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Mitch Perry Report for 10.9.15 — 1st chapter in Tampa citizens review board saga ends

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The activists went home unhappy last night, but their goals were never the same as the majority on the Tampa City Council when it came to the creation of a citizens review board to review the Tampa Police Department.

The Council voted 5-2 Thursday evening for a compromise proposal on who gets to select the members of the nine-member board and two alternates; Mayor Bob Buckhorn will get five choices, the Council four, and the mayor still gets to pick the two alternates that were part of his original executive order. It was a change from his original call that he get nine choices, and the council only two.

Earlier in the evening, the council rejected a proposal by Councilwoman Yolie Capin that would give the Council seven picks, the mayor six, as well as the two alternates. And they never voted on Reddick’s proposal giving the mayor eight picks and the Council seven. Buckhorn has repeated over the last week that he thought a 15-member board was too large, although that was refuted by Reddick last night, who said that the mayor’s African American Advisory Council includes 25 members.

Activist groups like the NAACP, ACLU and CAIR had fought for the board to have subpoena power, but the fact was that there was never much support for that on the council. Councilman Mike Suarez said that while the city charter did not allow an unelected body to have such powers, the council does possess that power, and he promised that if an egregious action occurs regarding the police that demand such action, the council could exercise subpoena power. (Let’s save that tape.)

Reddick appeared to take the course of action last night rather hard — as he told the crowd and his colleagues, no one else gets the number of complaints that he does regarding certain police actions, something he said he has shared with Police Chief Eric Ward.

Councilwoman Capin took some solace in that the executive order by Buckhorn had been converted into an ordinance proposed by the Council — she said that proved that the board and council attorney Martin Shelby were correct in stating that they had the power to create such a board, and she criticized city attorney Julia Mandell’s decision to pay an outside attorney $10,000 to prove otherwise.

“This ordinance is exactly the same thing as the mayor’s executive order,” said Laila Abdelaziz with CAIR and one of the leaders of the Tampa for Justice movement that was created to push for such a citizen’s review board. Her comment reflected the fact that the activists who pushed the council in the first place (primarily Reddick) to create such a board remain unsatisfied.

Though this chapter is now concluded, the story isn’t over yet. The city will continue to take applications for the board until October 15. Then the mayor will make his selections and the council will publicly decide on their four choices.

The board is scheduled to begin meeting on a monthly basis in December.

In other news..

With Kevin McCarthy dropping out of the race to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House in Congress, Democrats are enjoying the (side) show.

The Florida Legislature’s refusal to approve a tax incentive plan to lure Hollywood productions to the Sunshine State has rankled those in the entertainment business. Americans for Prosperity let lawmakers know that if they attempt to bring up a similar proposal next year, it’ll get shot down once again.

After reading our story about how some Hillsborough County Republicans aren’t ready just yet to jettison the troubled Public Transportation Commission, St. Pete-based state Sen. Jeff Brandes says while he’d like to kill the agency, he won’t do so if there is nothing to replace it.

Florida Democratic Senate candidate Pam Keith says the Congressional Black Caucus is shutting her out of accessing any of their resources because the state’s CBC delegation is backing Patrick Murphy for Senate. Keith says the reason those lawmakers are backing Murphy is because he “bought” their endorsements.

Speaking of Keith, the National Women’s Political Caucus has endorsed Pam Keith in the Democratic Senate primary race.

The Democratic National Committee announced last night that Miami will host the final presidential debate of the presidential season next March.

A poll released by Quinnipiac on Thursday says that medical marijuana is supported by 87 percent of Floridians, but so what? A similar poll two years ago said 82 percent supported it — yet it ended up getting less than 58 percent at the end, short of the percentage required to become a part of the Constitution.

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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