Many were critical of the millions of dollars spent by officials in the Bay area to spruce up key parts of the city and to purchase surveillance and security equipment prior to the 2012 Republican National Convention. Given the state of the economy and the narrow focus of the expenditures, it is easy to understand those concerns. But spend it they did, beautifying parts of the city and purchasing a trove of state-of-the-art technology and equipment for law enforcement. We went back to see what was left a year later. Here are some of the residual benefits of the Republicans coming to town last year.
The rally met in front of a Wendy's Hamburgers around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and proceeded down Fowler Avenue to three other fast food chains. The original plan was to cross the highway and wrap up at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the other side but after more than 20 minutes of heavy rain, organizers dispersed the crowd around 5:30 p.m.
Many of those in attendance wore labor union t-shirts. Dustin Ponder, who describes himself as a rank-and-file member of the Teamsters at UPS, said the unions were there to support and educate fast food workers.
According to a report issued by the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee on August 21, the Republican National Convention resulted in direct spending of $214 million. CL has been looking back at the residual bounty left behind by the four-day Republican Party party. While there are some intangible benefits like the "long-term brand-building" touted by the host committee, and millions of dollars in new assets acquired by the city, there have also been some gaffes.
To borrow the grossly overused analogy, these improvements were like putting lipstick on a pig. You can't make ugly look better with a few cosmetics.
Before, during, and after the event there was a lot of prognostication about the economic impact and long-term benefit the RNC would bring to our city. Congress appropriated $50 million for Tampa primarily for city and convention security. The 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee raised another $55 million for the effort, and in August of 2011 $18 million came from the Federal Election Commission for planning and preparation. All told, there was an influx of over $120 million.
Last week the Host Committee issued its report on the RNC's economic impact commissioned from the Sykes College of Business at the University of Tampa. It stated that the convention resulted in $214 million in direct spending in the Bay area, far above the original estimates of $150-$175 million cost-benefit analysis from the research firm Jones Lang Lasalle before the convention.
In the weeks leading up to the RNC, estimates were that 15,000 credentialed media personnel, approximately 3,400 delegates and alternates, over 20,000 additional visitors and VIPs would attend. Tampa Police Department expected over 15,000 protesters, along with a few hundred anarchists who would try to shut down the convention. With all that money, that many people coming to town, and that much international attention, we wondered what was the ultimate impact on Tampa? Over the next three days CL will be looking back at the changes both temporary and permanent, structural and cosmetic, that resulted from the political jamboree.
Hundreds of people in the Tampa Bay area rallied this weekend wearing shirts, carrying signs and chanting, saying "We are Trayvon." Two rallies, one in St Petersburg and one in Tampa, were organized after last weeks not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, where Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Some in attendance were there to listen, some to lend support, and some to be heard.
On Friday a Unity and Justice rally was held in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg under threatening skies. The tenor of the rally was peaceful as speakers challenged the multi-race audience of about 85 people to action. They suggested contacting their elected officials about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and educating themselves about public officials before getting out to vote. The event ended with a march to city hall in downtown St Petersburg.
On Saturday an estimated 400 people attended a Justice for Trayvon rally in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa. Many of them expressed the same sentiment as the Friday rally, calling for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law, federal action against George Zimmerman, and expressing a bond with the Martin family, some of whom were in attendance.