Harry Cohen says the feds should speed up their decision-making re RNC security measures

City Attorney Jim Shimberg said it was an excellent point and said such communications were currently underway.


Meanwhile, Council member Lisa Montelione expressed frustration that the first she'd heard about possible security moves was through the media. She was referring specifically to a report by Rick Danielson in the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday that fencing could go up around the Hillsborough County courthouse and County Center, or "selected streets."


City Attorney Shimberg told her that to the best of his knowledge there were "multiple" agencies working on such security measures currently, but said he didn't believe any final decisions had been made about anything in downtown Tampa.


"I know it's frustrating for all of you," he told the council. "A lot of work is going on...and I will convey back to the people heading this up that it's essential that once decisions are made that they be communicated to you guys before reading it in the paper."


Regarding the tens of thousands of protesters expected to descend on Tampa during the convention, Mauricio Rodriguez of the city's legal department said he will come back before council to present a temporary ordinance and perhaps some permanent changes to city codes within the next couple of months.

Where's the security perimeter going to be? And when the heck will that information be announced? Those are the big questions still facing citizens who live and work near the site of this year's Republican National Convention, the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

An official involved with security told CL last month that the U.S. Secret Service would not announce this information until June — only a few months before the RNC begins in August. But Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen said during Thursday's Council meeting that the sooner court officials know about what's happening downtown at convention time, the better.

"This lack of decisions being made is really starting to put pressure on the different participants in the court system," said Cohen, who works at the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office.

Cohen said moving trials out of the downtown courthouse requires "months of planning, and the longer these decisions remain unmade, the more difficult it will be, for example, for the Chief Judge to get permission from the Supreme Court in Tallahassee to make the kind of arrangements that he has to make in order to insure that justice flows smoothly that week."

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