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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Recalling ‘Buzzard Bob,’ back to work

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OK, it’s Monday and the holidays are officially over, even if your tree is still shedding in the house and we still have to get through the last big bowl game tonight.

I guess I have to go with Florida State, although my old buddy Bob Bishop, who passed away a couple of years ago, is probably somehow responsible for Auburn pulling out all those miracle wins this year.

Bishop was Auburn through and through. I mean if the Auburn women’s tennis team was in town, I could count on a call to join him in the bleachers at USF to watch.

You probably didn’t know Bishop, but you might recall “Buzzard Bob.’’ He used to sit in one of those downtown skyscrapers where he was a financial wizard. That can be pretty boring work, and he stared out the window a lot and noticed the buzzards would arrive pretty much on schedule every November.

The buzzards weren’t that popular with most of his colleagues, especially the ones who ate lunch in those private clubs at the tops of the buildings. The buzzards had this habit of brown bagging it, bringing their own road kill lunches up to the window sills and having lunch just outside the glass from the humans.

Bishop did some research and discovered these same turkey vultures would fly up to Hinckley, Ohio, every spring where the locals would hold a pancake breakfast and welcome them back on March 15 with a day of their own.

To that end he held his own ‘‘Buzzard Bash,’’ dressed more or less as a buzzard. He invited a bunch of people to the party and tried to create Tampa’s own “Buzzard Day.’’ For some reason it never caught on.

Meanwhile the rest of us are back to work today, schools are in session and the politicians are raising money. It’s a typical workday.

Be careful driving out there. Watch out for school buses and for Hillsborough County school board members who might be on the road heading off to another junket.

Be especially careful for board member Susan Valdes, who apparently is on a global tour to study education and avoid actually doing anything. In a news story and an editorial in Mother Trib, we pointed out that since 2010 she has run up a travel tab of around $37,000. Shoot, you could hire another teacher for that.

My thinking is you should only go to conferences you can reach on HART buses.

School conferences, like most conferences, are not bad things. They give you a chance to get out of town, hobnob with peers and pick up information you take back to the office and forget.

Back when we had money for those sorts of things around here, I went to a few columnist conventions. These were wonderfully productive events where the columnists sat around for a few days, stole some column ideas from fellow columnists and then went back home and tried to justify those expense accounts.

So I can understand why Valdes and her colleagues might want to get out of town every now and then. And it seems to be a little easier writing off those expenses in bureaucratic mumbo jumbo than in filling out the Mother Trib forms that require receipts for those business sessions in the hotel bar.

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