Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

Carlton: Politics, parks and a Tampa film goes to Washington

Before Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn gave this year's State of the City address — generally more rally than speech, with a rocking theme song and everything but fireworks going off behind him — he shot an email to Washington-based Democratic media consultant Dane Strother.

Buckhorn wanted Strother, who had worked on his mayoral campaign, to have a look at the video put together to kick off the address.

Love it, came the reply from Strother. That's a record you can run on - - - - governor

So, is Buckhorn considering a post-mayoral run for Tallahassee?

Between his all-but-certain second round as mayor before he term-limits out and the next gubernatorial election after the one we're in, a million improbable things can happen, this being politics. And who runs and doesn't hinges heavily on who is the incumbent by then — Republican Rick Scott or Democrat Charlie Crist.

Still, an email like this from a big-name consultant like that does catch your eye.

Buckhorn, who gets the question at least once a week, has his ready reply: He's just busy running a city on the move.

"The day I leave here I will be a very sad guy," he says. "Whatever I do after this, I can promise it won't be as fun as what I'm doing right now."

Speaking of a city on the move, here's a happy secret to Tampa, historically a port town with its fair share of ugly:

We have really nice parks. And a lot of them.

When I moved to one of the urban Heights neighborhoods north of downtown, this was a pleasant surprise: four neighborhood parks in easy walking distance. Mostly these are smallish "pocket parks," true neighborhood hubs of dog walking, ball batting, baby strolling and a yearly Easter egg hunt. I can reach a half-dozen more in close-by neighborhoods, my favorite being Rivercrest Park on a curving nook sloping down to the Hills­borough River.

Though we don't tout this rather attractive city amenity with the fervor over, say, our weather, our airport or our Cuban sandwich, it has been noticed. As the Times reported this week, a new ranking of 60 big-city park systems based on acreage, services and investment and access — cities including New York, Boston and San Francisco — puts Tampa at a respectable 28th.

This is a city of 3,543 acres of parks, 178 of them, parks as big as the sprawling Riverfront Park downtown by the art museum and small as the tiny, quiet patch of a park I recently discovered tucked off busy Columbus Drive.

Historically, someone in Tampa has been minding the green.

And as long as we're cheerleading here, JFK in Tampa: The 50th Anniversary, the documentary that poignantly details President John F. Kennedy's visit here before he was assassinated in Dallas in 1963, was presented to the Library of Congress this week by U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa. Producer Lynn Marvin Dingfelder was in Washington for the ceremony, held on Kennedy's birthday.

The film is an hour of our history told through photos, home movies and, most important, people from here who were there. Now it's officially archived as a permanent part of American history, as it should be.

For more on the film, visit jfkintampa.org or email [email protected]

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