Tampa purchasing director says city can't wait for feds to start spending on convention security

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Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn went to Washington last month with hat in hand (along with Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, whose city will host the Democratic Convention next year) to ask for a combined $100 million for security costs for the convention, as has been the amount allotted in recent conventions.

Spearman is a member of a city task force that meets regularly to discuss convention business, and he says that even though the thought is the money will be coming soon, "We can't wait until January," he says (Congress is on break until the first week of September, so its doubtful it will come anytime in the next month).

"We have to have this up and running and operational hopefully by May," he says, because of a long procurement cycle that includes creating a site planning development that will need to be reviewed by a panoply of departments and law enforcement agencies. "There’s time to build the system, to order the parts, you know, the component pieces installed, to test it, that simply takes time," adding that it might be too late to get everything involved with the cameras for the convention if they delay the process now.

Spearman's comments about why the city won't divulge the location of the cameras that were included in the Tribune story created a bit of a fuss on TBO.com's comments section, with some taking issue with his comment that "the anarchists could use that information to disable cameras or plan actions in other areas."

One commenter, posting under the moniker of "Curbed Enthusiasism," writes:

Why do we have a city employee calling citizens who may protest a political party YET LOVE THEIR COUNTRY "ANARCHISTS"?

I disagree with Republicans policies on most things. Am I an anarchist Mr. Spearman?????

But another commentator, invoking some of the protests that have occurred at international economic conferences, says the fear of anarchists is legitimate:

You do realize the magnitude of this event right? The anarchists referral is not directed at the protestors who want to hold up signs that they hate whoever is at the convention. The anarchists are those from fringe groups, foreigners, and domestics who want to truly disrupt any government function with violence, mayhem, and destroying the city. Look to recent G-8 conventions, etc. There is a potential for riots in the city. Same for the Democratic convention, imagine that since the Pres. will be there.

Look at what happened in Greece, what is happening in England, that will make it to this country and probably about election time.

Stop being so short sighted

The city of Tampa isn't certain when they'll receive the $50 million plus in taxpayer money for security that they've requested from the feds for the Republican National Convention, but that doesn't mean they're going to wait to start spending on security for the event, still more than 54 weeks from happening.

The Tampa Tribune's Christian Wade reports that the city has begun soliciting bids from private security companies to install a certain number of cameras at yet-to-be-disclosed locations in the downtown area - in all probability near the St. Pete Times Forum and Tampa Convention Center. Those cameras would be used primarily to search for potential protest activity, though it's doubtful activists will be able to get that close to the actual convention site (the Secret Service has yet to announce a perimeter which will permit only those credentialed to attend the convention to be allowed inside).

Greg Spearman, the city's purchasing director, tells CL that it's a bit of a conundrum for city officials planning for the convention when it comes to purchasing technology, because the lead time for such equipment is so extensive that they have to begin the process now, before the federal funds come in.

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