Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa to spend $6 million on police radios for use at Republican National Convention

TAMPA — City Council members Thursday okayed Tampa's biggest security expenditure yet for the Republican National Convention.

The city will pay Communications International of Vero Beach $6 million for more than 1,900 handheld or vehicle-mounted radios for the convention, scheduled for Aug. 27-30.

Police say the radios are needed because up to 3,000 officers from other parts of Florida will be working convention security, and they all need to be on the same communications system.

With the radios, the city has approved spending nearly $12 million of a $50 million federal convention security grant on technology and equipment. After the convention, the radios will go to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Council members also:

• Voted 5-0, with Chairman Charlie Miranda and member Lisa Montelione absent, for a resolution supporting a constitutional amendment declaring that corporations don't have the same rights as people, nor is spending corporate money on elections a form of constitutionally protected speech.

New York, Los Angeles and other cities have adopted "corporate personhood" resolutions in response to the U.S. Supreme Court Citizens United ruling. The 2010 case opened the door to unlimited corporate and labor spending in federal elections.

"It's important that we show our constituents that we are not owned and don't feel that politicians and our representatives should be subsidiaries of corporations," said council member Mary Mulhern, who proposed the measure.

• Set a workshop for 9 a.m. April 26 on whether to change Tampa's rules to make it easier to keep backyard chickens. Several residents praised the fowl, but not everyone was a fan.

"To hear comments from individuals talking about a chicken as a pet is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," said council member Frank Reddick, who described a brazen bird that would "stroll down the sidewalk like he owned the neighborhood" and kick the mulch out of his flower beds. "Any chicken running loose in your neighborhood is a public nuisance."

• Voted to ask the U.S. Navy to name a littoral combat ship — a type of fast, light ship that operates near shore — after Tampa.

"We have a very rich history in the military," council member Mike Suarez said. In 1918, the Coast Guard cutter USS Tampa was sunk by a German U-boat, killing 130.

U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have supported the idea in a letter to the Navy.

• Heard that the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce and recently formed Ybor Merchants Association are working on a plan for Guavaween that could take down a fence that many merchants say kills business.

Ybor business owners said the groups may seek city sponsorships and grants from the city's Ybor City Development Corp. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said he doesn't care whether there's a fence, but if Guavaween needs police, firefighters or solid waste crews, private organizers will have to pay for them.

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