TAMPA — Starting today, the city of Tampa hosts three town hall meetings so residents can ask about the local impact of the Republican National Convention.
"We'll lay out what the challenges will be, what the inconveniences will be," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, "but we'll also remind them of how high the stakes are for us as a city and how proud they should be as a city being able to pull this off."
Buckhorn expects that some residents will be "perhaps unhappy," but he hopes that "the more we communicate and the more we get the news out there as to what's going on, the less we hear of that."
"I think not knowing is more problematic than once they know the facts," he said.
Each meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m.:
• Tonight in the Taylor Great Room of the Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive.
• Wednesday in the Smith Court Room of Stetson University College of Law, 1700 N Tampa St. A camera crew from C-SPAN is expected to cover this session, though not live.
• Thursday at the Kate Jackson Community Center, 821 S Rome Ave.
Times Forum makeover on schedule
The Tampa Bay Times Forum is starting to look different outside as well as inside.
Three-story banners with the RNC's logo have gone up on all four sides of the Times Forum, and a Wisconsin company, Karl's Event Services, is putting up a total of 60,000 square feet of tenting to shelter conventioneers from the rain and direct sun as they come and go.
"We're going to have an entirely different look over here at the forum after next week," Ryan Price, the convention's director of operations, said Monday.
Karl's, whose corporate office is in the congressional district of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, estimates it will have 10 to 35 employees from its Orlando branch working on the project. They will put in 80 to 240 man-hours a day throughout August and September. Karl's also is creating a 1,500-foot, air-conditioned walkway between the Times Forum and the media work space at the Tampa Convention Center.
Free and public: faith event, film screenings
A lot of the parties around the RNC are invitation-only or for big-money sponsors, but conservative groups are holding at least two types of events that will be free and open the public — as long as you register online in advance.
From 2 to 4:30 p.m. Aug. 26, a Faith & Freedom Celebration will bring a roster of big-name Republican speakers to the Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St.
As of Monday, confirmed speakers included Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, though organizers expect to add additional speakers in coming days.
To register, visit ffctamparally.eventbrite.com.
During the convention, Citizens United Productions will screen four free films at Liberty Plaza, an otherwise private party and social venue being created on the southeast corner of Whiting and Morgan streets, a few blocks north of the Times Forum.
The films, with descriptions from Citizens United, are:
• Occupy Unmasked at 4 p.m. Aug. 27, introduced by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.: "Reveals the sinister, organized, and highly orchestrated nature of its leaders and their No. 1 goal: Not just to change government, but to destroy it."
• Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous with Destiny at 1 p.m. Aug. 28, introduced by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista: "The remarkable story of the Reagan presidency and the three pillars that shaped his time in office: reviving the American economy, restoring America's spirit and challenging the oppression of the Soviet Union."
• Our Sacred Honor at 1 p.m. Aug. 29, introduced by former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.: "Brings the viewer into 18th century America and … through the pivotal moments that led to our nation's independence and explains how, out of many, we formed a more perfect union."
• The Gift of Life at 4 p.m. Aug. 29, introduced by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee: "Looks at the lives of individuals on the front lines of the pro-life movement in America, including those who were nearly victims of abortion."
To register, visit citizensunited.org/events.aspx.
Musical satire to benefit film festival
At 8 p.m. Aug. 24, a few days before the convention, the Tampa Theatre will host Electile Dysfunction: The Kinsey Sicks for President, a benefit for the Tampa International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
The show is a political musical satire sung by four men in drag. From the organizers: "Their willfully warped version of a presidential campaign touches on education, immigration, unemployment, scandal, sex, corruption, pandering and social networking — and all in glorious four-part harmony."
Songs include Sell the Poor, Eliminate the Schools and Vote for Me (I'm Not From Kenya).
Tickets are $28.50, $38.50 and $78.50 (plus a fee if purchased online) and are available at the Tampa Theatre box office, tampatheatre.org/kinsey-sicks and Ticketmaster.
Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected], (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.