Bob Buckhorn Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Yolie Capin noncommittal about possible 2019 mayoral bid

With more than 21 months before Tampa voters will choose a successor to Mayor Bob Buckhorn, there’s no real reason for anyone seriously considering such a run to announce their intentions.

That’s why presumptive candidates 2019 mayoral Mike Suarez and Jane Castor said they don’t intend to launch their campaigns anytime soon. It’s also probably why Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin declined the opportunity to show her cards when asked about her plans during an appearance Friday morning at the Oxford Exchange.

“I was asked ‘tell me what you’re not running for,’ ” she told the crowd at the Cafe Con Tampa “I said I’m not running for governor.”

The longest-serving member of Council (she was selected by Councilmembers to replace John Dingfelder in July 2010 after 17 ballots), Capin will be term-limited in two years. Progressive Democrats are talking her up for a possible run in 2019, with enthusiasm that comes from her liberal stance on several issues, including advocating for stronger relations between Tampa and Cuba.

While that stance propelled some of that progressive enthusiasm, it put her at odds with Buckhorn.

During her speech, she spoke extensively about her five trips to the communist island.

One of the pet projects she’s most proud of is a cultural assets commission. A cultural assets advisory committee created by Capin has been working for the past six years on looking how to leverage the city’s assets, and now that idea is set to become a reality.

Capin met with Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan on creating a Cultural Assets Commission, fashioned after the Tampa Sports Commission; the County has now allocated $2.1 million for a public-private partnership that should be up and running by late summer.

Among those private partners with the project is developer/hockey owner Jeff Vinik.

“If the art museum gets a blockbuster exhibit and they need a little help, we’re looking for grants,” she said in explaining how the commission would work. “So a corporation comes in and says, ‘I need $100,000 to do this, and this is the benefit, and we match it with $100,000. You have a matching partner and you have a program. That is going to benefit the community. That’s what we’re hoping to see with this.”

Capin decried the recently passed bill in the Florida Legislature that will put a ballot measure up in 2018 to increase the homestead tax exemption. If passed, the measure would take a chunk out of the ad valorem revenues of every local government in Florida. Tampa could take a $6-9 million hit, she said.

Capin championed Buckhorn’s op-ed just published in the Tampa Bay Times about the measure.

There are more than 600 jobs in the city that gone unfilled since the Great Recession hit in 2008. Audience member Jen McDonald asked if the council had plans in the future for more staffing moving forward. Capin said that the City Council had created an apprenticeship program to replace staffers with the Water Department who are aging out.

“I know we can do more with less, but I just wonder how long we can go on with that lower, leaner staff in the next three to four to five years,” McDonald said later.

Regarding the vexing issue of transit in Tampa, Capin said the issue would “take some leadership,” and said that part of the problem with the 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward transit tax was that the public was too confused about it, and “no one that was looked at a real, honest straightforward leader took the reigns. … Everybody passed the buck, they brought somebody in try to try to pass it.”

If Capin is to run for higher office, however, she’ll need to make sure she’s on top on of all the issues of the day.

When asked if there were any partnerships between USF’s CAMLS medical school and the Cuban government, Capin referred to a 2006 state law that made it impossible for colleges and universities to use public or private money to travel to Cuba (or to any other country on the U.S. list of state-sponsors of terrorism). However, that hasn’t been the case for nearly two years, after the U.S. officially restored diplomatic ties with the Cuba, ending the last travel restrictions keeping Florida professors from visiting the island.

And while discussing local transit, she said that ridership on buses has risen “quite a bit, and that’s because of the recession.”

While ridership was up for several years, those ridership numbers have come down over the past year, both locally and nationally

Joe Henderson: When NFL suddenly needed a Super host, it knew who to call

It wasn’t luck that Tampa was selected Tuesday to host its fifth Super Bowl.

When the National Football League learned the new stadium being built in Los Angeles won’t be ready in time for the game in 2021, it had to find a city not only ready to step in on short notice, but one with a proven record of excellence.

Tampa checks all the boxes, and that’s because the team Rob Higgins has assembled at the Tampa Bay Sports Commission is as fine as any in the country and better than most.

Bucs co-chairman Bryan Glazer deserves applause. Tampa’s battle-tested political leaders, especially County Commissioner Ken Hagan and Mayor Bob Buckhorn, should take a bow. Higgins is the guy who really makes it happen though.

Smart, well-connected and experienced, Higgins understands better than anyone what has to be done in the trenches to successfully pull off a Super Bowl. NFL owners and leaders know that, which is why I have to believe the decision about what to do took about 10 seconds.

“Hey guys, that new stadium in Los Angeles won’t be ready for the 2021 Super Bowl. What should we do?”

“Um, let’s move it Tampa.”

“All in favor?”

“Aye!”

“Opposed? Anyone? No, great. Let’s go eat.”

I would imagine Higgins’ No. 1 obstacle in the coming months will be keeping his cellphone charged. The man is going to be busy. He will have to get renewed pledges from business, civic and political leaders that were part of Tampa’s bid package for the 2019 and 2020 games, but I can’t imagine that will be much of a problem. I am certain he will have cooperation from all the major players in the area: the convention and visitors bureau, Tampa International Airport, local and state security agencies, and so on.

The Super Bowl occupies an outsized place in Americana. By the time 2021 rolls around, it will be 37 years since Tampa hosted its first Super Bowl.

That game represented important psychological validation to people here that Tampa Bay had a place among the important locations in the country. Interestingly, Tampa’s main competitor to host that game was Los Angeles. The winning team that year? The Los Angeles Raiders, who beat the Washington Redskins 38-9.

Tampa essentially turned itself over that week to the NFL, and in return team owners basked in the love. That set a standard for future bids by other cities, which meant Tampa had to keep getting better and more creative to stay among the regular sites that get to host this game.

It must have worked because with this game Tampa will rank fourth on the list of cities that have hosted the largest number of Super Bowls.

We live in a pretty cool place, huh?

“Aye!”

Opposed? Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

Florida leaders react to the bombing at a concert in Manchester

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility Tuesday for the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and sparked a stampede of young concertgoers.

The attack was the deadliest in Britain since four suicide bombers killed 52 London commuters on subway trains and a bus in July 2005.

Here is a compilation of reaction from Florida’s elected officials and leaders about the tragedy:

— Sen. Marco Rubio on Twitter: “Our prayers are with the people of Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with Britain and the families impacted by this horrific act in Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Twitter: “Praying for the people of Manchester.”

— U.S. Rep. Val Demings on Twitter : “Standing with and praying for Manchester today.  Another cowardly attack against innocent people.”

— U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch on Twitter: “Tonight in #Manchester, enormous amounts of horror, grief, and pain. From America and beyond, we join you in sympathy, outrage and resolve.”

— U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn on Facebook: “Leah and I send our sincere condolences to the British people as they respond to another heinous act of terrorism. The events in Manchester remind us again that these vicious killers will consider any target, even a crowd of teenagers and children at a music concert. We stand with resolve alongside our British friends in the face of this threat.”

— U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings: “I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of yesterday’s terror attack in Manchester. As England’s law enforcement continues working to establish the full details of this horrific attack against innocent children and families, the American people stand side-by-side in grief, anger, and resolve. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the city of Manchester and all of England as they come to terms with this terrible atrocity.”

— U.S. Rep. Al Lawson on Twitter: “Our thoughts and prayers are with #Manchester and the United Kingdom for all the victims of tonight’s attack. Such sad news.”

— U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “As I am writing yet another statement expressing horror and condolences after another inexplicable terror attack, I feel the angst and anger of a mother who has sent my children off to a concert just like last night’s in Manchester.

The terror attack that apparently targeted innocent young people was a truly despicable act committed by cowards. As Americans, we are heartbroken and horrified by this mass murder of young adults and even children, but make no mistake: our resolve to make our world a safer one for our children is only strengthened, and our commitment to working with our British ally in pursuit of that goal remains unshakeable.

Our thoughts are now with the victims, their families and all the people of Manchester. And while many facts are still unknown, Americans will not waver in seeking justice and standing up against the hate that motivates such heinous crimes. And we will never let these pretenders who hold themselves out as the only true defenders of Islam to be recognized as anything more than what they are: murderers.”

— Gov. Rick Scott on Twitter: “Praying for everyone in Manchester tonight. This is an absolute tragedy and our hearts are with those who were harmed and their loved ones. Also praying for the safety and security of Manchester of law enforcement and first responders during this unimaginably challenging time.”

On Tuesday morning, the governor tweeted: “(First Lady Ann Scott) and I continue to pray for the 22 innocent lives lost in the senseless act of hate and terror in Manchester last night. Florida stands with the British people.”

— Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera on Twitter: “Horrible and senseless. We mourn those lost and pray for swift justice.”

— Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Twitter: “Terrorists who take the lives of innocent people are nothing but cowards & they must be brought to justice. My prayers to Manchester.”

— Democrat Gwen Graham on Twitter: “As a mom, my heart breaks. Praying for the children and families, parents and grandparents in Manchester.”

— Democrat Andrew Gillum on Twitter: “Deeply saddened by #Manchester tonight. Prayers to the families affected & the UK.

— House Speaker Richard Corcoran on Twitter: “My deepest sympathies and prayers for strength go out to the victims, parents, & families of the terror attack in the U.K.”

— Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto on Twitter: “Prayers to our British friends this evening. What a horrible tragedy.”

— Sen. Debbie Mayfield on Twitter: “My heart goes out to those in Manchester, especially to the families and first responders. Our prayers are with you and the United States of America will always stand by you.”

— Rep. Chris Sprowls on Twitter: “Our hearts are with the families of those killed in #ManchesterArena last night. May we unite together to eliminate terror.”

— Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Twitter: “My prayers go out to those in Manchester, as a Father of 2 little girls, I can’t imagine what these families are going through.”

— Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Twitter: “Outrage!!–Manchester terrorist attack. Tears & prayers for the victims and families.”

— State Attorney Melissa Nelson: “We’re all grieving for the victims and those affected by yesterday’s bombing in Manchester.

The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

Bob Buckhorn apologies for military conference joke

Over the course of six years as mayor, Bob Buckhorn has said things that have offended some people, but he has rarely (if ever) been forced to apologize.

Until now.

Unless you’ve been avoiding local (now national) press over the past couple of days, you know the mayor has been (metaphorically) under fire since the Tampa Bay Times’ Howard Altman reported Friday afternoon on a number of reporters who took offense with a crack Buckhorn made at a military conference last week at the Tampa Convention Center.

As Altman originally reported, Buckhorn told the crowd about his experience as a hostage during a demonstration of special operation rescue tactics:

The highlight, he said, was when he was aboard a Navy special warfare boat, firing blanks from 50-caliber machine guns. “And so, the first place I point that gun is at the media,” he told the crowd.

“I’ve never seen grown men cry like little girls, for when that gun goes off those media folks just hit the deck like no one’s business. It’s great payback. I love it.”

Altman reported that the audience — approximately 1,000 people — mostly laughed at the remark. But some in attendance, specifically military reporters who have had live guns pointed at them for real, found nothing humorous about the comment.

Initially, Buckhorn blew off the furor.

It was “a silly reaction,” he told the Times.

But after the story got legs in the national media over the weekend, Buckhorn spokesperson Ashley Bauman responded Monday afternoon.

“This was a story that he had told for three consecutive years,” she said in a statement to FloridaPolitics.com, “and at no time was it ever construed to be serious or an accurate portrayal of what occurred.”

“It was merely a humorous tongue-in-cheek description. Clearly, that does not translate on Twitter and in light of the current rhetoric at the national level aimed at the media, inadvertently served to reinforce some of those sentiments. That was not his intention, in fact, as the son of a former wire service reporter he has nothing but the highest regard for the work of journalists and their profession and he apologizes to those he offended.”

The mayor also offended the sensibilities of some local residents when he typed, “whatever” on Twitter over the weekend in reaction to a tweet by Tampa Heights activist Rick Fernandez on his concerns with the Tampa Bay Express project.

TBX critics not pleased with Bob Buckhorn tweet

Critics of the Tampa Bay Express project are upset with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn over what they say was a “flippant” response to concerns about what the $6 billion project will do to the affected neighborhoods when construction begins.

After reading an interview Buckhorn gave Friday praising the TBX project with the website BusinessFacilities.com, Seminole Heights resident and TBX foe Rick Fernandez sent a tweet to Buckhorn saying, “your continued support for TBX is disturbing and out of touch.”

Buckhorn replied, “Whatever.”

That comment generated responses from other Tampa citizens who oppose TBX, like Chris Vela, who wrote: “PA EJ maps show TBX is est. to affect 115k ethnic/racial minorities out of 180k along our interstates. Not whatever, stand up Mr. Mayor.”

Vela was referring to the potential relocation of residents if the project moves forward as planned.

The Tampa Bay Express is a $6 billion interstate expansion project overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation that would rebuild the exchange between Interstate 275 and Interstate 4 near downtown Tampa. It would also replace the three-mile span of the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge, and most controversially, add 90 miles of tolled “express lanes.”

The project would also raze homes in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and V.M. Ybor. Nearly 80 percent of the registered voters living at properties that DOT plans to demolish are black and Latino, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis.

“A respected neighborhood leader and citizen of Tampa tweeted his surprise and concern regarding Mayor Buckhorn’s statements heartily endorsing the TBX boondoggle – just to be summarily dismissed. When is it ever appropriate for an elected official to publish a response and address a constituent’s legitimate question in such a flippant manner?” asked Michelle Cookson with Sunshine Citizens, the activist group formed to oppose the TBX. “This attitude is astonishing given that Mayor Buckhorn’s constituents have been pleading for him to defend the resurgent urban core for over two years.”

Although initially low-key when FDOT introduced TBX to the public two years ago, Buckhorn said in November of 2015 that he was cognizant of the concerns that neighborhood activists had about the project hurting the neighborhoods where the proposed expansion is to occur, saying, “They recognize that it’s going to have an impact on the community. They realize that Tampa has changed drastically since that plan was created, and so they’ve got to be able to mitigate that, and they can’t put up a barrier that’s going to divide the city. So I think there’s a way to find that middle ground, but I’m thankful that they’re able to reach out to the neighborhood and have that discussion.”

Some members of the Tampa City Council have been more critical.

FDOT officials said last December that they were hitting the “reset button” on the project and intend to take the next couple of years to research and respond to community feedback, and are expected to unveil a revised plan by 2019.

Ashley Bauman, the director of public affairs with the City of Tampa, said Buckhorn had no comment on Saturday.

#3 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Bob Buckhorn

Although his announcement in early March that he will not be a candidate in 2018 takes away some of his juice, being mayor of the biggest city representing the biggest media market in Florida means Bob Buckhorn will continue to wield power for the next two years.

The biggest question is, perhaps, how will he use that power?

Circumstances bigger than himself have thwarted one of his main missions — seeing Tampa and the Tampa Bay area start to make some improvements on its desultory transportation scene.

“Bob Buckhorn had a vision for our city that has become a reality and a legacy we can all be proud of,” says Democratic strategist and lobbyist Ana Cruz. “His thoughtful accomplishments have turned a desolate downtown into a thriving metropolis where young professionals, families and businesses intersect on our Riverwalk, at Amalie Arena or on the great lawn at Curtis Hixon Park.

“Bob Buckhorn will go down as one of the greatest Mayors in the City of Tampa’s history,” says lobbyist and Democratic fundraiser Justin Day. “His constant drive and dedication to ensuring our city is one of the best in the world, has paid off.  Tampa’s downtown will never look the same, and Mayor Buckhorn is a large reason for that.”

“He would have made one hell of a governor,” Cruz adds wistfully.

Buckhorn’s No. 3 ranking is consistent with his 2016 spot.

Joe Henderson’s Take

“He will go down as one of the great mayors of Tampa and I’m in the camp that believes Buckhorn would have made an outstanding governor. When he chose not to run though, it opened up all kinds of questions. One juicy conspiracy theory involves Congresswoman Kathy Castor. If she gives up her seat to run for mayor of Tampa, would Buckhorn consider running for Congress? I’ve known him a long time and the man does like the big stage.”

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

 

Kathy Castor dismisses rumors she is thinking of a run for Tampa mayor

Kathy Castor is not interested in running for Tampa mayor in 2019.

Elected in November to a sixth term in Congress representing Hillsborough County, the idea that Castor was contemplating leaving Washington to succeed Bob Buckhorn was floated by Patrick Manteiga in his La Gaceta column late last month.

On Tuesday, Castor dismissed such speculation.

“You know, I love my hometown, and I’m in a fabulous position to be able to advocate for my hometown,” she told FloridaPolitics.com. “And that’s what I intend to do — stay right where I am, if the voters will continue to have confidence in me.”

Castor was elected in the Democratic wave of 2006, when the party stunningly picked up 31 seats, putting them back in charge of the House of Representatives for the first time since the Newt Gingrich-led Republican party took over the House some 12 years earlier.

Castor won the open seat left vacant by Jim Davis’s decision to run for governor by winning a primary over four Democrats, including current County Commission Chairman Les Miller.

Florida’s 14th Congressional District seat is considered to “lean strongly Democratic,” though the most recent redistricting before last year’s elections reduced the Democratic advantage in Florida from roughly 14 percent to 7 percent.

Republicans retook the House in 2010, but with Democrat Barack Obama in the White House, Castor was able to maintain some influence, most notably in the president’s decision in December of 2014 to reestablish relations with Cuba. That effort was paved in part by Castor’s 2013 announcement that it was time to end the economic embargo against the Communist island nation.

In doing so, she became the first elected official in Florida to make such a declaration since sanctions took place more than fifty years earlier.

Castor currently serves as the Vice-Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, one of the first committees to review the first iteration of the American Health Care Act, the House GOP health care plan designed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The AHCA passed the House earlier this month.

Buckhorn’s second and final term in office as mayor is slated to end April 2019, with nearly two years until Tampa voters will be asked to decide on his successor.

Joe Henderson: Homestead exemption increase would be great politics, lousy governing

Increasing the state’s homestead exemption by $25,000, which is a priority for House Speaker Richard Corcoran and his merry band of tax-slayers, would no doubt be popular with voters.

If the measure gets past the legislative hoops and on the 2018 ballot as a constitutional amendment, I imagine it would easily break the 60 percent threshold required for passage. Corcoran and like-minded Republicans would celebrate. Homeowners would have more cash.

And local governments, where the real heavy-lifting is done to provide needed services to the home folks, would have a meltdown. One estimate said it could reduce property tax proceeds by about $700 million overall. Bigger cities would likely be affected more. Something would have to give.

In Hillsborough County, property taxes help pay for things like public libraries, water management, special lighting districts, storm water drainage, and basic services like firefighters.

One of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s favorite sayings is that big-city mayors love infrastructure. For instance, Tampa has opened several new fire stations on Buckhorn’s watch. Local officials in Tampa warn that there might not be as many options like that in the future if this becomes law.

Perhaps a homeowner trying to put out a blaze could just call their local legislator to come over with a hose.

Yes. That’s an exaggeration — but this isn’t. Tallahassee lawmakers routinely complain when Washington tacks on expensive requirements without providing a way to pay for them. Those same lawmakers do the same thing to cities, though.

Property taxes are a critical piece of funding for public schools in each of Florida’s 67 counties. A new exemption likely would chip away at funding for education at a time when Corcoran and other lawmakers keep diverting larger and larger chunks of public education cash to private charter schools.

Clever, aren’t they?

That’s one way to put it.

As Jim Rosica of FloridaPolitics.com reported Sunday night, the House made sure the proposed increase in the exemption has been tied to some of the Senate’s priorities, and the message is clear – approve putting the exemption on the ballot, or else.

In case you haven’t noticed, Florida is growing by like, well, a lot. This probably would be a good time to be planning for growth like that by building the infrastructure Buckhorn has talked about.

Instead, Tallahassee responds with something that, if passed, could make it harder for local leaders to provide the services people expect. But hey, Republicans would celebrate the fact that they cut taxes.

It’s great politics, but lousy governing.

Serving life for murder, Tampa man continues legal crusade to get car back

Car lover Michael Glenn

A Hillsborough County man serving a life sentence for murder is continuing his 14-year battle with the Tampa police over the seizure of the car — 10 years old at the time — that he used in the crime.

In 2003, police arrested and charged 21-year-old Michael Gerard “Mickey” Glenn Jr. with first-degree premeditated murder. Glenn was accused of killing 25-year-old Antonio Powell in a drug-related shooting.

Three years later, Glenn made a minor uproar in local media by announcing he would act as his own attorney, becoming the second known person in 30 years to defend himself in a Hillsborough County murder trial.

“Glenn fired a string of lawyers to represent himself and took the stand to tell his story to the jury,” wrote the Tampa Bay Times in 2013. “News reports described him during the trial as plodding, stammering and — often — objecting unsuccessfully. But he scored some points on cross-examinations.”

Nevertheless, in 2006, Glenn was found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm; he was sentenced to life. Glenn is now at the Calhoun Correctional Institution in Blountstown.

Glenn first filed suit against the Tampa Police Department in 2004, while in Hillsborough County jail awaiting trial. He alleged that upon his arrest Sept. 17, 2003, the TPD gang unit illegally searched, seized and impounded his 1993 Nissan Altima, which he used to go to the crime scene.

Four years into his life sentence, a judge dismissed Glenn’s lawsuit May 19, 2010.

Glenn was undaunted, even though he will most likely never drive again.

He filed an amended complaint in 2012, against then-Tampa Police Jane Castor, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the TPD detectives and sergeant involved in the case. The complaint — which sought unspecified “damages” — appeared to indicate the vehicle may have been auctioned.

On April 10, 2017, however, Glenn filed a notification with the court that he is appealing the 2010 judgment, adding now-TPD chief Eric Ward as a co-defendant.

Although Glenn will spend the rest of his life in jail, he could benefit financially from his lawsuit, if successful.

Florida Young Democrats to hold annual meeting in Tampa next month

Florida Young Democrats will hold their annual convention in Ybor City, just outside downtown Tampa, on May 19-21.

Speakers and panelists include Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, Winter Park State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, former State Rep. Ed Narain, felon rights restoration activist Desmond Meade, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp.

Training sessions will cover transit initiatives in the Tampa Bay region, criminal justice reform, how to connect with newly activated progressives, and how to run for office.

“There is a renewed excitement in the Democratic Party,” said Ricky Nettina, president of the Florida Young Democrats. “We hope to bottle up that energy at the 2017 FYD Convention and push it to make progressive change in our own communities”.

“The Hillsborough County Young Democrats (HCYD) are excited to host the 2017 FYD State Convention. Hillsborough and the surrounding counties are essential for developing Democratic leadership in Florida,” said Alvin Jin, Ph.D., president of HCYD. “We look forward to sharing the history of our city with young Democrats from across the state, and encouraging them to get involved locally to shape the current and future direction of the party,” he continued.

 

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