5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

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I’m still digging into Craig Pittman and Waveney Ann Moore’s story about the centerpiece of the winning design for the city’s new $50 million Pier — an “Underwater Garden, to be filled with oysters, sea grass, fish and manatees” — and how this “soothing oval of green amid the soaring white concrete walls” is being  met with skepticism by biologists.

“Whoever wrote this doesn’t know a thing about sea grass,” said Margaret “Penny” Hall, the top sea grass expert at the state’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.


This does not bode well for a proposal already on shaky ground with large swaths of voters in St. Petersburg.

Yet, I can’t help but wonder if this story was prompted by a tip from an opponent of the plan?

On social media, it’s called “humble bragging” – subtly letting others now about how fantastic your life is while undercutting it with a bit of self-effacing humor or “woe is me” gloss.

Paul Tash probably isn’t aware of humble bragging, but that’s exactly what his piece about he and his wife being invited to a state dinner at The White House sounds like when he writes humble-brags like this:

“How did you make the list?” a friend wondered in a way that provoked no offense since the same question had occurred to me.

Or this:

“Two ID checks and two more security screenings later, we made our way into the East Wing and were announced as guests while cameras flashed reflexively and reporters no doubt wondered, “Who?”

Oh, please.

Tash knows exactly why he made the list.  As he wrote, “I would say the answer probably has something to do with Florida’s largest newspaper, Nov. 6, and 29 electoral votes.”

Notice how he slipped in the tagline about the Times being “Florida’s largest newspaper.”

Yet another humble brag.

I imagine Mr. Tash engaged in a few conversations which went something like this:

British Diplomat (in best Peter O’Toole accent): “Right, old boy, now tell me where this little tabloid of yours is?”

Tash: “Well, the newspaper is for Tampa Bay.”

British Diplomat: “Say that again, chap, your paper is about the water?”

Tash: “No, sir, it covers Tampa Bay, Florida.”

British Diplomat: “I’m so confused, mate, didn’t you say you’re from Saint Petersburg?”

Tash: “Yes I did.”

British Diplomat: “And where is that in Florida?”

Tash: “In Tampa Bay.”

British Diplomat: “Again, with the water. Good sir, I am confused.”

Tash: “I’m from St. Petersburg…I mean Tampa Bay…which is next to Tampa…near it at least. Well, the newspaper is printed in St. Petersburg but it covers Tampa Bay, but it used to be called the St. Petersburg Times. But it’s owned by…”

British Diplomat: “Cheers!”

I accurately predicted Adam Smith’s choice for Loser of the Week in Florida politics (Nancy Argenziano), but was surprised by his choice for Winner of the Week, Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno.  But after I read Smith’s well-researched story about Puerto Rico’s politics play in the US, especially Florida, I am not so surprised.

On Saturday, a sparkling day on which St. Patrick’s Day happened to fall, the Times/Herald’s Tallahassee bureau offered not one, not two, but five in-depth blog posts about the latest redistricting proposal offered by the Florida Senate, detailing which politicians might be impacted by the new lines. I don’t think I saw much else offered from any of the other state’s newspapers until several hours later.

I can’t find a link to it online, but there is an editorial offered by the Times which cannot be viewed as anything less than a declaration of political war on the county commissioners who voted to eliminate fluoride in Pinellas’ water system.  Those commissioners are Nancy Bostock, Neil Brickfield, John Morroni and Norm Roche.

Here’s the kicker: only Bostock and Brickfield are on the ballot in 2012.

Among local political consultants, when the Times goes after candidates like the way they will Bostock and Brickfield, we say that the newspaper has made them their “special project” for the election cycle.

What happens if you are a “special project” of the Times? Well, the newspaper conveniently publishes story after story about you, with little connection to any newsworthiness.  Issues a candidate were thought long-settled are “re-reported”, i.e., ‘Candidate no longer worried about criminal record’ or some crap like that.

And in a county commission race, where candidates never have enough money to reach all of the voters in their race, the Times with its tens of thousands of subscribers, can be a force (as opposed to a Congressional or State Legislative race, where there is enough money to overcome any media effort).

It will be interesting to see what the Times does in the Bostock and Brickfield races.

Just remember this, the Times endorsed them both in 2008.  Endorsing Brickfield was an easy decision because he was running against a tomato can.  But the newspaper endorsed Bostock over Democrat Rene Flowers.  It was a decision which did not sit well with the Times most loyal subscribers.

I wonder if the editorial board regrets its decision to endorse Bostock?

You don’t see me write this often, but Ernest Hooper makes two points today.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.