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What You Missed This Week in La Gaceta

From As We Heard It, by Patrick Manteiga

► This week, we feature a special edition that focuses on Ybor City and its development.
Ybor has taken some knocks lately. Pictures of unmasked crowds in the streets, people running in the wee hours of the morning from the sound of gunfire and reports of shootings have concerned locals and overshadowed the historic district’s success story.
We hope to put Ybor’s success front and center. This year, hundreds of residential units will come on line, new and exciting restaurants and bars have opened and are planned and office space is hot. … The news is focused on new hot areas, such as The Pier, Riverwalk and Waterside. Government has thrown millions and millions of dollars at these areas. … Ybor has stood the test of time. Will they?
There have been eight piers in Saint Petersburg, which proves shiny new things fade. The Shoppes at Harbour Island has came and went. Channelside shops keep getting a do over. Ybor is authentic and that gives it something that the other areas can’t build.
Ybor’s success comes with little public investment. While Tampa dumps millions year after year in Downtown projects, Ybor’s thrives without much love and nurturing. … Ybor City is one of the best places to live, work and play in a great city and dynamic region. Ybor City will only get better.
(to read more, buy a paper)

► Recent parking rate increases and plans to bring parking meters back to Tampa is social engineering masterminded by Tampa Mobility Director Vik Bhide.
Higher parking rates will cause people to stop driving and instead bike, walk or use public transportation, according to Bhide. Once people stop driving, then the cost of housing goes down because developers won’t have to provide expensive parking spaces for residents.
While we don’t disagree with the concept, Tampa’s social experiment is on too small a scale to be effective. … Parking must be expensive and difficult citywide and public transportation needs to be robust for people to leave their cars behind. Tampa needs to dream big or go home.
We are glad Tampa City Council is reconsidering the parking plan it approved late last year. It doesn’t make sense.
(to read more, buy a paper)

► While we hope to not see any Trump on a ballot in the next four years, we have to admit it brings a smile to think of Senator Marco Rubio sweating a potential challenge by Ivanka Trump. As talk of this matchup circulates, we can imagine Rubio’s mouth and throat becoming parched and his need to interrupt his speech to awkwardly reach for a bottled water and gulp it down.(to read more, buy a paper)

► We are not big on taking names off public buildings, but removing B.K. Roberts’ name from the Florida State University College of Law building is an easy call. Roberts served as a Florida Supreme Court Justice from 1949 to 1976.
His name was placed on the building in 1973, mostly for his key role in creating a law school at Florida State University in 1965. It wasn’t for his prowess as a judge or for stellar integrity. … In 1949, Virgil Hawkins was denied admission to the University of Florida Law School based on race. In 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hawkins was entitled admission to the University of Florida Law School. Even though a higher court overruled it, the Florida Supreme Court continued to deny Hawkins’ enrollment at UF. Justice B.K. Roberts ruled against Hawkins both times and wrote the prevailing opinion in 1957. Roberts failed to follow the law and failed to give Hawkins justice at a time when it was becoming evident that institutional segregation was not only wrong, but unconstitutional. House Bill 977 would repeal the law that put B.K. Roberts’ name on the building. …(to read more, buy a paper)

► A mom’s love is special. It’s unconditional, unselfish, patient and forgiving. I lost my mom last week and it is a pain like no other.
Everybody’s mom is special; mine was really special. She knew poverty, heartbreak, failure and loss. She also enjoyed affluence, joy, success and discovery. Her experiences gave her strength to stay optimistic and happy no matter what she faced.
Louise Cornelia Schmechel, 88, or Peggie, was born to the O’Callaghan clan in Georgia. Her mom, Velma, passed away when she was young. Growing up poor, in a crowded house with a stepmom with whom she couldn’t relate, Peggie wanted out. Looking older than her age, she lied about being 16 and started working by 11.
By 13, she was married. At 14, she was a mom. At the ripe age of 20, she was on her second husband and had four children.
Her second marriage ended badly and her ex-husband took the kids far away, leaving her to restart her life.
She said in an article written about her in 2004, “I had to leave my four children from a previous marriage and come to Tampa when they were still very young.” She added, “So I made a deal with God, if He would take care of my children, I would take care of every kid who needed me. So far, I have done that and God has kept His promise.”
Tampa became her home and she met my father, Roland Manteiga. Mom always described their dating and marriage as exciting and glamourous. They were always going to a party, dressing up and dancing. While the two didn’t have much money, Roland being a publisher allowed them to rub elbows with the rich and powerful. The lifestyle and her being Anglo-Irish and Roland being Cuban, made them to be an Ybor version of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.
Then I came along and kind of messed up the party. I believe my arrival gave mom a chance to do it right. She worked hard to nurture me to make sure I never did without. She was fiercely protective of me. I was her prince and she worked to make me worthy of taking over the kingdom.
She made sure I was the center of her life during her marriage to Roland, through the divorce, being single and even when she got married to Ben Schmechel.
With Roland and Ben, my mom helped with their kids and with nieces and nephews, but I had the unique blessing of being the only one of her “kids” to get her attention from birth to adulthood to my present age.
Her constant love and presence in my life was a blessing.
I was always proud of my dad. I could always look up to him. But all I am, I owe to my mother.
My mother was kind to all she met. She had deep faith in humankind and a great love of God. She was generous and always ready to help. I was so lucky that over the 30 years of working next to her, I was able to return a little of what she gave me and in the last few years, I could help her. The scales will always be unbalanced, as it would take me two lifetimes to come close to doing for her what she did for me.
My mom knew I loved and appreciated her, but I wish I spent more time telling her every day what I wrote here. If your mom is still around, hug her and tell her how much she means to you. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Chairman of the Bored, by Gene Siudut

► … On the other side of that coin, the odors they emit indicate a boycott of soap-based products and they tend to lean on the foul-mouthed side more than their younger counterparts.
Stinkiness and cursing I can handle. Hygiene is usually a private conversation and profanity is dealt with immediately. The larger problem I recently experienced is the ugly R word.
Republicans.
Just kidding. The word is racism. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From O’Pinions To Go, by Joe O’Neill

► The official determination of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial was “acquittal.” That may go down as one of the more unconscionable euphemisms ever. “Betrayal” is more accurate when democracy has been attacked and undermined without the ultimate consequence. With seven exceptions, spineless Senate Republicans made sure Trump wasn’t convicted for fomenting an insurrection that took five lives, injured and traumatized hundreds and irreparably damaged America’s global reputation. These Vichy Republicans claimed a post-presidency, constitutional rationale that most legal scholars have dismissed. They parsed wording and cited First Amendment license over “fight,” as if Trump did no more than engage in a rhetorical flourish on Jan. 6. And, yes, you cannot have a meaningful “trial” if the “jurors” are career-first, Trump enablers. … (to read more, buy a paper)

From In Context, by Doris Weatherford

► It’s over, and I am glad. Being a historian is comforting: most historians can predict what most of us will write in the future, and now we can ease up on fretting about the present. Let me say here and now, though, that I am very confident that Donald Trump — the only president to have been impeached twice by hundreds of members of the U.S. House — will rank at the bottom of every list of esteemed presidents.
I watched the Senate trial in real time on PBS, which took breaks only when Congress did. Unfortunately, we were allowed to see only the well of the Senate, not “jurors” such as Missouri’s Senator Josh Hawley — it wasn’t until later that we learned he paid no attention and even sat with his feet on his desk. Can you imagine any judge allowing that in a true trial? He’s appropriately named “Josh,” as everything is a joke to him, including democracy. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Silhouettes, an interview with Keith Kunzig, by Tiffany Razzano

► You wouldn’t know it by looking at him, but mild-mannered financial consultant Keith Kunzig is one of the most recognizable figures in the NFL.
By day, he owns and operates an Ameriprise Financial franchise in Seminole. But game day is a different story.
Hours before each home game, he makes the transformation into Big Nasty, the popular Tampa Bay Buccaneers superfan and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Ford Hall of Fans. The season ticketholder ditches the professional attire to don his signature horned helmet. His brightly colored face paint – two ‘Ws,’ one on either side of his face, that represent the word “win” – and his signature expression – mouth open, tongue sticking out, wild eyes – make it easy for him to stand out in a crowded stadium. … (to read more, buy a paper)

From Líneas de la memoria, por Gabriel Cartaya

► … Conocí a Peggie Schmechel en junio de 2014, cuando commencé a trabajar en La Gaceta ocupando la posición de editor en espanol. En un pequeño colectivo laboral, compuesto mayoritariamente por miembros de la familia Manteiga y donde todos hablan únicamente inglés, mi dificultad para comunicarme en ese idioma parecía ser el inconveniente principal que tendría que enfrentar. Excluyendo esta limitación, las relaciones de trabajo en este lugar han sido positivas.
En esas circunstancias, la presencia de Peggie me resultó grata y solidaria. Ya tenía más de 80 años cuando la conocí y, con diligencia, llegaba cada mañana a su trabajo, manejando su auto, y entraba saludando a todos con un cariño especial que se le notaba en la mirada. Ser la madre de Patrick –el dueño de esta empresa familiar que pronto llegará a un siglo– no le hacían considerarse con un privilegio especial en su jornada de trabajo; pienso que fue así cuando era la esposa del anterior propietario –Roland–, y, seguramente, en sus primeras relaciones con esta publicación, como nuera de Victoriano Manteiga, el legendario fundador.
Pero los largos años, el corto cabello blanco, las nobles arrugas de su rostro bondadoso, el andar pausado por los espacios del edificio que alberga a La Gaceta –apoyándose en un bastón– sí le daban con amplitud la primacía entre el pequeño grupo laboral. Se notaba en la deferencia con que todos le cedían el paso, en la manera de escucharle un mínimo comentario, en el modo de acercarse a su mesa de trabajo a recibir de sus manos un encargo, el cheque semanal o un caramelo, en abrirle la puerta al advertir su llegada, en la paz que su cercanía callada enriquecía. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Briznas culturales, por Leonardo Venta

► … Si hay un poeta con quien plenamente me identifico es Julián del Casal (1863-93). Se le reconoce como un esteta aderezado en una especie de maldición baudeleriana. Expuesto prematuramente a la condena fatal de la tuberculosis, vivió su corta existencia –30 años– en espera de la fina invisible inevitable estocada de la dama del nunca jamás. Su respiración literaria se movía al lánguido ritmo hesicástico del romanticismo, del gregario y pulcro parnasianismo, y del novedoso modernismo que iniciaran y cultivaran José Martí, Rubén Darío, José Asunción Silva y Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera.
Casal vivió inventándose en una exótica displicencia de agitada dolida serenidad, extravagante sagacidad, enfermizo subsistir, palpitar erótico, reverenciando los modelos estéticos de los poetas franceses decimonónicos, en alas del ensoñador magín parisino, que sólo pudo recrear en su habanera metafórica imaginación, a falta del tan suspirado viaje a la “ciudad de la luz”. …(to read more, buy a paper)

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