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The teamwork behind the hat-trick

The Tampa City Council paused Thursday to honor Jim Shimberg, who leaves the city attorney's office next week to become executive vice president and general counsel of the Tampa Bay Lightning's parent company.

Council members heaped praise on Shimberg for being accessible and candid, with Yvonne Yolie Capin saying, "the Lightning has scored a hat-trick in acquiring your talents."

Shimberg said it was really all the doing of his staff, but a comment from Council member Mary Mulhern suggested that he brought an unusual degree to diplomacy to the job, too.

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In Tampa's strong-mayor form of government, the charter gives the council the authority to confirm department directors and approve contracts and budget appropriations, but the council has virtually no say beyond that in how City Hall is run. With that built-in imbalance of power, it's not unheard of for an adversarial relationship to emerge between the administration and the council. But while Mulhern has disagreed with Mayor Bob Buckhorn's administration on some high-profile issues, such as buying surveillance cameras for the Republican National Convention (and keeping them afterwards), consider what she told Shimberg:

"Unlike other city attorneys at times, I've never felt that you were opposing council."