While his former colleagues on the Hillsborough County Commission have struck out twice with plans to help the homeless, Brian Blair, now a candidate for the District 47 state House seat, offers this plan: Put them in a vacant hotel.
"It makes sense, across the board," the former professional wrestler said in a news release. "Hotels are already equipped for sheltering people. And it would, at the same time, help the homeless and create jobs."
Blair says the plan would entail selecting a vacant hotel, renovating it and moving in homeless people after background checks. "It's not that county residents don't feel that the homeless should have a place to stay, but the question is always, 'Where?' Hotels are generally away from neighborhoods and shopping centers."
So far, Blair's opponents in the 2010 Republican primary for the post are Irene Guy, Tom Aderhold and Richard Reidy.
According to the latest fundraising reports, Reidy has the most money in his campaign coffers. After two quarters, he reported bringing in $21,804. Guy, though, raised $21,026 in the first quarter after she announced her candidacy. Blair brought in $8,710.
• • •
Lawyer Julie Brown says she's going to run for Tampa's citywide District 1 City Council seat in 2011. That's the post Gwen Miller holds now.
In 2007, Brown ran a tough, but losing, race against John Dingfelder for South Tampa's District 4 seat. The contest turned into a fundraising battle that was so exhausting for Dingfelder that he tried to get the City Council to pass restrictive campaign finance laws after his victory. Brown also got some heat when auto dealership owner Jason Kuhn collected contributions for her campaign from employees and then reimbursed them. Kuhn said he didn't know his actions were illegal, and immediately rectified the situation.
Brown said she'll have more financial controls in place this time around. "Some of the people that really wanted me to win were overzealous and did things I wouldn't have done."
Brown is a former assistant city attorney who is serving her second term on Tampa's Architectural Review Commission.
• • •
About 350 people turned out Friday night for the Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus' "Living the Dream" gala where U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek was the keynote speaker. Meek, a U.S. Senate candidate, addressed the crowd via Skype from D.C.
He chose not to travel to Tampa for the event because he wanted to be in Washington on Saturday to vote on the health care reform bill. "This is a very historic vote," he said, and gave credit to activists in Hillsborough County — and U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor — for pushing for the health care legislation.
Also at the dinner: state Attorney General candidates Dan Gelber and Dave Aronberg, who have been spending a huge amount of time in the Tampa Bay area. "It's politics 101 that campaigns are won and lost on the I-4 corridor," Aronberg said. "I've spent so much time in the Tampa Bay area I'm starting to get mail here."
Janet Zink, Times staff writer