Thursday, October 18, 2018
Politics

Sue Carlton: Not quite kumbaya during RNC week, but oddly close to it

During this strange, strange week that the Republican National Convention occupies my town, I find myself walking around a city of contradiction.

Protesters and police, for instance. Cops versus anti-establishment types. Cats and dogs, right?

But this week protesters have regularly approached Tampa police Chief Jane Castor — presumably a symbol of Authority, the Oppressor, head of the very police state they rail against — and asked to take a photo with her.

And except for one person dressed as a very graphic lady part, the chief has obliged — a rock star even in a city providing a stage to an America divided.

Interesting moment in an interesting town.

Not that there isn't plenty of anger in the protest chants you hear out there, taunting officers with that tried-and-true though unimaginative "F--- the police." But my favorite, directed toward officers who had donned riot gear during one of the tenser moments, was this:

You're sexy

You're cute

Take off that riot suit!

Nobody is high-fiving in the end zone to celebrate a peaceful RNC just yet. But it's a start.

There is contradiction, too, in the promise of 50,000 visitors landing here when in reality, much of downtown Tampa could not be deader if there were tumbleweeds blowing through. Blame bad weather, traffic or the fact that the steady downtown lunch crowd fled for the week. Blame catered events and RNCers crowding restaurants and bars at their hotels rather than venturing out.

On Wednesday morning, waitresses gathered in the lobby of the usually bustling First Watch to peer out at the deserted street, the place mostly empty despite their sign showing patriotic red (jam), white (butter) and blueberry pancakes. The Tampa Bay Rays store was quiet, too, and what would make a better souvenir to take back to the home state than a Rays ball?

I see a security guard, hired to protect a tall residential building for the week, crossing the street with the last slices of a boxed pizza ordered at 4 a.m. to hand to two homeless guys. A second guard, Duval Hutchinson, tells me they've seen less anarchy, more just giving people directions. They got all geared up the night before because of the big party over at the nearby park, expected to last until 5 a.m. But by midnight, all was quiet.

"Not much action," he says.

Okay, so much for party central. But all of those visiting Republicans safely in bed without mayhem is probably a good thing.

One of my favorite moments roaming the city this week came during what was supposed to be Monday's big protest, decimated by weather. Reporters asked — okay, begged — Chief Castor to say something, anything, they could make into news.

As she faced a pack of microphones, a protest group all in pink sidled up behind her and unfurled their long pink banner for the cameras and began singing a protest song.

What's a police chief to do? Take the press conference elsewhere? Tell them to go away?

After a quick consultation, she turned and said pleasantly: Okay, but could you not sing?

And the protesters said: Okay.

Comments
Some of these Florida amendments arenít worth your time

Some of these Florida amendments arenít worth your time

For such a sacred document, we seem to give little thought to scribbling on, erasing and haphazardly expanding the Florida Constitution.Since a revised version was established in 1968, Florida voters have been asked to consider more than 175 differen...
Published: 10/18/18
Florida House District 67 candidates agree education is a priority, but disagree on what to do about it

Florida House District 67 candidates agree education is a priority, but disagree on what to do about it

Democrat Dawn Douglas says charter schools pull money from public education, while incumbent Republican Chris Latvala backed bill that sent construction money to charters.
Published: 10/18/18
In House 36, it's youthful incumbent vs. life-experienced activist

In House 36, it's youthful incumbent vs. life-experienced activist

Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, faces her first re-election test since her upset win two years ago.
Published: 10/18/18
Nevadaís famous pimp expected to win election despite death

Nevadaís famous pimp expected to win election despite death

LAS VEGAS ó Nevadaís most famous pimp tried to bring the stateís legal brothel industry into the mainstream by mingling with celebrities, showcasing his business on HBO and staging outlandish publicity stunts.Dennis Hofís fame made him an attention-g...
Published: 10/17/18
Daniel Ruth: For Hillsborough voters, transportation tax is leap of faith they can ponder while stuck in trafffic

Daniel Ruth: For Hillsborough voters, transportation tax is leap of faith they can ponder while stuck in trafffic

Perhaps one way to approach the ongoing community-wide debate over imposing a one-cent sales tax to pay for a variety of transportation needs is to think of all this dickering as a sort of family Thanksgiving dinner that has suddenly turned into a Th...
Published: 10/17/18
Approach to charter schools separates Toledo, Bellanti in state House 60 race

Approach to charter schools separates Toledo, Bellanti in state House 60 race

TAMPA — Republican state Rep. Jackie Toledo won her first term by 14 percentage points, a lopsided victory that shows how the district she represents favors a Republican.Two years later, Toledo has drawn a challenge from Democrat Debra Bellant...
Published: 10/17/18
John Romano: Liberals are dreaming when it comes to holding on to Floridaís Supreme Court

John Romano: Liberals are dreaming when it comes to holding on to Floridaís Supreme Court

This was a smackdown, no doubt about it.The state Supreme Court just rendered the judicial equivalent of a loud guffaw regarding Gov. Rick Scottís claim he is entitled to replace three retiring Supreme Court justices before he leaves office.And yet, ...
Published: 10/17/18
In race to represent Hernando residents in Tallahassee, it's prominent Republican incumbent versus optimistic Democratic newcomer

In race to represent Hernando residents in Tallahassee, it's prominent Republican incumbent versus optimistic Democratic newcomer

Much as it did two years ago, this year's race for the Florida House of Representatives' District 35 seat casts a titan of his party against an underdog political newcomer.Blaise Ingoglia, the Republican incumbent who also chairs Florida's GOP, has o...
Published: 10/17/18
Florida House District 66: Candidates differ on education, school security

Florida House District 66: Candidates differ on education, school security

Republican Nick DiCeglie and Democrat Alex Heeren have widely different viewpoints on key issues
Published: 10/17/18
It's a battle of numbers in Pasco County commission races

It's a battle of numbers in Pasco County commission races

Incumbents tout job growth. Challengers focus on poverty, low wages.
Published: 10/17/18