Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Long council meetings filled with big plans for Tampa

Can a long, boring government meeting signal a city's future?

Is a packed agenda indicative of Tampa's economic zeitgeist?

Like a lot of us, Harry Cohen, now a Tampa city councilman, saw those bobbing cranes that built sleek residential towers such as SkyPoint and Element during the city's downtown renaissance slow down and then disappear in the stranglehold of a bad economy.

So the monthly land use meetings to decide zoning issues became briefer affairs, since, well, nobody was doing a whole lot of building.

But last month's meeting, notes councilman Cohen, went to half-past midnight. There are plans for restaurants and bars, for expanding everything from church and synagogue schools to car dealerships.

"There's nothing that is more of an indicator of what's happening," he says.

Just this week, his to-do list included both the ground-breaking for the conversion of the beautiful 108-year-old federal courthouse downtown into a fancy hotel, and for apartments on Bayshore Boulevard.

There's also talk of holding not one but two land use meetings a month, like in the good old days.

Says Mayor Bob Buckhorn: "If it were up to me, the state bird would be the tower crane."


As long as we're being boosterish: Could local-color restaurant offerings that help make Tampa International one of the best airports around — the Mise en Place wine bar, Green Iguana, Cigar City Brewing, Shula's, the Columbia — someday have tourists sipping creamy Guinness pints via another beloved Tampa institution — Four Green Fields Irish pub, a favorite of lawyers and other downtown types?


About lawyers and bars.

Local attorneys disgusted by allegations that some among them would sink so low as to send a good-looking employee to a bar to seduce opposing counsel (think shock jock trial) are circulating a tongue-in-cheek list of "30 ethical tips" for attorneys: Tip #5: If you do let her buy your drinks, keep count. … Tip #18: Don't call your son's godfather at the police department and ask him to set up a police DUI sting just to catch your opponent.

Lawyer C. Philip Campbell is charged with drunken driving. Three attorneys from the other side's firm, Adams & Diaco, are under investigation by the Florida Bar. At a recent meeting of a professional organization of lawyers and judges, this talk-of-the-town prompted Circuit Judge Gregory Holder to give a toast on civility.

Holder read some of the oath taken by Florida lawyers, the part about treating the other side with "fairness, integrity and civility." I'm told around here this is sometimes referred to as the Miami Clause, since some down south are considered harder-edged than our own.

So would the judge call the local case Miami-esque? No, he said. "I wouldn't want to malign the good people of Miami."


Speaking of which: Tampa's mayor recently took Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to the University Club for lunch. Gimenez promptly ordered a Cuban, the sandwich that nourished many a Tampa cigar worker and for which the two cities recently battled for historic bragging rights. (But we won.)

"He was complimentary," reports Buckhorn, but "still said Miami's was better." We'll let that go, in the interest of civility.

Sue Carlton: Long council meetings filled with big plans for Tampa 02/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

  2. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  3. Manslaughter charges eyed in deadly London fire sparked by refrigerator


    LONDON — Manslaughter charges are among the offenses under consideration in the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 people, London police said Friday.

    A view of part of the Burnham residential tower on the Chalcots Estate showing the bottom section of the building after cladding was removed, in the borough of Camden, north London, Thursday, June 22, 2017. Tests so far have found that at least three high-rise apartment buildings in the U.K. have flammable external panels like the ones believed to have contributed to a fire that killed 79 people in London, Britain's government said Thursday. The local council in Camden, a borough of London, removed cladding from one of its buildings for further testing after tests they commissioned showed some of their panels were of the flammable variety "and not the ones they ordered." It was unclear whether the Camden example was one of the three mentioned by the government. [Associated Press]
  4. PolitiFact: 6 questions about the Senate health care bill and transparency


    Now that a Senate health care bill has been unveiled, senators will be jousting over its provisions to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, speaks following a closed-door strategy session, at the Capitol in Washington on June 20. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
  5. Bicylist critically injured in crash involving SUV on Bayside Bridge


    A bicyclist was critically injured Friday morning when a driver drifted into his lane and struck him on the Bayside Bridge, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.