Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tampa Council Chair Endorses Mayor Foster

It wasn't an official press-release-and-photo-opportunity kind of endorsement, but Tampa Council Chair Charlie Miranda endorsed St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster's re-election campaign in a more important way - he endorsed a check for his campaign.

According to Richard Danielson in the Tampa Bay Times, Miranda sent Foster a $100 donation and a thank-you note:
"I admire ... your dedication to ensuring that contractual obligations are adhered to," Miranda said. That would include Foster's stance that the Rays play at Tropicana Field until 2027, as required by the team's lease with the city.
Yet while Miranda said he believes Foster is the best candidate in St. Petersburg's Aug. 27 primary, his contribution is as much about politics in Tampa as in St. Petersburg. It sends a signal that he would oppose any deal that hinged on public support to bring the Rays to Tampa.

"I believe the taxpayers' money should be used for infrastructure and the needs of the citizens, which is where the tax money comes from," Miranda says. That includes, he says, the $100 million that Buckhorn's administration figures it could contribute to a project once the city's debt on the Tampa Convention Center is paid off in 2015.
Danielson reminds readers that Miranda wore all-black clothing to council meetings in 1996 to show his disapproval of public subsidies for Raymond James Stadium.  And he's not afraid to break the outfits back out again for a Rays subsidy push, if necessary.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was quoted as saying, "Charlie, God bless him. Has he got his black outfits ready?"  Buckhorn also said he had trouble seeing big-time tax dollars going to a Rays stadium in Tampa:
"In this environment and this economy, taking something like that to the voters and asking for a tax increase is out of the question," he said. Buckhorn does not see the money freed up by paying off the convention center debt as a tax increase. It is already being collected inside the city's downtown community redevelopment area, and that means it can be spent only on downtown improvements.
Buckhorn's bright political future may prevent him from ever diving head-first into the Rays stadium issue - it's very risky territory for a politician.  He's also expressed support for his St. Pete counterpart, Foster, in a joint interview conducted last year.

"Bill Foster has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens that he represents," Buckhorn said at the time. "I get everything that he's doing and everything that he said. I don't begrudge him one iota. He's doing exactly what he was elected to do: protect the interests of the city of St. Petersburg.

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