Tampa officials finally admit that GOP gets first dibs on city parks during convention

Perhaps if the city had been up front months ago on this issue, that response wouldn't appear so disingenuous.


The ACLU's John Dingfelder calls it bad public policy.


"We have such limited park space in downtown to start with. The last thing you should be doing is giving up what limiting park space you have, " he told CL Thursday morning. Dingfelder, who is working currently with the Buckhorn administration on the "event zone" now, stressed that in fact the contract allowing the Republicans free reign over city parks during the convention was part of the contract negotiations that did not involve Buckhorn, City Attorney Jim Shimberg, or anyone else in the current administration.


Meanwhile the Times editorial page weighs in on the Buckhorn administration's new "event zone" rules for protesters at the RNC.


The paper calls the new version released earlier this week to have "significant improvements" from the draft released last month, but cautions that it "still needs much work," questioning the size of the clean, er, event zone, and cogently zeroes in on the latitude for law enforcement to "make arrests in questionable circumstances."


Some officials that we've spoken to in Ybor City question why the entertainment district remains inside the Event Zone. We're talking a distance of more than 2 miles away in the district, not really that close to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.


The City Council will take up the revised ordinance a week from today. In the immortal words of Bob Buckhorn, he needs only four votes. But for the good of the city, it'd be much better if the ordinance passed by a larger than 4-3 margin. The city's legal staff was accommodating to council's objections last time around (not that they had much choice). Will they be as flexible this time around?

(UPDATE Thursday 11:50 a.m.)

For months activists intent on protesting in city parks during August's Republican National Convention in Tampa have complained that their requests for permits have been met with indifference by city officials.

Rumor had it that the Republican National Committee had already reserved those parks. Back in January CL attempted through one particular city department to learn if that was in fact true.

We never heard back from that department.

So props to the Tampa Bay Times reporter Rick Danielson for getting confirmation in late April that is in fact the case - that the Tampa Bay Host Committee's contract with the city gives the convention the first crack at using the city's nine parks during the RNC.

Assistant City Attorney Mauricio Rodriguez insists there's been no subterfuge on the part of the city, telling Danielson "We want to make it clear to the different groups: We're not trying to hide the ball on them."

Really?

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