OK, here’s the deal.
I had a very cool blog planned for today. A wonderful blog. Funny, engaging. The kind of blog that one would say, “Wow, how nice of Mike to brighten my day like that.”
A blog filled with travel, adventure, and intrigue.
The blog to end all blogs.
Such a good idea that apparently, I’ve written it already.
You see, I head to Tallahassee on Wednesday for Citrus County Legislative Days. Kind of like a middle school field trip with no chaperones.
So, bingo, blog topic. Good thing I looked at the Just Wright Citrus archives because I had the same idea in 2022 and 2023.
Which means I can’t write about the cool U.S. 19 drive.
And I can’t write about getting lost in the Capitol.
And I can’t write about running into people like our old friend Richard Corcoran.
And on and on.
I can’t write about my fun Paul Hawkes experience. Or about cornering Congressman Dan Webster in a hallway years later, asking him about us drinking beer and shooting pool with Hawkes, and seeing the look of terror on his face.
It appears I’ve covered all my Tallahassee stories.
You know what that means. Yup. I’m gonna ramble:
— I am guaranteed to get lost at least once. Ardath Prendergast, the chamber of commerce wunderkind who organizes this event, sent me a Capitol map to find Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson’s office. It might as well be a map to hidden treasure.
I’ve never called a member of the Cabinet looking for directions. Simpson may be my first.
— I’m not what you’d call a Tallahassee reporter. I’m too easily intimidated by big-name politicians, and the process moves a little too swiftly for me.
One year I was covering a Cabinet meeting, nervous as heck. Sitting with me was one of the Capitol reporters who once worked at the Chronicle.
He told me it’s no big deal.
“It’s just like the County Commission,” he said.
Yeah, except that’s the Governor up there holding the gavel and not Ron Kitchen Jr.
— I never know what to ask these guys. I’m either caught up in big-shotism and ask something you’d hear on PBS at 3 in the morning or draw off normal (!) Mike from Citrus County.
The latter is more fun. The Associated Press each year held a pre-session meeting for Capitol reporters. Former Chronicle Editor Charlie Brennan and I went every year, and these things morphed into a day-long press conference with all the big-name political types.
Well, one year the Senate President was talking about legislation to add lethal injection to the death penalty which, until then, had been only the controversial electric chair.
I didn’t think about it. I raised my hand and asked, “You need a bill for another way to kill somebody?”
The politician was horrified. “Not KILL somebody! It’s for executions.”
I let it drop. Everyone else in the room, the real Tallahassee reporters, looked embarrassed. Driving home later, Charlie and I agreed the question may have been a bit too blunt.
— Going to Tallahassee for a trip such as this is a very big deal. Not just the first time. You can’t help but get caught up in the specter of state government taking place right then and there. If you’re into this sort of thing, even a little bit, the capital visit is thrilling.
I’m nervous before each drive. Even though I no longer work for anyone but the fine readers of Just Wright Citrus, I’m still on edge because there is so much, and I’m unfamiliar with most of it.
I’m a little fish in a little pond and quite happy with it. That’s another thing about these visits. I’m always thankful to get home.
Tallahassee here we come.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.