Thursday, January 18, 2018
Politics

County commission will consider developer's offer

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners unanimously agreed Thursday to entertain an offer to buy a private builder's former headquarters for its emergency operations center.

But the vote was simply to explore the possibility. And it came with a requirement that the county invite others with vacant property or other ideas for creating an emergency center to submit information for commissioners to consider.

"I feel we should review this opportunity and any others," said Ken Hagan, the commission chairman.

Commissioners tentatively voted in August to set aside $31.4 million to build an emergency operations center as its command post for natural disasters and other mayhem on up to 30 acres of land the county owns near Falkenburg Road. The new complex would be more than triple the size of the current center on East Hanna Avenue and in an area near other county government offices.

But prominent builder Bing Kearney has come forward with an offer to sell his construction company's less than 5-year-old former headquarters in Riverview for that purpose. Kearney Construction Co. has vacated the complex — three buildings with more than 100,000 square feet of offices and warehousing — as his business has slowed with the economy.

Lenders have served foreclosure notice on the property.

Hagan says the buildings may be had at a more than $10 million savings compared to what commissioners have set aside.

But the property is in a flood zone that could be imperiled in even a low-grade hurricane. While an engineer hired by Kearney has said the buildings are elevated to avoid flooding, that doesn't answer concerns about access to and from it if a hurricane hits.

"It's not without issues," Hagan conceded.

Other commissioners noted they have received overtures from other companies with either empty buildings or ideas for how to build an operations center with private assistance.

"I know there are several other groups that would step forward," said Commissioner Al Higginbotham.

Deputy County Administrator Lucia Garsys said the county is evaluating firms bidding to begin design of an operations center off of Falkenburg Road. That process will move forward despite the vote Thursday, with commissioners expected to select a company for that purpose in coming weeks while still entertaining other, outside options.

Bill Varian can be reached at (813) 226-3387 or [email protected]

Comments
Christie leaves as unpopular N.J. governor, but with no broken legs

Christie leaves as unpopular N.J. governor, but with no broken legs

TRENTON, N.J. — Republican Chris Christie left the New Jersey governor’s office with his popularity in tatters, but at least he didn’t break a leg. Christie is the first elected New Jersey governor in more than two decades not to suffer a broken leg ...
Published: 01/17/18
Ernest Hooper: Restoring rights after prison is about redemption, not politics

Ernest Hooper: Restoring rights after prison is about redemption, not politics

Desmond Meade says everywhere he goes in Florida, he hears the stories.From whites and blacks, conservatives and liberals, blue collar laborers and white collar wage earners. People from all walks have walked up to him with a common request.They’re c...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
23 seek vacant PSC post

23 seek vacant PSC post

There is another Mariano seeking a job in Tallahassee.Pasco County Commissioner Jack Mariano, the father of state Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, is seeking an appointment to the Florida Public Service Commission, the powerful board regulating Florida ...
Published: 01/16/18
Trump administration to take DACA repeal directly to the Supreme Court

Trump administration to take DACA repeal directly to the Supreme Court

SAN FRANCISCO — The Trump administration on Tuesday appealed a judge’s ruling temporarily blocking its decision to end protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants and announced plans to seek a U.S. Supreme Court review even before an ap...
Published: 01/16/18
North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea calls Trump a ‘lunatic’ and a ‘loser’ in response to nuclear button tweet

North Korea’s official news agency responded Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s controversial "nuclear button tweet," describing it as the "the spasm of a lunatic," according to AP."The spasm of Trump in the new year reflects the desperate mental st...
Published: 01/16/18
‘What do we want? Apology!’ Hundreds of Haiti supporters protest near Mar-a-Lago

‘What do we want? Apology!’ Hundreds of Haiti supporters protest near Mar-a-Lago

Sun Sentinel (TNS)PALM BEACH — About 500 Haitian-Americans and their supporters used the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to protest derogatory comments President Donald Trump reportedly made about immigrants from majority-black countries."What do we w...
Published: 01/15/18

U.S. forced to renew DACA permits as furor over Trump’s immigration slur persists

Los Angeles Times (TNS)WASHINGTON — The Trump administration, under court order, said it would resume taking applications to renew temporary protections from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegall...
Published: 01/14/18
GOP senator: Reports of Trump’s ‘s---hole’ comments a ‘gross misrepresentation’

GOP senator: Reports of Trump’s ‘s---hole’ comments a ‘gross misrepresentation’

A Republican senator is insisting that President Donald Trump did not use a vulgar term in referring to African countries during a closed-door meeting on immigration that he and five other senators attended last week.Georgia Sen. David Perdue called ...
Published: 01/14/18
The Trump-O-Meter: PolitiFact rates Donald Trump's first year

The Trump-O-Meter: PolitiFact rates Donald Trump's first year

By Angie Drobnic Holan PolitiFact Editor Much of Donald Trump’s presidency has been defined by provocative tweets and gloves-off fights. But Trump has used the power of the presidency to move the country toward the overarching vision he ran o...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Ethics panel advised to deny legal fees in unfounded Ken Hagan complaint

Ethics panel advised to deny legal fees in unfounded Ken Hagan complaint

A Florida Ethics Commission staff attorney has drafted an order denying Hillsborough County’s request for reimbursement for attorney fees from one of four citizens who filed unsustained ethics complaints against Commissioner Ken Hagan.The commission ...
Published: 01/12/18