5 things I think I think about today's St. Pete Times

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The absolute, hands-down best story in today’s Times is about my good friend Siobhan Harley, who became a US citizen just one day after quarterbacking Bob Buckhorn’s campaign to a decisive victory.

It was only Wednesday morning, and already Siobhan Harley was having a week unlike any other.

Monday night she made a presentation to a professional speaking class she’s taking through St. Petersburg College.

Tuesday brought an even bigger project. Bob Buckhorn, her boss for nearly a year, won big in the Tampa mayor’s race. Harley, 23, had been there from day one as the campaign’s first staffer. For months, she worked to get him elected.

But she didn’t vote for him. She couldn’t. She was born in Scotland and was not a U.S. citizen.

Until Wednesday.

That’s when Harley joined 507 other immigrants from 83 countries for a naturalization ceremony at the Tampa Convention Center.

She raised her right hand, renounced her allegiance to any foreign prince or potentate, swore to defend the Constitution of the United States, watched a video message from President Barack Obama, and waved a tiny American flag as hundreds of new citizens belted out Lee Greenwood’sGod Bless the U.S.A.

I’ve already written — many times — on this blog about how highly I think of Siobhan, so it’s nice to see her get the recognition she deserves. And if you’re a Democrat thinking about running in Tampa Bay, I hope you recognize the enormous talent that she has and do whatever it takes to add Siobhan to your team.

Here are some additional stories in today’s Times about Buckhorn’s win and his transition to Mayor:

How Bob Buckhorn handles being Tampa’s mayor will be fun to watch — surprise, Ernest Hooper was wrong about a political prediction.

Transition from Tampa Mayor Iorio to successor Buckhorn begins — I don’t think people realize how different Buckhorn will be from Iorio.

Let’s switch publications for a second while we are still thinking about Bob Buckhorn. Creative Loafing‘s Mitch Perry has an interesting argument about 5 dates that turned Bob Buckhorn into Mayor Buckhorn. I can’t disagree with the importance of each of the developments Perry discusses. In fact, this column served to remind me of how looonnnggg Buckhorn has been campaigning. But I do think Perry left off an important date and that was February 16, the day Gov. Rick Scott announced that he was rejecting federal funding for his speed rail. Indirectly, I think Scott’s decision had a lot to do with the political atmosphere which surrounded the 2011 Mayoral race. It was as if Scott’s decision reminded everyone of how important elections really are and that voting for the ancient Dick Greco or the idea-less Rose Ferlita wasn’t good enough. Scott’s decision also galvanized so many of the Democratic activists — hard workers like Jen Greenfield and Chris Mitchell and Susan Smith.

Hating on the homeless is a bi-partisan issue. How else to explain the newly elected Tampa City Council being friendlier to a panhandling ban. although CHarlie Miranda thinks he has a better solution:

“Panhandling can be completely eradicated in 30 days if nobody gives any money,” he said. “You don’t need an ordinance for that. If people don’t give, they don’t stay.”

I don’t know why a panhandling ban isn’t already in effect. Creating one in St. Pete was one of the best developments to happen to the ‘burg in a half-decade.

Howard Troxler’s column today about campaign finance legislation is spot-on. Trox concedes that the $500 contribution limit is outdated:

And yet the $500 limit, passed in 1991, is ridiculously low and has had a terrible side effect ?the growth of bogus PACs and “committees of continuous existence,” some even run by members of the Legislature, with no limit at all.

If I were king of Florida, (hah!) there would beno limit on direct campaign contributions ?but the committees would be banned. At the least, it should be illegal for a sitting legislator to operate one. But the $500 limit has made matters worse, not better.

But Trox can’t stand the idea of leadership funds, which have been banned for two decades but will return will the Legislature’s override of Charlie Crist’s veto from last year. Trox writes:

Nuts. Phooey. Pfft. Besides,I don’t care. There ought to be separation between the sacred duty of writing laws in a democracy ?and the practice of grubbing for cash.

No member of the Legislature should be able to raise campaign money except for his or her own campaign. No committees. No PACs. No “leadership funds.” Nothing.

Say this sort of thing in Tallahassee, of course, and they’ll look at you like you’re speaking Martian.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.