Conceding it’s just too hard for him to say goodbye to the job he loves, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced this morning that he is extending his farewell tour through July 2020.
For the past several weeks (months?) the term-limited Mayor has been giving extended sit-down interviews with local media, while also making the rounds at several civic organizations and city offices.
Buckhorn’s social media is filled with emotional goodbyes as the Mayor turns over the reins to the city he has definitively revitalized.
Mayor-elect Jane Castor expects to take office May 1, which was presumably the day Buckhorn would also embark on the next phase of his career.
But for now, no one is sure what Buckhorn has in store.
“I’m not sure what’s going on,” said Tampa Bay Times reporter Chris O’Donnell, who covered City Hall during the final years of Buckhorn’s tenure. “The Mayor’s Office called and asked if I could set aside some time during Memorial Day weekend so I could sit down with the Mayor for a two-part interview.”
“That’s when I said, ‘But we’ve already done our exit interview with the Mayor. Several times. What more needs to be said?’ And that’s when Buckhorn’s office just kept repeating the word ‘swagger’ over and over again.”
Other local reporters confirm that they too have been approached about conducting additional interviews with Buckhorn.
“Yeah, someone from his office asked us to set aside several mornings in July, so we asked if they were talking about Mayor-elect Castor,” said Evan Donovan of WFLA Channel 8. “And that’s when they started laughing at me.”
But it’s not just Tampa Bay media outlets which say that Buckhorn’s staff has reached out about setting up possible interviews. TV anchors and print reporters in at least a half-dozen other Florida cities say they’ve received inquiries about the possibility of Buckhorn talking with them about Tampa’s success story.
“This is Ft. Lauderdale,” insisted one reporter, who asked to remain anonymous because they did not have permission to speak on behalf of their outlet. “What the f*ck do we care about Ybor City?”
Buckhorn’s decision to remain highly visible after he leaves office is also creating some confusion for the incoming Castor administration.
Sensitive about not wanting to offend someone who endorsed Castor’s candidacy, incoming staffers reveal that much of the show Buckhorn is putting on about leaving office is just that: show.
“You know how he keeps posting pictures of him packing up his office in cardboard boxes,” one staffer hoping to be held over asked rhetorically. “Well, that’s not his stuff. And those aren’t his boxes.”
The staffer reveals that what Buckhorn does is pack some stuff from the City Hall lost-and-found department, has his spokesperson Ashley Bauman take a picture for Instagram, then throws the box back into lost-and-found.
Asked whether this was true and what role she is playing in Buckhorn’s plans, Bauman responded: “Oh for f*cks sake, Schorsch.”
One concession Bauman made was to confirm rumors that Buckhorn was making plans to trademark turning the Hillsborough River green for St. Patrick’s Day.
“He’s very attached to St. Patrick’s Day,” Bauman said, while also acknowledging that Buckhorn plans to play a “prominent role” in resisting the pirates as part of the Gasparilla festivities.
If there’s one person not exactly thrilled with Buckhorn’s decision to extend his encore, it’s his wife, Cathy.
“I don’t really care what he does next St. Patrick’s Day, but if he doesn’t have me and the girls on vacation by June, I plan on cutting a crotch-sized hole in those green pants of his,” Dr. Buckhorn said while also sharing with this reporter a honey-do-list she’s been working on for the last eight years.