Tampa Bay’s Notorious 5

Bernard Goldberg’s latest shot across the bow of liberalism, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America,” includes many all too familiar names: from Michael Moore and Jerry Springer to Eminem and Maury Povich. They skew and coarsen the culture, contends Goldberg. It’s not that hard a case to make. The challenge had to be narrowing it down to a manageable 100.

At the end, Goldberg even invites readers to try their hand at their own list. Here’s an abbreviated, customized version: “5 People Who Are Screwing Up Tampa Bay.”

#5 BRIAN BLAIR: Would you suspect this rookie member of the Hillsborough County Commission is a former pro wrestler? Of course you would. Carrying the water for Republican puppet masters Sam Rashid and Ralph Hughes, Blair is earning a reputation as clownish obstructionist while waving the banner of fiscal conservatism.

#4 DWIGHT “CHIMURENGA” WALLER: As president of the Uhuru Movement, Waller has carved out St. Petersburg’s pre-eminent race-card niche. Acts as a one-man governor on revival scenarios of St. Petersburg’s historically impoverished Midtown section. His charge is to hector, not to help. Has only criticism for those, such as Mayor Rick Baker, who are actually working – and succeeding – in bringing investment to Midtown.

#3 VINCE NAIMOLI: From the get-go, the wrong owner of a Tampa Bay Devil Ray franchise already beset with issues of facility design and regional location. Still calling all the important shots. In so doing, has turned national reporting into a firing squad of bad publicity for the team and the area. Keeps payroll low enough to assure also-ran status and declining attendance, lowest in Major League Baseball. Franchise viability a serious concern to MLB. Compounds Rays’ poor performance with several, nationally-reported PR gaffes annually. Refuses to fire GM Chuck LaMar or himself.

#2 JOE REDNER: Tampa’s strip club impresario has made a financial killing perverting the First Amendment. Gets away with it because he’s street smart about the law’s slippery slopes. No one more responsible for Tampa’s unsavory image as the epicenter of “lap dancing.” Should have made Goldberg’s list too.

#1 RONDA STORMS: This Hillsborough County commissioner is much more dangerous than the average yahoo-pandering pol because she’s smart, glib, fast on her feet, always prepared and nasty. Single most polarizing presence in the region. Politician most responsible for the ongoing – and escalating – misunderstanding and antipathy between Hillsborough County and the city of Tampa. Led the crusade against even “acknowledging” Gay Pride, the implications of which range from the ethical to the economic. Topped Vince Naimoli as a recent magnet for national notoriety.

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