By Jim Bleyer
Justin Bean says he learned from his 2013 DUI arrest but any takeaway from that criminal offense did not include telling the truth about his continued inability to comply with the law.
The candidate for the District 6 seat on the St. Petersburg City Council has had several run-ins with law enforcement but publicly has only owned up to the driving under the influence charge in Hillsborough County. He told the Tampa Bay Times that he learned from the experience but exactly what he learned remains unclear. Most likely, his life’s lesson is that you can fabricate your past and flaunt the law if you are privileged and protected by a morally-corrupt local media entity.
Bean, a Republican and avid supporter of Donald Trump, comes from a wealthy influential family that owns Reusable Transport Packaging, a web-based sales and marketing company in St. Petersburg.
The Tampa Bay Times, under de facto ownership from a GOP cabal ever since it accepted a multi-million bailout earlier this year from deep-pocketed Republicans, endorsed Bean and wrote this about his DUI in Hillsborough County:
“Court and criminal records show Bean’s driving license was suspended for six months. He was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and served a one-year probation that ended in Sept. 2014.”
The Times failed to mention that Bean has had several driving-related violations, including resisting arrest, in four Florida counties. Court documents also indicate that he may not have come close to fulfilling the assigned 50 hours of community service for the DUI.
The Times editorially supported Bean, 30, in the eight-candidate primary despite his possessing the most undistinguished record in the field. But Bean was the most Republican, pro-Trump candidate. He attended the President’s inauguration. The Times trashed its progressive editorial philosophy months ago, deferring to the high-profile GOP donors that temporarily forestalled the newspaper’s bankruptcy.
The Times, in addition to incomplete reporting of Bean’s encounters with law enforcement, tried to explain that the callow candidate could “grow into the job,” a fig leaf for its inane, irrational endorsement.
Bean’s most recent stunt, an indicator of the low priority he places on civic responsibility, was his failure to appear at a candidate’s forum last week. Every other candidate for the three contested council seats appeared and addressed the audience.
Now voters can add Bean’s extensive criminal history and disinterest in the council job to his wafer-thin resumé as reasons to dismiss him as a serious candidate.
He insulted the intelligence of St. Pete voters further last night when he publicly claimed he did not vote for Trump. Bean will say anything to be elected; he won’t actually do anything to be elected.
Bean faces Gina Driscoll in the Nov. 7 runoff. Driscoll, president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Neighborhood Association, serves on the Board of the Downtown Business Association, sits on the Organizational Committee of the Central Avenue Council, and is a member of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
Polk County law enforcement slapped Bean with a charge of resisting and obstructing an officer in 2010. He pled guilty, paid a fine and adjudication was withheld. Also in Polk two years earlier Bean was fined for knowingly driving with a suspended license. Also in 2008, Bean was ticketed for driving a motorcycle without a license but the case was dropped.
On May 10, 2012, Bean received a ticket in Pinellas County for driving with an expired license. As a result, his license was temporarily suspended and he paid $139 in fines. In 2004, Bean was cited in Pinellas for speeding and not heeding a traffic device. He paid fines.
It wasn’t only Pinellas, Polk, and Hillsborough law enforcement officers that were kept occupied by Bean’s transgressions that have not been disclosed by him or the Tampa Bay Times.
Manatee County wasn’t left out of the Bean mix as he received a ticket there in 2012 for skipping out on a toll. He initially failed to pay the fine and his license was temporarily suspended. The unpaid fines were turned over to a collection agency and the citation was eventually paid.