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Mayor Bill Foster aims to cut taxes, boost Tampa Bay Rays attendance

St. Petersburg hasn't raised its tax rate since 2007 amid falling property values, but Mayor Bill Foster isn't ruling out a tax rate increase for the 2013 budget.

The city is expecting another double-digit drop in property values, though, and Foster said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 that "I'd still like to see a reduction in actual taxes paid."

In the interview airing at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., Foster said he planned to actively work with the Rays in the postseason to boost attendance, and he was unaware of any development group working on an alternative stadium site in St. Petersburg.

"My interest is representing the 250,000 people that are continuing to foot the bill on the stadium," Foster said. "Their interest will be represented by the city. My angst is keeping them in St. Petersburg."

Limbaugh: GOP should tout Rubio

Rush Limbaugh posed an interesting question on his radio show last week: Why are so many establishment Republicans practically begging New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get in the race but not Marco Rubio?

"Rubio would win in a walkover," Limbaugh said. "He's conservative. He's articulate. He's great-looking. He's Hispanic and sounds very smart. How can he possibly lose? If this were the Democrat Party, the party father would probably tell Obama to step aside and let Rubio run, if Rubio were a Democrat. There are more Hispanic voters now than there are blacks, and Rubio's got more experience than Obama had when he decided to run. … They're not pushing Rubio because while they praise him, they don't think he has had enough experience yet. And Rubio is — sorry to say this, folks — another example of the RINOs being wrong."

Buckhorn 'brutally' serious on protests

At the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club last week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was asked how Tampa will handle protesters at the 2012 Republican convention: "Those that want to protest legally, do so with law-abiding fashion, are welcome to do so. What I will not tolerate is somebody who chooses to break the law. We will have zero tolerance for that. We will be brutally efficient in exercising our responsibilities to make sure that those visitors and that conventioners and everybody else is safe, including the safety of my officers."

Note to Bob: "Brutally" is not an ideal word in this context.

Survey says Florida key to GOP nominee

National Journal last week asked more than 200 Republican and Democratic politicos which state will be most important in picking the Republican presidential nominee — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina or Florida.

The winner? Florida.

"Any campaign can drum up enough resources to play somewhat in smaller states, but it takes a real budget to play in Florida and nationally," said one Republican. "This is where Romney, Perry, and Huntsman will or will not demonstrate their national ability — and all the others will be forced to watch from the sidelines because they don't have the money to play."

Polls show mixed Republican leaders

A couple Florida presidential polls came out last week with different results.

A Sept. 24-27 Survey USA found Mitt Romney leading among Republicans with 27 percent support, just ahead of Herman Cain with 25 percent support and Rick Perry in third place with 13 percent.

A Sept. 22-25 poll by Public Policy Polling (some people polled before the last GOP debate in Orlando) found Romney leading with 30 percent, followed by Perry with 24 percent and Newt Gingrich with 10 percent.

'Taj Mahal' judge facing January trial

Judge Paul Hawkes will face trial before the Judicial Qualifications Commission on Jan. 30 if he can't reach a deal with members of the panel that polices the conduct of the state's judges. Hawkes is charged with conduct unbecoming a judge in connection with his pursuit of a fancy new courthouse for the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Times staff writers David DeCamp and Lucy Morgan contributed to this report.

Winner of the week

Police Benevolent Association. The union for Florida correctional officers won a giant victory Friday when a circuit judge ruled that legislators broke the law by slipping language into the budget to privatize prisons in 18 counties. It was a strong message to lawmakers who try to win major policy shifts without even filing a bill.

Loser of the week

Reince Priebus. The RNC chairman's hope for a nice orderly nominating schedule fell apart when Florida ignored his warning and set a Jan. 31 primary against party rules. Priebus, who used to be the RNC's general counsel, would have been wise to put in place much stiffer penalties for primary scofflaws like Florida.

Mayor Bill Foster aims to cut taxes, boost Tampa Bay Rays attendance 10/01/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 1, 2011 9:54pm]
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