Mitch Perry - 7/305 - SaintPetersBlog

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at

Search for Florida Democratic Party’s next Executive Director continues

An official with the Florida Democratic Party says that while the search to find a successor to Scott Arceneaux as executive director of the Florida Democratic Party does include Jonathan Ducote and Josh Wolf, it is by no means limited to those two candidates.

Juan Penalosa, who is working with newly elected FDP Chair Stephen Bittel on his transition team, tells FloridaPolitics that the search to replace Arceneaux remains a national search, and goes beyond Ducote and Wolf. He does say that the two are definitely in the mix, however.

On Sunday, FloridaPolitics had reported that sources said that the race to replace Arceneaux was down to Ducote and Wolf. Penalosa says that that there are several other candidates being considered.

Ducote has served as political director for the Florida Justice Association since 2014. He previously served as campaign manager for Loranne Ausley’s unsuccessful 2010 bid for CFO, as financial director for Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s 2011 election victory, and as campaign manager for Barbara Buono’s unsuccessful challenge to Chris Christie in the 2013 New Jersey gubernatorial election.

Wolf most recently served as campaign manager for Patrick Murphy‘s U.S. Senate bid. Prior to that, he served as campaign manager for Steve Grossman’s unsuccessful 2014 campaign for governor in Massachusetts. In 2012, he managed U.S. Rep. Ami Bera‘s successful campaign in California.

Arceneaux’s departure after more than seven years as Executive Director was announced in January, shortly after Coconut Grove developer and fundraiser Stephen Bittel was elected as chairman. Arceneaux’s tenure had been contentious in recent years, as some Democrats openly wondered why he had maintained his position while the state party continued to lose statewide elections.

Arceneaux was initially hired during Karen Thurman‘s term in 2009. He lasted through the regimes of Rod Smith and Allison Tant.

2016 proved to be another desultory year for Florida Democrats. After being a blue state for two successive presidential elections, Republican Donald Trump eked out a narrow, but clear-cut victory over Hillary Clinton, while Marco Rubio easily defeated Murphy to maintain his seat in the Senate.

In Tampa, potential CFO candidate Jeremy Ring tells his story

Broward Democrat Jeremy Ring isn’t officially a candidate for Chief Financial Officer, but he talked the part during a stop in Tampa on Friday.

Speaking at the Oxford Exchange as part of the Cafe Con Tampa weekly event, the former Yahoo executive introduced himself to the audience by humble-bragging about his private sector background, describing himself as the first salesman for the internet search engine company when he started there as a 24-year-old (he’s 46 now).

As proud as he was of his private sector career, Ring was self-deprecating when it came to his knowledge about politics when he decided to first run for the state Senate in 2006.

“I had never been to Tallahassee,” he says. “I barely knew that Jeb Bush was Governor of Florida. When I lived in Silicon Valley, Nancy Pelosi was my Congresswoman – I never heard of her (actually, Pelosi represents San Francisco, an hour north of Silicon Valley, which is located in Santa Clara County). All true. I was the least experienced candidate in the history of the state of Florida.”

The meat of his message is on making Florida an innovative economy, a theme he campaigned on during his first run for office a decade ago. And he’s produced results.

In 2008, he helped create theFlorida Growth Fund, which invests in state and local pension funds involving technology and high-growth businesses with a significant presence in the state, and the Florida Opportunity Fund, a multimillion-dollar program that directs investments to high-performing funds committed to seed early stage businesses.

Ring says that Florida has one of the most complete innovation “ecosystems” in the country, not that it’s something that many lawmakers know or understand.

“Most elected officials in Tallahassee will inspire you instead of becoming the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, they’ll inspire you to be the next homebuilder or land use attorneys,” he said. “The biggest thing that we’re lacking in this state to build an innovation economy is not the pieces. The pieces exist. It’s the culture. We don’t have the culture.”

Ring’s legislative record shows that he is definitely unorthodox compared to his Tallahassee colleagues. Last year he sponsored a bill that would make computer coding a foreign language option, an idea he received from his 14-year-old son. The bill failed, though St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes is sponsoring it again this year (Brandes and Tampa Republican Representative Jamie Grant were singled out by Ring as understanding innovation).

Ring is adamant that the worst thing the state could do was to “starve our universities,” and he was critical of House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s new offensive scrutinizing state university foundations. And he said that Florida cannot afford to freeze college tuition.

He tends to think that lawmakers (and the press) are in a bubble in regards to the general public’s attention span. In describing the uproar over former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli pulling the House out of Session days before it was scheduled to end (only to have to come back in a special session), he says ,”Not a single person called my office caring about that. It just wasn’t relevant to their lives.”

Acknowledging that it’s like a cliche, but Ring describes himself as a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. And he is coldly realistic about his chances of success in capturing the CFO seat next year.

It would require raising an “incredible amount of money,” having a solid campaign team and essentially ignoring the Florida Democratic Party. The bigger challenge, he said, is that most Floridians don’t give a hoot about the CFO race, and that part of the campaign will be out of his control.

“What’s the Governor’s race going to look like?” he asked. “Is Donald Trump at one percent or 99 percent?”

Though he said he’s confident of raising substantial money both inside and outside of Florida and having a strong campaign team, “If Adam Putnam is leading the Governor’s race by 10 points, then no, but if John Morgan is leading the Governor’s race by 10 points, then a Democrat’s probably going to win.”

Vern Buchanan moving town hall meeting to Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Due to a larger than originally expected crowd, the office of Sarasota GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan announced on Friday that his town hall meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 18,  has been moved from an auditorium at New College to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

“We moved the event to a new location to accommodate a larger audience,” said Buchanan spokeswoman Gretchen Andersen, “We want to make sure everybody gets a chance to attend and is not turned away for lack of seats.”

Although Buchanan has always held multiple town halls per year since being elected to Congress a decade ago, liberal activists have complained that he hasn’t had one this year yet, with the intensity and attendance at such events at a fever pitch, especially among Democrats angry with the direction of President Trump’s administration and the GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

During the congressional break last month, activists protested when Buchanan did not hold a meeting. He did have a pretty good excuse, however, as he was traveling in the Middle East.

Team Buchanan says their man has held 74 town halls during his decade long tenure. “The town hall will be Buchanan’s 75th since taking office and will offer people a chance to discuss health care, tax cuts and any other issue they want to raise,” reads the press release.

The event begins at 11 a.m. The  Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, is located at 777 N Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

Interested attendees are being asked to RSVP here.


Can Les Miller and his BOCC colleagues find a way to begin to adequately fund HART?

In 2017, talk has been more than ever about the lack of transportation options in Hillsborough County and the greater Tampa Bay region.

The Board of Hillsborough County Commissioners is finally investing in improving roads and bridges to the tune of more than $800 million, with just one percent of those funds allocated toward public transit.

In an interview earlier this week with HART CEO Katharine Eagan and the board’s relatively new chairman, Les Miller, the two expressed their hopes and dreams for the agency in the coming year.

“I will tell you now that I am working with Miss Eagan and some attorneys about getting a dedicated funding source,” Miller during a speech at the agency’s Ybor City headquarters.

“This county is growing at 32,000-35,000 people a year, and we don’t want them all to have cars on the road,  so we have to do something. Those people who go to work at that third shift in a hospital, they’ve gotta get home some sort of way. And we don’t have that availability of buses to get them there. We’ve gotta stop that. We’ve gotta have it there.”

Miller does appear to have allies on the board in his quest to find a dedicated revenue stream. Though the lack of adequate funds to improve the service is an old story, it got new legs when a Tampa Bay Times investigative report published last month said (among other unsavory factoids) Hillsborough spends $20 million less on buses than the city of Cincinnati, and $60 million less than in Detroit, though both areas serve similar populations.

Just before the BOCC was poised to vote on the $812 million plan last week, recently elected Commissioner Pat Kemp unveiled an alternative plan that would have reallocated approximately half of those funds towards public transit programs, including direct funding to HART. While the board rejected the proposal, several council members said that they would like to add elements of some of the transit initiatives that Kemp mentioned when they begin reviewing their two-year budget later this year.

“The timing wasn’t right,” Miller about why Kemp’s motion failed to get more support.

The Go Hillsborough half-cent sales tax proposal from 2016 would have been a huge boost for HART, locking in an annual infusion of $30 million a year for the next thirty years, a sum that Eagan can only fantasize about.

Like former Commissioner Kevin Beckner, Miller is convinced that if one of the four members of the board who dissented on placing Go Hillsborough on the ballot had gone the other way, the measure would have passed in last November’s election (the other board member who voted for the measure to be placed on the ballot was Ken Hagan).

Kemp has questioned how County Administrator Mike Merrill could be so emphatic in 2016 that there weren’t existing funds to pay for transit/transportation projects, and yet $800 million has been unearthed in early 2017 to do just that. Miller says it’s because of growth in county revenues, but cautions that it’s not certain that the county will continue to see those financial numbers increase enough over the next year to guarantee funding for an agency that solely relies on ad valorem taxes for its financing.

Eagan came to the agency in 2009 as Chief of Service Development, directing service planning and scheduling under former CEO David Armijo. She ultimately succeeded Philip Hale in the CEO seat in the fall of 2014. She says that she is enormously grateful if and when the agency receives one-time allotments, “because it allows us to take a step in a positive direction,” but is obviously hopeful that the aims of Miller and Kemp to get her agency regular funding from the county can come to fruition.

She also says she wants to “myth bust” the perception of the quantity of service that HART provides.

“We have excellent coverage where we have coverage,” she says matter of factly. “Three-quarters of our routes are half-hour or better; a quarter are at twenty minutes in rush hour. We don’t have anything out there that’s every two hours. We do have things that are hourly, one of those is our route from downtown to Dover to Strawberry Ridge. It’s one of our few routes that’s growing, and it’s hourly.” But she doesn’t have the ability to add another bus there, “because our fleet is capped where it’s at.”

That fleet consists of about 175 buses, far less than what the district should have to be able to adequately serve the needs of Hillsborough County.

Ridership surveys show that those using the product are relatively happy about it.

A survey done for HART by TransPro Consulting revealed that the percentage of customers who are “very satisfied” with HART’s service overall reached nearly 50 percent, with over 95 percent of all customers stating that service quality has improved or stayed the same over the past year.

Eagan wants to expand the agency’s HyperLINK pilot project currently operating in the University area of Tampa, Northdale and Brandon. A bill being sponsored by Tampa Republican Jackie Toledo (HB 4033) would provide $500,000 in funding to the program to downtown Tampa.

Tops on the list of Tallahassee asks is a $3 million request for financing for the AirPorter, a regional connector that would provide non-stop service every 15 minutes during rush hour on weekdays and weekends between downtown Tampa, Tampa International Airport, and St. Petersburg (It would run every 30 minutes on off-peak hours).

The much touted “Premium Transit Feasibility Study” continues, with the final product of that FDOT funded report due sometime in the late spring/early summer of 2018. Eagan says the agency needs to freshen or “true up” the data to identify the five top transit corridors “that would be the most productive” regarding development potential and jobs. She also says that she intends to get out and have more low-key conversations with community members about expanding the service.


At Holocaust Museum in St. Pete, citizens gather to discuss ways to combat hate and fear of the ‘other’

Last month, an intentionally set fire damaged a prayer hall at a Tampa-area mosque, the second such fire at a Florida mosque in the past six months.

Earlier this month, Joseph Schreiber was sentenced to 30 years in prison for setting fire to the Islamic Center of Fort Pierce on Sept. 11. It was the same mosque that Orlando Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen attended occasionally. Mateen shot and killed 49 people last summer at the Pulse nightclub in what was the largest mass shooting in the country, at an establishment frequented predominantly by those in the LGBT community.

Meanwhile, in January, three Clearwater congregations — all within a mile of one another — were targeted with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti on the same day.

With these incidents of hate taking place over the past year, a coalition of groups gathered in front of more than 150 people at the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg on Thursday night to stand in solidarity with those who have been targeted by acts of hate.

And nationally there have been several incidents where Sikh men have been shot and killed.

“We live in a moment where fear has run rampant,” said Jeff Johnson in kicking off the evening. He’s the founder of Love Not Fear, a new community-based nonprofit. “Our culture breeds fear of the ‘other,’ however defined, and fear calcifies into a hatred that leads to despicable acts against our fellow human beings.”

Johnson said he began brainstorming up the idea of creating the group around a year ago and received help from Equality Florida’s Nadine Smith in creating his organization. He said it was an attempt to become the antidote to the fear that he said was “tearing our world apart.”

Smith said that the worst thing the community can do when there are acts of hate taking place in these different communities is to “be fearful and be silent.”

“We refuse to allow hatred, and we refuse to allow fear to overwhelm us and become the new normal,” she declared.

Participating in a panel discussion to talk about the current situation and how to improve it was members of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Johnson asked members what they doing with their groups or faith communities to stand up for those who are of a different faith.

Dr. Gagandeep Mangat, a Sikh himself, said it was crucial for people simply to begin talking to other people.

“We gotta stop tweeting about it,” quipped the Rev. Kenneth Irby, from the Historic Bethel AME Church in St. Petersburg, eliciting applause. “It is the action and the engagement that allows us to replace the fear with curiosity,” he said, adding that “if we are to make appreciable gains we have to get out of our comfort zones.”

Also participating in the panel discussion was St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Toward the end of the talk, Kriseman said that when he was campaigning in 2013, he heard from people who said he should change the name of South St. Petersburg because of the “perception” of that part of the community.

“I don’t want to change the name, I want to change the perception,” the mayor said, adding that if it were up to him, the Trader Joe’s that opened up on 4th Street North and 27th Streets two years ago would have actually opened on MLK and 62nd Avenue South. “It would have drawn people from all over the city to that community.”

“The more we can interact with each other, the more we can learn about each other, the better off as a community will be and the quicker things will change,” he said.

Among those in attendance were St. Pete City Council members Amy Foster, Steve Kornell and Karl Nurse, along with the St. Pete Area Chamber of Commerce’s CEO and President Chris Steinocher.

After the panel discussion had concluded, the organized engaged those attending in some interactive exercises to help them identify commonalities that bridge the diversity of the group.

After 27-hour committee hearing, Kathy Castor calls GOP House push to pass health care bill without CBO scoring ‘ unconscionable’

The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the GOP health care repeal bill this afternoon, in a session that lasted 27 hours. It was the second committee on Thursday to pass the legislation, after the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23 to 16 to advance the American Health Care Act shortly before 4:30 a.m. Thursday after about 18 hours of debate.

Tampa Representative Kathy Castor serves as Vice Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and she went off her GOP colleagues after the bill passed this afternoon.

“It is unconscionable that House Republicans rammed this repeal bill through committee without understanding how much the bill will cost, the impact on the deficit and how many Americans will lose their health insurance,” Castor said. “Republicans repeatedly rejected amendments to protect and fight for patient protections and health care affordability.  We stayed up through the night and forced them to debate and go on record opposing measures that address the concerns that we have all have been hearing about from our neighbors at town halls throughout the country.”

The requirements for the bill have been extensively reported on this week since it was unveiled on Monday night. It would result in major cuts to Medicaid funding which has been crucial for people to sign up for the Affordable Care Act, and eliminates the subsidies that approximately 85 percent of those on the ACA are relying on to stay on their current plan.

Castor also took aim at the fact that the House Republican declined having the bill “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to determine the costs to the American public, and how many people will be able to afford the new plan.

“Rather than rush a Republican repeal bill, I urge my colleagues to work together to improve health care coverage for families across America,” she said. “We are at the lowest rate of uninsured in history, we have kept health care costs in check for people with insurance and we can do more by tackling the cost of pharmaceuticals, but that has been left out of the Republican repeal bill.”

Although the bill did make it through the two GOP-led committees and may ultimately pass in the GOP-held House, there is considerable pushback from a number of Republican Senators, jeopardizing the repeal and replace plan at the moment.

Cross-Bay Ferry revenues health enough that money is flowing back to taxpayers

Although some transit supporters have downplayed its relevance, the Cross-Bay Ferry has some positive news to share.

Officials with the ferry announced Thursday that for more than a month, revenues from ticket sales and concessions have surpassed the initial $150,000 fee guaranteed to Seattle-based HMS Ferries, with all that profit flowing back into the four local governments that put up a total of $1.4 million in seed money to fund the public-private partnership. The Cross-Bay Ferry began operations in November and is slated to end at the end of April.

Under the terms of the contract, HMS was allowed to collect the first $150,000 in ticket sales with the governments from the city of St. Petersburg, Tampa, Pinellas County and Hillsborough County guaranteed any additional income. All four local governments contributed $350,000 to help fund the project.

“The tipping point was right at the end of January,” says Rich Mullins, a spokesman for the ferry project.

Since that time, $9,909.40 in additional funding was returned the four counties. The February check will be $44,693.27.

“We also are seeing an acceleration in ticket sales,” said Ed Turanchik, the Tampa-based attorney who represents HMS Ferries.

Turnanchik says a big surprise is that the ferry is doing just as well during the week as it is on weekends, no doubt buffeted by the reduced $5 fares for weekend day service.

A key metric for transit and roadway systems are the recovery of operating costs, since all are subsidized. Turanchik says the ferry is returning a very favorable 37 percent fare box rate, which he contends is the best in the state for any transit system currently.

(Both local transit agencies – HART and PSTA – are said to have fare box recovery rates in the low 20 percentile range).

Although it will still apparently be years before Hillsborough County completes the necessary environmental impact studies to release federal funds for the proposed ferry project with HMS and the county that would connect Southeastern Hillsborough County residents near Apollo Beach to MacDill Air Force Base, Turanchik says that the relative success of the cross-bay ferry bodes well for that project, where he says the ferries could run from Tampa to St. Pete during the middle of the day and weekends, while the crucial bread and butter part of the program would be transporting people from the south shore area to the base during commuting hours in the morning and evening, Monday through Friday.

Bob Buckhorn says after Donald Trump, voters may not be interested in a ‘guy like him’

On Thursday, Bob Buckhorn explained why he chose not to pursue the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2018.

The Tampa mayor’s decision was mainly predicated on two factors: He did not want to be away as his 15-year-old daughter spends her last few years at home, and he loves being Mayor of Tampa more than he could imagine running for statewide office for the next 18 months.

But lurking below that was a realization; if he ran, Florida voters may not be interested in buying what he would be selling next year.

“I would have been running on the fact that I was qualified, that I had managed large institutions, that we had a track record of accomplishments, that we were not particularly partisan, but I don’t know if that really matters anymore,” the mayor told reporters gathered at City Hall Thursday morning.

“I don’t know what the American public is looking for in their elected leadership. It is a disconcerting time in our country, and for those of us who aspire to lead, it’s the most unusual time that I’ve seen in 30 years.”

Of course, Buckhorn was referring to the electoral earthquake leading to Donald Trump winning the presidency last fall over Hillary Clinton, the woman he campaigned hard for both in and outside Florida.

Although the mayor’s decision was expected, over the past few years, his trajectory about being a candidate had evolved.

Based on his successful leadership leading Tampa out of the Great Recession in the last decade — as well as his outsized personality — Buckhorn was a prominent part of the Democratic bench of candidates for statewide office, and had been for several years.

That speculation went into overdrive after he created his own political action committee (One Florida) in December 2014.

And while he won a huge re-election victory in 2015, the rest of the year was troubled, partly due to a negative newspaper report about the Tampa Police Department, which triggered the progressive activist community, demanding the city create a citizen’s review board. It was a proposal Buckhorn initially resisted.

As funding for his PAC began to dry up in 2016, Buckhorn’s gubernatorial aspirations resurfaced locally after he gave a fiery speech this summer to the Florida delegation at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Buckhorn admitted Thursday his thinking about a run for governor “ebbed and flowed” over the past couple of years, something he said was probably the case with all the rumored candidates, except for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, “who has obviously been committed to this from day one.”

“For me this was not an easy choice,” Buckhorn said. “It was not a straight path. There were a lot of things that I have to deal with that a lot of the other candidates don’t.” He specifically mentioned his two teenage daughters and a full-time job as mayor in the Florida’s biggest media market.

“But at the end of the day, family being first, I just didn’t want the job as bad as I wanted to be the mayor,” he said. “And even though I recognize that two years from now I won’t be the mayor, I’m going to finish strong.”

Buckhorn has more than two years left on the job, which is why he was hardly in the mood to get too retrospective about his legacy. While he championed his role in leading what he called “the Tampa Renaissance,” he drew a blank when asked to acknowledge his greatest failing to date, saying only that whatever mistakes he’s made along the way were “not done with malice or ill intent.”

Buckhorn certainly has the ambition to be governor, and he believes it’s vital for a “regime change” in Tallahassee after two decades of Republican rule in both the Governor’s mansion and the state Legislature.

Speculation has been that while a run for governor wasn’t in the cards, Buckhorn could run for chief financial officer, a job with duties that would allow him more time to return to Tampa on a weekly basis. But he said that decision was always about whether to commit for a run for the top spot in state government, not another Cabinet position. That said, he won’t pursue a run for that office.

A disciple of the 1980s Democratic Leadership Council — the same one that spawned Bill Clinton — Buckhorn’s centrism was always an issue for progressives in Tampa and the state.

With other centrist Democrats like Alex Sink, Patrick Murphy and Charlie Crist losing statewide elections in recent years, there is a part of the party that wants to go further left in 2018.

Buckhorn acknowledges that is a fervent part of the base right now, but he insists that’s not the way to go.

“If we continue to run campaigns based on identity politics or cobbling together interest groups, we’re going to lose,” he said flatly. “We’re a Purple state, and my sense is, and I could be wrong, and certainly the party seems to be heading in a different direction than my governing style, is that if we can’t appeal to the middle, we’re never going to be successful in this state.”

The mayor’s most interested in seeing how other Democrats in the race will fare over the course of the next year and a half. He said that the success of Trump does pave a possible path for attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan as a viable wild card in 2018.

“He could potentially be the Democrats Donald Trump in terms of style and his willingness to shake up political and conventional wisdom, ” Buckhorn mused. “I just don’t know what the voters are looking for. I always thought that experience matters, and that credibility matters, and competence matters and a proven track record matters, but I just don’t know anymore.

“Time will tell, as the country rights itself, if a style of a Donald Trump is what Americans are looking for. If that’s the case, a guy like me, you know, they’re not going to be interested.”

The political class react to Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor

Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor is eliciting plenty of reaction in Tampa. Many people say they are not surprised Buckhorn has chosen not to pursue a path to the top political job in Florida.

“Am I the only one who felt he wasn’t heading in that direction?” asked City Councilwoman Yolie Capin.

“I truly believe that he made the right decision because he has not demonstrated over the past six months that he had a keen interest in running for governor,” said Councilman Frank Reddick.

Alluding to the fact that he has done little over the past year to travel around the state to get to know Democrats like potential candidates Gwen Graham and Philip Levine, Reddick said: “I think his chances of winning would have been very, very slim. So I think he did the right thing to wait this out.”

“While I absolutely believe that the State of Florida needs a course correction and a new direction, the timing for me and my family would be a challenge,” the Mayor said in his statement issued out shortly after 5 a.m. Thursday. “As the father of two daughters who are 15 and 11, the all-consuming task of running for Governor would cause me to miss the milestones in their lives that I could never get back.”

“Although I’m not surprised, I’m a little sad that we won’t have a representative from Tampa running for Governor,” said Councilman Mike Suarez. “I would have loved to have seen him go out and talk about the vision that he’s been able to put together in Tampa for the rest of the state.”

“I think that Mayor Buckhorn should be commended for putting the interests of his family and the City of Tampa first,” said Councilman Harry Cohen. “Being Mayor is more than a full-time job, and the continued success of much of what is happening in Tampa right now depends on having a strong and totally focused Mayor.”

“Bob Buckhorn is an extraordinary leader who has transformed one of Florida’s and America’s great cities,” Graham said in a statement. “His successful service in Tampa shows what Florida can accomplish if we work together and focus on creating economic opportunity and improving the quality of life for families.

“As a Tampa native, I’m incredibly thankful for his vision and leadership,” says Democratic operative Ana Cruz, a close Buckhorn ally.

A former official with the Florida Democratic Party, Cruz appeared wistful that Buckhorn will not be making a run for governor next year.

“Mayor Buckhorn has transformed our city, led with integrity and is exactly what we need in Tallahassee,” she said. “Bob Buckhorn will always be my favorite pick for Governor.”

“He would have been a strong candidate and a great governor, but can’t blame my friend Bob for putting his family and Tampa first,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
“The withdrawal of Bob Buckhorn leaves the democrats without a critical I-4  corridor candiates who has won an election,” said St. Petersburg political strategist Barry Edwards. “The I-4 cooridor is critical to the success of a democratic nominee in a general elction and this further errodes democrats pathways back to power.”

“His legacy will be that of a truly great man who loved Tampa and elevated our city to the national stage,” said Tampa state Senate Republican Dana Young. “Although he will not run for Governor, Bob Buckhorn is not going away by any stretch — except him to be a major player for years to come.”

Reddick said the same thing about the mayor, who will turn 59 in July.

“He’s still a young man, and he got a great future ahead of him if the timing is right for him, and that could be in another four years.”

The mayor himself had a news conference later on Thursday morning, which you can read all about here.

Ed Miyagishima departing position at Port Tampa Bay

Ed Miyagishima, the Vice President of Communications and External Affairs at Port Tampa Bay and a senior adviser to CEO Paul Anderson, announced that he is leaving his position to “lead the charge” to have Tampa Bay host the 2019 Medal of Honor Convention.

Miyagishima, who had been with the port for four years, made the announcement on his Facebook page Wednesday night.

“I’m humbled and excited for this new chapter which will allow me to represent and showcase the American heroes and military community I love and honor, in the city I’m proud to call home,” Miyagishima wrote.

Tampa is working to win the bid for the 2019 convention and will make a presentation to the Medal of Honor Society later this month in Washington, D.C., he said, reports the Tampa Bay Business Journal. If the city wins the bid, a non-profit host committee will be formed and he will serve as president and CEO.

A prominent figure in Republican politics before coming to Port Tampa Bay in 2013, Miyagishima has worked with a number of GOP officials over the years, including Florida Governor Rick Scott. After Scott’s victory over Alex Sink in 2010, Miyagishima worked in the state’s Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development.

Prior to coming to Port Tampa Bay, Miyagishima had served on the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Connie Mack IV in 2012. He also served a stint on Herman Cain’s presidential campaign in 2011.

A California native, Miyagishima served briefly with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009, before going to work for Meg Whitman’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Jerry Brown in 2010.

His resignation comes a day after WFTS-Channel 28 reported that Port Tampa Bay is lagging significantly behind when it comes to the number of containers coming in, dramatically behind smaller Florida ports like Jacksonville, Miami and Port Everglades.

WFTS also reported that Anderson’s annual salary of $382,287 is more than the annual salaries of the CEO’s of the ports in New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles, despite the fact that those two ports bring in millions of containers every year, compared to Port Tampa’s thirty-nine thousand.

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