TAMPA — Irritated by the ouster of the executive director of the Tampa Sports Authority, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio announced Wednesday that the city's television station will start airing the agency's meetings.
"This is a really important board," Iorio said. "Recently they took an action that has serious ramifications, and I think it's important for the public to have a better idea of what's going on in their meetings. So let's let in the sunshine and have the meetings recorded for the public."
The Sports Authority manages Raymond James Stadium and three public golf courses. Its executive director Henry Saavedra resigned earlier this month rather than face a vote on his firing. A sharply divided board voted 6-5 to accept the resignation, with city appointees largely defending Saavedra, and accusing county representatives of a power grab.
City appointee Kalyn Brandewie accused some board members of colluding to force Saavedra out.
"There are certain members of this board who make a mockery of the Sunshine Law," Brandewie said. "You've been building the case. I have watched as the stage has been set for this day."
Iorio sent a department head to the meeting to defend Saavedra, who worked for the Sports Authority for 24 years, including 12 years as its executive director.
Iorio said her appointees to the board had been complaining to her for months about the "level of discourse" at the meetings.
"Then came the meeting the other day with Henry being summarily dismissed with no real cause given," Iorio said. "It's probably a good idea for the public to be able to view these meetings. There's no downside to it."
Board chairman Vin Marchetti, who led the charge to boot Saavedra, welcomes the television time.
"I commend her for doing that," he said. "We, as a board, discussed asking the city or county to start doing this."
The city of Tampa airs programs on Channel 15 on Verizon FiOS and Channel 615 on Bright House Networks. The first Sports Authority meeting scheduled for taping is an executive committee meeting on April 13.
Staff writer Bill Varian contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3401.