Make us your home page
Instagram

Tampa International Airport hires lobbyist — and debates hiring even more

TAMPA — Send in the lobbyists.

But the questions the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority grappled with Thursday were: How many lobbyists should it send to Tallahassee? And how much should it pay them?

The questions arose when the board voted to hire Cardenas Partners, the lobbying shop of former state GOP chairman Al Cardenas, to persuade state leaders to dedicate $250 million to help fund Tampa International Airport's new master plan.

The contract will pay the firm $80,000 a year, with an option for two more. But Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, who spent 18 years as a legislator, said that's not enough.

"I hate to throw a dark shadow here at the last moment … but this isn't enough to win," Crist said. "I told Joe Lopano we need $300,000."

Lopano, the airport's chief executive officer, and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn bristled at having to spend that kind of money on lobbying. "I'd love to have $800,000 to lobby with," Lopano said. "But I don't think it's a wise use of our funds."

Cardenas' firm was hired to draft a strategic lobbying plan, which means the airport board could end up deciding to spend more money on lobbying anyway. But Lopano said he also reached out to the local chambers of commerce and other partners to help lobby on behalf of the airport.

The airport plans to spend $935 million to build a consolidated car rental facility 1.3 miles south of the airport and to build an automated people mover to connect it to the main terminal. The project is set for completion in 2017.

The airport is planning to use bonds and federal loans to help pay for it. But Crist was adamant that the authority should hire a posse of lobbyists who can reach out to key legislators and the governor to make sure the airport gets those funds.

Jamal Thalji can be reached at (813) 226-3404, thalji@tampabay.com or @jthalji on Twitter.

Tampa International Airport hires lobbyist — and debates hiring even more 10/03/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 3, 2013 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. SeaWorld shares drop Monday to 2017 low after disclosure of federal subpoena

    Tourism

    The Orlando parent company of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks saw its stock drop 3.5 percent Monday to $15.10, its lowest price of this year.

    Killer whales perform at Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld in Orlando in 2011, before public pressure was placed on the theme park company to curtail its orca shows.SeaWorld has since announced an end to the traditional killer whale entertainment  at its theme parks. [AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack]
  2. Rick Scott appoints longtime ally Jimmy Patronis as Florida CFO

    State Roundup
    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  3. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  4. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  5. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.