Thursday, April 19, 2018
Politics

Carlton: The politics of feeding the homeless

This week brought two news stories about the city of Tampa and the empathy it shows its citizens.

Some of them, anyway.

You can't really begrudge retired New York Yankee star Derek Jeter for requesting help with the barrage of fans who regularly troop to his massive Davis Islands manse — taking videos, hoping for a glimpse of the World Series champ, even on occasion employing drones.

(I myself once reported a sighting of 20 empty boxes formerly containing size 11.5 Air Jordans at his curb for recycling, and no, I am not especially proud of this.)

This week, the city agreed to grant Jeter permission to install a gate taller than the rules allow with sheet metal backing to block a potential TMZ-style peek. And isn't this what we want city officials to do — to consider individual circumstances, to rule sensibly and even with compassion when it's warranted?

Speaking of which.

Just a short bridge away from tony Davis Islands, Tampa police charged members of a volunteer group called Food Not Bombs with the despicable crime of — you'll want to cover the little ones' ears for this — trespassing in a downtown park by serving food to a few dozen homeless people without a permit.

The fact that they had been doing this for years without a city permit in a park just outside the police station doesn't mean the crackdown had anything to do with all the fans downtown for the big college football championship festivities. And shame on your cynicism for even thinking so!

In the ensuing hue and cry, the Tampa City Council voted this week to look into the options that would allow such small-scale food distributions, something they manage to do in St. Petersburg.

Will empathy stretch beyond Davis Islands to other parts of town?

• • •

Those Food Not Bombs arrests now land on the desk of Andrew Warren, Hillsborough County's brand new, largely unknown and thus far untested state attorney.

When Warren ran against longtime head prosecutor Mark Ober in what turned out to be a stunning upset, his campaign resounded with themes of discretion and reform particularly for lesser offenses.

What could be lesser than the offense of setting up a couple of tables to feed hungry people?

The question is whether Warren sticks to the letter of the law or makes a statement right out of the box. Spokeswoman Rena Frazier declined to comment, saying they had not yet seen the case.

• ••

The state criminal court system is largely uncharted territory for Warren, who was a federal prosecutor working white collar crimes and fraud. Now he's in a grittier world of misdemeanors and murders, which must feel like suddenly becoming CEO of an unfamiliar company that you better learn about quick.

So here's an interesting rumor: Warren is said to be eyeing a familiar face in these parts — former Hillsborough prosecutor Nick Cox — for his chief assistant.

Cox, who has had many jury trials including homicides, has also been Department of Children and Families director for an 11-county region including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco. He's now the statewide prosecutor for Attorney General Pam Bondi — rumored to be leaving herself for a Trump post.

Warren, the new guy, could do worse than Cox — accomplished, affable and well-known around here.

Cox couldn't be reached for comment, and Warren's office said only that they are looking at "strong candidates."

Sue Carlton can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18
Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

Spokesman: Former first lady Barbara Bush in failing health

HOUSTON — Former first lady Barbara Bush is in "failing health" and won’t seek additional medical treatment, a Bush family spokesman said Sunday. "Following a recent series of hospitalizations, and after consulting her family and doctors...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

Trump assails Comey in tweetstorm, calls for ex-FBI director to be imprisoned

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump attacked James Comey in a fusillade of tweets Sunday morning, calling for the former FBI director to be imprisoned as Trump served up a number of his favorite theories and alleged misdeeds without evidence.Trump’s ...
Published: 04/15/18
President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Trump’s approval rating is back near first-100-day levels

President Donald Trump’s approval rating stands at 40 percent in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, slightly more than his 36 percent approval rating when last measured in January. It’s also the highest he’s enjoyed in Post-ABC polling since his fi...
Published: 04/15/18
Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

Gun rights advocates holding rallies at state capitols in US

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the U.S. on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun-control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to be...
Published: 04/15/18
Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

Trump, Abe to meet as U.S.-Japan relationship shows strains over N. Korea, trade

President Donald Trump will welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago this week in an effort to shore up their relationship amid strains in the U.S.-Japan alliance ahead of Trump’s potential summit with the leader of North Korea.Abe is...
Published: 04/14/18
Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

Haley warns that US forces ‘locked and loaded’ if Syria stages another chemical attack

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the Security Council on Saturday that the United States is "locked and loaded," ready to launch another military strike if the Syrian government ever uses chemical weapons again."I spoke to the president...
Published: 04/14/18
Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

Trump uses phrase that haunted Bush: ‘Mission Accomplished!’

WASHINGTON — As he declares the U.S.-led airstrikes against Syria a success, President Donald Trump is adopting a phrase that a previous president came to regret — "mission accomplished." On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "A perfectly executed strike last ...
Published: 04/14/18