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Mitch Perry Report for 7.23.15 — Cuba not only difference between Buckhorn and Kriseman

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Attitudes regarding fostering a relationship with Cuba is only of several differences between Bob Buckhorn and Rick Kriseman.

Kameel Stanley in today’Times writes about how Kriseman is hot to trot to Havana sometime this year. That’s in contrast to Buckhorn, who has been steadfast in his lack of enthusiasm for hosting a Cuban consulate in Tampa.

While it’s true that everything needs to be looked at from a political perspective, Buckhorn is hardly kowtowing to South Florida Cuban exiles with his stance as he considers a possible run for governor in 2018. He’s been a soul brother to Ralph Fernandez and other critics of the Castro-led regime for decades.

However, that long-time opposition now flies directly in the face of the new establishment in Tampa when it comes to Cuba. The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the entire City Council and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in recent years have all become huge cheerleaders in having Tampa establish ties with Cuba. You can praise or attack Buckhorn for his stance on the issue, but he has been consistent, for what that’s worth.

But what’s more interesting is how on this and other issues the two Democratic Leadership Council disciples differ, despite their ideological DNA.

As this reporter wrote about a year and a half ago, the two clashed on the issues of police car chases and on being members of the Michael Bloomberg-created Mayors Against Illegal Guns group. Buckhorn says he tends to stay away from national coalitions, believing that they aren’t “particularly effective.”

On economic issues, Kriseman won positive headlines last year for raising the minimum wage for city workers to $12.50 an hour. Buckhorn didn’t act on that issue, but that’s because he didn’t have to. As he remarked at a “Fight for $15” rally in April of this year — all city workers in Tampa already receive that amount.

They’ve also been in synch in doing all they can as local mayors to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Although racial issues have historically always been part of the political calculus in St. Petersburg, Kriseman has appeared for the most part to have avoided any major clashes with the black community.

It was Buckhorn’s police department, not Kriseman’s, that was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times story regarding the disproportionate citations of black bicyclists — a matter that has roiled racial tensions in Tampa. That was evident at last week’s hearing of the  Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services town hall meeting in Ybor City.

As I reported three years ago, it’s not the first time folks in the black community in Tampa have had issues with the mayor.

In other news…

Jeb Bush is third in the latest national survey of GOP presidential candidates, but continues to have problems with conservative voters.

Medical marijuana advocates came oh-so-close to becoming the latest state in the country to allow for the legal consumption of cannabis by those with a medical affliction. They’re back for 2016, with United for Care announcing yesterday they will be turning in 100,000 signed petitions next week to local supervisor of elections offices before getting the language reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court.

It’s all Iowa, New Hampshire and Donald Trump when discussing GOP presidential politics, but there are other things happening on the campaign trail. Apparently, Marco Rubio’s got a group working for him in Rhode Island now.

Rubio joined up with almost all of his GOP Senate colleagues in calling for Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell to play ball in terms of seriously investigating the recent controversial Planned Parenthood videos.

Next Wednesday night at 7 pm, Bernie Sanders will speak to his followers throughout the nation via video hookups to some 1,500 households — including dozens in the Tampa Bay area.

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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