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Saturday, Mar 24, 2018
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Otto: ‘Borderline dire’ time for Rays?

So what do you think Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan was talking about the other day when he used the term “borderline dire?’’

I won’t keep you in suspense. Hagan was talking to a reporter about a threat from Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig, to step in and get things going in the discussions over where the Rays are going ... and apparently they are going somewhere.

Actually, I thought the discussions were going reasonably well and that it was only a matter of time before Mayor Buckhorn would be standing up in front of a gaggle of microphones announcing that the Rays were coming to town and he was getting them to change their colors to Irish green.

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Selig, of course, does this sort of thing now and then. He is likely at least partially responsible for what used to be called “America’s game” slipping behind football, NASCAR and probably wrestling as our national pastime. But his word still sends shivers down politicians’ spines and they still react as if everything was some sort of borderline dire emergency.

“There exists a sense of urgency to resolve this issue,” Hagan said the other day. “The sense of urgency is real. It’s borderline dire.”

Excuse me. “Borderline dire?”

You know, I suppose there is a difference between something being “borderline dire” and something just plain “dire.’’ Still, “borderline dire’’ sounds pretty serious and more than that, something that is going to end up costing us some real money.

I don’t listen to every commission meeting. Nobody does. It could cause untold damage to the nervous system. But I listen to a lot and I don’t recall hearing either “dire” or “borderline dire” used about any issue in recent discussions.

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And there are plenty of serious issues out there. Commissioners have to deal with all manner of public safety decisions. They’ve got a reservoir that is apparently costing us millions to repair. They have to deal with an urban sprawl that threatens to completely change the county’s economic and cultural lifestyle.

There are tremendous issues of mass transportation (or lack of) to be resolved.

There is crime of all sorts and ever increasing gang activity in the county.

There is an economy stagnating with growth in service jobs without the opportunities to move us out of our funk.

There are the dozens of nonprofit agencies that appear before the commissioners begging for help when there is little to give.

Nowhere do I hear the words “dire” or even “borderline dire” used. At least until once again last week when the lords of sport came knocking, this time with threats of doing “something,” whatever that means.

Maybe Hagan is right. Maybe more than “borderline dire,” we are headed into dire straits, and I’m not talking about the band, where we are going to be threatened and cajoled into something we might not be able to afford or support. That would be more than borderline dire. It would be dumb.

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Steve Otto

Otto: ‘Borderline dire’ time for Rays?