Tampa dispels skeptics, earns fans | April 28
Tampa community shined at IIFA
When the hosts of the 15th Annual International Indian Film Academy Awards, dressed as Gasparilla pirates, asked me for the key to the city of Tampa, I eventually relented — but only if they agreed to entertain us.
They did just that: from the Stomp at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, which was enjoyed by more than 8,000 people, to the main event at Raymond James Stadium, which was held in front of 25,000 people. When the awards show airs in June, it will be watched by 800 million people in more than 100 countries.
None of this would have been possible without Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and Dr. Kiran Patel, who, together, had the vision that Tampa would make a great host city for IIFA. They understood that this was not just an opportunity show off our city to the world, but that it was an opportunity for us to experience Indian culture. Arts and entertainment, like Bollywood movies, can bridge any cultural gap.
In 10 short months of planning, Santiago Corrada and the team at Visit Tampa Bay; professionals from Wizcraft, who organized the weekend of events; and hundreds of event volunteers came together to put on a great show.
What makes Tampa unique — and the ideal location — is our community. Time after time, visitors complimented how beautiful our city is, and I kept hearing how warm and friendly Tampa was. For many, they traveled from South Asia to be a part of the IIFA experience but, by the end of the weekend, Tampa felt like home.
IIFA entertained us. It introduced many in our community to Indian culture. And, once again, Tampa and our community shined.
Bob Buckhorn, Tampa mayor
Tampa dispels skeptics, earns fans | April 28
So many things went wrong
The recently concluded IIFA Awards should have been titled the IFFY Awards. I have never experienced such bad organization. I accept that a lot of effort went into this event and the entertainment was outstanding, but I think it is important for Tampa and the IIFA Awards to improve their efforts on so many things that went wrong.
Firstly, it was impossible to get the lower-range tickets through Ticketmaster and we had to purchase $75 seats for $150 through ticket scalpers selling at Indian stores. Yet on the day itself, we saw so many empty seats. Some kind of racket was going on.
Next, Raymond James Stadium was not the best location for an event like this. There were no clear signs directing us to the proper gate and we had to drive around and walk in large circles.
Worse was the fact that we chose to go early, about 6 p.m. for an event advertised for 6:30. But we were left locked out in the sweltering sun with no place to sit and we were only let in at 7:30, while the event itself did not start till 10 p.m.!
The security and gate processes were very disorganized. The event itself had interesting performances but the most time was devoted to long dialogues by two comedians in Hindi. We had to leave the show at midnight and it was only halfway through.
I would therefore urge a thorough post-mortem by Tampa and the IIFA Awards to improve matters, as it did not reflect well on all the organizers.
Silva Kandiah, Orlando
Craft beer bill is losing fizz | April 30
Drink up while you can
Our state Senate is a mess, and any Floridian with a working brain must know that, but to focus on breweries is absurd when Florida has so many real problems that need attention (e.g., Medicaid). The only thing that makes sense is that some big beer companies are putting money into a few Senate wallets so that individual brewery money will flow back to them, while breweries that are making our area so proud may have to shut down. That does not seem right.
Fill your steins and drink to freedom while we still have it. Then be sure to vote to make sure those who try to take it away are taken off the Senate payroll and have to get real jobs in the world most of us live in.
Adele Ida Walter, Tampa
Future as apartheid state
The potential of Israel becoming an apartheid state may not replicate the situation that once existed in South Africa. However, with Israel continuing to be an oppressive, militaristic occupier of Palestinian territory, subjugating the Palestinian people with all kinds of restrictive policies like increased settlement expansion in the West Bank and a monstrous separation wall, Israel's future as an apartheid state is more real than ever. The Benjamin Netanyahu administration continues to violate international law and wink at previous agreements it has signed.
In the periodical Foundation for Middle East Peace, Desmond Tutu, archbishop emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, wrote: "I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government."
John Hayner, Clearwater
Sembler backs anti-pot PAC | May 1
Poor use of his wealth
Once again Mel Sembler is putting his money behind an antidrug campaign. Considering the substantial fallout from Straight Inc., his ill-fated adolescent treatment program, one would think that at age 83, he wouldn't get involved in yet another controversial drug issue that could impact fragile young lives.
His funding of a PAC to fight the amendment that would allow marijuana use for debilitating conditions is a poor use of his wealth and his name. Preventing the chronically ill, many of them children, from receiving a drug that could enable them to live more normal lives is a misguided campaign at odds with a couple known for their compassion.
Christine Vaughn, Harbor Bluffs