Tampa politics: A-Rod for mayor?

Candidates real and imagined abound to replace Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. See who has a real shot at winning.

By Chris Ingram

Affable and competent Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is term-limited from running for re-election to a third consecutive term as mayor. Mayor Bob was long-speculated to run for governor in 2018, but doubled down on Hillary Clinton’s run for the Oval Office with hopes of landing a plumb assignment as Ambassador to Ireland or the Vatican (both naturals for this Lucky Charms eating Catholic).

As we all know, Buckhorn’s bet went to the house, and Donald Trump is in the White House and ol’ Bob is left to ponder what could’ve been, and what to do next.

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Lesson learned: Win first. Measure for drapes second.

Buckhorn’s dilemma is the last thing on the minds of several aspiring pols who would like to replace him.

The list of aspiring Gasparilla-keepers is longer than complaints about the lack of crosswalks across Bayshore Blvd., or potholes across city roadways. Still, political ladder climbers abound, and someone will get the job that pays $151,507 per year and comes with a dedicated Tampa Police officer for guard duty. That sounds good, maybe I will run.

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A ubiquitous Tampa pothole.

Earlier this week, one of the mayoral aspirants paid a polling company more money than it was worth to test a “sample ballot” of some of the potential candidates. The poll asked voters from a list of likely mayoral wannabes which one they liked best, if the election for mayor of Tampa were held today. For the record, it’s not being held today – or this year for that matter; in fact, it’s not even being held next year. The Tampa mayoral election will be in March 2019. Yeah. March 2019. That’s about 20 months from now, hence this poll being a waste of money. But alas, politicians with more money than brains like polls that tell them how good their sample ballot numbers are and how high their name I.D. is – unless they aren’t.

The wasteful survey gave the option to “vote” in the poll for one of six hopefuls which the geniuses behind the poll (and the unnamed candidate who paid for it) thought should top the list. The options were given in the order that follows – even though actual voter ballots list candidates alphabetically: former State Rep. Ed Narain, former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, City Councilman Mike Suarez, Councilman Harry Cohen, architect Mickey Jacobs, and former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik.

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Ten bucks you have no idea who this guy is.

It is worth noting, all of the candidates are Democrats with the exception of Jacobs (though the race is officially non-partisan, the last Republican to serve was Bob Martinez who changed parties from Democrat to Republican while in office). It is also worth pointing out that I know five of the six candidates (all but Jacobs). That doesn’t bode well for him, because I am a Republican. I also live in Tampa. If a Republican is to have a chance at winning a seat on the lowly but powerful pothole review board, much less mayor of Tampa, he needs every Republican in the city to vote for him; and even then, he doesn’t have much of a chance.

So we can start this ill-conceived survey by eliminating Jacobs from the list of real contenders.

But before analyzing the viability of the rest of the so-called field, it’s also important to consider who is missing from the list. Those names include: Councilwoman Yoli Capin; Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan (who doesn’t even live in the city); author and professional speaker Topher Morrison; and I’ll throw in lawyer and state legislative candidate Bob Buesing because I like him (and he bought me breakfast a few months ago, and I can be bought for a $9.99 omelet and cup of coffee at First Watch). Oh! And last but not least, don’t forget about former MLBA player Alex Rodriguez; he is on the list because I needed a catchy title to this column to get morons who don’t care about politics and government to read it. Welcome morons! 

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A-Rod: “You want me to run for what?”

So let’s look at who the poll’s puppet masters think is “in” and dissect them.

Of the five legitimate candidates, I like all but one of them (and I am not saying who the one I don’t like is, but if any of the them take me out to Datz for lunch I will tell them it wasn’t them).  In fact, some of the candidates I believe are, or would be fine public servants – in a self-serving, unaccomplished, egotistical, political ladder-climbing sort of way. I used to fondly think the same way about Marco Rubio. Today I see him as worse than termite dust (which I currently have in my house causing me to think Rubio may actually be better than termite dust), but that’s another column.

So here are the five analyzed:

Ed Narain – Ed is extremely likeable, is smart, has decent name ID in parts of the city, and (unlike Marco Rubio), he has a day job (albeit government related) working for a large telecom company as a lobbyist or something. Ed is a family man with really cute kids, and he has a good heart and good intentions. He would make a fine mayor. He barely lost his race to the state senate against Darryl Rouson last year. To win the mayoral race, he’s going to need to expand his name I.D., and become known as more than just “the black candidate.” If he plays his cards right, he can probably do it, but it’s going to be a challenge. Joining a Rotary Club would certainly help him in this endeavor.

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Former state Rep. Ed Narain and family.

Jane Castor – Jane probably knows the streets of Tampa better than the guy who paved them. She served for decades as an officer with TPD, and retired a few years ago as the city’s police chief. By most accounts she did a great job as chief, but she has a few scandals under her belt to explain, including the set-up of a DUI of a lawyer in the Bubba the Love Sponge case by one of her officers, as well as the whole issue of “ticketing while black” of the city’s black bicycle riders.  She’ll get past all that, but being on defense isn’t how you want to start your campaign. Castor would be the city’s first openly gay mayor (ensuring her getting the endorsement of the liberal mullet wrapper Tampa Bay Times), even though ironically she was a Republican until just about two years ago. Thanks a lot Ana!

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Former TPD Chief Jane Castor is a familiar face.

Mike Suarez – I like to kid Mike that he is Bob Buckhorn’s “Minnie me.” I’m not sure Mike likes that comparison, but I’d take it to the bank if I were him. I would also take his hair. I am mostly bald. Mike is not. I would kill for his perfectly coifed hair if I cared about having hair. Speaking of grooming, Suarez has groomed himself to be mayor. Like Buckhorn, he is affable, and that matters more than smarts in politics because voters are really shallow and stupid (see Donald Trump). He will likely present himself as an extension of the good times (less all the potholes and police scandals) of the Buckhorn administration. Like Mayor Bob, Suarez won’t embarrass the city, but he’s not exactly going to be a dynamic visionary leader either, and at the end of his term, Tampa will most likely still be riddled with potholes and flooded streets. It could be worse.

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Good natured and good hair, Councilman Mike Suarez is Buchkhorn, Jr.

Harry Cohen – Of the six candidates whom I know, I know Harry the least. Like others, he’s got good grey matter, and a grasp of the issues, but he’s not exactly the most mesmerizing candidate you ever met. But hey, neither was Pam Iorio and she did a great job as mayor of Tampa. Still, voters don’t want smart, they want fun and likable. Don’t believe me? Remember Bill Clinton beat George H.W. Bush. WTF! But in a multi-candidate race, Cohen could be a consensus builder and sneak to victory.

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Councilman Harry Cohen could be consensus candidate.

Ed Turanchik – Of all the candidates with smarts, Ed is the most cerebral. He knows transportation like it’s his job, and I would imagine he also has the best grasp on where to get the finest vegan and gluten-free green smoothie in the city. While that sits well with Tampa’s liberal elite, and all the fools out there who think they have a gluten allergy (doctors say less than 1 percent of the population is actually allergic to gluten, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at all the over-priced gluten-free options at swanky south Tampa restaurant menus), it might not sit well with the just-slightly left-of-center Tampa voters. Thus, it doesn’t bode well for Turanchik’s prospects that he’s more Bernie Sanders than Joe Biden. Choo! Choo!

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Former Hills. Commissioner Ed Turanchik needs to share his vision beyond rail.

So there you have it, my official analysis of the unofficial candidates for Mayor of Tampa. May the best candidate win – announced, unannounced, or pie in the sky wishful thinking rumor mongering for someone else to get in it by people like me.

Go A-rod!

Chris Ingram is a political consultant, media personality, columnist, and political analyst for Bay News 9. Follow him on Twitter at: @IrreverentView. 

 

Uber and Lyft denied free markets

Even better, the driver was a delightful man who knew how to carry on a conversation using flawless English, with just a slight Sudanese accent. His name was Abbas. He came to the U.S. as a political refugee from Sudan 10 years ago. When he arrived, he had little more than the shirt on his back. A decade later, he has a college education, owns a fleet of 10 cars and employs over a dozen people.

Protecting the candle makers

Published in the Tampa Tribune, Wednesday, April 23, 2014

By Chris Ingram

I frequently travel on business to Jacksonville and have used local cabs to get to and from the airport. On a recent trip, the cab I was dispatched can only be described as less-than-suitable. It was old, smelled like cigarette smoke, the air conditioning didn’t work, and I had to dig between seat cushions, assorted crumbs and trash to find a broken seat-belt locking mechanism.

After picking me up, the driver asked if I minded if he stopped for a second to pick up some items that someone had left out with their garbage. He collected his new-found treasures and placed them in the trunk on top of my suitcase.

My prior experiences with cabs in Jacksonville haven’t been much better, and my occasional cab encounters in Tampa have been similar.

Last week in Jacksonville, I tried Uber. My car showed up early. It was a late-model sedan. It was clean. Everything from the power windows, air conditioning and seat belts all worked.

Uber
Photo: Uber’s ap allows customers to place their ride request.

Even better, the driver was a delightful man who knew how to carry on a conversation using flawless English, with just a slight Sudanese accent. His name was Abbas. He came to the U.S. as a political refugee from Sudan 10 years ago. When he arrived, he had little more than the shirt on his back. A decade later, he has a college education, owns a fleet of 10 cars and employs over a dozen people.

Abbas is an American success story with deep lessons about the value of a good education, picking yourself up from nothing and turning yourself into something, through hard work and determination.

He has learned a lot about American government and burdensome regulations by helping with Uber’s fight in Tallahassee to break the monopoly that traditional cabs have in most markets.

Hillsborough County is one of those markets. In fact, we’re one of the worst — (Click here to read the column in today’s Tampa Tribune).

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him at: Chris@IrreverentView.com.

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Ingram: Tampa’s top 20

The following is my list of 20 of the biggest assets the Tampa Bay area has to offer its residents, visitors and future generations. They are listed in no particular order.

By Chris Ingram

Anyone who has ever ventured onto roads in the Tampa Bay area knows traffic congestion is one of our major problems.

According to the 2012 American Community Survey among metropolitan areas, Tampa Bay-area commuters have the fourth-highest commuting time, at 52 minutes per day (26 minutes each way). That works out to 4.3 hours per week, 17.3 hours a month, or 208 hours a year — stuck in traffic.

Recently, I was invited to attend some meetings among business, industry and other community stakeholders to help develop a “Vision 2020” for the Tampa Bay area.

Unscientifically, the group has concluded its primary focus should be on addressing the area’s transportation needs. It seems like a no-brainer, but this conclusion was achieved only after assessing the landscape and considering a variety of other issues, such as: a new home for the Rays, education, the future of MacDill AFB, attracting new jobs, protecting our environmental assets, and tourism and marketing to attract new visitors.

At our last meeting, it occurred to me that while, yes, we need to address transportation and other problem areas, the Tampa Bay area also needs to collectively embrace all that makes the area so great, and stop viewing Tampa Bay the body of water as a divider.

The following is my list of 20 of the biggest assets the Tampa Bay area has to offer its residents, visitors and future generations. They are listed in no particular order. (Click here to read the full column in today’s Tampa Tribune).

Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him atChris@IrreverentView.com.

Click here for more content on Irreverent View.

Please feel free to submit a comment on our blogs. By posting a comment you acknowledge reading and following the terms and conditions of posting found here. You may also submit a comment by e-mail. If you e-mail a comment you consent to your comment and name being posted on the Irreverent View website. If you wish to remain completely anonymous, please state so in your e-mail.

Teach kids to respect other people, other people’s property, and authority

Although Previtera is correct that this isn’t a matter of race — it’s a matter of parenting and teaching kids to respect others — race is part of this story because 108 of the 111 kids who were arrested or ejected from the Florida State Fairgrounds were black.

By Chris Ingram

 

The Tampa Tribune, February 20, 2014

“It’s a 14-year-old. It’s a tragedy.”

“This isn’t a matter of race; it’s a matter of solving a problem.”

Those two comments from Col. James Previtera of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office succinctly sum up the issue of “wilding,” which came to the public’s attention after the death of 14-year-old honor student Andrew Joseph III.

By most accounts, Joseph was not only an honor student, but a good kid from an intact, middle-class family. Hardly the stereotype of a thuggish youth with a dad in jail and a mom on welfare.

Although Previtera is correct that this isn’t a matter of race — it’s a matter of parenting and teaching kids to respect others — race is part of this story because 108 of the 111 kids who were arrested or ejected from the Florida State Fairgrounds were black.

What this whole incident has shown is that even seemingly good kids with presumably good parents — white, black or other — can make bad decisions. There are a host of other lessons to be learned by the fair authority, law enforcement, the schools, parents and students.

In response to the wilding incident, the fair authority now requires an adult to be present with any minor coming to the fair on Student Day with free admission, if they arrive after 7 p.m. There may be sound logic for this, but it seems curious given the sheriff’s office said the “crowd arrived shortly before 6 p.m.” on Friday of that week.

And what is to keep kids who arrive early from sticking around without a parent? Will the fair remove all patrons before 7 before letting kids with a free ticket back in only with an adult?

I have a few better ideas.  (Click here to go directly to the column in today’s Tampa Tribune.)

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Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him atChris@IrreverentView.com.

Please feel free to submit a comment on our blogs. By posting a comment you acknowledge reading and following the terms and conditions of posting found here. You may also submit a comment by e-mail. If you e-mail a comment you consent to your comment and name being posted on the Irreverent View website. If you wish to remain completely anonymous, please state so in your e-mail.

Thank God for people like Dottie Berger MacKinnon

Unlike some children’s facilities or battered women’s shelters I have seen, A Kid’s Place doesn’t attempt to conceal what it is. The facility even has a welcoming sign on the side of the road. But the welcome ends there, as the buildings are surrounded by a fence and an electronic gate for the protection of the residents. As you walk up the main entrance, Berger MacKinnon’s name is on the building, and there is a bronze statue of her sitting on a park bench reading a book to a child

By Chris Ingram

The Tampa Tribune, October 15, 2013

To say that Dottie Berger MacKinnon had a big heart for kids is like saying Santa Claus is a jolly old fellow.

Berger MacKinnon, who died Sunday of cancer, served a single term on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1994-98. She was defeated for re-election in the Republican primary when conservative activists in the eastern part of Hillsborough County got upset with what they viewed as her liberal leanings. Her name occasionally came up in political circles, even six years later when I moved to Tampa.

But people who really knew her, knew her not for politics, but for her concern for kids.

My path didn’t formally cross with Berger MacKinnon’s until this year when I reached out to her to talk about child welfare issues. She graciously agreed to meet and invited me to her home, where we chatted for a few hours. A few weeks later, she took me on a tour of A Kid’s Place, the youth home in Brandon she was instrumental in founding.

aaMarch 2013 Dottie Target 248

“Martha [Cooke] is the reason for A Kid’s Place,” Berger said of her friend, who is a Hillsborough Circuit Court judge. The “Department of Children and Families wanted an emergency shelter. For a year and a half, Martha asked me to build it. She encouraged us to form A Kid’s Charity of Tampa Bay, and so we did. When we did, everyone was surprised. I didn’t know you had an option to not do something you said you would do,” she said during my visit to her home.  Continue reading “Thank God for people like Dottie Berger MacKinnon”

Hoe Brown is not a slumlord

Hoe’s office location always seemed to be a bit odd, but I attributed it to his thriftiness. While I’ve never seen his bank statement, I imagine it is sizeable; one could argue his wealth was achieved in part by being frugal. In addition to running his office in a “low rent” part of town, he drives a Jeep Cherokee that I would guess is close to ten years old. Flashy Hoe is not. And he’s not some Daddy Warbucks living and working in a mansion. He works in the same place with the same conditions of the “slums” he’s accused of renting out.

By Chris Ingram

I am disappointed in my friend Hoe Brown, the Tampa Port Authority chairman who it was recently reported has some rental properties with questionable conditions and that lack necessary permits. If I know Hoe as well as I think I do, he is disappointed in himself as well.

I have known Hoe for seven years. In fact, I have been to his offices on Stanley Street countless times. I’ve seen and spoken with some of his tenants while there, and even witnessed some of them pay the rent. 

Hoe’s office location always seemed to be a bit odd, but I attributed it to his thriftiness. While I’ve never seen his bank statement, I imagine it is sizeable; one could argue his wealth was achieved in part by being frugal. In addition to running his office in a “low rent” part of town, he drives a Jeep Cherokee that I would guess is close to ten years old.  Flashy Hoe is not. And he’s not some Daddy Warbucks living and working in a mansion. He works in the same place with the same conditions of the “slums” he’s accused of renting out.

Since knowing Hoe, I have commented to others on many occasions that he is one of very few Republicans who bridge the divide between the two largest factions within the party: the country clubbers who write the checks, and the grassroots activists who do the grunt work.  I say this from having seen Hoe “in action.” You’re just as likely to catch him at a black-tie donor affair, as you are to catch him out putting up yard signs into the wee hours of the night during campaign season – something I’ve never seen GOP heavyweights such as Al Austin or Don Phillips ever do.

The media’s accounts of Hoe’s properties in my estimation are probably accurate, but Continue reading “Hoe Brown is not a slumlord”

Rotary Club honors four for service

The club, along with The Tampa Tribune, presented the prizes Tuesday during the rotary’s weekly meeting at the Glazer Children’s Museum.

“Our mission as human beings is not just to give, but to give back,” said an emotional Morsani during his acceptance speech. The Service Above Self award reflects the rotary club’s motto and is a fitting description for Morsani’s contributions, which include donating about $40 million to the University of South Florida.

“This was never in the script,” Morsani said after describing his humble beginnings in Oklahoma. “It’s been a great ride.”

By John Ceballos   Tribune Staff Published: May 28, 2013

TAMPA – The day after Memorial Day proved to be a fitting time to honor some of the area’s unsung heroes.

“Yesterday, we took a few moments to honor the brave men and women who served our country,” said Rolfe Arnhym, chairman of the award committee for the Rotary Club of Tampa. “Today is in a little different vein as we honor those who have served in our community.”

Frank Morsani received the Service Above Self award, while Tampa Police Department officer Ricky Wade, along with Steve and Emily Kundrat, received the first Unsung Heroes awards.

“We hadn’t given out the Service Above Self Award for a few years, so when I became chair about five years ago, we brought it back,” Arnhym said. “This is the first time we added the Unsung Heroes awards.”

The club, along with The Tampa Tribune, presented the prizes Tuesday during the rotary’s weekly meeting at the Glazer Children’s Museum. Continue reading “Rotary Club honors four for service”