Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa taxicab and limo regulators say they've been left out of RNC planning

TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission says it has been left out of the planning — and the funding — for the Republican National Convention.

"Neither the commission nor our staff have been kept apprised of the transportation needs of the convention," commission chairman and Plant City Mayor Dan Raulerson recently wrote to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

The commission regulates taxicabs, limos and shuttle vans in Hillsborough County, and it has heard talk of limousine companies coming in from out of town and cab stands in downtown Tampa being closed for the convention, which will be held Aug. 27-30.

"We've got to determine where we are going to put the cabs so they can operate, because I can assure you, people are going to use cabs," Mario Tamargo, the commission's chief inspector, said Monday.

Marc Hamlin, Tampa's assistant police chief, said the commission was "definitely an important and valued partner" during security planning for past Tampa Super Bowls. It's reasonable to include it in convention planning, as well, so its inquiry will go to a subcommittee working on transportation issues.

In his Feb. 13 letter to Buckhorn, Raulerson outlined two concerns.

First, the commission is concerned that private transport companies will come in and work during the convention without getting the background checks required by state law.

That's what's happened in the past when the Super Bowl came to town.

"We actually had cabs here from Jacksonville," Tamargo said, "so I imagine it's going to be even worse for the convention."

Raulerson said it's important to screen the companies that work such events to protect passengers and Tampa's image.

Second, the commission wants a slice — though likely a small one — of the $50 million federal convention security grant the city is getting.

The commission expects that its inspectors, who are sworn law enforcement officers, will have to work a lot of overtime before, during and after the convention.

It has five inspectors, though it hired two part-timers to help with the work during the last Super Bowl, when inspectors did background checks and inspections on 100 or more vehicles.

Working the convention without additional funding "would be quite an ordeal for us, because during the Super Bowl, my guys were working 16 hours a day and going out on the street making sure everybody was legitimate," Tamargo said.

Hamlin said there's a process by which agencies that incur security expenses during the convention can submit a request to have those costs covered. They have to meet certain criteria, and authorities will prioritize the reimbursements.

Created by special state statute in 1976, the commission — colloquially known as the PTC — regulates everything from the number of taxicabs allowed in Hillsborough County to determining which tow truck drivers can be called to accident scenes to granting permits for ambulances that provide basic life support.

The commission's board consists of three county commissioners, two Tampa City Council members and one representative each from Plant City and Temple Terrace.

The commission does not regulate buses, which the convention has arranged for separately. In October, the convention said it was hiring SP Plus Gameday of Orlando to run the fleet of 300 charter buses needed to carry 5,000 delegates, alternates and guests around Tampa Bay.

Still, the commission's inspectors will not be alone in vetting drivers working the convention.

Raulerson noted that the Secret Service will perform its own background checks on drivers of buses transporting delegates and limousines carrying certain VIPs.

Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@tampabay.com, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Tampa taxicab and limo regulators say they've been left out of RNC planning 02/20/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 11:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Warehouse burns on Tampa's east side

    News

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County emergency crews are at the scene of a two-alarm fire at a warehouse near 56th Street and East Hillsborough Avenue.

    Hillsborough County firefighters battle a blaze Thursday night at a warehouse on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa. [Hillsborough County Fire Rescue]
  2. 'Dream big' drives Lightning's Conacher brothers

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — Two words: Dream big.

    Cory Conacher includes them every time he signs an autograph for a young hockey fan.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Conacher (89) on the ice during Lightning training camp in Brandon Friday morning (09/15/17).
  3. Irma roughs up endangered snail kites, birds that help us gauge the Everglades' health

    Wildlife

    Hurricane Irma was as rough on some wildlife as it was on the humans. Audubon of Florida reported Thursday that the storm destroyed all 44 nests around Lake Okeechobee built by the endangered Everglades snail kite, a bird considered crucial to the River of Grass ecosystem.

    Hurricane Irma destroyed 44 snail kite nests, capping off a poor mating season for the endangered species, which is seen as an important barometer of the health of the Florida Everglades. Their off-center beaks allow them to probe inside the spiral shells of the native apple snails. But the snails' population has dropped as the Everglades has changed. [MAC STONE | Audubon of Florida]
  4. New center opens in Tampa to help those with missing, damaged limbs

    Veterans

    TAMPA — Justin Lansford, his service dog Gabe by his side, smiled broadly Thursday as he imagined the future of a sprawling, resource center for people who need artificial limbs and those interested in helping them.

    Justin Lansford, 27, lost his left leg above the knee in Afghanistan. He was one of dozens of people attending the opening of the Veterans International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics in Tampa on Thursday. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Staff]
  5. Still worried about family, Tampa Bay Puerto Ricans ramp up relief effort

    Hurricanes

    TAMPA — Brenda Irizarry is worried.

    Brenda Irizarry of Tampa, while agonizing over the status of family in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, is helping lead an effort to collect and send supplies to the island. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times
]