Thursday, May 24, 2018
Politics

Sue Carlton: Idea of Hispanic commission district raises interesting questions

Sounding suspiciously inclusive, Hillsborough County commissioners are talking about making it easier for a Hispanic person to have a seat on their board.

That's right. The very same commission that could not muster the goodwill to pass a domestic partner registry, the one that thought an applicant opposed to Muslims and gays would be great for a diversity board, agreed to explore giving a Hispanic representative a better shot.

How would it work? One of the commission seats currently picked by voters countywide would instead go to voters in a newly created district that includes neighborhoods where many Hispanic residents have traditionally lived, such as West Tampa and Town 'N Country.

Interestingly, in the past when this came up, Republicans on the GOP-dominated board helped kill it, presumably not willing to weaken the stranglehold they enjoy.

And now questions about political implications and potential motivations are stacking up.

Could Republican commissioners use this to gain badly needed favor with Hispanic voters? Would it help Democrats add to their two seats on the seven-member board? Or would concentrating Democratic voters with some artful gerrymandering actually help preserve that Republican lock?

Putting questions about any motive beyond true inclusiveness aside, the good in this idea is pretty easy to see.

One of the best things about Tampa and the county around it is who built it. In Miami where I come from, relationships between ethnic groups can be fractious. So it was interesting to settle in a place where Cuban, Spanish and Italian roots (among others) have long been part of the fabric.

And why shouldn't Hispanics have a better shot at a voice on the commission with a seat similar to the one designed to help make sure there's a black representative?

You also hear the argument that commissioners representing smaller numbers of constituents can be a good thing.

Here is what's not to like. Now, Hillsborough voters have a say in four commission seats. They get to vote for the person to represent their district, and they get to vote in three countywide races.

This means voters have a hand in the majority of commission races. Take one away to make it a specific district, and voters no longer do.

And there is something to be said for the current mix of commissioners representing specific constituents, and commissioners elected to care about the whole county. (Yes, you would hope they all would.)

I called Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda, a longtime Hispanic leader in these parts, for his take. A board of varied backgrounds, he says, "makes for good government."

Miranda himself turns out to be term-limited in 2015. So I asked: If this new district thing happens — and that's a big if — might he run? (What fun: outspoken, no-nonsense Miranda, a Democrat by the way, in that political mix.) "No," he says at first, and then, "Possibly."

So commissioners are taking up a process that could end up on the ballot for voters to decide in 2014, if the board doesn't nip it in the bud. That's time enough for answers about politics, motives, and maybe even what's best for Hillsborough County.

Comments
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Updated: 9 hours ago
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18
Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

Gina Haspel, Trump’s pick to lead CIA, wins support of Senate Intelligence Committee

WASHINGTON - The Senate Intelligence Committee moved Wednesday to recommend Gina Haspel for CIA director, setting up a floor vote that her opponents say will signal to the world whether the United States condemns or condones torture.The committee vot...
Published: 05/16/18