Make us your home page
Instagram

Sue Carlton: Where's the love, Joe?

Joseph W. Lopano may be in play for big jobs elsewhere.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Joseph W. Lopano may be in play for big jobs elsewhere.

Maybe it's a bad sign that the hot shot we got to run our beloved Tampa International Airport, a guy you can't help but like and hoped to keep around awhile, does not own a home here two years into the job.

Joe Lopano, who has done good things at TIA but may be in play for big jobs elsewhere, rents. (Harbour Island, with his wife.) Say it ain't so, Joe.

Why should we worry? Currently open is the job of CEO at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where Lopano worked for 14 years. Naturally, he says, being head guy there was something he thought about back then. Now they might try to coax their high-energy former vice president home, something a Fort Worth newspaper has already suggested.

For the record, the retiring Dallas CEO made more than $400,000 a year. Lopano is getting $315,000 here. And his name may well come up for other major airport jobs.

So at a special meeting today, the board that oversees our airport tackles this dilemma: enhance Lopano's compensation package to keep him, or expect him to keep going on the already-sizable sum he agreed to.

Where's the love, Joe?

Actually, Lopano isn't saying much about the possibility of leaving, and has from day one made clear that he likes it here. He has talked with contagious enthusiasm about kayaking Honeymoon and Caladesi islands, morning walks along the waters off Davis Islands and downtown, even finding Mazzaro's market for his Lopano-made marinara and meatballs. Soon after he got here, he told me the weather in Texas had been "sunny, with a chance of death," but you could tell he loved it there, too.

A nature photographer, he seemed particularly fascinated with our fierce-looking ospreys, the ones you see carrying wriggling fish over the water. He could not say enough about our ospreys.

Last year, he told a reporter he and his wife were looking at places on the water and talking about a boat, and I'm sorry, but a boat in Dallas hardly seems the same.

Possibly Texas does have sunsets, too, but I doubt they amount to much compared to what you get atop the TIA parking garage.

Most important, though, is that Lopano quickly understood the borderline-freakish pride we have in our airport, undeniably one of the best in the country. He brought likability and drive to the job, adding overseas flights and upping our profile, overseeing an airport master plan and talking about a vision for its future. So far, so good.

So what happens if it comes time for him to decide?

Well … you want him to finish what he started and honor the contract in place. You don't want to be in the position of throwing out more money every time another town comes sniffing around.

And … you can't help but get why a guy might leave for more money and a big city he already knows.

Even those against ponying up a penny at the moment don't want Joe to go.

These are the growing pains of a little big town: Leaders you bring in to make the place more desirable and cosmopolitan may leave you for places deemed, well, more desirable and cosmopolitan.

Today's a tough one for the board. What's a reasonable amount to keep talent? Given a contract and an agreement, is any amount reasonable?

And maybe it won't matter. Maybe in the end, Texas just has bigger ospreys than ours.

Sue Carlton: Where's the love, Joe? 02/28/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 28, 2013 9:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Toxic' times: How repeal of Florida's tax on services reverberates, 30 years later

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Long before Hurricane Irma attacked Florida, the state faced a troubled fiscal future that the storm will only make worse.

    Robertson says the tax debate is now “toxic.”
  2. Fewer Tampa Bay homeowners are underwater on their mortgages

    Real Estate

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages continues to drop. In the second quarter of this year, 10.2 percent of borrowers had negative equity compared to nearly 15 percent in the same period a year ago, CoreLogic reported Thursday. Nationally, 5.4 percent of all mortgaged homes were …

    The percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners underwater on their mortgages  continues to drop. [Times file photo]
  3. 'What Happened'? Clinton memoir sold 300,000 copies in first week

    Blogs

    Despite being met with decidedly mixed reviews, What Happened, Hillary Clinton's new memoir about the 2016 presidential campaign, sold a whopping 300,000 copies in its first week.

    The new memoir by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sold 300,000 copies in its first week.
  4. After Irma topples tree, home sale may be gone with the wind

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — To house hunters searching online, the home for sale in St. Petersburg's Shore Acres neighborhood couldn't have looked more appealing — fully renovated and shaded by the leafy canopy of a magnificent ficus benjamini tree.

    Hurricane Irma's winds recently blew over a large ficus tree, left, in the yard of a home at 3601Alabama Ave NE, right, in Shore Acres which is owned by Brett Schroder who is trying to sell the house.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Unemployment claims double in Florida after Hurricane Irma

    Business

    The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits dropped by 23,000 last week to 259,000 as the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey began to fade.

    Homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma on Big Pine Key last week. Hurricane Irma continued to have an impact on the job market in Florida, where unemployment claims more than doubled from the previous week.
[The New York Times file photo]