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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Curran improves as City Council sets new rules of succession



ST. PETERSBURG -- Friends of City Council Chairwoman Leslie Curran have been encouraged in the last week as the 54-year-old continues to recover from an Aug. 30 bicycle accident that gave her a severe concussion.

"I've just been so impressed by her recent improvement," said Lance Rodgers, a local artist and longtime friend of Curran's who has been caring for her dog since the accident. "Three weeks ago, I was thinking this was going to be slow. But now, all my fears are evaporating. She's made great progress."

Curran fell off her bicycle while traveling at about 19 mph. She lost control of her bike when her front tire hit the back tire of another cyclist, causing her to lose balance. Even though she was wearing a helmet, the injuries to her head were severe. She was taken to Bayfront Medical Center's intensive care unit and placed into a coma for about a week. She has since shown steady, if slow, progress. 

Rodgers said Curran is in physical rehabilitation, where she's not only doing rigorous exercises, but works on puzzles and brain teasers, plays video games on Nintendo Wii, and records her thoughts in a journal to improve her mental acuity and coordination.

The length of her absence has surprised her colleagues at City Hall and exposed holes in the council's order of succession. Rules name the council's vice chairman, who is now Herb Polson, as the person to run the meetings and set the agenda during the chairman's absence.

But what if the vice chairman is absent? Who runs the meetings then? The rules don't say. So on Thursday, the council will vote on more detailed rules dictating what happens. If both the chairman and vice chairman aren't there, the task of running the meeting would go to the former chairman, who is now Jeff Danner. If all three are absent, then it would be the most senior member, Bill Dudley, overseeing a board that barely meets quorum.

It's not clear how much longer the eight-member board will be without Curran. Her family has been closely guarding her condition. Friends who have seen her or are being told how she is say no one knows when she'll be able to return.

"The last couple of days she's been doing extremely well," said Audri Tirabassi, a co-worker at the Interior Motives art gallery that Curran owns at 1110 Central Ave. "From what I'm hearing ... she was foggy and not remembering things. She's more aware now. Each day is better and better."

Rodgers said Curran seems like her old self.

"Her humor is back," he said. "When I saw her, she was remembering names of people I had forgotten. But for now, she wants to keep things quiet so she's not overrun by folks visiting her." 

Michael Van Sickler, Times Staff Writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 12:12pm]


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