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Stimulus comes early for pair of politicians

It must be good to be Frank Brunner.

Jane von Hahmann, too.

The trumpeted stimulus plan has arrived early for them.

Manatee County school district officials have recommended them to the school board for two jobs, a good thing to have in these troubled times.

Even out-of-work politicians.

Brunner, an ex-school board member who served for 10 years, will be a career adviser at Manatee High School, a 10-month position paying $40,000.

Von Hahmann, a county commissioner for eight years before she was defeated in the last election, will be a business and industry service specialist — whatever that is — for 11 months at $56,000.

Nice work if you can get it.

The jobs are part of a $7.2 million federal grant, but the pair’s good fortune may strike some folks as odd.

Hey, our tax dollars at work.

The openings were posted for 26 days and more than 250 people applied.

One hundred ninety five for the career adviser position.

Fifty seven for business and industry service specialist.

And the most worthy candidates the interview committee came up with?

Why, Frank and Jane.


I know what you’re thinking.

Political patronage.

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Superintendent Tim McGonegal has said connections had absolutely, positively nothing to do with either of these selections.

They were the best applicants, period.

How many of those other candidates ever ran a surf shop?

Which was von Hahmann’s gig.

Not Brunner.

He’s had his hand in more things than I can count, few for very long, but selling surf boards, bikinis, boardshorts and Mr. Zog’s Sex Wax was not one of them.

Among his jobs:

n Waste Management spokesman.

n Crime Stoppers executive.

n Manatee Rural Health Services administrator.

Anyway, skeptics wonder, how does Brunner’s varied work experience make him qualified to give guidance to youngsters at a period in their lives when they’re going to need it most?

I can imagine a high school senior sitting down with Brunner and asking what he should do with his life.

“Join the Army!” the West Point grad and Gulf War I veteran will say.

OK, maybe not.

Of course, the school board must still give its approval to Brunner’s and von Hahmann’s appointments Feb. 23.

Which would appear to be a mere formality.

Business as usual, you say?


Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix,is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fla. 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.