Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Lakeland Ledger political writer Bill Rufty certainly doesn't mind slamming a politician or organization when he believes the individual or group has screwed up or is ignoring his/her constituents. He does it again in this week's column, which appeared Monday.

The target of Rufty's ire is State Senator Ronda Storms (R - Brandon), who is by no means a stranger to controveresy dating back to her tenure on the Hillsborough County Commission. But the columnist's issue is not anything Ms. Storms has said or done; it's more about what she hasn't done.

Ms. Storms' district includes the eastern half of Hillsborough County, much of southeast Pasco County, and portions of western and northern Lakeland in Polk County (Full Disclosure: I happen to live in her senatorial district...poor, poor, pitiful me). The Polk area has the fewest number of constituents (13,608 registered voters) in the district, compared with 223,112 in Hillsborough and 36,183 in Pasco. Rufty duly notes that in her effort to win the seat last year, Ms. Storms did not bother to campaign in the Polk County area of the district, even declining to meet with the Ledger editorial board. It was only in the closing weeks of the campaign, with Democratic opponent Stephen Gorham gaining in the polls, that Storms' staff offered an interview after ignoring several requests.

So, why does Mr. Rufty mention this now? Because Senator Storms seems to be continuing her ignorance of the eastern portion of her district. As the Ledger columnist notes:

Her predecessor in that seat, Tom Lee...showed up for county delegation meetings even after he became president of the Senate. He visited with constituents and you'd have thought it was the key to the elections.

But a Storms aide recently gave the senator's cold shoulder to Mike Stedem, president of the Polk County Tiger Bay Club who has offered to arrange a meeting any time she wants if she'll just come speak to the club.

Sandra Barkey, the senator's chief legislative aide, responded in an e-mail: "Thank you for the invitation, however the Senator's schedule prohibits her participation."

Ever? Hey if he is giving you a blank check to set your own date, how can you forever be too busy?

Rufty ends his writing with the summary that ...no voter wants to be told either directly or through a politician's actions that their vote is unimportant, and yet that seems to be what Storms' attitude toward Polk meetings implies.


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