Opinions Archives - Page 3 of 283 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Adam Putnam ensures abortion will be major campaign issue

Nothing divides the people of this nation like the issue of abortion. Not even guns.

If you support a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, opponents will scream that you’re a baby murderer.

On the other side, if you believe life begins at conception and is sacred, you must be a zealot or a sexist pig trying to control a woman’s body.

There really is no middle ground, and GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam basically just ensured it will be a major issue in the upcoming election, perhaps even eclipsing the battle over gun control.

Saturday at a Republican campaign forum, Putnam said that if he is elected this fall and a so-called heartbeat bill reaches his desk, “I will sign it. That life is real. It should be protected. It should be defended.”

That’s not an example of campaign pandering to friendly voices. That’s a core belief for Putnam and many conservatives, and there is no compromise. To them, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, is one of the darkest days in the history of the United States.

So, if Republicans keep control of the Governor’s Mansion and the Florida Legislature, we probably should expect that “heartbeat bill” Putnam alluded to will show up here in some form.

And we also should expect opponents will pull out every legal or political means to block passage of such a law.

The heartbeat bill — signed into law last week in Iowa — outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That usually happens at about six weeks, and many women may not even realize they are pregnant by then.

There are exceptions for rape and incest.

The previous Iowa law allowed abortions up to 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement after signing the controversial bill that said in part: “I understand that not everyone will agree with this decision. But if death is determined when a heart stops beating, then doesn’t a beating heart indicate life? For me, it is immoral to stop an innocent beating heart. For me, it is sickening to sell fetal body parts. For me, my faith leads me to protect every Iowan, no matter how small.”

This may be the opening abortion opponents have longed for, since it obviously will trigger a legal fight that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court they believe is tilted their way now. The American Civil Liberties Union immediately announced it will sue to have the Iowa law overturned, and others will follow.

Florida is no newcomer to the abortion debate. In January, a judge declared a law requiring a woman to delay an abortion by at least 24 hours after visiting her doctor was unconstitutional.

But none of that likely would deter Florida legislators from moving ahead with their own version of a heartbeat bill.

That’s why it could become the defining social issue of the upcoming campaign for control of the Legislature and governor’s mansion.

Yes, gun control will continue to be a major debate, but there can be nuance there, despite what Marion Hammer and the National Rifle Association believe. People can support the Second Amendment and still favor some restrictions on gun ownership.

There is no such gray area in abortion.

And in saying he would sign a heartbeat bill, Putnam just raised the stakes in a campaign that already was assured of contentious and bitter.

Compromise? On this issue?

Forget about it.

Chris Hudson: Tampa airport ignores ride-sharing trend, taxpayers beware

Several months behind schedule and more than $1 billion later, the shiny new rental car facility at Tampa International Airport opened earlier this year to decidedly mixed reviews.

For the amount of money taxpayers have ponied up, I think we’re all hoping the experience is better than what we’ve gotten on our taxpayer-subsidized sports stadiums.

The rental car terminal is just the first phase of a $2 billion three-phase airport expansion and its completion gives Floridians a chance to see how our tax dollars have been spent so far. There is cause for concern.

An audit released quietly just a few days after Christmas contains some troubling findings. It revealed that the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority: established a $3.5 million art program that it “did not demonstrate the legal authority for, or necessity of”; failed to openly discuss or provide justification for hefty pay raises bestowed upon executive staff; and on more than one occasion, did not award contracts to the highest-scoring bidder.

These are all questionable practices that hint at poor stewardship of taxpayer money or favoritism.

The Auditor General also criticized the Aviation Authority for failing to properly include balances from previous fiscal years in its final budgets as required by law, noting this “does not provide for transparency” and diminishes the budget’s usefulness as a financial planning tool.

When it comes to financial planning, the Aviation Authority needs all the help it can get.

Tampa Airport has financed its expansion with a $195 million grant from the state and nearly $800 million in new bond debt that is supposed to be funded through existing sources of revenue, like airline ticket fees, as well as parking rate hikes and new rental car fees.

Not a problem in 2011. In 2018 however, when ridesharing services are taking over the market, this plan has holes.

Nationally, Uber and Lyft now account for nearly 70 percent of ground transportation. Taxi cabs have fallen below 10 percent and rental cars are also on the decline. None of this is surprising to American consumers who have been opting for these ridesharing services for several years, but airport planners were caught flat-footed by the trend.

The crux of their expansion plans to reduce congestion around the airport and provide passengers with more choices was a rental car facility and people mover, altogether ignoring ridesharing, passengers’ number one choice. And they thought they’d pay for it with rental car and parking fees.

But for the past several years, their revenue projections have completely overshot actual collections, even as the number of passengers traveling in and out of Tampa has shattered records.

In 2015, the airport projected a customer facility charge revenue of more than $37 million. The actual amount collected: roughly $30 million — a 21 percent difference. The next year, the airport predicted close to $45 million but again fell short, bringing in less than $39 million. And the pattern continued last year. Projections totaled $45.8 million; actual revenue was $35.9 million.

When asked about ridesharing’s impact last April, airport executives said they had simply “pulled the numbers down a little bit.” A little bit? They missed parking revenues by a cool $3 million.

Since then, the Airport Authority has proposed higher passenger pick-up fees for taxis, limos, Uber, and Lyft — passing the cost of poor planning to Florida travelers and visitors.

Here’s the issue in a nutshell: Taxpayers were tapped to pay for the new rental terminal and SkyConnect train, but the airport isn’t bringing in as much money as it shortsightedly expected from rental cars and parking fees. So, now taxpayers will be hit up a second time on their ride to or from the airport.

You might say taxpayers get it coming and going.

Could it be that Tampa Airport, among the nation’s most popular because of its convenience and futuristic flair, is renovating for the past and losing its edge? Maybe. Which is why we need to keep a closer eye on what is happening with our money. Taxpayer flyers beware.

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Chris Hudson is the Florida state director of Americans for Prosperity.

Joe Henderson: How different are things really now for Florida Dems?

There were separate but connected developments over the weekend that tell us much about politics in our state and nation.

First, it was reported that U.S. Sen. John McCain let it be known he wants Barack Obama and George W. Bush to speak at his funeral when his fight against brain cancer reaches its end.

He also wants President Trump to stay away.

I don’t think we have to explain why.

While that was going on, the Miami Herald reported that Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, speaking her party’s spring retreat at Doral in south Florida, said the GOP is “ready to defy history.”

Well, sure, what else is she going to say – even as unpopular as the most visible member of their party might be.

But think about where we were before 2016, where we are now, then argue with any certainty the historical corrections that happen during most mid-term elections will happen this time.

We have a president who keeps changing his story about his dalliance with a porn star and can’t shake the pursuit of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

And still, moral leaders like Franklin Graham say that God put Trump into office and that the affair with Stormy Daniels is no one’s business.

That thought should keep Democrats awake nights.

Polls show Americans are fed up with all the drama around Trump, but so what? As late as election day in 2016, polls indicated we soon would be referring to Hillary Clinton as Madam President.

Closer to home, conventional wisdom is that the Parkland High School massacre and the resulting demands for stricter gun laws would start a blue tsunami in statewide elections.

Democrats held to the hope that thousands of younger voters would be motivated to give them control of the governor’s mansion and maybe the state Senate for the first time this century.

But there hasn’t been a noticeable surge in voter registrations from that age group, nor does it seem that the thousands of hurricane evacuees from Puerto Rico to Central Florida will deliver more votes to Democrats.

And that takes us back to the gentleman hero McCain and a president who embodies the philosophy of the character Sherman McCoy, who said in the 1990 movie Bonfire of the Vanities, “if the truth won’t set you free, then lie.”

In the face of this, Democrats have not done much more than sputter, spit and tell themselves no one would be stupid to vote for this man or anyone from his party AGAIN.

But that does nothing to convince the president’s strongest supporters that they made a mistake. The more they complain, the harder the base digs in. No wonder Trump believes he is invincible.

True, several high-profile Republicans have decided to escape the madness and not seek re-election, notably House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Dennis Ross of Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

But if I were to bet right now, I’d say that won’t mean all that much.

I doubt the district Ross has represented will turn blue, and for all their bravado Florida Democrats will have to pick up their game if they hope to beat anyone who comes out of the Republican’s primary scrum for governor.

They are running against a party where many have a core belief that that Trump, who dodged military service with deferments for bone spurs, is a tougher guy than McCain, who got the crap beaten out of him regularly during years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

In that kind of landscape, it’s not as hard to defy history as one might think.

Blake Dowling: Backpage and the fight against human trafficking

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has been a vocal advocate and champion for the victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

Last year in our state, a Coral Cables man was arrested for human trafficking.

The headlines are all over the state — from Miami, to Boca to Tallahassee

One common element in many of these stories is Backpage.com.

Backpage began as a classified advertising website in 2004. It offered very traditional services, job listings, real estate, and so forth. They also had an “escort” section, which was later removed, and changed to “personals” — an attempt to keep the law at bay.

A couple of weeks ago, after a massive effort by Bondi (as well as every other AG in the nation), the FBI and public won a huge battle as the Department of Justice seized the site on April 6. The company’s CEO then pleaded guilty to “charges of facilitating prostitution and money laundering.”

Backpage was certainly not the first page with adult-themed ads and listings. However, what caused the entire country to hunt them down was the fact that they have been accused that the site “encourage[s] dissemination of child sex trafficking content on its website” (as per the National Center for Missing And Exploited Children).

According to the NCMEC, the majority of child sex trafficking cases referred to the organization involved ads found on Backpage.

Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin — two of the accused.

What’s next? Five members are the Backpage.com team have a trial date for Jan. 15, 2020. Some argue that Backpage was not responsible for the consequences of its ads; others say it gave workers in the escort industry a safe place to operate.

Newsweek has a very dramatic (spare us the drama, guys) headline about that: “‘People are going to die’: Sex workers devastated after Backpage shutdown.

Nevertheless, even the appearance of turning a blind eye to the exploitation of children — in both Florida and nationwide — is worthy of the full wrath of our nation’s law enforcement (unless proven innocent, of course).

But it would appear that Backpage’s Michael Lacey and Jim Larkin are going away for a long, long while.

A shout out to Bondi and her team for fighting the good fight.

Have a great weekend.

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Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

Lauren Baer: We need to talk about quality of health care, not just who pays

Today, as we mark the anniversary of the shameful Republican vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — a craven move disgracefully supported by our current Congressman Brian Mast — pundits around the country will turn to health care.

But, what will inevitably be missing in the political debate over who pays for health care and how much is a discussion of the equally important issue of the standard of care Americans are receiving.

And that’s a problem.

For while it is undeniable that deductibles are too large and premiums too high, to focus on that issue alone is to ignore a critical concern: we are paying too much for care that is simply not good enough, especially for people with complex, chronic medical issues.

I know this is true, because for me it’s personal.

In 2013, while visiting a friend in Chicago, hundreds of miles away from her Florida home, my mother suddenly went into kidney failure. Choking up, my father told me to get on the first possible plane.

My mother was no stranger to hospital rooms, having been in and out of them ever since a 1992 car accident left her with debilitating injuries and medical complications. Over the next week, as we sat at her bedside with hospital staff, we painstakingly reviewed the list of more than 20 medicines that she takes every day, prescribed by nearly a half-dozen doctors.

Each pill was intended to improve her quality of life, but, as we learned, they could also interact in life-threatening ways.

Indeed, what her individual doctors hadn’t told us — or, more troublingly, had not pieced together — was that the particular combination of medicines my mother was taking could bring on sudden kidney failure.

My mom pulled through, but she has been in the hospital more than a dozen times since. Each time, we have the same painful conversation with hospital staff in which we recount her years of trauma, her multiple surgeries, and her long list of doctors who, despite their best efforts, don’t always effectively communicate with each other — or with her.

At home, we go over the different instructions of her many doctors and try to make sure that what each individual physician is doing to save her isn’t inadvertently making her worse. And we help my mom cope with the frustration of feeling like her doctors are making medical decisions without her participation or full consent.

My mother’s story is the lens through which I see health care in our country, and it shines a light on a problem faced by too many Americans: at the same time that we are coping with crippling medical bills and rising health care costs, we are also struggling to receive quality care. That needs to change.

The good news is that we know what works: models that treat patients and family members as part of the care team and puts patients’ preferences and needs — and their unique treatment history — first.

Indeed, patient-centered care is effective on multiple levels: actively engaged patients have better health outcomes and reduced health care costs. In a large randomized study, patients who received enhanced support for making their own health decisions had 12.5 percent fewer hospital admissions, 9.9 percent fewer preference-sensitive surgeries, and overall medical costs that were 5.3 percent lower than the control group.

Patient-centered care also emphasizes coordination among care providers, which creates better outcomes for patients with chronic health issues like my mother.

Converting to this model will take time, but re-evaluating how Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies pay doctors can accelerate that process. Instead of paying for each patient visit or each lab test — the standard fee-for-service model most common today — insurance providers could receive a “care management fee” for each patient under their care and performance bonuses when a doctor’s patients show good health outcomes. This would mean that doctors get rewarded for promoting effective preventive treatments, not just expensive tests and surgeries. And it would reward doctors who coordinate care with other doctors to improve outcomes for their patients.

The ACA has piloted patient-centered care programs, including through Medicare and Medicaid, and they are showing major improvements in patient care. Unfortunately, though, programs like these are still limited in scope — and with Republicans in Congress now intent on dismantling the ACA limb-by-limb, we can’t count on their survival.

For example, one promising patient-centered care initiative isn’t being implemented in Florida, even though coordinated care is a major concern for the 20 percent of the state population that is over 65 years old. This should be troubling to anyone who’s ever worried about whether their health care is up to par.

So, as we approach elections this fall, it’s about time we broaden our conversation about health care. We need to be demanding that quality of care be on the agenda, preserving the reforms that have already started to show better patient outcomes, and insisting on legislation that expands efforts to give all Americans the kind of medical treatment they deserve. I started this conversation with my future constituents yesterday in a roundtable where I asked patients, community leaders, and health care providers to share their thoughts.

Not surprisingly, their real-world experience led them to ask two questions: “Can you make our care cheaper?” and also “Can you make it better, too?”

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Lauren Baer is a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. She was a senior policy adviser to former U.S. Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton and to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Joe Henderson: Will Weatherford continues quest to reduce generational poverty

When Will Weatherford takes the podium this morning to open a Florida business economic summit in Orlando, his message will be straightforward and clear.

Everybody needs a real chance at having a secure future, Weatherford will tell those attending the Florida Business Leaders’ Summit on Prosperity and Economic Opportunity.

The way to do that is to attack the issue of generational poverty. That won’t be easy.

“When people hear about 4 percent unemployment rates, or the stock market performing well, or real estate doing well, they forget there is a large section of the population that doesn’t have a large portfolio. They might not have real estate,” he said.

It’s a serious problem in Florida.

A 2016 report by the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs estimated that nearly 15 percent of adults and 24 percent of children here live in poverty.

Weatherford, a Land O’Lakes Republican, is the former Speaker of the state House of Representatives. He is not a newbie to raising awareness of systemic poverty that keeps some families locked in lifelong economic despair.

As Speaker, Weatherford spoke about that topic on the opening day of the 2014 Legislative Session. He also can talk with the authority of personal experience.

He was the second-oldest in a family of nine children. Money was scarce. The family moved often.

Education was his key to achieve a better future. He played football at Jacksonville University, where his roommate was the son of a state representative. That relationship helped open the door to a political career, but that wouldn’t have been possible without education.

“Poverty is a problem that has plagued society as far back as history goes,” he said. “I don’t know that there is a way to completely eradicate it, but we should be creating a society where someone born into poverty doesn’t have to stay that way. It won’t happen overnight.”

Weatherford said that education doesn’t necessarily have to come from college to create opportunity.

“It all starts with choice. It’s about empowering kids and parents to see there are multiple pathways to success,” he said. “Your child does not have to go to college to be successful in life. There are other avenues that are available to them.”

Increased vocational training is one major avenue for acquiring specific job skills, and there is a new emphasis on that. But training alone won’t bust the cycle.

“Yes, we need to get creative in our educational system, but there are other significant challenges to the way we handle poverty today. We have created disincentives for some people to work their way out of it,” he said.

“I’m not here to say government doesn’t play a role in this because it certainly does. But in the 21st century, we need to re-evaluate how we do this.”

And then there is this nugget: “Our criminal justice system is outdated,” he said.

It’s true. Currently, a relatively minor offense committed as a youngster can be a red flag for potential employers and dog someone into their adult years.

The business community should be involved in finding a better way that isn’t one size fits all. Leaders could find that advocating for more than tax or regulatory reform could create a better long-range workforce.

That helps everyone.

That’s the message Weatherford plans to share.

“It’s not just me. The idea of a prosperity summit is not to think of creative ways for people who have achieved prosperity to receive more. It’s about finding ways to lift people out of poverty,” he said.

“We want to raise the level of awareness and engagement. And we need to get people who want to jump into the ring and help.”

Joe Henderson: GOP wondering where Marco Rubio went

Marco Rubio is still a Republican, right?

I’m just trying to make sure. Lately, he has been saying and doing things that are, oh, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Liberal?

Let’s not go that far.

But the junior U.S. senator from Florida has been flashing a refreshing independent streak in recent days and weeks, a notion reinforced by his rather stunning assertion that American workers aren’t getting much benefit from President Donald Trump’s ballyhooed tax cuts.

Nope, Rubio said in a story published in the Economist, that just like opponents predicted, the windfall tax break is making a few corporate fat cats even more obese.

“There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers,” he told the Economist. “In fact, they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”

That prompted this pithy quip from Matt House, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer: “We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.”

Quick! Someone get the vapors ready for all those “trickle down” twits who have pushed the laughably absurd notion that wages for the worker bees magically rise when the richest people get richer.

They’re not happy that Rubio has gone off the reservation.

“It’s disappointing to see Marco Rubio echo some of the false rhetoric of tax reform opponents, and we hope he clarifies his remarks,” Brent Gardner, chief government affairs officer for Americans for Prosperity, told the Washington Post.

That outfit is joined at the hip with the billionaires Charles and David Koch.

The Americans For Tax Fairness estimated the tax cut could put an additional $1.4 billion into the Koch coffers.

I would doubt Rubio has much intention of clarifying anything of the sort. After all, he has been cooperating publicly with Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on issues like hurricane relief.

Rubio has gone as far as to say he won’t campaign against Nelson in this fall’s Senate election against Gov. Rick Scott. He did ask his backers to support Scott, but it seemed kind of tepid.

What’s his game?

A quote in the Economist story that didn’t get as much attention as the one on tax cuts may provide the answer.

“Government has an essential role to play in buffering this transition,” Rubio. “If we basically say everyone is on their own and the market’s going to take care of it, we will rip the country apart, because millions of good hardworking people lack the means to adapt.”

To achieve that, he told the publication that he is cooking up a new conservative economic movement aimed at giving workers who felt Trump was the only one listening to them a more viable alternative.

It’s a bold gambit.

If Trump implodes, all bets are off and Rubio 2.0 might get some wind in the sails, even if some Republicans now are wondering whatever happened to that young man in a hurry they used to like so much.

Brecht Heuchan: Grouped CRC amendments benefit voters, offer transformational ideas

Brecht Heuchan

The 2018 Constitution Revision Commission, also known simply as the “CRC,” recently completed the once in every 20-year task of reviewing our state constitution.

The purpose of the review is to ensure that our governing document reflects the values of our modern society and meets the needs of our growing state.

The CRC finalized eight proposed amendments, some of which are “grouped,” meaning multiple ideas are included in one single amendment. These amendments were based on more than a year’s worth of work, by 37 volunteer commissioners, traveling across the state, hosting 15 public hearings, dozens more committee meetings, consulting subject matter experts, and considering hundreds of thousands of comments from citizens.

Unfortunately, instead of debating merits of the policy, some editorial boards have offered sarcasm and ignored facts.

They have indicted the practice of grouping related proposals into single amendments for the ballot yet omitted the reality that grouping some ideas which share common elements is for the benefit of the voter.

According to election officials, long ballots create a disincentive to voting in the first place.

Grouping some ideas together keeps the ballot from becoming too lengthy to complete. If all of the CRC proposals were left as single amendments, there would be 25 questions on the ballot instead of 13; and in some areas of our state, each of those measures would be translated into multiple languages.

Further, not grouping ideas would have abandoned every precedent we have. Both previous Constitution Revision Commissions, in 1978 and in 1998, grouped ideas and did so with more regularity than we did. Indeed, in 1968 the voters of Florida ratified an entirely new constitution which was “bundled,” aka grouped into three, yes only three, ballot amendments. Grouping is not new and not controversial.

Bold ideas are often met with criticism and I support the ability of the media and others to voice their disagreement. However, categorically condemning a historically proven and successful process by omitting facts which are contrary to the desired effect is disingenuous.

If traditional media outlets have any desire to regain the public’s trust, if in news or in opinion, they need to be less selective with information and more honest with their arguments.

Here is the truth: the CRC sent to voters a package of transformational ideas in the form of eight proposed amendments to our Constitution, some grouped, some not. These ideas cover a lot of ground and include wildly popular proposals like sweeping ethics reforms, term limits for school board members, rights for crime victims, a ban on offshore oil drilling, banning the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed indoor workplaces, and ending the inhumane racing of greyhounds for betting purposes.

The ballot language of these proposals is clear and easily understood. Voters are exceedingly smart and will decide how they want their Florida to look for generations to come. In the end, they alone will be the judge of our work.

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Brecht Heuchan is a member of the 2018 Constitution Revision Commission.

Joe Henderson: Tampa crowded mayor field gets another candidate

The official entry of Mike Suarez into the field campaigning to be Tampa’s next mayor is expected, as Florida Politics reported, as soon as today.

Suarez, a city council member, has long been expected to join what is becoming an increasingly crowded and interesting field.

So far, former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, District 4 Councilmember Harry Cohen, and former county commissioner Ed Turanchik are in the race along with a human named Michael Hazard and businessman Christopher “Topher” Morrison.

Businessman/philanthropist David Straz has been the subject of rumors about running, and last week he did change from Donald Trump supporter to a registered Democrat – for what that’s worth. Although the mayor’s race is officially non-partisan, no Republican has ever won.

Bob Martinez, who became the Republican governor of Florida, was known to be a Democrat when he successfully ran to be Tampa’s mayor in 1979. He changed parties after meeting Ronald Reagan, but I digress.

We’re talking about today’s mayor’s race in Tampa. It’s a lot bigger job than cutting ribbons and passing proclamations.

“Don’t tell me what you’re going to do, tell me how you’re going to fund it,” long-time Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda said. “Whoever he or she is going to face a billion dollars in infrastructure needs in water and sewer. One billion, with a B.”

Even against that, this looks like one of the strongest fields in recent memories.

Start with Castor, who served six years as Buckhorn’s police chief. He coaxed her into staying on an extra year with a special services contract after she reached her planned retirement. Needless to say, he is a big fan.

“She’s solid. She’s consistent. She’s a known commodity. She has proven she can run a big, big department with a big budget,” he said.

“And I have seen her in this city’s best of times, and certainly in its worst of times. She’s unflappable. She did a good job for me, and I think by extension she will do a good job for the community.”

Notably, Buckhorn did stop short of a full endorsement.

Castor has been meeting for months with community groups. Although this is her first try at elected office, she has a strong team to back her candidacy as well as a track record as an effective manager.

Running a major city’s police department is not a challenge for the meek.

“It’s the toughest department out of all the departments I have. Given the nature of what they do and the types of personalities you deal with in public safety, managing and balancing that relationship with the community, it’s complex,” Buckhorn said.

“It is very, very challenging. When it goes bad, it can go really, really bad. But when it goes good, it has a lasting impact. Certainly, for the six years she worked for me I never worried about the police department.”

Turanchik, who served previously on the Hillsborough County Commission, raised more than $100,000 in the first month since declaring his candidacy in February.

“The field may even get stronger and larger,” Miranda said. “But the public has to look at themselves in the mirror and decide what they want, and how they want to pay for it.”

Buckhorn’s nearly two terms as Tampa’s mayor has been about the rebirth of the city’s once-dormant downtown. The next mayor, which will be chosen in about a year, will be expected to build on that.

The plan for that will be laid out, hopefully in detail, on the campaign trail. One thing is for sure, though.

“It’s a strong field, but before I say anything I want to see what they all have to say about what they want to do,” Miranda said.

At this point, even as strong as this field looks, everyone should be saying the same thing.

Joe Henderson: Anthony Pedicini’s only goal is win against cancer

Political consultant Anthony Pedicini is known in Hillsborough County political circles as someone who takes no prisoners in his drive to support the ambition of Republican candidates.

He plays to win and if you are in the way, well, that’s your problem.

Opponents with bloodied noses can tell you all about that.

But some things call for a suspension of preconceived images, and in at least one area Pedicini – catch your breath, this may be hard to believe if you know him only by his work – is an emotional, eye-dabbing, teddy bear.

The subject is cancer, specifically the kind of cancer that attacks children. On that issue, Pedicini welcomes everyone willing to support the eradication of that disease under the big tent of humanity.

When it comes to fighting cancer, especially in children, he is strictly NPA – no party affiliation.

That explains why he has stopped shaving while the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the National Hockey League playoffs. It follows a league-wide tradition the league calls “playoff beards” – it’s one of those hockey things.

Basically, participants in the playoffs stop shaving as long as they remain in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s a superstition about not changing anything as long as they remain in the playoffs, and now it’s a fairly widespread practice.

The Lightning Foundation capitalized on the craze as a fund-raiser, and that’s where Pedicini got on board. He is a serious hockey fan and joined the beard-a-thon as a way to raise money and awareness about the disease.

“I thought it would be fun,” he said.

There was serious side too.

His younger brother, Thomas, had battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although he is cancer free, the aggressive treatment needed to cure the disease left Thomas in need of multiple surgeries.

He raised more than $20,000, leading NHL cities. He made good on a promise to dye his beard blue if donations reached that level.

TO DONATE TO THE FIGHT AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER, CLICK HERE.

With the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs now against Boston, the goal is higher.

So are the stakes.

He has a 4-year-old relative in New York who is battling a rare cancer called medulloblastoma.

“When my brother went through this, it was a shock. But to see a 4-year-old battling this is extremely hard,” he said, choking his words. “It’s your family. Family is most important.

“Doctors have told me there is very little research into treatments for pediatric cancers. We have to do something about that.”

This isn’t a red or blue issue.

Democrats who fight him hard on political issues have opened their wallets as well as Republicans to contribute to his fund, which has now passed $35,000. In turn, he set a goal and made a promise.

The Lightning’s playoff chase resumes tonight against Boston at Amalie Arena in Tampa. If they make it to the Cup final and at least 60 people donate $1,000 each, he will hold a raffle and send one of them on a road trip to watch the Lightning. He says that money will come from personal funds.

“I don’t care about the cost,” he said. “For some reason, I get along better with kids than I do with adults. I want to help them. We all want to help them.”

TO DONATE TO THE FIGHT AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER, CLICK HERE.

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