Capin on Buckhorn and Ulele: ‘If it was his bust, he’d light it up.’

This caption goes with the preferred photo of Tampa City Council Chair Yvonne Yolie Capin.
This caption goes with the preferred photo of Tampa City Council Chair Yvonne Yolie Capin.
Published Sept. 20, 2018

Tampa City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin blasted Mayor Bob Buckhorn for his administration's decision to remove a bronze bust of Ulele, a mythical Indian princess, from the city's Riverwalk this week.

Capin, who has clashed with the mayor over the years, said Ulele was a "tribute to Native Americans that we ignore and we have this in our history and embracing this Ulele."

But the term-limited council member spent most of her remarks, which came at the end of Thursday's council meeting, alternately bashing Buckhorn and praising the statue's owner, Richard Gonzmart.

Gonzmart is a fourth-generation Tampa resident, Capin said, just like her, who has given great restaurants and charitable works to the city.

"There should be a street named after this man," she said.

City officials have said Gonzmart placed the 1,800-pound bust on city property without permission. The rules apply to all, said spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.

Gonzmart installed the art piece in December. Before dawn on Tuesday, the piece was hauled away to a warehouse.

"This is how you thank him? This is an embarrassment," Capin said.

Chairman Frank Reddick then referred to the "little man next door" (The mayor's office is across the street from City Hall).

Capin laughed, repeated the "little man" phrase, then said: "You know, if it was his bust, he'd light it up."

"Let me tell you, this is an example of who that man is next door," Capin said.

Capin and Reddick are strong supporters of David Straz's campaign to replace the term-limited Buckhorn as Tampa's mayor in March. In recent weeks, they have become more pointed in their criticism of the mayor, who hasn't publicly supported anyone, but has commented favorably about the current front runner, former police chief Jane Castor.

Buckhorn was traveling Thursday. Bauman issued the following statement:

"The mayor is in New York talking to companies and the international media outlets about what an amazing place Tampa is to do business. That is his priority for the next 9 months, not responding to ridiculous comments made by others," Bauman wrote in a text to the Tampa Bay Times.