Dick Greco talks about transportation tax, running for mayor of Tampa
In his strongest public answers yet to questions about whether he'll run for mayor of Tampa, former mayor Dick Greco on Monday said he "probably will." He said he'll make an announcement "one way or the other" this month. Greco made the comments at a round table on the proposed 1-cent transportation tax hosted by La Gaceta publisher and editor Patrick Manteiga at La Tropicana Cafe in Ybor City. Greco and Manteiga chewed the fat with some real estate pros and investors, including Joe Capitano, Andy Scaglione, Manny Alvarez and Steve Yturriga. All of them said they support the referendum on the tax that voters will decide Tuesday, though they sought assurances that it would go to Tampa International Airport (it does) and questioned why it never sunsets. Manteiga told them the tax needs to remain in place in perpetuity to fund continued expansion of the county's public transportation system. The tax will pay for road improvements, expanded bus service and rail.
Greco said some people told him not to come out strongly in favor of the measure if he's considering a run for mayor. But he said it was too important an issue to ignore. He has been featured in some robocalls for Moving Hillsborough Forward, a nonprofit created to support the tax. "The good thing about the sales tax, if there is a good thing about any tax, is tourists will help pay for it," Greco said. The tax is a tough sell in this economy, he said. "But what you're doing is ensuring the future here," he said. "There doesn't appear to be a Plan B."
Manteiga has produced a flier supporting the tax that targets Tampa's deeply rooted Latin community. It features pictures of the old streetcar that used to run through West Tampa streets. The purpose of the flier, Mantegia said, is to "dispel the argument that Tampa isn't ready for this. We were ready for it 100 years ago. We lost it." The flier includes the slogan "What's Old Is New Again." Greco took a look at that and deemed it "not a bad slogan," prompting jokes from his friends that he could use it as if he runs for mayor.
City elections are in March 2011. So far, mayoral candidates include Hillsborough County Commissioner Rose Ferlita, former City Council member Bob Buckhorn, former County Commissioner Ed Turanchik and City Council chairman Tom Scott. When asked whether he would work to get the sales tax back on the ballot in 2012 if voters reject it Tuesday, Greco said he didn't know, adding that 2012 might be too soon. "The point is it's there now," he said.