQUENTLY FOLLOWS THAT OF THE COMMISSIONER DESIGNATED AS CHAIRMAN IN 2012. THAT MEANS COMMISSIONER SHARPE WOULD SERVE AS THE VICE CHAIR. [LAUGHTER] I KNOW. THEN THE FOLLOWING YEAR COMMISSIONER SHARPE — I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’LL BE HERE AT THAT PARTICULAR POINT IN TIME — WILL SERVE AS CHAIR, BUT IT SAYS, IN THE FOLLOWING CIRCUMSTANCE, THE ROTATION OF CHAIR AND VICE CHAIR SHALL SKIP A DISTRICT: THE COMMISSIONER WHO WILL BECOME CHAIR OR VICE CHAIR HAS NOT BEEN A MEMBER OF THE COUNTY COMMISSION FOR AT LEAST 12 MONTHS.
Confusing ha? Les Miller can’t even explain his own plan. In any event, if Mark Sharpe says that he wasn’t influenced by any change in who would be chairman next, and that he genuinely believes he would have been the first “rotating chair” last year (as he clearly would be this year), then I believe him. Mark is a man of integrity and I lost site of that when it appeared he was horse trading with Miller. For that I am sorry to Mark.
Whether last year’s plan on rotation order changed or not, nothing about that changes the fact that this is a bad proposal and Sharpe continues to support it. If passed, the end result will be some fool being our county’s commission chairman. Imagine for a moment if someone like Terry Kemple were elected to the BOCC. Under the Miller plan, one day he would more than likely serve as chairman. Hillsborough County would be the laughing stock of America when Chairman Kemple started pulling his hateful tricks out of his court jester’s hat. A better way to address the issue of selecting the chairman would be to prohibit any commissioner from serving as chairman more than one term in any 8-year period. That way, the elected “leaders” on the commission still get to chose the chairman, as opposed to a blind process dictating the outcome; which incidentally, only tells the corrupters whom they need to corrupt for at least four years in advance.
Last year Mark Sharpe said of Miller’s plan, “I don’t want my power (to choose a chairman) taken away from me because of outside pressure.” He voted against the Miller plan. Now he supports it. What’s changed Mark?
Perhaps time, as the clock is ticking on Sharpe’s term-limited stint on the BOCC. The Miller plan would give him the gavel — though he claims he doesn’t want it. Regardless, the Miller plan is a power grab cloaked as taking the politics out of politics. Unfortunately, it is full of unintended consequences, and Mark Sharpe should know better.
He did last year.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.
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