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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

John Dingfelder's move against local vendor preferences tanks



Back in November, the Tampa City Council agreed to back an effort by a business association to get a state law banning ordinances that give local companies a leg-up on government contracts. Council member John Dingfelder made the motion to help out the Associated Builders and Contractors. But today, Dingfelder could barely get a second on his motion to send the resolution to Tallahassee.

"I'm very uncomfortable with this," said Mary Mulhern. "I hope the letter to Tallahassee will share my objections." Linda Saul-Sena agreed.

Dingfelder defended the idea, saying as cities and counties pass rules to favor local businesses, companies outside those areas get shut out of economic opportunities. If those laws were forbidden it would level the playing field and let everyone do business everywhere in the state. "That's capitalism and the American way," Dingfelder said.  "Where's my flag?" And then he noted: The Florida Legislature probably doesn't really care what the Tampa City Council thinks anyway.

When he couldn't get a second on the motion, he made an appeal to Joseph Caetano, whose hair salon recently went bankrupt. "You don't want to second the level-playing-field motion I made?" Silence from Caetano. "I'll second it," offered Gwen Miller.

The motion failed by a 4-3 vote with Dingfelder, Miller and Tom Scott voting in favor of it. So it looks like Dingfelder, a County Commission candidate, and Scott, who's running for mayor, curried a little favor with builders and contractors in this election year. Caetano, who is seeking re-election, and Saul-Sena? Not so much. Saul-Sena is challenging Ken Hagan, who supports local vendor preferences, in a County Commission race.

Janet Zink, Times staff writer


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:21pm]


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