Home / Community Bloggers / Election Feathers Fly, Past And Present, At Commission Meeting

Election Feathers Fly, Past And Present, At Commission Meeting


SAFETY HARBOR – The public discussion portion of last week’s Safety Harbor City Commission meeting, where citizens have an open mic to speak on miscellaneous subjects and needs, began with an audio recording of ear-piercing, screeching angry birds, played by a resident upset with a neighbor.

After telling commissioners how the annoying, around-the-clock cawing of next-door pet macaws and parrots were disrupting her family’s life, the woman asked for the city’s help, then returned to her seat.

A few minutes later came the night’s real squawking and shrieking.

In one of Safety Harbor’s strangest, off-the-rails commission meetings since, well, probably last election season, the community’s status-quo, zero-growth segment went before the commission to address Mayor Joe Ayoub and complain, rant and allege bad behavior by his supporters … THREE YEARS AGO during a campaign against then-candidate Janet Hooper.

Sherman, set up the Wayback Machine.
OK, Mr. Peabody!

Less than four weeks before Safety Harbor voters go to the polls to re-elect Ayoub or trust political newcomer Tanja Vidovic to lead them into a new decade, the status-quo side came to the commission meeting and handed out inch-thick binders, alleging (but without proof or documentation) mean behavior by Ayoub supporters during the 2017 election.

Can there be a greater confirmation that this is a group living in Safety Harbor’s past?

Maybe for a good reason.

To continue the bird analogy, you could say they are supporting a candidate whose campaign is a wounded duck.

Vidovic, a Tampa Fire Fighter with a controversial career resume’, has no previous political leadership experience at any level, no record of involvement in government volunteer boards or money management.

Her work career is a long string of conflict and controversy, spotlighted by research done the by public-records gathering website InformedSafetyHarbor.com, which shows two firings, multiple law suits against multiple past employers, complaints of bullying co-workers and neighbors and a run-in with sheriff deputies at Philippe Park and subsequent removal and banning from the property.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining Vidovic supporters preferring to focus on the past rather than prepare for the future.

If a community is not moving forward, it is going backward. The status-quos do not simply desire to halt the greatest run Safety Harbor has ever enjoyed, they want to turn back time.

Safety Harbor has become exactly what the majority of Safety Harbor residents want it to be: Without tumbleweeds rolling down Main Street.

So, as predictable as a toll-booth arm, Vidovic supporter Chris Kent stepped to the microphone with the Wayback Machine set for 2017 and attempted to relive “The Hitler Video,” which appeared three years ago on a satirical Facebook page during the mayor’s race between Ayoub and Janet Hooper.

The “video” is actually a short segment pulled from the 2004 movie “Downfall,” set during the final days of World War II and demise of Hitler. It is also one of social media’s all-time most-popular memes, used with endless and various sub-titles to poke fun at just about any topic.

Case in point, Hooper, who called the post “disgraceful,” had “Liked” the exact same meme years earlier when it was used in the Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry.

Kent, with a computer thumb drive as part of the inch-thick binder, requested the video be played before as part of last week’s commission meeting.

Nostalgia Night at City Hall – bring the family … the kids … the dog. Popcorn for everyone.

“I understand some of Ayoub’s supporters call it satire,” Kent said. “Let’s show it and let everybody decide.”

Answered Ayoub: “Let me get this straight. You’re complaining about a video from three years ago that I have spoken out against, that has been handled and dealt with, and you are so outraged and offended by it you want to watch it again tonight?”

A few moments later, Ayoub had another question for another status-quo supporter looking for a safe space.

“Are you upset about both sides, or just one side?”

“Your supporters.”

It was a rich exchange, especially considering Shelly Schellenberg, the Big Bird of Safety Harbor political hate and gamesmanship, is the loudest voice of status-quo and zero-growth proponent.

Their feathers were ruffled.

Mick Elliott
Safety Harbor Resident Blogger


  1. I am voting for Tanja and I would like to point out that I am far from Zero Growth. I love some of the amazing improvements made over the 7 years I have been blessed as a resident. A friendly town, full of potential for a young family starting out. It’s no longer the case. What added housing is insufficient to support a diverse and growing community. 900 sq ft 2 bed 2 bth yard-less apartments starting at 2k a month is NOT sustainable living for a diverse group. I would love to see some starter style homes, but big developers don’t make money like that. I wish to see the codes strengthen and the public coffers NOT raided. This is one of the most beautiful gems in all of the south, that is why we are so at odds- women without ANY political experience swept the 2018 elections so try and keep an open mind out there. Strong passionate women are often discredited, many for invalid reasons. The truths I have uncovered drive my passion to get more voters to the poll. I work 40 + hours a week and volunteer my free time to help a grass roots campaign focused on many important issues-
    I enjoy bird watching. Protecting the mangroves, parks free of Cancer causing Round Up.. all issues I would love to discuss.

    • Hayley Rae, -You are right to point out the amazing improvements that Safety Harbor has made during Mayor Ayoub’s 10 years of service as a City Commissioner and as Mayor. This progress happened due to their willingness to cooperate with each other and accept compromise solutions. Our city has also made great progress due to the many years of experience our Mayor and Commissioners have in serving our local government.

      Having government experience and willingness to cooperate and accept compromise is exactly what Tanja lacks. She also lacks proper judgment, temperament, and she shows a repeated pattern of harassing behavior towards city and county workers, our city arborist, her neighbors, and members of our city advisory boards. These are the reasons that I would not vote for Tanja and it has nothing to do with her being a strong passionate woman as you suggest. I know a lot of strong passionate women that I would consider voting for in an election, but these women would never act in such a reckless and irresponsible way as Tanja has acted.

      Also, you believe that the high priced rents and expensive homes being built in Safety Harbor are a problem. However, the high prices of homes and rents are simply a reflection of the desirability and availability of homes in an area. The more desirable Safety Harbor becomes, the more it will cost to live here. This is simple economics and is why we are seeing prices rising here and all over Tampa Bay. Builders will put up more expensive houses on more expensive land and less expensive houses on less expensive land. This is not a problem. This is simply how the free market operates. For those who cannot afford to live in Safety Harbor, they can do what others do now and simply live in the many nearby cities and towns in our area.

      Finally, you mentioned that you would like to see Round Up no longer sprayed in our parks like Philippe Park. I can support that idea, but I do not support anyone attacking park workers who are simply doing their jobs. A responsible person and a true leader who wants change would simply express their concerns before the Pinellas County and Safety Harbor Commissions and petition for a change of policy. The Philippe Park incident with Tanja harassing park workers makes it clear to me that Tanja lacks the proper judgment, temperament, character, and leadership skills to lead our city into the future.

      • Thank you for acknowledging your interests in driving out the minorities, the veterans and the retirees who live on fixed incomes. The arts will decline and the charm will be gone. The leadership here has forgotten what actually makes Safety Harbor great( though on side note you are the 1st person I have read that did not give sole responsibility for success to the mayor) and has no intention of diversity within the ranks. That is a serious issue for a large number of voters.

        • Haley Rae, – Nobody is “driving out the minorities, the veterans and the retirees who live on fixed incomes”. All of properties that we are discussing are privately owned. Private individuals in the marketplace set the selling price of a home and also the rental rates. When a town becomes a more desirable place to live, these prices go up and when a town becomes less desirable place to live, these prices go down. No individual or government is driving anyone out of our city as you claim.

          I have lived in this city for almost two decades and I have seen the charm of Safety Harbor increase tremendously during this time. We used to have many run down and dilapidated homes and buildings all over this city, especially in the downtown area. People used to avoid coming to Safety Harbor and would shop and dine elsewhere. Most of the old and run down homes have now been fixed up and the city has never looked more charming than it does now. Also, when I moved here years ago, there was not a single mural on any wall, not a single mosaic anywhere, no poetry on benches, and with the exception of Todd and Kiaralinda, I knew of no other artists in town. Now the arts are thriving as the tax revenues have boomed in Safety Harbor and the City can afford to hire artists to create all of the beautiful artwork that you see throughout the city. I firmly believe that anyone who wants to stop all of the great changes that are going on in Safety Harbor and return to “the good old days”, weren’t around years ago to see what the city was like back then and how much better it is now.

          • It’s booming for many reasons you have failed to point out. We have an amazing Commission and a fantastic community but this will not last. Your model to allow overdevelopment and price out young families and ethnic groups will be our downfall. I would love to discuss this offline. It seems we can both be long winded.

          • Thank you Joe C. Excellent comment. I have been here for more years than I would like to admit. Safety Harbor is now a gem of a city. It’s understandable why more people want to live here and are moving here. I don’t understand the resentment of some in the Harbor towards new people or new businesses. All should be welcomed with open arms. All.

          • Joe C I wouldn’t waste my time in responding. That’s not a citizen you’re talking to but a paid campaign troll.

        • This is very true My family was asked to move out of our rental property after being residents for over a decade. Unfortunately we are of the minority race. We work in Safety Harbor, are involved in the Arts community, I also want to mention that we where never late nor did we ever miss a payment on our rent. I truly believe that the city asked my landlord to evict us. Many times I would sit on my front porch and see women that work for the city walking around in heels snapping pictures of people’s properties that had been targeted by the city, next thing you know that business or those people where moving out. Safety Harbor has become the most discriminating place I have ever lived. Unfortunately. I’ve got my popcorn popped, time to watch the show.

          • Tina that’s so sad I’m sorry to hear you where pushed out of Safety Harbor. I was going to make an offer on a house on Bayshore but I’m of the minority race and don’t want my children to experience Safety Harbors racism. I saw a petition online about this and will post the link. I’m happy to say I have found a home in a city that’s small and not racist. Safety Harbor isn’t that beautiful that people should accept unusually high priced housing Crooked politics and minority’s being pushed out of there homes

        • When land is expensive—like it is in SH, the only way to drive down housing costs is to put more housing units on the land. Your sisters in saving SH go out of their minds at the mere mention of doing this and have fought gentle increases in density in SH over and over through the years. As Joe C. said, there are market forces at play…good ol’ supply and demand. Government (city commission) can only “fix” the market forces at the root of your concerns through regulation (e.g., allowing more duplexes, garden apartments, etc. in SH) and/or paying down the cost of new housing in some manner (e.g., donating land, homeowner down payment assistance, developer grants, etc.). The people you stand with, including your candidate, want all small houses on big green lots, which means big green price tags and big time magical thinking about solving our piece of the housing crisis. You’re with the wrong people if you actually want more housing opportunities in SH.

    • Just moved out of Safety Harbor for this exact reason. Affordable housing for our young family. My grandmother was forced out also. She was tired of the developer’s harassing her to sell her side yard and the city code enforcement writing warnings for things that she said where never a problem before Ayoub. An example her trash can tipped over after the garbage was taken (probably when the truck put it back on the ground) she was cited for it, instead of someone picking it up. Come on Safety Harbor it’s as plain as day what’s going on. Just look around the only thing booming is developers and Ayoub’s pockets!

  2. Joe C. I have to correct you as Joe’s supporters including myself do not know who created the website which provides the public records documents on Tanya. The website could have been created by someone in Tampa who doesn’t necessarily care for Tanya and quite possibly wanted the residents of Safety Harbor to know the truth. It’s very evident that firefighters in Tampa want nothing to do with her as public records documents indicate they leave the room when she enters, etc. A lot of unwanted history she has created around herself. The laundry list is long. Someone spent quite the hours collecting these documented facts/public records and then putting it all together to create a website. Most don’t have the energy or time to do something like this but I got to believe it is someone from Tanya’s past who must want all to know the truth.

    • Zinkle it’s YOU!!!! ?Your behind the website. Thanks for the help in getting to the bottom of this issue. It would be you patting yourself or your friends on the back.

      • Hayley Rae, there are so many people from Tanya’s past and present that she has irritated with her false and unsubstantiated claims that the list of who could of created the website could go on forever and ever: : informedsafetyharbor.com

        Honestly, no need for me to have any need to create as I knew there would be many interested parties far and near that would do. ?

  3. Mick, -Your article is insightful and hilarious as always. It certainly appears that Tanja and her supporters were upset at the last Commission meeting because Joe’s supporters had posted documents about Tanja’s background on a web site for everyone to see. It is interesting to watch how Tanja’s supporters won’t blame Tanja for being fired from her City of Safety Harbor job, or for having the police called on her, or for threatening city and county employees who were just doing their jobs. They insist on blaming everyone else for all of Tanja’s recent conflicts and controversies.

    Tanja’s supporters are now doing everything they can to change the topic and not talk about Tanja’s past. They went to the last commission meeting and spent almost all their time talking about the last election. They did everything they could to not talk about Tanja’s notorious past, her inexperience, and her lack of qualifications to lead our city into the future. For me, reading all of the documents about Tanja’s past makes it crystal clear that if Tanja were elected Mayor, she would bring our city nothing but future problems, disruptions, controversies, conflict, and potential lawsuits.

  4. What is it our community needs? Experience to bring is into the future or controversy? It’s an easy choice when you look at what each candidate brings to the table. Safety Harbor is on a path for greatness, let’s keep it going with the guidance of Mayor Ayoub and Commissioner Diaz.

  5. When it comes to dirty politics, there is a world of difference between being aggressive with the truth and using lies and slander. Joe Ayoub and his supporters are being aggressive with the truth. Every piece of information presented is backed up by public records, police reports, and legal documents. These factual accounts show an extremely clear and concerning pattern of behavior by Ms. Vidovic, one which consumes tax dollars and harms innocent people. There is nothing dirty about exposing the facts.
    Ms Vidovic and her supporters are using lies and slander, with absolutely no credible information to support it. The effort to paint Joe as crooked was begun by Saving Safety Harbor years ago but to this day there isn’t a shred of verifiable or significant evidence to prove it. That’s called slander, the worst kind of dirty politics. Ms Vidovic spends weeks claiming in public and social media that Joe raised taxes. She is corrected multiple times by multiple people but she continues to plant the seeds of this lie for weeks. It isn’t until after her largest audience hears the lie at the candidate forum, squeezing the last bit of unfair persuasion out of her lie, that she begrudgingly admits that it is untrue. She lies about the confrontation with Art Finn, a lie that couldn’t be more clear to anyone that takes the time to read Charrie’s incredibly damning letter. To cover that lie she creates another that Joe had her fired – no evidence. She feigns ignorance of the way our city actually functions which would make the statement impossible. Just doubling down with another outright lie. This is the very definition of dirty politics.
    Finally, the issue of the website, informedsafetyharbor.com. Consider that the website was created by people that had never been involved in the political process before. Consider that they felt so hurt and mistreated by Tanja’s tactics that they spent hours and hours methodically and carefully compiling a completely factual and fair accounting of her patterns of behavior. They did it because they are scared of the idea of Tanja as mayor and are acting as canaries in our coal mine. Taking the time out of their busy lives to warn you to understand what is behind her smile before you believe her lies or excuse her tactics. I am proud of what they created. Every Safety Harborite should take the time to listen to their warnings.

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