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Hotel foe buys his own survey

Lots of people with complaints about City Hall circulate petitions, start letter-writing campaigns or get their neighbors to pack City Council meetings in protest.

Not many people, however, go as far as Harry E. Teasley Jr. has gone to oppose Tampa's proposed convention hotel.

Though he started by writing letters against the project, now Teasley has written a check for his own public opinion poll on the $145-million project. Teasley said a research firm he hired has used an eight-page survey covering "a whole range" of issues to interview more than 400 Tampa voters on the hotel project.

The results should represent voter opinion with a margin of error of plus-or-minus 5 percentage points. Teasley said Thursday he won't identify the firm, discuss the results or say what he paid until a news conference next week.

Still, there's no doubt where he stands on the issue of the 905-room hotel, which won't get built without substantial city backing.

Teasley, the president and CEO of Coca-Cola Nestle Refreshments, a Tampa-based joint venture, has said his job and business have nothing to do with the hotel. He's simply a private citizen with some big concerns.

"I think this is an outrageous and egregious intervention into the free market economy ... by the government," he said. "There are more fundamental things that government should involve itself with. ... The market says this is not needed."