House candidate Frank's zoning win ruffles feathers
State party leaders see Democrat Stacy Frank as one of their best hopes of wresting the District 57 state House seat away from Republicans. Faye Culp is term-limited out of the seat.
But Thursday, Frank faced dozens of angry people from her own South Tampa neighborhood in the City Council chambers. They turned out to fight Frank's application for a permit to install a 150-foot cell phone tower in South Tampa. Two neighborhood associations voted unanimously to oppose the project. But Frank's company, F&L Towers, emerged victorious by a 4-3 vote.
Frank already has a history of irritating parents who object to her company's work putting cell towers on school property.
"She's seeking to represent the people from these homeowners associations," said Lisa Williams, a South Tampa Democrat and one of the most ardent anti-cell-tower activists. "These are her voters."
Williams says Frank's continued work for cell towers despite opposition of people who would live near them shows she doesn't care about her constituents.
"She's not doing this for the people of the community," Williams said. "She's doing this for her pocketbook and her business."
Tampa City Council will honor Louis Miller
Even as reports emerged about problems with Louis Miller's leadership at Tampa International Airport, the Tampa City Council voted Thursday to give him a commendation in April.
Miller resigned abruptly on Wednesday after 14 years on the job in the wake of increased scrutiny by the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.
Council Chairman Tom Scott, who previously served on the authority, made the motion for the honor. "I found him to be nothing more than a professional and a gentleman," Scott said. "We're really losing a great leader." Said council member Charlie Miranda: "I'm sorry to see an individual of that trustworthiness, something that is lacking in today's society to some degree, make the decision to leave." Council member Linda Saul-Sena offered this praise: "Mr. Miller made public art a priority and we're proud of that."
Miller's wife, Cyndy Miller, is Tampa's director of growth management and development. She sent an e-mail Thursday to city employees saying she had no plans to leave her job and expected to continue her work through the end of the year and into 2011.
Burgin has another District 56 challenger
Republican Rachel Burgin, who's seeking re-election to the District 56 state House seat, has another challenger. Democrat David Chalela, a Tampa lawyer who specializes in foreclosure defense, has filed to run for the post. Chalela, a 38-year-old Air Force veteran who moved to Tampa from Pasco County in 2006 when he opened his law office, said his top priorities are the unemployment and foreclosure crises and alternative energy. The three, he says, are tied together: Unemployment leads to foreclosure, and investing in alternative energies like solar and tidal power will help create jobs to curb foreclosures.
Chalela will face Lewis Laricchia in the Democratic primary.
Burgin so far has one Republican challenger, dentist Marc Johnson. But former state Rep. Sandy Murman, also a Republican, is weighing her options. She ran a poll to test her chances against Burgin.
"It was very favorable towards me," Murman said, but she added she's not sure she wants to buck the party and run against a Republican incumbent. She also said she has reservations about representing a gerrymandered district that she could be drawn out of if a constitutional amendment on redistricting passes.
Does that mean Murman, who in recent years has been busy with development of the Children's Museum set to open this year in downtown Tampa, will jump into the District 1 Hillsborough County Commission race? That's the seat Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder, a Democrat, is seeking. Murman said she'll make a decision this week.
Janet Zink, Times staff writer