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Sunday, May 20, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Here’s my survival guide for surviving Gasparilla

OK mateys. I know you’ve read all of the stuff about what you can bring, where you can park and all that from the authorities, but here are a couple of real tips to get you through the Saturday invasion mayhem. Trust me on this.

1. You want beads. Of course you do. In Tampa people put beads into their 401k plans. If you want to get them from people in the parade, get as close to the start of the parade on Bayshore Boulevard as possible. Bead-throwers are not exactly long-range planners. Many of them are out before getting downtown.

2. Rent a kid. Pirates ignore adults, unless they happen to be Beyonce. Adorable kids get tons of beads. Work out a deal.

3. You are going to have to hit a portable john at some point in a long day. Think about what you are going to be wearing. I’m just saying.

4. Cheer madly as Mother Trib’s float passes by. Throw beads our way.

5. If you are dreading the day, consider going to Dade City for the Kumquat Festival on Saturday. There aren’t any beads, and they serve all sorts of stuff made with kumquats. Avoid the kumquat wine.

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It’s hard to watch the Russians try to assure the world it’s safe to come to Sochi for the Olympics and not compare it with what we did a year ago to prepare for the Republican National Convention. I can recall the complaints, including mine, as much of the city was pretty much shut down and we had deputies and other units roaming the streets for a week. Considering the terrorist threat in Russia is real enough to involve the use of not just the Russian military but that of other nations, I guess we got off easy.

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An odd phone survey going on this week asks who you would vote for if the next mayoral election was between Bob Buckhorn and former Mayor Pam Iorio.

“It absolutely would not be me,” says the former mayor, who said to emphasize the word “absolutely.” She says she’s happy doing what’s she’s doing, including an occasional piece for Mother Trib.

Buckhorn, who was catching a plane to the mayor’s conference in Washington, said he thinks it was some blogger in St. Pete who just wants to stir things up.

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Speaking of politics in Pinellas, if you were watching the tube this week you saw the first Alex Sink commercials in the race for the District 13 seat. It was a folksy bit that had nothing to do with issues. Unfortunately, it was followed on the next commercial break with the first negative ad of the season, this one a nasty little number from the Democratic Party accusing Sink’s opponent, David Jolly, of being a lobbyist, which apparently is a sin.

Not to be outdone, the first negative shot from the Republicans came a few days later, attacking Sink for raising taxes on just about everything. Some things never change.

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Finally, I see that Hillsborough County schools are hiring a consultant to purchase school buses. I think they are paying the consultant about $80,000.

I’ve never purchased a school bus, but I would be willing to loan the school board my wife to handle the negotiations for half that.

When a car salesman tells her he has to see the manager about the really low deal he’s offering, she tells him to bring the manager back so she can deal face to face. She’ll get you a deal on buses.

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