Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mitch Perry Report 5.23.13 -Hillsborough County, where progress moves at a snail's pace

Posted by on Thu, May 23, 2013 at 8:14 AM

News about the LGBT community in one way or another seems to dominate the news these days. A big national story will be taking place later today in Grapevine, Texas, where the Boy Scouts of America are considering a proposal at their annual meeting to allow gay youths to participate openly in the popular organization for the first time (but not gay adults).

One of the leading critics against the measure is Orlando's John Stemberger, who has happily told his followers that he'll be on all the networks doing interviews tonight after the vote comes in. Stemberger's group, the Florida Family Council, held rallies against the proposal last Friday, including in Tampa, where the spokesman there told CL that he has nothing against gays, admitting they've always served in the Scouts. But like the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, they should keep quiet about it.

Meanwhile, Bill Varian in the Times reports this morning that for the first time, every member of the Hillsborough County Commission has signed off a proclamation it honoring the GaYBOR business coalition in Ybor City. Why now, when for the past few years the majority of the GOP board members refused to? Read the article to learn more, but would it be unfair to speculate that some members just said the heck with it, let's sign the damned thing so the press will get out of our hair?

Progress does move slowly in Hillsborough County. Despite all the angst about how horrible the transit tax was when it went down to resounding defeat in November of 2010, it should never be forgotten that the residents of Tampa voted in support of it, and that support for light-rail here has never waned. But nothing has been done to pick up the pieces - until now, where the key stakeholders in Tampa, Plant City, Temple Terrace and the county finally sat down in the same room to begin a "conversation" about transit, though I never heard the words "light" or "rail" every uttered at the meeting. Maybe they were. Read more about that meeting here.

There was some real excitement in the air yesterday morning at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, where Ed Turanchik and some officials with a Seattle company were extolling the virtues about a high-speed ferry service. Of course, no one knows where the money will come from to fund the grandiose proposal, but hey, it does have that "wow" factor that Tampa Bay leaders like to throw out there.

And today the Tampa City Council meets to discuss a variety of issues, including whether or not they should have their own budget analyst. The odds don't look good there, however.

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