Huge turnout at County Center to protect Hillsborough land-use ombudsman

Lloyd Garman from Odessa, who recounted that his favor Tampa mayor was Nick Nuccio, said that "as Hillsborough county gets larger, it gets more impersonal. You need people like this," he said of Medrano.

Cruz Hernandez of Tampa said of Medrano, "She made my dreams come true."

Though most of the speakers were there to comment on Medrano's status, it wasn't the only topic of discussion.  Several people spoke out to restore proposed cuts to the Arts Council.

A few of those people were from the Sulpher Springs based Community Stepping Stones, a nonprofit that provides education and mentoring to young people in that low-income area of Tampa.

And there were those hoping to get more funding for libraries, specifically the Bloomingdale Library in Brandon and the Bob Saunders Ybor City branch as well.

Board Chairman Ken Hagan said the issues had been "flagged" and will be discussed at the board's July 28 meeting.

Thursday night at the County Center in downtown Tampa, there was an extraordinary output of support to save one of the 73 Hillsborough County jobs on the potential cutting block as the County tried to reduce its $65 million shortfall.

That employee is Maricela Medrano, who has worked as the county's land-use ombudsman for over seven years.

When word spread that her job was on the line in recent weeks, members of the Latino community throughout the county have rallied, and dozens - some speaking in Spanish thru a translator - all spoke of her value in helping citizens cut through the sometimes intricate labyrinth that is county government.

It was the first of three public hearings the county will hold on their fiscal year 2011 budget.

Among the first to speak up in support shortly after 6 p.m. last night was USF professor Harry Vanden, who issued a sheaf of papers that he said represented 4,040 signatures from citizens in Hillsborough demanding that she be kept on board.

And not all who spoke out in support were Hispanic or spoke Espanol.  David Wilson Wolfe is from the U.K.  He said the rules and regulations with the county's land use laws were confusing, and without Medrano he would have had to close his business.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.