Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

March column: Kevin Beckner leaves politics, named Hillsborough civil service chief

Kevin Beckner, once seen as a rising star in the local Democratic Party, has stepped away from politics after losing the circuit court clerk's race in November to take a county job that pays up to $140,000 a year. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]

Former Hillsborough County Commissioner

Kevin Beckner, once seen as a rising star in the local Democratic Party, has stepped away from politics after losing the circuit court clerk's race in November to take a county job that pays up to $140,000 a year. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]

The Hillsborough County Civil Service Board has selected former county Commissioner Kevin Beckner as its new director.

Beckner, a Democrat, has said if he got the job, he'd stay out of elective politics for the indefinite future.

Interim director Kurt Wilkening said the seven-member board, with one vacancy, considered the top two candidates to be Beckner and Alma Gonzalez, currently the board's employee relations manager, and voted 4-2 for Beckner in a meeting Wednesday night.

Gonzalez is also a high-level Democratic Party activist.

Wilkening said Beckner's salary will be negotiated within the range of $115,000 to $140,000. Beckner couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Term-limited in his countywide commissioner's seat last year, Beckner challenged Clerk of Court Pat Frank in the primary but lost in a bitter race that created enmity among Democrats. He had previously been considered a rising local star in the party.

Beckner and Gonzalez were among four finalists to replace Director Dane Petersen, who is retiring after 30 years with the agency.

Beckner's resume listed no experience in employment law or human resources organizations, but he said his eight years as commissioner and his experience in running small businesses gave him that experience.

The Civil Service Board, among other things, hears appeals of disciplinary actions by employees of county agencies. The board is appointed by the governor.

GOP legislators reticent on Artiles

Most local Republican legislators were reluctant to answer this week when asked whether state Sen. Frank Artiles should resign his seat. The one exception was Rep. Shawn Harrison of Tampa, who called for Artiles' resignation.

Democrats all said Artiles should go, some by voting for the legislative Black Caucus statement saying he should.

Artiles has been caught up in a scandal over his use of profanity and a racial slur to a black female senator.

The Tampa Bay Times asked the 13 legislators representing all or part of Hillsborough County whether Artiles should go.

State Senate President Joe Negron provided the senators a reason for not answering: Negron has urged them not to take a position until an investigation by the Senate counsel is over.

Republican Sens. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, Tom Lee of Thonotosassa and Dana Young of Tampa all cited Negron's memo in declining to answer, though they criticized Artiles.

Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg didn't respond. Rouson had previously made comments to Politico that in some ways defended Artiles but is a member of the legislative Black Caucus, which voted unanimously for a statement saying Artiles should quit.

Galvano and Lee are members of the Senate Rules Committee, which will hear the investigative report and make a recommendation to the full Senate.

In the House, Democratic minority leader Janet Cruz of Tampa said Artiles' comments "should not be tolerated by a civil society," and he should "resign immediately."

Democratic Reps. Wengay Newton of St. Petersburg and Sean Shaw of Tampa didn't respond, but are also members of the Black Caucus.

GOP Reps. Jake Raburn of Lithia, Ross Spano of Dover and Jackie Toledo of Tampa all failed to respond to the inquiry. Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa said only that Artiles should "pray about it, focus on his wife and kids, and his district." Rep. Dan Raulerson of Plant City said Artiles' constituents should decide.

Harrison said via text message that Artiles "should voluntarily resign. If he refuses then he should be censured by the Senate. … In 2018 he will answer to the voters for his inexcusable behavior."

Harrison, who holds a North Tampa swing district considered vulnerable to a Democratic challenge, received substantial black support in holding his seat against a challenge by Democrat Lisa Montelione last year.

Martin Garcia vs. Tampa International

Martin Garcia, a former Hillsborough Aviation Authority board member and prominent Republican campaign donor, made news this week when state Sen. Tom Lee cited information from Garcia in calling for an audit of the gigantic Tampa International Airport expansion.

It's not the first conflict between Garcia and the airport, which he helped run as a board member before abruptly resigning in 2014.

For more than a decade, Garcia has been one of Tampa International's most frequent noise critics.

According to airport records, Garcia registered 1,088 noise complaints with Tampa International since 2008.

Garcia, who didn't respond to calls about the airport, lives in a waterfront home in exclusive Beach Park that happens to be two miles south of the end of the Tampa International main runways.

Contact William March at wemarch@gmail.com

March column: Kevin Beckner leaves politics, named Hillsborough civil service chief 04/21/17 [Last modified: Friday, April 21, 2017 10:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  2. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal

    College

    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  3. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  4. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.
  5. Pinellas licensing board loses support for staying independent

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board on Monday lost its strongest supporter for staying independent.

    State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican running for governor, said Monday that he will no longer support any legislation to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board independent. This photo was taken in August. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]