Who else will Bob Buckhorn blame for Tampa’s slumlords?

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That developer and Republican Party financier Hoe Brown was able to operate his slums just twenty feet from office continues to be a surprise to Tampa officials.

A surprise the same way Inspector Renault was shocked — shocked! — there was gambling in Casablanca. 

Should it take the disgrace of a prominent-community-figure-revealed-as-slumlord for a city’s leadership to take action protecting its most vulnerable?  Certainly not. But that’s precisely what has happened in Tampa, with Mayor Bob Buckhorn playing the role of Tampa’s own Adam West, employing a duck-and-throw sense of responsibility.

Only thanks to the resignation of Brown amid the uncovering of his many offenses in the landlord department, there is a public face to the problem that makes it increasingly difficult for Buckhorn to avoid taking action. For once.

This isn’t to say that Buckhorn has done nothing. In his proposed 2013-14 budget, Buckhorn threw some money toward adding code enforcement officers; he has demolished a few blighted properties deemed to be public hazards; and  following Brown’s resignation, Buckhorn launched a 30-day sweep by code enforcement to target three sections of the city and root out “the worst of the worst.”

But this is far too little, too late from Buckhorn, who has done his best to not take responsibility for the city looking the other way.

First, he blamed the lack of budget.  Then be blamed the City Council for having rules with no teeth.  Today, he blames the Florida Legislature for eminent domain laws that prevent local governments from taking over land due to blight.

Baloney. 

A city doesn’t need to take over a property to enforce existing laws. And it certainly doesn’t need lengthy court battles to require greater (or any) communication between police and code enforcement officers.

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.