Thursday, January 18, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

County's Mike Merrill contradicts Mayor Buckhorn, says there's no 'curfew'

TAMPA — Is Tampa under a curfew starting at 6 p.m. Sunday or not?

Yes, Mayor Bob Buckhorn declared Sunday morning.

No, countered Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill at a 4 p.m. news briefing, not for Hillsborough County or any of its three cities — Tampa, Temple Terrace or Plant City.

Merrill said only the county administrator has the authority to set a curfew under a state of emergency.

"I understand the mayor's desire to keep his city safe. But, it creates conflicts," Merrill said.

Regardless of curfew status, county officials ask anyone in the region to get inside immediately for their own safety.

Asked to comment on Merrill's statement, Buckhorn said Sunday evening he is on firm legal ground in declaring the curfew for the city: "The curfew's going to remain in place in the city of Tampa."

Merrill has told reporters repeatedly Saturday and Sunday the county had no curfew plans unless conditions changed.

"I have not called for a mandatory curfew. We urge residents to get to a safe place, to shelter in place," Merrill said at the 4 p.m. news conference.

Any curfew would be his decision, he said, and he would seek an opinion beforehand from Sheriff Chad Chronister.

Asked if the announced Tampa curfew was no longer in place, Merrill said, "There never was."

Merrill said there was "too much at stake" to let the conflicting announcements become an issue for him.

"I'm not going to let it be a problem."

Said Buckhorn, "He said he doesn't think we have the authority; I said, we do."

"Our obligation is to protect the people who live in the city. Their obligation is to do whatever they need to do for the folks in the county. It really shouldn't be an issue. I don't know why there's drama there."

City Attorney Sal Territo said Tampa has a local ordinance based on state law authorizing the mayor to declare a state of emergency and, as part of that, impose a curfew if necessary. He knows of nothing in the county's charter that pre-empts the city from imposing the curfew.

"We've had riots here in past and curfews have been called," Territo said. The state law, he said, requires "that you state the reasons for the curfew. You have to basically lay out the facts why we're calling the curfew. We did all that."

Tampa has acted before Hillsborough on a variety of Irma-related initiatives this week, including ordering an evacuation of Zone A.

Talking to County Attorney Chip Fletcher, Territo said he learned that decision put the county in a bind. Territo called Merrill and apologized. He said the city should have coordinated that evacuation decision with the county and would do so on similar matters going forward. He said the call ended well.

The subject of the curfew did not come up in his call with Merrill, Territo said.

Buckhorn contacted Merrill later Sunday and as a result of their conversation, the mayor said, he had Police Chief Brian Dugan call Sheriff Chronister to make sure there's no confusion between the police department and Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

Dugan later told Buckhorn that Chronister didn't register any objections. The mayor also said the city was clear in saying that its curfew is just within its city limits.

"It shouldn't be a problem," Buckhorn said. "What's appropriate for the county may differ from what's appropriate for the city. We're more compact. We've got areas that are probably going to be significantly more impacted, and we want to make sure our folks are protected."

Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @LangstonTaylor.

Comments
Slow-moving winter storm leaves lingering effect in South

Slow-moving winter storm leaves lingering effect in South

DURHAM, N.C. — Several Southern states will be dealing with the lingering effects of a slow-moving winter storm that dumped a half-foot (15 centimeters) of snow on North Carolina’s largest cities, dusted the Deep South and killed at least 10 people. ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Forecast: Brutal cold arrives in Tampa Bay, but won’t stay long

Forecast: Brutal cold arrives in Tampa Bay, but won’t stay long

It’s freezing, literally. For now.The quick-moving cold blast, which has been anticipated for days, arrived with an especially frigid punch across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area The region is under a freeze wa...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

Shelters offer escape from the cold for those who need it

On warmer nights, Jerry Hardison can sleep for a few hours at the recycling center. He works 11-hour shifts there. He gets off at 2:30 a.m., then waits until the buses start running again.But not Wednesday."Getting out that time of the morning in the...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

Temperatures falling fast; freeze warnings issued for Tampa Bay

UPDATE: The National Weather Service has issued freeze warnings for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Manatee and Sarasota counties.A cold air mass is moving southward through the Florida peninsula dropping temperatures across the Tampa Bay ar...
Published: 01/17/18
Snow, ice and record cold grip the South; at least 8 dead

Snow, ice and record cold grip the South; at least 8 dead

ATLANTA — A layer of snow and ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a swath of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weath...
Published: 01/17/18
Pasco opens cold shelters, joining Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando

Pasco opens cold shelters, joining Pinellas, Hillsborough and Hernando

Temperatures are set to drop Wednesday and keep dropping, Tampa Bay. It’s time to take tonight’s lows seriously.That’s why cold shelters are opening in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze w...
Published: 01/17/18
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because it’s over now.It’s about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Published: 01/16/18
How to protect your Florida plants during a freeze

How to protect your Florida plants during a freeze

With forecasts predicting freezing temperatures for much of the Tampa Bay area, you may want to protect sensitive plants.The National Weather Service says a freeze watch is in effect from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning for Hillsborough, P...
Published: 01/16/18
Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

Forecast: More warm weather, but frigid conditions are returning to Tampa Bay

The sunny skies and warmer temperatures that took hold on Martin Luther King Day will extend into Tuesday across Tampa Bay.10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area They will last only a day, however, as the region will see a shor...
Published: 01/16/18
Crews struggle to clear California highway after mudslides

Crews struggle to clear California highway after mudslides

Associated PressLOS ANGELES — Crews working around the clock cleared boulders, trees and crushed cars from all lanes of U.S. 101, but California officials still weren’t sure Monday when the key coastal highway might reopen after being inundated durin...
Published: 01/15/18