A paradoxical view on term limits

The consequence of the amendment has created multiple obvious problems, including a lack of institutional knowledge and effective leadership. Tallahassee insiders say the last legislative session was one of the worst in the state’s history — due in large part to a leadership vacuum.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published March 30, 2012

There is an old saying: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

In 1992, 77 percent of Florida voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution to limit the terms of Florida legislators to eight years.

The consequence of the amendment has created multiple obvious problems, including a lack of institutional knowledge and effective leadership. Tallahassee insiders say the last legislative session was one of the worst in the state’s history — due in large part to a leadership vacuum.

In 2000, the year Florida’s term limits law took effect, 220 years of legislative experience was forced out of the chambers of the state House and Senate.

Since then, power in the capitol has been transferred from Continue reading “A paradoxical view on term limits”

Dumb, dumber and dumbest

You run, and you win, but your pesky primary opponent files a lawsuit and airs a whole bunch of dirty laundry about you. Court cases, criminal investigations involving the IRS and dead people, and media condemnation ensue, but ultimately you’re cleared of any wrongdoing because there isn’t a statute that says a politician can’t be an unethical dirt bag.

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published February 20, 2012

Imagine you’re a member of the political class. You’ve spent your life being a back-slapping, status-quo-supporting, go-along-to-get-along career politician who tries not to offend anyone. For a while, things were great. You made almost 200 grand a year between your day “job” as an elected official while moonlighting as government adviser or lobbyist or such for a bell-ringing charity.

Then you get term-limited out of the cushy elected position and have to run for something else. The state Senate looks good despite the fact that it’s about a $60,000 pay cut. But you don’t worry; there are plenty of lobbyists and special interests in Tallahassee who will help ease the financial blow.

You run, and you win, but your pesky primary opponent files a lawsuit and airs a whole bunch of dirty laundry about you. Court cases, criminal investigations involving the IRS and dead people, and media condemnation ensue, but ultimately you’re cleared of any wrongdoing because there isn’t a statute that says a politician can’t be an unethical dirt bag.

Two years later it’s re-election time, and a fellow Republican has the gall to Continue reading “Dumb, dumber and dumbest”

Things for the Flori-duh Legislature to consider

I digress; that’s old news. But the players haven’t changed much, and I’m not optimistic that the same knuckleheads in Tallahassee, who in the midst of an economic recession last year spent four days talking about abortion and just one day talking about jobs, will get their priorities in order.

Instead of just complaining about what a bunch of out-of-touch do-nothings they are, I’ve made a list of a few things the Legislature ought to consider. They are:

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune

Published January 10, 2012

Call in the kids, lock your doors, and cover your eyes and ears, the “Flori-duh” Legislature convenes today to conduct its annual business.

Last year’s embarrassing session saw Senate President Mike Haridopolous outmaneuvered by the House. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering this is the same guy who wrote a book with finger paint and got paid $150,000 to do so by some Podunk community college. The book sold about 100 copies.

I digress; that’s old news. But the players haven’t changed much, and I’m not optimistic that the same knuckleheads in Tallahassee, who in the midst of an economic recession last year spent four days talking about abortion and just one day talking about jobs, will get their priorities in order.

Instead of just complaining about what a bunch of out-of-touch do-nothings they are, I’ve made a list of a few things the Legislature ought to consider. They are: Continue reading “Things for the Flori-duh Legislature to consider”

Sen. Latvala is nobody’s lackey

In a body full of undistinguished do-nothings, that’s not really saying much, but Latvala is genuinely a good guy who is smart, capable, independent and well-intentioned.

By Chris Ingram

Special correspondent, The Tampa Tribune

Published June 14, 2011

State Sen. Jack Latvala is one of my favorite members of the Florida legislature. In a body full of undistinguished do-nothings, that’s not really saying much, but Latvala is genuinely a good guy who is smart, capable, independent and well-intentioned.

I haven’t always sung the praises of Latvala. In fact, over coffee last week, he reminded me my Irreverent View column’s endorsement of his opponent last year was the only one he didn’t get.

I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong about him. At the time I thought he was just another career politician climbing the ladder.

During this year’s legislative session Latvala and a few other senators served as something of a speed bump to the heavy-handed tactics of Continue reading “Sen. Latvala is nobody’s lackey”

Sensible Recourse for Voters

State Representative Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg recently introduced a very simple, short and plainly-worded four-page bill that would hold elected officials more accountable and give voters the opportunity to undo their mistakes.

This column originally appeared in The Tampa Tribune

BY CHRIS INGRAM

Special Correspondent

Published: March 22, 2011

State Representative Rick Kriseman of St. Petersburg recently introduced a very simple, short and plainly-worded four-page bill that would hold elected officials more accountable and give voters the opportunity to undo their mistakes.

Specifically, the bill would Continue reading “Sensible Recourse for Voters”

The Water Cooler: Jim Norman’s interest in photos of farm animals

Reports out of Tallahassee indicate state Senator Jim Norman (R) has filed a bill to make it a first-degree felony to take a photograph of a farm or farm animal without the farm owner’s permission.

The Water Cooler is a snapshot of some of the things people are talking about

By Chris Ingram

Only in Florida…

Jim Norman wants felony charges if you take pictures of a cow.

Caption: Norman's moo-ronic bill.

Reports out of Tallahassee indicate state Senator Jim Norman (R) has filed a bill to make it a first-degree felony to take a photograph of a farm or farm animal without the farm owner’s permission.

Now I don’t know about you, but I haven’t ever heard a single person mention taking pictures of Elsie the cow being a problem. Nor have I read any media reports about this being a cause for concern.  And I certainly doubt it’s of such a grand problem that it warrants a first-degree felony charge, though maybe if picture of said cow was  Continue reading “The Water Cooler: Jim Norman’s interest in photos of farm animals”

The Water Cooler: St. Pete Times bashing edition

The Water Cooler is a snapshot of some of the things people are talking about in politics

By Chris Ingram

St. Pete Times gets it wrong before it gets it right

Following its endorsement of Jim Norman, the St. Pete Times’ editorial board still has less credibility than a Charlie Crist campaign pledge, but the Times’ news is still the best in the state and it does readers an important service with its Perspective piece on the staggering national debt — currently $14 trillion – in today’s paper.

What the Times editorial pages continue to miss are Continue reading “The Water Cooler: St. Pete Times bashing edition”