Joe Henderson Columns
Henderson: Turner's character on display during primary loss
Soon-to-be-former Hillsborough Property Appraiser Rob Turner provided the perfect punctuation for the (thankfully) final night of primary campaign lunacy. He tried to shove Tribune reporter Mike Salinero out of a small South Tampa eatery where Turner and associates had gathered for a victory … um, well, no. Not victory. Um, what's the word? Wake? Anyway, Turner told Salinero he wasn't on the guest list and asked, "Do you want me to call the cops?" This was because our intrepid reporter wanted to do what reporters everywhere do during elections — get reaction from the winners or, in Turner's case, those who get their butts kicked up between their shoulders by Ronda Storms.She has no known background in appraising property, but voters around here apparently figured that was still preferable to a guy making north of $150,000 a year carrying on with an employee he later fired. Did I say Turner's gathering was small? It sounds like it included everyone who voted for him. Turner's last act of public service seemed sadly predictable, filed under, "I know I screwed up badly and ruined a great gig, but I'm blaming the media for that." Turner would have been better served by staying classy, but I guess by primary election day it was a little late for that. This wasn't the only race where voters took a stand on character. John Grant was cannon fodder for Ann Ober in the Group 3 county court judge race, a result no doubt impacted by Grant's three arrests on drunken driving charges. But while voters showed in those outcomes that personal behavior matters, they only wanted to take it so far. In his circuit court race against Mark Wolfe, former Florida House speaker Johnnie Byrd Jr. frequently boasted of his Christian faith while chastising Wolfe for not doing the same. Voters didn't buy it, apparently deciding faith is a private matter and that judges do best when they stick to local and state law. They also served notice to the Hillsborough County School Board, choosing PTA mom Cindy Stuart over the long-serving and respected Jack Lamb. Stuart made the not-unreasonable argument that the board needs to push back more on Superintendent MaryEllen Elia. It's about time. While we're at it, how about pushing back on the Tallahassee wizards who have turned our public schools into little more than testing labs — coming up with one new way after another to hold teachers "accountable" for things often way beyond their control. There is one more item that should be noted. This is the first time I ever paid attention to a state committeeman race, but then former NRA president Marion Hammer injected herself into the Hillsborough and Pasco races. She endorsed the opponents of Bill Bunting and Hoe Brown in retaliation for refusing to fall in lockstep with some of her previous political edicts. Hammer is feared, but apparently she's not all-powerful. Both Bunting and Brown won. Maybe she should have fetched Rob Turner on them instead.