Buckhorn more fired up than ever about RNC coming to Tampa

Sounding like he's had discussions with his legal staff, Buckhorn said, "We have to design protest routes. We have to allow protesters to get within sight and distance of the [Tampa Bay Times] Forum. Court cases have said that." He added that protesters have to be able to "march up and down, hoot and holler, for whatever cause they want. And they have to be within sight and sound of the building."

Discussing the protesters who will be flocking to Tampa this summer for the convention, Buckhorn refrained from going heavy on the number of "anarchists" who might create mayhem, and instead played it lighter, saying there will be the "Save the whales crowd, the PETA crowd, every other crowd. And that's fine."

He mentioned that many of the city parking lots in downtown will be used by the RNC, but did give a plug for a local food favorite.

"Taco Bus will be open. They are gonna make a killing."

On other topics, Buckhorn referenced the City Council's vote last week to authorize a Domestic Partnership Registry for couples who can't or don't want to marry. "I don't want to be the mayor of a city that rushes to the lowest common denominator to demonize someone based on orientation or religion. Not me. And not you."

Sounding at times like a revivalist preacher (or perhaps a cheesy pop singer), Buckhorn told the crowd that when it comes to making Tampa dynamic, "Don't you ever quit on me. Don't ever quit on me. ..I never sleep. I don't expect you to. Let's get back to work."

He also discussed the fact that for the third time the city has applied for a federal grant that would help pay for the remaining part of the Riverwalk that will come up under the Kennedy Bridge alongside Curtis Hixon Park. The mayor predicts big things for downtown after that happens. "I'm absolutely convinced that in ten years, when we get done with this planning process, and things begin to fill in, our downtown will be radically different."

Buckhorn bemoaned the fact that the region is going nowhere in improving its public transportation system. "We've got to find a way to hook up downtown St. Pete, the airport to downtown Tampa, and then expand that to the bedroom communities where people live and play but commute into Tampa, Florida. We've got to. There's no other option," eliciting large cheers.

But for Tea Party critics and others who argue that a light rail system will never pay for itself? "Just in case anyone of you were wondering, transportation in any form, in any shape, never, ever pays for itself. Ever."

  • Bob Buckhorn spoke at the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce

Tomorrow marks exactly a year that Bob Buckhorn crushed Rose Ferlita to become Tampa's next leader, and the mayor used the milestone on Wednesday to wax enthusiastic about a variety of issues confronting his city, while reciting enough lines from his campaign stump speech to make some in the audience question what year it was.

Speaking before a large Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce event at the Hyatt Regency downtown, the mayor said he has never been more excited, hopeful and energized about the opportunities that are coming before his city.

But when it comes to the biggest event to happen this year, and perhaps ever in Tampa, the Republican National Convention, the mayor confessed there will be logistical challenges, particularly for those who work in downtown Tampa, "unlike what we've ever seen before."

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