A taste of Florida
Yesterday Mascotte Mayor Jeff Krull was defeated in his bid for re-election. This only coming a day after Krull was arrested on charges that included child molestation.
Today Lauren Ritchie(Maybe my favorite Florida based columnist) wrote about the town of Mascotte's colorful history.
Mascotte has run amok for years. For a long time, it was a place where rednecks came out of the swamps on Saturday night to drink and carry on. Tales are still told of a long-ago police chief tossing people out of a bar into State Road 50. (No one ever got run over. At the time, there was no traffic late at night.)Sounds like Mascotte belongs in Florida.
Then, migrant Mexicans began using Mascotte as a stopping point during their travels across the country to pick crops. Later, some settled there, and the town today has a distinctly Hispanic flavor.
Despite Mascotte's past foibles, it would be unkind to make fun of the place. A town so desperately poor struggling so valiantly to improve shouldn't be a target of derision.
"There are good people down there, and it could be such a great little town," former city manager Glenn Irby said. "But you've got crazies everywhere."
It all started in 1947, when a man dropped dead during the dedication of the new City Hall. That did not bode well for Mascotte, incorporated in 1926 and named after the SS Mascotte, a ship that ran from Boston to St. Petersburg.Some of the aliens admitting they are from outer space? The city council proving themselves to all be honest politicians? Maybe Jimmy Hoffa was buried there?
But the truly disturbing strangeness emerged in fall 1984, when someone tried three times to blow up City Hall and set it afire. Police redoubled their patrols. But the arsonist succeeded on the fourth attempt, and City Hall went to the ground while residents in their jammies looked on.
At the time, then-police Chief Gary Birman said he had two suspects. Neither, however, was Birman himself.
State investigators stepped in and gave lie-detector tests to police officers -- all four members of the department became suspects -- but Birman refused and quit in a huff.
Later, the chief was convicted of setting two unrelated arson fires and sentenced to prison. Nobody ever was charged in Mascotte.
In 1987, a Mascotte police officer named James Duckett -- grandfather of Trenton Duckett, the toddler who has been missing from Leesburg for more than a year -- was convicted of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl who had gone to the store to get a pencil to finish her homework.
Duckett, who was on duty at the time of the crime, remains on death row, but questions still linger about the validity of the testimony and evidence that put him there.
Nearly a decade later, then-Mayor Odis "Josh" Thomas was charged with stealing fill dirt from a contractor, assaulting then-police Chief Randy Stienstra and accepting a payoff from a traveling carnival. Gov. Lawton Chiles removed him from office.
A jury cleared Thomas of theft, extortion and assault charges, and Thomas has always said there was a conspiracy to frame him.
And in 2002, officers from two cities shot and killed a Mascotte council member. Steve Allred had been shooting pool at a Mascotte bar one February night when he left with a drunken friend who was driving. His buddy led police on a chase, then slammed two patrol cars. Fourteen bullets later, Allred was dead, and David Schoenberger was wounded.
And finally, Mayor Jeff Krull has been charged with molesting children at his home.
Sigh. What next?
Feel free to leave your ideas in my comments section.
Linked to- Bright & Early, Bullwinkle, The World According to Carl,