Greco says Thomas Scott owes him an apology in wake of the former mayor's latest controversial comment

Earlier, Rose Ferlita and Ed Turanchik got into it (again).  Turanchik accused Ferlita of not being a leader on transit, as he spoke about the possibilities of working around Rick Scott's decision yesterday to reject the $2.4 billion for high speed rail.  Saying it takes the leadership that he's provided, Turanchik seemed to be referring to Ferlita when he said, "You don't ask. You don't put your finger up to the wind.  You don't TALK TALK TALK about it, you go, do." When Turanchik shouted, both Ferlita and Bob Buckhorn winced as large speakers placed right behind their ears were undoubtedly affecting their hearing.

When the moderator then turned toward Buckhorn and told him he could ask a question of another candidate, Buckhorn cracked that "it wouldn't be to Ed because I can't hear anything now." He then got laughs and moans when he said, "Can I borrow your hearing aids, Dick?" (Greco does wear a hearing aid in one ear.)

For the first time that we can remember, Buckhorn and Turanchik had not so nice things to say to each other.  That happened as Turanchik was the first candidate allowed to ask a question of another candidate.  Turanchik asked the former Tampa City Councilman from 1995-2003 where he had been when Turanchik first began calling nearly two decades ago to improve the transit system.  "That whole time, Bob, I never saw you stand by my side, I didn't see you stand by Tom's (Scott) side. I didn't see you carry the transit torch until this last referendum.  What gives? Why the conversion?"

With impeccable timing, Buckhorn replied, "Well, if I recall, Ed, nobody was standing by your side."

He added that Turanchik is a man of big ideas, which there was a time and a place for, but there was also a time and a place to get things done.  He ended with this zinger: "You were correct.  It was the wrong time, and perhaps, you were the wrong messenger."

The candidates will next debate Friday in downtown Tampa at the Tiger Bay Club.

The controversy that evolved out of Wednesday night's Tampa mayoral debate escalated Thursday night at another mayoral forum, this time in East Tampa. [To recap: At the Wednesday debate, former Mayor Dick Greco was asked by the moderator what job he would give City Council Chair Thomas Scott in a Greco administration. He replied that Scott could "drive me" on a night on the town, a remark which referenced a previous question to the candidates about which of them would be the designated driver if they were all headed to MacDinton's]. At the time of the comment, which CL observed, it didn't appear as if Scott were upset, as this video shows.

In his closing remarks of the 45-minute session Greco stood before the audience, then turned towards Scott and said he loved him.  Greco then said he read the Bible and "I forgive what you did last night — not what I did — what you did, " leading some in the predominantly African-American audience to gasp, with one audible voice saying, "What?"

He continued by quoting from the Bible, then said, "Last night I was hurt.  That anyone. Anyone, especially you," he said, pointing at Scott, "would think that a remark like 'I'd have you drive me from MacDinton's' what, gang?" He began to say that he had risked his life about something before being stopped for time.

The forum ended just moments later.  When Scott entered into the crowd, he could be heard telling audience members of Greco's comments, "That was very disrespectful."

The two apparently disagree about whether Greco did or did not apologize Wednesday night after he was informed that an audience member had taken offense to the "driving" remark.

"Greco came to me last night and apologized for the statement that he made at that meeting, " Scott told CL, moments after the debate ended.  "He may not recall that because of his age, but he did come to me last night and apologize because several people went to him, and the young lady (Yvette Lewis) called him out and he came to me and said he didn't mean any harm.  I said to him, 'Dick, you need to be very careful about what you say.  Now, I didn't go to the press with this story.  I didn't call nobody.  They came to me, I just simply told them what happened, so I don't get where I'm supposed to apologize to him for. I don't understand that."

Scott also objected to Greco pointing his hand at him when the former mayor said that Scott should apologize to him. "I mean, come on, man."

A moment later as CL went to approach Greco, the aforementioned Yvette Lewis got into a short and spirited discussion with Greco.  He said that he had given her his cell phone number for her to call him about her concerns about the driving remark, but said that she had run to the press.  "I did not apologize to Reverend Scott, because I had nothing to apologize for," he said to her.

Greco said that Scott had gone to the Florida Sentinel-Bulletin newspaper on Thursday. "A preacher said that I said something last night.  I don't do that.'" (The paper officially endorsed Scott for Mayor on Thursday.)

Greco said he wasn't concerned about how these two incidents would play with the electorate.  "No, anybody who knows me knows I'm not that kind of person."

Within the initial 10 minutes of the debate, Greco was asked about that comment as well as his now infamous remark about a "panty-raid," which he'd made when asked to discuss a riot in Tampa in the late ’60s.  "I am not a prejudiced person, " he maintained.

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