First, the bad news.
We’re still stuck with a dysfunctional Hillsborough County Commission that can wax blissful over a sports complex but grow combative over mass transit relevance and wetlands protection. Still stuck with a faction that treats public input as a gadfly infestation. Still stuck with an element that seems clueless about the inherent synergy of the county and its economic hub – the city of Tampa. Still stuck with a clique that prompts nostalgia for Joe Kotvas.
And still stuck with the hapless Brian Blair as chairman of the Environmental Protection Commission, which is roughly analogous to Josef Mengele as surgeon general. First, do no good.
Now, the good news. Thanks, ironically, to the publicity magnet that was the wetlands division debacle and ultimate compromise, a lot more folks seem to be paying attention. And in the process, asking themselves: Who are these people — and whose priorities and values do they really represent?
Perhaps a tipping point has been reached in this reign of error. Perhaps Blair, Ken Hagan, Jim Norman and Kevin White have — by outing themselves as riparian renegades and then disingenuously claiming they were catalysts for compromise — will have greased the skids for their own eventual ouster. Perhaps enough voters may have recognized that Blair, for example, does, indeed, have the skill sets — and credibility — of a professional wrestler.
Once you’ve turned a sprinkling of environmentalists into an angry, enlightened constituency armed with rhetorical pitch forks, anything is possible.
And thank you Al Higginbotham, the increasingly assertive Mark Sharpe and the feisty Rose Ferlita. Being outnumbered is never at odds with being right.
And that’s how numbers can change.