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Tampa Police say ‘no credible threats’ against TSA over using controversial pesticide

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa Sports Authority’s intention to use a controversial pesticide on Babe Zaharias Golf Course next week has caused some heated rhetoric from neighborhood opponents.

But the Tampa Police Department says an investigation so far shows no ‘credible threats’ have been posed from those critics against officials associated with the TSA.

On Thursday, Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick said that there had been threats made to him, as well as Tampa Sports Authority Eric Hart and County Commission and TSA board member Ken Hagan’s children over  Curfew, a pesticide that will be sprayed at Babe Zaharias beginning Tuesday.

Dow AgroSciences makes Curfew, with the technical name 1,3-dichloropropenene, used primarily to reduce the population of nematodes (round worms) and other soil-borne pests that damage developing root systems of young plants.

While prohibited from use on golf courses in environmentally conscious California, Curfew is approved for use on golf courses in five particular Southern states: Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and Florida.

Tampa residents in the Forest Hills area, organized under the name “Green Cities Alliance,” have been fighting against the chemical since it was first used years ago at the Babe Zaharias Golf Course. A 2008 incident led to the state penalizing the applicator for spraying it too close to a home.

TSA’s action to allow Curfew prompted angry complaints from local residents near the golf course, but City Councilman Frank Reddick said Thursday that those critics went too far when they targeted the children of TSA head Eric Hart and Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan, a TSA board member.

“You’ve got a group of three, four, five people, who are causing this disturbance,” said Reddick, who also serves on the TSA board. “These same anonymous people have utilized social media to invoke the kids of two members of that board.”

Reddick called it “disturbing” several times, saying he hoped that law enforcement “tracks down” those anonymous people.

“I hope they go to jail,” he said.

A review of emails shows nothing rising to the level of a “credible threat or any type of criminal activity,” TPD spokesman Eddie Durkin said Friday. 

Durkin said those emails had “some mention of the kids” of TSA officials.

Hagan said neither he nor his children, had been a target of critics.

Reddick acknowledges he was incorrect and mentioning Hagan’s kids; he was referring to another man named “Ken” on the TSA board. However, there isn’t any other board member named Ken.

“I apologize for naming the wrong Ken,” he said.

Activists have targeted TSA officials on social media and in letters, Reddick said, putting his picture and office phone number on a flier distributed to residents near Rogers Park, which sits inside his district.

“I’ve been flooded with calls,” Riddick said.

TPD’s Durkin said he had not seen those fliers, but by Reddick’s own description of including contact information, they would not seem to contain any threat.

Request for comment from the Tampa Sports Authority was not returned.

 

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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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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