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Shock jock's outrageous trial has cost him $1 million

First came the endless trial with one loud radio DJ accusing another of being really, really mean. (Isn't that what they do?)

Then we heard allegations of lawyers plotting against lawyers, using a comely young paralegal and a buddy cop to get opposing counsel arrested on a drunken driving charge. (How nice for the image of ethical lawyers everywhere.)

If there wasn't enough to get outraged about in the defamation case Todd Schnitt lost to rival Bubba the Love Sponge, here's this tidbit from post-trial filings: Schnitt already has paid more than a million dollars for lawyers and costs, and is now objecting to paying nearly a million more.

•••

The fight for an open Hillsborough commission seat in 2014 has everything but the popcorn. Current Commissioner Al Higginbotham faces serious contenders — School Board member April Griffin and Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern. Add the delicious possibility of fierce former commissioner Rose Ferlita and you have a race. Potentially intriguing as well is Commissioner Victor Crist's also-up seat. Because guess who lives in the district, too? Stormy Ronda Storms, she of the anti-gay and anti-abortion causes as commissioner and state senator. Storms finds herself without a political home after being trounced in a run for property appraiser. Might she be eyeing another run?

Maybe this is why Crist seems to be treading carefully lately, making that final controversial vote for millions to get Bass Pro Shops here without saying why, helping nix a basic-rights registry for unmarried couples. He was noticeably absent last week when the aviation board took up increasing Tampa Airport CEO Joe Lopano's pay because other cities might be interested in him. Whither Crist? He said he had to take his 92-year-old father to the hospital.

Crist says he would have sided with Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the lone voice who argued there's nothing wrong with Lopano's current well-paid deal.

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Last week when the unimaginable happened — a sinkhole opened beneath a Seffner home and took a man's life — it made national news. Before the cameras — CNN, the works — stood County Administrator Mike Merrill, speaking for us.

And, county administrator? Really? Maybe it's Merrill's seminary training, which must come in handy working with seven let us call them strong personalities on the commission. He was a calm, steady, empathetic presence on the national stage speaking of the terrible thing that happened here. (Here being "in Tampa" or "near Tampa," depending on what channel you watched.)

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Best correction to a press release in recent memory comes from Hillsborough school officials on students who aced the SAT: The four students … scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT, not a perfect 2400. The 1600 includes the traditional math and reading portions. They scored a perfect 800 in math and a perfect 800 in reading. For the last several years, the SAT has included a third section for writing. …For many years, 1600 was the gold standard. The students are still perfect in the two traditional areas. The Communications staff, however, is not perfect. We apologize for the error.

Shock jock's outrageous trial has cost him $1 million 03/05/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 5, 2013 8:52pm]
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