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La Gaceta Endorses
Tampa Mayor
David Straz
Tampa City Council
District 1
Joseph Citro &
Alan Clendenin

District 2
Charlie Miranda
District 3
John Dingfelder
District 4
Bill Carlson
District 5
Orlando Gudes
District 6
Guido Maniscalco
District 7
Luis Viera
Charter Amendments
YES on all 18 amendments

What You Missed This Week in La Gaceta

From As We Heard It, by Patrick Manteiga

Our endorsement for
Mayor of Tampa

The race to replace retiring Bob Buckhorn for mayor drew seven candidates. We have known six for a long time and been able to watch how they operate, govern and relate to our city. The seventh, Topher Morrison, is new to our political circle, but we had a chance to get to know him better when we both were traveling together in Cuba.
All of the candidates are likeable, love this city and want to do a good job.
We are looking for more than that. This city just had three of its largest tax increases in its history and yet, it’s still broke. We had two huge property tax fees assessed for storm water maintenance and storm water infrastructure. La Gaceta’s headquarters pays $2,000 in storm water taxes a year. That’s over 20 percent of our property taxes and yet, residents of South Tampa are still complaining about flooding. Why haven’t we fixed it and why haven’t we told the public when it can expect relief?
Ciy Council and the mayor raised the city’s property tax millage from $5.7326 to $6.3326 mills in 2017. That was the first millage increase in 29 years. In 2019, we passed a penny sales tax for transportation and a half penny for schools. With all this additional revenue and property values going up, the city still has no way to repay a loan that is coming due. We have not been setting aside money. Instead we’ve been paying for outrageously expensive parks and committing funds for infrastructure improvements for Jeff Vinik’s Downtown vision.
The next mayor needs to take hold of the budget. The next mayor needs to clean house and put us on a better financial footing.
We are also concerned by the concentration of power in the hands of the few and the hijacking of the City’s long-term plans.
Developer Jeff Vinik is a great guy and is doing great things for our city, but we don’t have to, and shouldn’t, rearrange our priorities to fit his vision. Yet, that is exactly what we are doing. Vinik is building up South Downtown and Channelside not because it is the best place for that development, but because he owns the land and he’ll make money from it.
We have no problem with him doing the development, but why are we going to pay for the infrastructure improvements needed by his development?
When some small businessman opens a restaurant, brewery or other business, the City is quick to charge that business for the increased size of the water connection or sewer connection. Businesses pay for changes to roads adjacent to their development and also have to pay to upgrade parking.
We are going to pay Vinik back for all of this. In fact, we gave him a cut of public parking revenues south of Kennedy.
There are also plans to spread the development along our deepwater Ybor Channel along Channelside Drive. If this happens, taxpayers will pay dearly to develop deepwater berths elsewhere in the bay, which will also take a toll on the environment.
All of this taxpayer cost will allow developers such as Vinik to put condos and offices on what is a working port. This isn’t our community’s vision. It’s not a wise use of our dollars but at the moment, this is our track.
We don’t blame Vinik for being on this track. We blame our public officials. To change direction, we need an outsider.
We are concerned that power is concentrating in Tampa. Vinik endorsed Jane Castor. Vinik holds a mortgage on the Tampa Bay Times. The Times endorsed Jane Castor. The Times only writes great things about Vinik and his developments. Castor’s partner lobbies for Vinik. The Times former top political writer now works for a firm hired by Vinik to run the transportation tax. That writer is now being paid by the Castor campaign. The Tampa Port Authority’s lobbyist is the company for which Jane Castor’s partner works and it goes on and on. Who is left to watch out for the taxpayer? Who is left to be our lobbyist?
We believe David Straz is the right person at the right time to watch out for our interests. He is unafraid to stand toe-to-toe with Vinik, the police union and the Rays to craft the best deal for the taxpayers and this city.
He’ll work with the County and State to create a regional transportation plan. Tampa can’t have a different plan than the County if both are to succeed. He doesn’t have a client who is pushing a ferry. He doesn’t have an ego that insists his way or no way.
Straz has the connections to market this city to Fortune 500 companies. He’s on the board of The Met and has relationships around the country. We let Vinik become our chief salesman, but he is selling his property in Tampa. Straz will promote all of Tampa.
We need to move all of our focus from Downtown and spread the City’s investments to the neighborhoods. David Straz knows this city has been ignoring our neediest neighborhoods and he sincerely believes it’s unfair and needs to be fixed.
Straz is rich. We don’t normally like rich. But unlike a lot of rich people, Straz is also a boy scout. He wants to be fair and play by the rules. He won’t choose the easiest political pathway. He won’t flip-flop because of polls and pressure, but he will listen and carefully evaluate plans and issues. He will also change his mind if he finds facts that compel him to do so.
What we like most about Straz is he is truly independent and is running without desire for personal gain.
He has no active businesses. For all of his wealth, he owns relatively little property in the city. He won’t be seeking a higher office and he already has a building named after him.
La Gaceta strongly endorses David Straz for mayor of Tampa.(to read more, buy a paper)

From Chairman of the Bored, by Gene Siudut

► … Heading into this past Saturday, we were undefeated at 4-0. The team we were playing had one great player and a few supporting players but they were no match for us. I joked with one of the parents of a player on the opposing team that he should let his kids stay home to avoid the whooping we were going to give their team.
A few minutes before the game, our star player had yet to arrive to the court for the game. I took a peek at my phone and was greeted with a message telling me my missing player was going to be absent from the game due to a bout with strep throat.
This was unfortunate for him and for the team, but it was no worry. We would just have to play a little closer game than we expected.
It turned out the game was a lot closer than we expected and to cut to the chase, we lost to a team that was inferior to us. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From O’Pinions To Go, by Joe O’Neill

► Unless something apocalyptic happens under Trump, his tenure as president could very well be best summarized by his “Wall” and all that it represented in the spurious names of “crisis” and “emergency.” As in a narcissistic, inhumane, anti-immigrant, diversionary, media-demonizing agenda that appeases his cult-follower base and displeases virtually everybody else – from resurgent Democrats to gutless Republicans to constitutional scholars. Alas, climate change, a malignant gun culture, overtaxed infrastructure, Russian bots and the insidious threat to separation of powers don’t require crisis intervention in this Whitewashed House.
And how utterly Trumpian that the demander-in-chief undercut his own sense of “emergency” when he noted in a vintage press briefing that “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.” What a palpable sense of, uh, urgency. And how dare a power-grabbing, Fox-appeasing, face-saving gambit become a constitution-threatening gamble? …(to read more, buy a paper)

From In Context, by Doris Weatherford

► If BBC ever sent us a bill, Hubby and I would owe a lot. A big majority of our TV time goes to watching things produced by the British Broadcasting Company. We like stories set in the British Isles, of course, especially unusual places such as the series about Britain’s Atlantic Ocean island of Guernsey, which was occupied by the Nazis during World War II. Other favorites have been set in colonies in Africa, India, the Caribbean, and more places of the far-flung Empire. BBC just does a better job than American television of delivering not only interesting settings, but also of character development and plots that make sense.
We enjoyed the Australian series about Miss Fisher, a private detective and absolutely liberated woman of the 1920s. Now we are binge watching another series set in Australia, a few decades later during the 1950s. Dr. Blake is a pathologist, and like Miss Fisher, he comes up with murder clues that the police miss. I also like observing background details. Australia has interesting plants, some of which never seem to have made their way to Florida, and I pause to rewind and have another look. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Silhouettes, an interview with Annette Bellingar, by Tiffany Razzano

► Eleven years ago, Annette Bellingar, a lifelong Londoner, made the fateful decision to enjoy a cruise along Europe’s Danube River.
It was on this trip that she met her future husband, David, a Florida resident. “If either of us had missed the boat or gotten tickets for another time, we never would have met,” she said.
They embarked on a whirlwind, three-day romance, falling in love while ballroom dancing. They found they had much in common. Both had served as long-term caretakers for their first spouses, who battled health issues. Both were also grieving these spouses, who had both passed away, months apart, a less than two years before that cruise. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Líneas de la memoria, por Gabriel Cartaya

► … El escultor y pintor Carlos Arturo Camargo Vilardy es un artista colombiano que radica hace varios años en Tampa, ciudad que ha favorecido su creación y, a su vez, se ha beneficiado de una producción en las artes plásticas que hemos podido disfrutar en diversas exhibiciones. He visitado el taller en que trabaja y enseña –en la Universidad de Tampa–, su estudio personal y he asistido a exposiciones suyas, espacios donde las muestras de su realización, a veces en plena fragua, sorprenden tanto por el alto nivel estético como por la profundidad del ideario propuesto.
Pero es mejor preguntarle al artista, para saber de él y de su hacer.
¿Cómo compaginas tu trabajo docente y la creación artística?
Yo amo el ambiente académico y mi vínculo con la facultad de arte está fusionado con mi creación artística. La universidad es mi segunda casa aquí y me permite sentirme en un crecimiento continuo. Es maravilloso estar en un ambiente que produce pensamiento, libros, arte, ciencia, etc.
La función del artista es eminentemente educativa, se educa a través de la exposición de arte, de la galería, de una obra pública o una obra ubicada en un museo, a través de una charla o un taller que desarrolles, hablando con otras personas de temas estéticos. No se hace trabajo docente solamente desde el aula de clase.
Soy fundamentalmente un artista y paralelamente un pedagogo del arte, porque el artista debe compartir, libre de fórmulas e intelectualismo, lo que sabe, lo que siente y lo que se le ha rebelado como creador de formas e ideas. Mi trabajo educativo se centra en enseñar pensando, estimulando la creación y desarrollando sensibilidad. …(to read more, buy a paper)

From Briznas culturales, por Leonardo Venta

► … El Centro David A. Straz, Jr. para las Artes Escénicas de Tampa presentará el miércoles, 27 de febrero, a las 8 p.m., directamente desde la capital cubana, “The Havana Cuba All-Stars”, como parte de la gira de “Asere Friendship”, una agrupación de excelentes músicos y bailadores que se unen para celebrar la rica y variada tradición musical de la Mayor de las Antillas.
El popular vocablo ‘asere’, incluido en el Diccionario del español de Cuba (2000), se refiere a “una persona con quien media una relación de amistad”; trasladado de su acepción original a la relaciones culturales entre los pueblos de Estados Unidos y Cuba, el término sugiere sentimientos mutuos de admiración y solidaridad. …(to read more, buy a paper)

To catch up with what’s happening in La Gaceta, pick up a paper at one of our distribution points or subscribe by calling 248-3921.