Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Regional planning leader's dual roles seen as conflict

TAMPA — The credibility of an ambitious regional planning project is being questioned in light of news that the person guiding the effort had a second job working for large landowners pushing to develop rural southern Hillsborough County.

Officials at the Tampa Bay Partnership, a regional business group, said consultant Amy Maguire agreed to sever ties with the landowners this week out of a mutual concern her dual role might be perceived as a conflict of interest.

As of Wednesday, Maguire remained as manager of the regional project the Partnership initiated — one that is getting public dollars — to map out how Tampa Bay should grow for generations to come.

But some county residents and at least one commissioner say Maguire should be ousted from the "One Bay" project because her second job with the land owning coalition has compromised her objectivity.

"Her severing ties with the landowners isn't enough," said Mark Sharpe, District 7 commissioner. "She's got to go. You have to get the public to believe in this process, and you won't do it if it's perceived that this effort is being led by moneyed interests and not the citizens."

The local business leaders who started One Bay stood by Maguire on Wednesday, but they're meeting soon to decide how to proceed.

"We're going to get the five partners together and review what action has been taken and see what other appropriate actions should be taken," said SunTrust Bank president Dan Mahurin, chairman of One Bay.

Mahurin said he learned on Monday that Maguire was consulting for a coalition of 12 landowners who farm about 5,000 acres in southern Hillsborough. Will Redd, manager of Deseret Farms, controlled by the Mormon church, said he formed the group last year to better face challenges like canker.

The group has come up with a development project that would add about 9,000 more homes to the region than what is now allowed. Redd said Maguire was hired late last year to help get these plans approved.

Maguire is also a lobbyist for Southern Strategy, the top grossing lobbying firm in Tallahassee. John Thrasher, a former speaker of the Florida House, also works at the firm and lobbied recently against a statewide effort to restrict growth called Florida Hometown Democracy.

South Hillsborough community activists, who are strongly opposed to suburban sprawl and a possible bypass highway through their semirural area, were already suspicious of One Bay before learning of Maguire's moonlighting.

"My concern is that when you give our visioning process to the very people that would profit from future development, you're not going to get an objective recommendation," said Kelly Cornelius of Lithia.

But Mahurin defended One Bay, arguing that it has involved a diverse group of people.

"One Bay is making an effort to get tens of thousands of hands on the steering wheel to help Tampa Bay grow smarter in the future," he said.

The Partnership hired Maguire to lead a regional "visioning effort'' that held workshops throughout the seven-county region last year. A variety of public and private sources financed it, including $50,000 from the Tampa Bay Builders Association and $25,000 each from Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Aside from the Partnership, four other organizations lead One Bay: the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and a local committee of the Urban Land Institute made up of development insiders.

One Bay tallies the results of workshops, where developers, government officials, corporate executives and neighborhood leaders brainstorm about how the Tampa Bay area should grow.

In January, Hillsborough County commissioners, citing budget restraints, rejected a request by the Planning Commission to spend $100,000 to plan for growth up to 2050.

In the meantime, a majority of commissioners have turned to One Bay for planning help.

"It's a conduit of information for the whole region," said Commissioner Al Higginbotham. "That's where I'm frustrated. I want the support of everyone. If no one will buy in, then it won't do anything."

Maguire should have disclosed her other job, he said, but stopped short of saying she should resign.

"That's between her and the people she answers to," he said.

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at or (813) 226-3402. Mike Brassfield can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or

Regional planning leader's dual roles seen as conflict 04/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 14, 2008 5:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021


    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  2. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) on the mound after the solo home run by Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 23, 2017.
  3. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  4. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  5. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.