The Difference Between Tampa and St. Petersburg

Share on Nextdoor


Baker added to his explanation two days later:


"That decision put the city in very bad light. I don't think


it was done with bad intentions. But sometimes you can be trying to do


the right things and wind up wishing you had done it a different way." (source: the Times)



In contrast, Iorio immediately apologized:

"In


this case the victim was not treated properly, and we don't want this


to ever happen again. I don't believe the seriousness of the charge


warranted the steps that


were taken. What occurred to her and how to help her is where the


emphasis should have been." (source: Times and Tribune)

Iorio's police chief announced an immediate change in policy to prevent it from happening again.


For those not paying attention, let's sum up: Baker responded by saying it was his police chief's call  (the chief, in turn, threw a police major under the bus


when he named her as the person who came up with the box-cutter idea);


Iorio apologized, as did her police chief, without pointing fingers or


shirking responsibility.


Even more telling is the editorial page response at the Times, which apparently functions as the home of the Rick Baker Fan Club. Baker has twice (here and here) in the past three weeks been given a serious tract of real estate on the Times op-ed page to explain and defend his city's actions in the homeless matter. The Times


editorial writers didn't weigh in on the slashing tent raid until Jan.


24, five days after it occurred and two days after Baker's first public


statements about it. The 314-word editorial was titled, "Police operation leaves city stained."


It didn't directly criticize Baker, insteading chiding him and Chief


Harmon "to turn the focus back to providing services instead of


slashing tents."


The Tribune editorial wasn't any quicker in coming. It did, however, call the mayor on the carpet, saying that "St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker should be concerned that his


high-ranking appointees would make such a bone-headed decision and not


keep him in the loop."


The Times editorial response to the Tampa incident came more swiftly: A 491-word editorial the very next day titled, "Jailing Victim is Outrageous." It did not mention Iorio but blasted the lack of judgment at the Tampa Police Department. (The Tribune editorial also called the arrest "outrageous" but lauded Chief Hogue's quick policy change.)

We've had two incidents recently that say a lot about Tampa and St. Pete and their mayors, and their respective newspapers.

In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Baker took a great deal of heat after police officers slashed the tents of some homeless people in an effort to shut down an illegal tent city that was deemed a fire hazard. The slashing with box cutters of private property was captured on amateur video and posted to YouTube. It prompted outrage.

In Tampa, Mayor Pam Iorio's police department likewise made headlines when her police department arrested a Gasparilla rape victim on an old juvenile offense, throwing her in jail where she was denied morning-after meds to prevent pregnancy as the result of her attack. It prompted outrage.

Baker's response to the slashing was slow in coming and all lawyered up. His first statements came three days after the slashing:

"I did not know that the operation had occurred until it occurred. I was aware that the fire marshal had identified a

very grave concern. I did not know the specifics to the solution."

(source: the Times, whose

account continued: "Baker neither condemned nor praised the actions of

police and fire officials. 'I'm not going to talk about that,' Baker

said, adding he was concerned

about potential legal threats made by homeless advocates.")

Scroll to read more News Feature articles

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

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