Tampa mayoral candidates go tame at Tiger Bay Club forum

Adult club entrepreneur and free speech advocate Joe Redner asked the candidates a question close to his own heart: how will the candidates deal with public protesters, with thousands coming to Tampa in a year and a half for the 2012 Republican National Convention?  Redner referenced his own arrest when George W. Bush came to Tampa one time in 2002, when he and six and other people were arrested by Dick Greco's Police Department and charged with trespassing outside of the USF Sun Dome.

"Dick Greco had a policy of putting of protesters in pens like animals where they couldn't be seen when he was mayor," he said.  Greco replied that he wouldn't have a protest policy against anybody, " including you, " he said, looking at Redner, before he then went into his familiar defense of supporting Ybor City as a place where people coming to Tampa will have something to do at night.

Turanchik said he was a very strong proponent of civil rights. "You have to have a full expression of political belief," he said, adding he was against any type of restrictions on protesting.

Thomas Scott was powerful in defending the rights of Americans exercising their civil rights, saying "many things in this country have been changed because of protests and because of civil rights issues, " no doubt referencing the civil rights movement of the 1960's.  "Many other laws in this nation would not have been changed..if not for marches, if not for freedom of speech...I think we should always protect that freedom."

Bob Buckhorn said if society couldn't protect the rights of minorities, "you put the rights of majority at risk." But the most pro-police candidate in the race quickly added that "I have a very simple philosophy.  Break the law, there are consequences.  And we are not going to allow anarchists or anybody else to choose to destroy this community, destroy private property, run free."

Rose Ferlita said "we're missing the boat if we don't let everybody express what they believe in.  I think that's just simple courtesy."

Only the second televised debate of the campaign season will air Saturday afternoon on WTVT-Fox 13 at 5:oo p.m.

After all the drama of this past week, Friday's Tampa mayoral forum at the Tiger Bay Club Friday afternoon was a rather tame affair.

In fact, there wasn't one reference to anybody driving anybody anywhere, a refrain from the past 24 hours of media intensity on a Dick Greco comment about Thomas Scott, the only black candidate in the race, that went awry (read all about that here).

Like he did at a debate in South Tampa earlier this week, Ed Turanchik brought up the financial debt that the city of Tampa is currently under due to spending during Dick Greco's last reign as mayor.  Speaking about the tough economy, Turanchik said no one could have projected the collapse of the housing market, but the "seeds of our financial dilemma were planted 10-15-20 years ago,' pointing out to Greco's deals with Centro Ybor, a design for a new arts museum that never materialized, and new payments to begin in a few years on a police headquarters building purchased in the mid 1990's.

None of the candidates went for a suggestion offered by attorney Ron Weaver, who asked if the candidates were mayor today would they advise the City Attorney to sue Rick Scott for failing to live up to his duties by rejecting the $2.4 billion in funds for a high speed rail line scheduled to run from Tampa to Orlando.

Tiger Bay member and Republican David Hurley questioned the $2 billion to be spent on high speed rail. "How much debt is enough?" he asked.

Ed Turanchik acknowledged the debt was huge, but countered "I don't like spending money - debt, expenses or operating costs- but our national infrastructure is deteriorating.  The failure to invest in that comes at the expense of progress, economy, innovation and us being a 21st century power."

Thomas Scott followed by correcting Hurley, saying that the $2.48 billion is "not going to relieve the national debt.  It's going to California or some other state..."

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