Mitch Perry Report for 9.23.15 – The Best of Tampa Bay, mostly

Mitch Perry

Welcome to the the autumn equinox, Yom Kippur, Pope Francis’ first full day in the U.S., and……the unveiling of Creative Loafing’s annual Best-of-the-Bay issue.

Tonight, the folks associated with the local alternative weekly will publish their BOTB issue, literally and figuratively the biggest paper that the company will produce this year.

As some of you may know, I served as political editor of the paper for five years before making the move over to Florida Politics/SaintPetersBlog last November, right after last year’s midterm elections

So for the first time since George W. Bush was still in office, this will be the first BOTB that I’ve not had any involvement in.

I remember a few years ago, a Tampa Tribune columnist called to complain about how a staffer at CL would only link stories published by the Tampa Bay Times, to the exclusive of the Trib, though in some cases their stories were better reported. He wanted to let me know that the “other daily” was still alive and kicking, even though it wsa sort of the Little Engine That Could.

I understood and sympathized about where he was coming from, but the Tampa Tribune is like the New York Times in terms of resources compared to CL. I was stunned when I first began working there six years ago at the paucity of writers actually working in the building everyday, vs. the multitude of salesmen and women. It’s really never changed since then – though the paper does rely a lot on interns and freelancers. That’s why the BOTB issue is an exhaustive effort by the staff. Not that they need the plaudits, but trust me, I’ve been there. It’s a lot of work, that goes on for months.

However, something I never realized until I worked there was how much power CL editors have when it comes to BOTB. Winning one of those awards, whether it’s from the public or the editors, is a really big deal for a lot of folks in the Tampa Bay area. Which in retrospect, makes a lot of sense. I mean, who doesn’t like being rewarded in some way for the work that they do? Everybody appreciates it, whatever and wherever it is, right? Depending on the source, it may be a higher honor and something for you to boast about, but most of us don’t get recognized in a public way, ever, or not very often.

You have no idea how valuable a BOTB award is for the folks that run bars, restaurants and retail establishments in this area. Do those people take it a bit too seriously? Uh, yeah. My bailiwick was relegated to politics and media, so I didn’t have to deal with the incoming from p.o.’d restauranteurs.

But what fun it was to have the power as political editor to decide each year who I thought was most deserving in the categories I was responsible for. A lot of responsibility, actually.

However, at the end of the day it’s just supposed to be a fun thing. So to my former colleagues who toil over at Ybor Square (and their homes), congrats in advance on the new issue. Have a good time at your party tonight in St. Pete.

And for those folks out there who were campaigning on social media to be named a winner but somehow came up short, it’s still all good.

In other news..

Although the Florida Legislature shows no inclination to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour next year, 17 Democrats says they’ll live on those wages for a week to bring attention to the issue.

That independent attorney hired by the City Attorney to render an opinion about Julia Mandell having a conflict-of-interest in the advice she gives the City Council came down yesterday, and, not surprisingly, attorney Gwynne Young said there was no conflict. This is not the end of this story.

And Alan Grayson spoke with local Democrats in Tampa for over 45 minutes on Monday evening.

Jeb Bush may start inheriting more support now that Scott Walker has left the campaign, so perhaps one shouldn’t judge too harshly his current sixth placing standing in Iowa. Or should we?

Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. Congresswoman Kathy Castor celebrated the occasion at King High School, which has the highest percentage of kids registering to vote in Hillsborough County.

And Marco Rubio held a fundraiser in suburban Dallas last night that had a few people upset. Trey Gowdy, the Republican Congressman leading the investigation of Benghazi, opted to bow out (weeks ago, a Rubio spokesman now tells us).

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].


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