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PolitiFact Florida: Bob Buckhorn's boast about panhandling



TAMPA -- A key element of Bob Buckhorn's campaign for mayor is reducing small, quality-of-life crimes before they turn into bigger crimes. Think public urination, "raves" at bars or Tampa's famous "6-foot rule" for lap dancers that Buckhorn pushed. He also has been a major advocate for cracking down on panhandling.

In the summer, St. Petersburg's ban on panhandling put the issue on the front burner. The Tampa City Council is poised to pass a ban for major streets after refusing to do so three times in recent months. Many residents are frustrated. Candidates in the March 31 mayoral race get a lot of questions on the topic.

During a Jan. 4, 2011, interview on the AM Tampa Bay radio show on WFLA-AM 970, former City Council member Buckhorn outlined a previous attempt to curb roadside begging.

"We passed an ordinance that allowed legitimate charities to apply for a permit once a year provided they had the right liability coverage, which allowed the Shriners and firefighters and some of the vendors to do what they've been doing for years without causing problems," he said. (That ordinance, passed in 1999, was nullified after a court tossed out a similar law in another town.)

He continued: "There was no panhandling when I left office. Now we've seen it explode. We've seen an unwillingness on the part of some of the elected officials in our community to do anything about it."

This leads to an obvious question: Really? Was there NO panhandling in Tampa when Buckhorn left office after two terms in 2003?

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked Buckhorn's claim over the weekend and rated it False. For the whole analysis, visit


[Last modified: Monday, January 24, 2011 12:23pm]


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