Shouting match between Tampa City Council members prompts time-out
A discussion about a request by a restaurant owner to serve beer and wine devolved into a shouting match between Tampa City Council members John Dingfelder and Joseph Caetano today, prompting council Chairman Tom Scott to call a recess.
The chaos erupted after Dingfelder raised questions about what hours the Japanese steakhouse set to open on Howard Avenue would be open. Caetano objected to Dingfelder's questioning, saying he should have been at the meeting two weeks ago when the council gave preliminary approval to the restaurant owner's request. Dingfelder accused Caetano of attacking him personally, and the two began pointing fingers and yelling over each other.
Scott called a five-minute recess, saying he didn't want the meeting to spin out of control.
As council members returned after the break, council member Charlie Miranda joked to the shocked audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Madison Square Garden!"
Scott apologized to observers. "We must maintain order. We must remain cordial," he said.
The hearing continued without incident, and the restaurant received final approval for beer and wine by a 5 to 2 vote, with Dingfelder and council member Linda Saul-Sena voting against it.