At debate, Buckhorn attacks Greco for trying to get rid of set asides for women and minority businesses in Tampa

Ed Turanchik also elaborated on comments he made at Tuesday night's debate at Blake High School regarding the tensions that still exist between some blacks and law enforcement.  Referring to the deaths last year of Tampa police officers Jeff Kocab and Dave Curtis, and the deaths last week of two St. Pete Officers, Turanchik said that "disturbing reports" about comments made after the deaths of those officers "were wrong, but they  attest to something more fundamental that we need to somehow address.  And I don’ t have any answers there.  As Mayor, I’d put some time and resources into that, to understand that…because our first line of defense against crime are our neighbors, and neighborhoods.and if people don’t feel comfortable calling on police to help them, it’s a big problem. "

And in comments we've never heard him discuss publicly, Thomas Scott discussed about how he was a victim of what has been known as DWB- Driving While Black.  Scott said that one night in 1998 he was driving in his Lexis from Tampa International Airport in gym shorts and a white T-shirt when he was pulled over by a Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputy.

He said he was order to get out of the car and do various tests to determine if he sober.  Saying he never drinks, Scott said that's when he told the deputy that in fact he was a Hillsborough County Commission.

Scott said, "Let me just inform you who I am.  At that point, he said he wanted to apologize I didn’t mean any harm.  Well, it happens all the time..happens all the time, and that something we have to work on.  The Chief cannot control everybody day by day, the Mayor can’t, nobody can. But what you can do is teach sensitivity and say that you willnot tolerate that .…and so  all of our experiences are different  . we’ve come a long way in this country, we’ve come a long way in this community. "

On the issue of the police unfairly targeting blacks, Rose Ferlita said that she had seen Tampa Police Department Chief Jane Castor recently and discussed what some what could call "rogue cops."

"I have talked to my friends in the African-American community, " Ferlita said.  "So some who don't understand, what they have, that is a responsibility, not a right, to mistreat a certain segment of our community, and we go from there.  We have to correct that, by the leadership that I'm going to bring, as your Mayor to understand that we have to have a compassionate side, a side that appreciates people, respects them, otherwise they have no business in city government."

Dick Greco's apology on Thursday night about his comment comparing racial riots in the late 1960's in Tampa to a "panty-raid," has dominated coverage of the Tampa mayor's race the past few days.

Bob Buckhorn said that he was "thankful" that Greco apologized, saying those comments "did a disservice to the victims families, that it did a disservice to the merchants on Central Avenue.  That community has never really recovered from those riots in the early 60’s and I take the Mayor at his word for that."

Buckhorn then took the opportunity to contrast his support for the minority community overall, and "not just at election time ,but who's out there everyday." He said Greco during his last term in office "did his very best" to eliminate the WMBE (Woman and Minority Business Enterprises) program.

That appears to be true.  In 2001, the city of Tampa commissioned the firm of D.J. Miller & Associates, Inc. (DJMA) to perform a disparity study of the city's purchasing activities as they relate to minority and women-owned vendors.  That study said that the program could not be justified to the Supreme Court's "strict scrutiny" requirement.

The Hillsborough branch of the NAACP called the study "deeply flawed," however, since it measured only the number of minority businesses that bid on city work vs. those that had actually received it, and did not account for minority businesses that did not bid on it at all.

Later, Greco ordered a re-examination of the study's finding and recommendations, which led to the program being reinstated.

At Thursday night's debate, Buckhorn said, "I mean Mayor Greco,  during his term there did his very best to eliminate the women and minority business program.  That gave women and minority businesses the opportunity ,not a guaranteed result, but an opportunity to have a chance.  It didn’t guarantee the outcomes but it certainly guaranteed the opportunity.  We stopped it, and it was the right thing to do. "

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