Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Time to clear the air on Regent events center

It's time for the Brandon Community Advantage Center board to have a "come to Jesus" meeting.

It's time for the community leaders who helped bring about the construction of the Regent to sit down with the current board members and put all the grievances, all the disappointment and all the hearsay on the table.

It's time to clear the air in a public forum and gain the confidence of the community.

The Regent can't truly move forward as the events center we envisioned all those years ago without putting an end to all the negative speculation.

A transparent, open and honest discussion is the only way to achieve that goal.

The future of other projects for the Brandon area may be at stake if the Regent remains a target for critics, a tool for others seeking county funding, and a punch line for folks who believe the rancor stems from the fact that this community lacks the sophistication to handle a $7 million investment.

The onslaught of scrutiny, from media reports to proposed legislation to audits from Hillsborough Community College and Hillsborough County, continues to raise questions about the Regent's funding, its mission and how the board operates the facility.

State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, drafted a legislative bill last week that essentially would wrest control of the Regent from the board and give it to HCC, which has classrooms in the facility.

Burgin took the bold step after she says the board became less responsive to her concerns, including a letter she issued in May that outlined several steps the board needed to take.

Board member George May said this week that the board had started implementing some of the recommendations Burgin made in May — including having HCC appoint two board members (lawyer B. Lee Elam and college dean Joe Bentrovato) — but that the board needs more time, particularly because it has devoted so much energy to responding to criticism and inquiries.

Meanwhile, the County Commission met Wednesday to discuss its audit.

The lessons learned since the Regent opened in January are plentiful. The biggest may be this: It's not easy operating a tax-funded events/community center.

Scrutiny is a given. That's why it's best for the board to do all of its business in the sunshine. The board's executive meetings remain closed to the public, fueling speculation that it has something to hide.

Proving yourself requires more than a denial. It requires transparency. The best way to put out all the fires is with a big bucket of openness and a heavy dose of leadership.

Say what you will about Burgin, but at least she remains involved and is doing what she believes is best for the long-term future of the Regent. Others have walked away, but their leadership is still needed.

Those who initially advocated for this facility must persuade the board to move into the sunshine or offer a solution that will win community support.

When the Brandon Community Advantage Center board holds its next quarterly public meeting — it postponed a Sept. 15 meeting in the wake of the audit — I hope to see Burgin, County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, former state Sen. Tom Lee, former state Rep. Trey Traviesa, Brandon chamber president Tammy Bracewell, developer John Sullivan, and former project managers Earl Lennard and Ron Pierce.

I hope anyone who cares about the facility and any future area projects will show up, leave their egos at the door and put the community first.

It's time.

That's all I'm saying.

Time to clear the air on Regent events center 09/22/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Perspective: As the toll climbs, advocates bring renewed attention to Florida gun violence


    Times Staff Writer

    Like most 12-year-old girls, Ra'Mya Eunice loved slumber parties.

    The Empire State Building in New York City was bathed in tangerine light last year to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It was part of the Wear Orange campaign led by the non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety. [Courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety]
  2. Muslim faith greater than fear for Wharton's Rania Samhouri (w/video)


    TAMPA — Rania Samhouri graduated Monday night from Wharton High School, and many times throughout the ceremony she flashed back to a moment that changed her life.

     Rania Samhouri stretches after track practice on Monday April 24, 2017 at Wharton High School in Tampa, Florida. Rania, who is Muslim, recently started wearing her hijab during track competitions. She graduates from Wharton this year and will attend University of South Florida on scholarship next year.
  3. Deputies seek two men in attempted armed home invasion robbery in Seminole


    Detectives are searching for two men they say broke into a home in Seminole Thursday night in an attempted armed robbery.

  4. Forecast: A sunny, dry Memorial Day weekend ahead in Tampa Bay


    Tampa Bay residents can expect to see a sunny, rain-free Memorial Day weekend with clear skies and temperatures hovering in the upper 80s and low 90s.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Man dies after he was found in Largo motel parking lot shot multiple times


    Detectives from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office are investigating a fatal shooting that occurred overnight in the parking lot of a motel in Largo.