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Local publisher requests $1.2 million from Legislature for Cuban Club

La Gaceta Editor and Publisher Patrick Manteiga is asking lawmakers for $1.2 million to pay for repairs and renovations to the historic Cuban Club in Tampa’s Ybor City.

State Rep. Susan Valdes is sponsoring an appropriations requestThe funding would come from the Department of Economic Opportunity.

Manteiga says the funding would be used to reduce water intrusion to the building, replace gutters, pedestrian decks, windows, doors and balconies on the 4th floor ballroom.

It would also be used to replace and modernize the building’s outdated elevator including adding an outside entrance to better accommodate persons with disabilities.

Funds would also be used to paint the 1917 building and replace rotting wood.

It’s not clear whether the request will gain support in the Legislature. Local funding initiatives are often whittled away during the budget process and similar requests roll in from organizations all over the state.

But Manteiga’s request claims the project would enrich cultural experiences in the Tampa area, improve educational opportunities, increase economic activity and provide jobs.

He cites the building’s use as a venue in which liquor is sold as a benefit to Florida’s tax base and appeal to tourism as a benefit to the state and local economy.

The building enriches cultural experience and educational opportunities because it hosts concerts, theater performances, art shows and educational seminars.

Manteiga also claims the improvements would “protect the general public from harm” by being used as an emergency shelter or distribution center.

Manteiga lists support for the Cuban Club’s overall usefulness in the community from the city of Tampa, Hillsborough County and local historic preservation boards.

His appropriations request does not include financial support from any other sources. Manteiga also does not list a lobbyist working on his behalf for the state funding.

He filed the request on behalf of the Cuban Club Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs the venue.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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