I have to admit it. I stole that headline from a profile written nearly 30 years ago by a fellow Gator about University of Florida Athletic Director Bill Arnsparger.
I've been waiting that long to resurrect it. It really is the type of headline that you can only use once in a career.
The time has come. Disgraced and ousted Canaveral Port Authority CEO John Walsh may very well be the only man Will Rogers never met.
Unless you listen to him. He's not disgraced. He has no shame. He worked with the best interests of Port Canaveral at heart. It was the port that was "unclassy."
I'm still not even sure that is a word.
Walsh reminds me of a vulture or other carrion-eater that has no feathers on its head, so that when it eviscerates its prey, nothing sticks.
His thinly-veiled apology for calling myself and others opposed to his embattled rail plans "Luddites," "dogs chasing moving cars," and "People whose own kids can't make them happy" belied his complete and total contempt for those that aren't like-minded greedheads hoping to supplant the citrus blossom with the Concrete Clover as Florida's official flower.
Then, there was the time he called Brevard County Sherriff's bullies. Or the time that he referred to the Economic Development Council's Linda Weatherman as "worthless." Or called the four-star Air Force General that may have the answer to putting rail through the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station a "carpetbagger." Or when he called Jerry Allender "a thorn in his side." Or when he called Com. Jim Barfield an "untimely coward" whose "backward thinking" would assure Brevard County would "remain a second-class community." Oh, then there's the time he lied about being told by the Surface Transportation Board that the port couldn't speak to anybody. The one lie that really got him, however, was fabricating a mythical document that he claimed he received from the U.S. Air Force listing "58 reasons commercial rail can't go through CCAFS." He tried to hide behind exemptive privilege and National Security. However, the USAF released the redacted version of the document that proved he was lying through his teeth the day after his half-hearted apology to the community.
Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor?
One of my favorite insults, contained in an email to me, was his claim that I wasn't a "real journalist." It arrived after I refused to scurry to his office when summoned right after his train-wreck April 30th meeting where he compared trains to rockets.
There is a modestly-framed piece of paper on my home office wall that was awarded me for graduating from one of the top journalism programs in the country. And you know what? If it wasn't for a fishing guide with a cell phone, an old lady that can barely use her computer and a faux journalist, John Walsh would probably still have his job.
For nearly an hour the other day, as the ouster unfolded Walsh proceeded to turn his venom towards the elected five-man body that until several months ago backed him vigorously.
To say the audience was stunned is an understatement.
I'd like to first commend Coms. Weinberg and Allender for leading the charge against John Walsh. Coms. Deardoff, Evans and Justice — although I don't agree with their decision — did what I think they believe was the right thing: err on the side of caution due to looming, seemingly out of control debt at the port and a cruise industry that is obviously concerned with Walsh's ouster.
Allender and Weinberg (and I hope the rest of the board) are in favor of a nation-wide search for the next CEO of Port Canaveral. I hope the board looks to the south in Miami and Fort Lauderdale for somebody that deals with cruise lines on a regular basis. I think that's exactly what the cruise lines don't want, but likely something we really need.
Ironically, Walsh is leaving this week for a cruise with his wife. I won't even get started on that.
All five commissioners should also be commended for listening to the people.
If you wrote a letter, an email, went to a meeting and spoke or called your commissioner, you had a hand in this. That much was obvious to me in the fervor they've shown in pursuing the alternate Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Route with the Larkin/Renuart Group.
I wish that the board would have followed Com. Evan's lead in at least exploring how to pull the river routes (except for SR528) from the Surface Transportation Board's plate. It was 3-2, with Allender backing Evans up. But, as I heard Jim Dubea telling one of the commissioners at last month's Propeller Club meeting in reference to defeating County Commissioner Barfield's resolution opposing the river routes: "It only takes one." (In fact, they got none. Even Andy Anderson, who told Walsh via email he would vote against it, joined the unanimous vote supporting the resolution.)
So, after its all said and done, the board tried their best to exorcise the CPA of a malignant demon. They are very close to doing the right thing in terms of the river routes and the STB. Hopefully, they'll come to their senses and usher Walsh out the door of the Maritime Center with his bags brimming with severance pay before he does any more damage.
Personally, I'd like to see them reconsider cutting the strings on his Golden Parachute, letting him plummet to reality.
But in the meantime, let's offer an olive branch to our five elected officials in hopes of rebuilding the community relationships that John Walsh obliterated during his short reign of error at Port Canaveral — instead of whipping them with it.