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Mitch Perry Report for 5.19. 15 — RIP, Helen Gordon Davis

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Tampa icon Helen Gordon Davis passed away yesterday after being in poor health for awhile. She was 88.

Reading about her life and political history again last night, I realized how much this woman kicked some ass working for positive change in Florida.

“She was a phenomenal spokesperson for women and human rights,” former USF President and state legislator Betty Castor told Florida Politics in an email this morning. “From her early leadership of the League of Women Voters to championing all causes for women in the Florida Legislature, she has left a lasting legacy”

“Sen. Davis refused to tolerate inequity,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in a statement issued Monday night. “Her leadership was central to Florida’s equal rights movement and to important laws promoting equal pay, protection from spousal abuse, and business opportunities for women.  Her steely determination proved vital to breaking through the good-old-boy network in the state capital at a pivotal time. Her legacy lives on in the lives she has touched and in the equal rights laws for Floridians that she championed.”

When I came to Tampa to cover news and politics 15 years ago, Mrs. Davis was no longer serving in office and had taken a lower public profile. But she showed up at numerous events, and what I was always struck by was how reverently she was treated by everyone — like Tampa royalty, essentially.

And then you read about her and realize, yup, she deserved every bit of that attention.

RIP, Helen Gordon Davis.

In other news…

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has returned from its third trip to Cuba in the past few years, and its lead spokesman yesterday sounded more emphatic than ever before that they want the region to prosper above all others in America when the economic sanctions ultimately expire. Officials who took the trip discussed their thoughts at a press conference on Monday.

And Tampa House Republican Shawn Harrison is pretty much in lockstep with his GOP colleagues in the lower body of the Legislature when it comes to Medicaid funding, but he says he’d be willing to give the Senate’s hybrid proposal a chance, not that his leader, Steve Crisafulli, shows any inclination to follow suit, however.

And speaking of Medicaid, Rick Scott was in Tampa yesterday. The governor was defending his call to the Florida Hospital Association to have some of its stronger members do a little revenue sharing with smaller hospitals, if the state doesn’t receive LIP funding from the feds.

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

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