Crist signs rail bill in Tampa, but where's Iorio?
Gov. Charlie Crist swung through Tampa on Wednesday to sign legislation supporting commuter rail in Florida. The state legislation is intended to improve Florida's chances of winning $2.5 billion in federal stimulus money for a high speed rail line connecting Tampa to Orlando.
The bill-signing event drew a passel of state lawmakers, including state Reps. Kevin Ambler and Will Weatherford and state Sens. Victor Crist and Mike Fasano. Noticeably absent, though, were two of the biggest cheerleaders for light rail in Hillsborough County: Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio and county Commissioner Mark Sharpe. Sharpe was in the middle of a commission meeting. Iorio is on vacation this week, although she reported for duty to at least one board meeting this week.
The only local elected official there was City Council member John Dingfelder, a candidate for the Hillsborough County Commission.
"If we get the high speed rail in it's going to be a great shot in the arm to encourage citizens to want to vote for the 1-penny sales tax to help build local rail," Dingfelder said, noting, as all supporters of the tax do, that it will also help pay for buses and roads. "It all ties together."
Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer