Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sue Carlton: Could you have named the mayor better? And other news

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, is led by Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, to the ceremony at MacDill.

City of Tampa

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, is led by Col. Scott DeThomas, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander, to the ceremony at MacDill.

If you know anything about Tampa's not-exactly-shy Mayor Bob Buckhorn, it will not surprise you that he had dreams of being a fighter pilot.

In fact, after college, Buckhorn was picked for Navy flight school, only to be diagnosed with degeneration of his cornea. It was a misdiagnosis, as it turned out, but it sent him off to Tampa and politics instead of to the skies.

If you know Buckhorn, it also will not surprise you that he never lost his fascination with pilots. So on a recent visit to MacDill Air Force Base, he was tickled when a squadron at the 6th Air Mobility Wing held a ceremony to give him his own fighter pilot "call sign." Yes, just like in Top Gun.

A call sign is what they call you on the radio, and Buckhorn says they are never self-selected and "can be very insulting."

Sure, you have your Maverick, as in Tom Cruise, but how about Curly, if you're bald?

Sobs. Rat. Wrong Way.

At the ceremony, "they had a great deal of fun poking fun at me," he says, with a list of possible names posted on a board. (Irish was one of the nice ones.) Then they went out and voted, and the mayor is officially, it will not surprise you to know:


Ours is a mayor who likes to dress up — on occasion in pants so plaid they could stop traffic. So of course he has a flight suit, with the Swagger patch being made.

And when he went swaggering home in it?

He reports, "Even my 7-year-old rolled her eyes."

• • •

It's just a piece of paper with names on it. I mean, how much could a Hillsborough County Commission proclamation, a ceremonial recognition members hand out all the time, really mean?

When you're talking about a board with a reputation for not exactly welcoming everyone — a lot.

Most commissioners have traditionally not deigned to sign a proclamation heralding GaYBOR Days, the celebratory event put on by the GaYBOR District Coalition of more than 270 business folks, both gay and straight.

But this year, Republican Commissioner Mark Sharpe added his name. And, wonder of wonders, Commissioner Ken Hagan did, too, in the name of "job creation and economic development." And just as you were picking yourself up off the floor, they were joined by fellow Republicans Sandy Murman, Victor Crist and Al Higginbotham.

What a small and pleasant surprise. So maybe they aren't ready to let go of that ridiculous ban on recognizing gay pride just yet, but could a domestic partner registry for unmarried couples start making sense?

• • •

Finally, what fun, adding a white sand beach volleyball court to downtown Tampa's sprawling Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park through the summer. Let those northerners have their ice skating. (Oh, wait, our park has that too, in winter. We just skate in cargos and tank tops.)

Speaking of Mayor Swagger, when asked about the new park addition, he evoked the image of a sweaty, shirtless Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer playing volleyball:

"When folks drive past and see that beach volleyball," says the mayor, "I want them to think of me in that scene in Top Gun."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this column.

Sue Carlton: Could you have named the mayor better? And other news 05/24/13 [Last modified: Friday, May 24, 2013 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national anthem …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  2. Forecast: Tampa Bay's first fall weekend brings scattered showers


    It may officially be fall, but Tampa Bay won't have any cooler temperatures this weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  3. Romano: The choice does not have to be poverty or gentrification

    Local Government

    The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.

    The owner of Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food is refusing to give the city information on the restaurant's sales as required by his contract to occupy the city-owned Manhattan Casino. The information is needed to calculate whether the nonprofit Urban Development Solutions, headed by Larry Newsome, owes the city more than the $3,000 monthly base rent.
  4. Tests show North Korea earthquake not caused by nuclear test


    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's weather agency said a magnitude 3.2 earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday close to where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural.

    People watch a TV news program reporting North Korea's earthquake, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. South Korea's weather agency said an earthquake was detected in North Korea on Saturday around where the country recently conducted a nuclear test, but it assessed the quake as natural. The signs read " The weather agency said a magnitude 3.0 earthquake was detected in North Korea." [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]