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. 

 

Craft beer in Florida meets Karl Marx

I mean come on, this is Flori-duh! We can have a wink and a nod and drink our beer without regulation by legislators bought by Big Beer telling us they know what’s best. Competition is good. Craft beers are winning market share because their beer tastes better than the flavorless mass-produced garbage the big brewers produce. Apparently campaign cash is more important than consumer choice and free markets, and Sen. Kelli Stargel is more concerned with making Karl Marx proud.

By Chris Ingram

State Senator Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) has lead the fight on behalf of “Big Beer” interests to force micro-brewers who produce tasty craft beers to use distributors to sell their products.

Big Beer’s biggest cheerleader has taken thousands of dollars from the Big Beer lobby. She is so overcome with hallucination from her Big Beer buddies’ money, she has proclaimed to be like a mother, saying, “I believe I know what’s best.”

Among other things, the keg monitoring queen apparently knows it is best to limit competition, deny consumers the freedom of choice, increase the cost of buying a beer, and add layers of bureaucracy to budding businesses and the entrepreneurs who start them.

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Photo: Florida’s keg beer monitoring queen is Sen. Kelli Stargel.

She is so caught up in the talking points of Big Beer, she has even defended the prohibition-era “three tier” system of beer distribution.

Under this neo-Marxian-like system (one that stresses the monopolistic rather than the competitive nature of capitalism), micro-brewers will be forced into a paper transaction with distributors in order for the micro-brewers to sell their craft beers at their own establishments. No beer will actually change possession between micro-brewers and distributors, but paperwork and money will exchange hands from the micro-brewers to the distributors – who will be acting as the middle-men in this non-transaction transaction; ultimately this will increase the cost to consumers.

Earlier this week Mama Stargel claimed Continue reading “Craft beer in Florida meets Karl Marx”

Thanks to Republicans, you may have cracked open your last craft beer

But before the growler bill they were advocating got to a vote, the Senate Rules Committee passed an amended bill that would allow the sale of growlers but would also heavily restrict the sale of virtually all craft beer sold by microbrewers.

Published in the Tampa Tribune, Sunday, April 27, 2014

By Chris Ingram

In what has to be the new poster child of the laws of unintended consequences, craft beer brewers and their beer-drinking enthusiasts have to be scratching their heads and asking, “What happened?”

Craft brewers — or microbrewers — had gotten the Florida Legislature to consider a bill to allow the sale of growlers, half-gallon sized containers of beer that are prohibited by state law. Along with Florida, growlers are illegal in only two other states.

But before the growler bill they were advocating got to a vote, the Senate Rules Committee passed an amended bill that would allow the sale of growlers but would also heavily restrict the sale of virtually all craft beer sold by microbrewers.

The devil is in the details.

SB 1714 would permit the sale of growlers by microbrewers who sell fewer than 2,000 kegs of beer per year. So far so good, but not great. Brewers producing more than 2,000 kegs per year would be permitted to sell growlers, but they would also be required to distribute all of their beers, regardless of size, through an established beer distributor.

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Fla. Senate leaders want you to pay more for craft beer.

The effect of the distribution requirement would be higher costs to consumers, since the beer distributors would be due a large cut for their role as a middle man. Adding insult to injury, any microbrewery in the state producing over 2,000 kegs would have to sell its beer to the distributor and then buy it back (after a mark-up from the distributor), to sell their own beer in their own microbrewery.

Absurd!

Is it any wonder we call it the “Flori-duh” Legislature?

The bill is being pushed by (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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Gasparilla photos

Pictures by Chris Ingram of Gasparilla 2014.

My wife and I took the girls down to Gasparilla for the first time this year. Fortunately we were in the safe(r) confines of the City of Tampa’s tent that didn’t require fighting the crowds as much. We all had a great time. Some of my favorite pictures are attached.

Chris

Click on any photo to enlarge.

All photos copyright 2014 411 Communications.

Sheriff Gee helps get things started.
Sheriff Gee helps get things started.
My Bay News 9 counterpart Ana Cruz tosses beads from a TPD cruiser  driven by Chief Castor.
My Bay News 9 counterpart, Ana Cruz, tosses beads from a TPD cruiser driven by Chief Castor.

 

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IMG_0735 My girls waiting for the parade to start.
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Stop action/blurr photo I took getting bored watching the FHP cycles drive up and down the parade route for what seemed like 20 minutes after the parade started.
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Casey with “Buccaneer Bob” Martinez — Florida’s former governor.
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Bucs cheerleaders.
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Mayor Bob (thanks for standing up to the pirates!)
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Conservative radio host (and Rough Rider) Bill Bunkley.
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Scariest pirate of the day (and my favorite pic).
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Me and all my girls with Mayor Bob. Thanks for the invite Mr. Mayor!
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Tampa City Councilman Charlie Miranda.

Continue reading “Gasparilla photos”