So who turned out for Congressman Sam Gibbons' town meeting this past Saturday at Hillsborough Community College? You had four announced candidates for local offices, a cadre of property rights haranguers, a spy for Gibbons' Republican opponent Mark Sharpe, a woman named Alice who wanted to say thanks for Sam's help with a personal problem, and a few unidentified doughnut eaters.
Gibbons' staff couldn't explain the low turnout _ "Usually we get 50 or 60 people for these," said staffer Nancy Barrs. "Maybe it was the Gasparilla race."
Gibbons, in the midst of his own political marathon, talked about health care reform for the first hour, then batted back a series of high hard ones from the property rights group. Gibbons managed to avoid a verbal fight over what he called "a very local issue."
After the morning meeting broke up, County Commission candidates Gerald White, John Thibodeau and Michael Eurich worked the room, which didn't take long. City Council candidate Carl Warren, who is a weekend administrator at the Ybor campus, was left to figure out what to do with two big boxes of uneaten doughnuts.
Who was that masked man?:
Things were busier at the champagne station and around the bowls of jumbo shrimp and crab claws Friday night as 450 of Tampa's finest turned out at the Performing Arts Center for the preview performance of The Phantom of the Opera. Spotted in the black tie and black dress mob was Mayor Sandy Freedman, Bucs coach Sam Wyche, USF president Betty Castor, and New York fashion designer and artist Michaele Vollbracht, who was seeing the show for the second time. His first Phantom experience was opening night on Broadway. Vollbracht, who lives part of the year in Safety Harbor, thought the touring production was as good as Broadway's. And in Tampa he didn't have to put up with a very drunk Ted Kennedy in the next seat.
Rumors, hunches, half-truths, etc:
A 24-theater movie complex for downtown Tampa could be a bit closer. Negotiations are apparently under way with AMC Theaters ... Who will win the battle of the big guys scheduled for the County Commission today? Both General Electric and Motorola are vying for a $18-million contract for a new radio system for the Sheriff's Office. How big is it? Big enough that both groups have hired local political consultants for the bid. The Ericsson GE bid has Mary Repper's office in its corner. Todd Pressman is repping Motorola. The GE bid has the edge thanks to a recommendation by the county technical advisory committee ... School Board member Sam Rampello, much rumored as a candidate for Jan Platt's County Commission seat, says he is not running.
Too old to rock n' roll?:
The Rockers, stars of Tampa's early 1960s rock scene, will reunite for a benefit dance Oct. 8 at the Tampa Convention Center. All the members of the original band _ including heart specialist Dennis Pupello, musician Chuck Boris and Times photographer Tony Lopez _ will be on stage that night along with some special guests. Proceeds will go to charity.
She's been traveling with Salman Rushdie:
Pam Iorio emerged from the witness protection program for politicians Monday with a speech to the League of Women Voters at Valencia Gardens. Iorio _ once a high-profile county commissioner _ was last seen winning the Supervisor of Elections job. She says she has been busy modernizing the office and doing voter outreach. Key fact from Iorio's speech _ "54 percent of the registered voters in Hillsborough County are women ... and the rest are men."