Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Sue Carlton: A lift for the homeless

Pinellas County is pondering whether to keep charging homeless people $6.25 for a state ID card that can be key to getting them back on their feet. Meanwhile, in Hillsborough, the tax collector is walking the walk.

Or driving the bus, so to speak, if things work out as planned.

This week Doug Belden told the Times that, as in some other counties, he is dropping the $6.25 processing fee for an ID card for homeless people — maybe a few bucks to you and me, but a whole lot more to someone with nothing.

Later, after brainstorming with staff, Belden told me he's pursuing getting those state mobile driver's license vehicles — called FLOW, as in Florida Licensing On Wheels — that ride into town so you can renew your license without schlepping off to an office.

No, Belden wouldn't actually drive one. The idea is to get the word out beforehand and station those wheeled offices at places homeless people gather, like Metropolitan Ministries and the Salvation Army. The goal is to give them a better shot at getting a state ID card that can be crucial in getting a job, an apartment lease and a better chance at a life off the streets.

With cities struggling between pushing the homeless elsewhere and coming up with ways to actually help them, that's some pretty forward thinking.

•••

People who care about the future of Tampa International Airport — and also about the politics of its governing board — are awaiting word from Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott is expected to soon appoint a replacement for Steve Burton, chairman of the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority ,who died recently after complications from a heart transplant.

Only weeks before, Burton was in the news as part of the airport's new master plan — and also for squaring off with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, also a board member.

The point of contention was $500,000 more for TIA chief executive Joe Lopano, if he stays for the next five years. Buckhorn thought what Lopano was paid under his contract was fine. Burton feared Lopano could be lured away. Burton won.

So for those watching the balance on that board, probably the most interesting rumored contender is Republican activist Sam Rashid, a friend of Burton's. Rashid told me maybe 15 people have called to congratulate him on "something I haven't even applied for." Will he?

He tells people he doesn't want to put on a suit for work, as the job would require, which sounds like no to me.

•••

Any Tampa dweller who has wandered through St. Pete's vibrant outdoor market probably, like me, walked away with some serious downtown envy. (And maybe some really excellent fresh pineapple.)

I have whined long and hard about the loss of Tampa's modest but also bustling Friday outdoor market, not to mention the lack of a good explanation for why it had to die.

So I feel duty-bound to report that today Tampa begins a summer concert series at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with food trucks and a steel drum guy. They're calling the monthly event Eat At Joe's. It's no market, but, hey, it's better than that substitute event where they said we could Hula Hoop and throw Frisbees on our lunch hour.

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