"The fact of the matter is that we have seen people that we appoint to
these boards … become candidates and used those boards to put forth
their platform when they should not be doing that," said Commissioner
Les Miller, who proposed the measure.
Miller, a Democrat, cited as an example, though not by name, a
Republican primary challenger to sitting Commissioner Victor Crist last
Crist had appointed Sharon Calvert to the county's main citizen's
advisory panel and Miller claimed Calvert used the appointment to
advance her campaign and denigrate Crist.
The more I read the article, the more I
realized I was the scapegoat so the County Commissioners would not
have to deal with a conservative voice, Terry Kemple, on the
|Terry Kemple, Candidate for Hillsborough County School Board|
So what really happened at Wednesday's
County Commission meeting?
The Commissioners unanimously repealed
the ban on gay pride recognition. According to this Tampa Tribune article
Commissioners Kevin Beckner and Les Miller both
touted the argument of discrimination and that everyone deserves to
be treated fairly, equally and with respect.
Then, according to this Tampa Bay Times article
Les Miller proposed the following that the Commission voted 5-1 (Victor
Crist the lone vote against, thank you Commissioner Crist, and Al
Higginbotham who had stepped out did not vote) to
declared candidates for office from serving on county boards and
councils to which commissioners appoint representatives. The policy
amendment also requires people already serving on an appointed board to
report their candidacy for office so that commissioners can vote to
So much for treating everyone fairly
and with respect ALL the time. The TBT article included a picture of
Conservative School Board candidate Terry Kemple who appears to be at
the epicenter of Commissioner Miller's proposal and wrath.
proposal came up two weeks after socially conservative activist Terry
Kemple sought a position on a proposed diversity advisory panel.
Miller insists he's not targeting Kemple, but the eligibility change would appear to disqualify him from consideration.
On May 15th the County Commission voted 4-3 to support Kemple's appointment to the new Diversity panel. After the vote, this Tampa Bay Times article
when Democrat Les Miller pulled a procedural maneuver. Having made the
original motion to approve the appointment list without Kemple, he then
moved to table its final approval indefinitely. Hagan joined that bloc,
joining Miller, Beckner and Republican Commissioner Mark Sharpe in
agreeing to table a vote.
Prevailing commissioners can bring the matter back up later.
of Commissioner Miller admitting that his proposal to prohibit
candidates from serving on voluntary committees was specifically aimed
at Terry Kemple, he deceptively used me as the example. Commissioner
Miller proposed an end around to his own previous procedural maneuver to
prohibit Terry Kemple from serving on any committee. Though
Commissioner Miller did not mention me by name, come on Les – I was the
only primary challenger to Victor Crist, he did so indirectly. Recall
from Bill Varian's article:
appointed Sharon Calvert to the county's main citizen's advisory panel
and Miller claimed Calvert used the appointment to advance her campaign
and denigrate Crist.
Really? Granted there are no
direct quotes from Commissioner Miller so we are left wondering if Bill
Varian took liberty with something else Commissioner Miller may have
said, either at the Commission meeting or afterwards when Varian spoke
to Miller. But please Bill, as I told you, next time you use me as an
example, call me to ensure you have your facts straight. I don't
appreciate waking up to an article calling me out with false innuendo.
And Commissioner Miller, shame on you if you even hinted at such an
Let's set the record straight:
I decided to run, I immediately called Commissioner Victor Crist to let
him know. I asked him if he would like me to resign from the Citizens
Advisory Committtee he had appointed me to. He not only said “No”, he
gave reasons why I should stay. So I decided to stay and continue my
citizen volunteer duties on the Citizens Advisory Committee. I
subsequently resigned July 12th due to what I saw was a conflict of
interest that occurred with the non-profit sub-committee I was serving
on with the CAC. The non-profit sub-committee was established to reform
how non-profit funding was provided in the County. The non-profit
funding had evolved since the 1980's and there was very little
accountability and discipline for how these dollars were doled out. The
conflict of interest arose when the Executive Director of a non-profit
that Commissioner Crist had founded and chaired was appointed to the
sub-committee. These additional appointments to the subcommittee were
requested by Les Miller and Victor Crist after we had been working on
this issue for over 8 months. Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars have
been directed to Victor's nonprofit over the years Commissioner Crist
served in the state legislature and as County Commissioner. I thought
that a conflict of interest for a sub-committee who's goal was to reform
the non-profit funding process.
Now let's connect the dots of hypocrisy:
- The Commissioners all agree - treat everyone fairly and equally and do not discriminate
- 5 of the commissioners vote to prohibit candidates from serving on
boards – and it's the Commissioners themselves who make the
appointments. Certainly they can manage their own committee appointments
as the commissioners are paid $92K/year. And if you decide to run while
on a committee, the County Commission can decide to remove you. How's
that for treating everyone fairly and equally?
- There's no problem appointing the Executive Director from a
non-profit that has received tens of millions of taxpayer dollars that
was founded and chaired by a sitting County Commissioner, to a committee
trying to reform taxpayer non-profit funding. That's OK.
- Last but not least is Commissioner Miller 's deception. Commissioner
Miller had pulled a procedural maneuver to prevent Terry Kemple from
being appointed to the Diversity panel by delaying the panel and then he
proposes policy changes that totally prohibits candidate Kemple from
being appointed to any committee.
Instead of pointing to me, Bill Varian should have asked
Commissioner Miller why he used me as his scapegoat to target Terry
Kemple? And why didn't Bill ask Commissioner Miller why he was doing an
end around his previous procedural maneuver to keep Terry Kemple off of
the Diversity Panel and also to throw Terry off a committee he has been
serving on for years?
The answer – it was a pathetic
political manipulation to limit the ability for someone who's opinion
Miller disagrees with to serve his community. Government officials are
now targeting individuals solely because of their beliefs.
What are they afraid of? Regardless of what one may think of Terry Kemple's politics, are you next?