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  1. Florida Politics

Carlton: Change Tampa's charter! Or not.

Dick Greco, shown in 2011, was elected Tampa's mayor four times, with a long hiatus in the private sector in between. Voters declined to elect him on his fifth try.
Dick Greco, shown in 2011, was elected Tampa's mayor four times, with a long hiatus in the private sector in between. Voters declined to elect him on his fifth try.
Published Apr. 4, 2018

For the first time in more than 40 years, a Tampa Charter Review Commission of appointed locals — citizens, lawyers, business types — is looking at whether the city's charter needs tweaking.

Wait, don't nod off yet. It's not as boring as it sounds.

The charter is the city of Tampa's constitution, the word on everything from the duties of the mayor to how City Council districts get divvied up. With input from the public — you — the committee decides whether to recommend changes to how the city works.

God love 'em, the board is dealing with painstakingly no-brainer stuff like getting rid of gender-biased language and deleting references to departments that no longer exist. But there are some interesting topics in play.

Like term limits. Like holding the mayor to two terms for life instead of the current rules allowing him or her (no gender bias here) to serve two terms, sit out four years and run again. No doubt this will get some general throw-the-bums-out enthusiasm. There is also nuance and history to consider.

Dick Greco had the job of being Tampa's mayor four times, with a long hiatus in the private sector in between. Voters declined to elect him on his fifth try. Does that mean the system worked? You decide.

And what if a popular former mayor like Pam Iorio wanted to run again? (Just a for-instance there — Iorio has no such plans.)

On a related note, the committee has also talked about the current practice of City Council members getting essentially unlimited terms by bouncing between their own district seats and citywide ones. It has been suggested that limiting them to a maximum of 16 years — or four four-year terms — might attract more younger folk to politics.

More history to consider: The independent and outspoken Charlie Miranda has been on the City Council more than 20 years all told, his most recent election in 2015. He currently shares the dais with millennial council member Guido Maniscalco.

Another interesting topic was discussed in the good groundswell of public participation at last week's meeting. Nearly two dozen people showed up after work, some with their kids, and stood to be heard. Given the grimly of-the-moment subject of police shootings, some asked for specific training for Tampa police officers in what's called cultural competency and implicit bias instruction, which aims to make people aware of biases they may carry and help them understand cultures that are not their own. In the end, the board agreed to recommend this for all city employees.

Maybe more interesting than you thought.

But there is a chance, even after months of committee work, that all this effort might come to .?.?.

Nothing.

The City Council can decline any or all the commission's recommendations, or can push them forward for us voters to decide on the ballot. If Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn — who has struck an if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it tone regarding the charter — decides to veto any of it, it would take five City Council votes to override him.

The Tampa Charter Review Commission meets again from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 11 and April 25 in City Council chambers at 315 E Kennedy Blvd.

If you're interested.

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