Thursday, May 24, 2018
Politics

Carlton: An unholy alliance, a Publix at last, a judge still swinging: News of the week

From the week that was, some spit out your Starbucks headlines:

Hillsborough board kills amendment for LGBT protections

Gay activists and religious righters agree and go out for pie and coffee afterward

Okay, I made up that last part. But, what?

You're telling me advocates for hard-fought gay, lesbian and transgender rights did not want anti-discrimination protection cemented into Hillsborough's charter, which is pretty much the county constitution?

You're saying LGBT activists were on the same side as certain local religious conservatives you can always count on to show up and take a stand against tolerance?

What gives?

Actually, this makes some sense given the tortured history of Hillsborough, the county that once banned (and later unbanned) gay pride.

An ordinance exists protecting the LGBT community the same way people can't be discriminated against because of their gender, race or religion. Putting it in the charter through a voter referendum would further solidify that protection.

At a meeting this week of the charter review board, the usual suspects came to rail about how this would take away their religious freedom and, in a bit of theater of the absurd, open public bathrooms to predators.

LGBT activists said: Enough. Getting to a referendum would stir that hysterical pot and distract from other important issues. And given the rocky road to get this far — with people now free to marry whom they want and that local pride ban undone — maybe that is enough for now.

Thus that momentary unholy alliance, pardon the expression.

In other headlines:

Tampa scores a downtown grocery at last

Mayor sports Publix-green tie as residents dance in streets

That's how I would have written it, anyway.

Downtown St. Petersburgians can afford to be blase about their grocery options, but this particular amenity — that's by the way on every third suburban street corner — was one high hurdle for downtown Tampa.

After years of painfully slow progress, this week brought news of a cool urban Publix in the happening Channel District in 2017. Given the chain's particular savvy about where its stores will thrive, it's a strong sign of Tampa on the edge of being an officially livable downtown.

And no, I wasn't making up the part about Bob Buckhorn, who for this announcement wore a celebratory tie in the proper pale Publix green.

Quote of the week:

"The University of South Florida, like the great Wizard of Oz, can do anything."

— Hillsborough Circuit Judge Greg Holder after the USF Board of Trustees on Thursday basically ignored his request for the school to admit Clay Allred, a former Green Beret who fired off a gun outside a Tampa gas station after he told the Muslim clerk, "I don't like you people." Diagnosed with PTSD and brain injury, Allred pleaded guilty in Veterans Treatment Court and now hopes to finish his last 17 credits at USF online. USF said it doesn't offer exclusively online courses. Holder made a case for admitting Allred at Thursday's meeting. The chairman thanked him, expressed an appreciation for veterans and then resumed the board agenda.

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

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