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"These people will see what Tampa Bay is all about," host committee CEO Ken Jones said last night at the party at the Trop. "This convention is a great advertisement for the Tampa Bay area. We want them to really see Tampa Bay — see the Rays, eat Cuban food."

"I think the opportunity to showcase the city in the next three days is available to us, and we intend to do it," Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn told the Times today.

They can sell and sell and they have and they will. And they should. It's their jobs. But here's the thing. They don't get to pick the stories. Facts are facts and people have eyes. The last two days, as this "once-in-a-lifetime" event mostly idled as the far outer edges of Isaac made it intermittently windy and wet, CBS News pointed out that this is the homeless capital of America. That's a fact even though it wasn't on those printouts that looked so hastily made and were taped to the walls of the men's rooms last night in St. Pete.

Meanwhile, the New Yorker's George Packer, who knows Tampa, having done the story The Ponzi State a few years back, returned today. He wrote:

It’s not a great downtown in the best of times, combining the charm of urban renewal—highway overpasses crisscross the area where the convention is being held—and all the convenience of the largest metropolitan area not to have commuter rail. It’s also one of the two most lethal cities in the country for pedestrians and bicyclists.

True too. Makes me think of a piece the Wall Street Journal wrote about Tampa in August 1993. It highlighted the city's growing economic struggles due to racial tensions. In the Times the next day, Sandy Freedman, the mayor then, said the portrayal was "balanced, unfortunately."

"What killed us," her spokesman said, "were the facts."

[Last modified: Monday, August 27, 2012 10:46pm]


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