Buckhorn’s candidacy: votes in the ‘hood

Now it’s officially official. Bob Buckhorn is officially running for mayor.

As you may have noticed, presses didn’t stop, eyebrows didn’t arch and Pam Iorio didn’t issue a concession statement. The official announcement had all the drama of a call-center ribbon cutting. The Florida Aquarium’s name changing of “jewfish” to “goliath grouper” was a bigger story.

But while at least one prominent pundit — ok, Dan Ruth — has already noted that Buckhorn’s chances are “no worse or better than anybody else’s,” that’s likely not the case.

Buckhorn’s chances are better than most, especially those named Miranda, Ferlita, Hart and Alvarez — Dennis or Wilson. Name recognition and fund-raising are, as always, critical. Buckhorn’s been working on the former forever. The latter works in tandem.

Where he has a leg up is where most of us live — in neighborhoods. Populism remains ever popular, and Buckhorn expertly played the neighborhood-crusader card during the high profile, high stakes, Community Investment Tax pitched battle.

Remember, in that 6-1 City Council vote to use CIT money for a cultural arts district downtown, he was the 1. The only one, we will be reminded incessantly from a well-worn script, who didn’t “cave in” to Dick Greco’s “monument-building” agenda.

Buckhorn’s other leg is firmly planted atop a certain six-foot ordinance. Libertarians, Joe Redner, Luke Lirot and anyone who frames the issue as “government legislating morality” have taken serious umbrage at Tampa’s lap-dance law.

Of course, no one wants a Taliban Tampa or a Gestapoized First Amendment. But a lot of people, certainly not just Buckhorn, see the matter as a “quality of life” issue. The location and nature of adult businesses, they would argue, is an appropriate community question to raise — and not quietly either. Not unlike, say, what passes for entertainment over at WXTB, 97.9 FM.

And as to those who see the adult-business issue as purely a moral crusade, well, Buckhorn will gladly accept those votes as well, thank you.

The holdout CIT vote and the aggressive, publicity-generating lap-dance campaign are certainly not everyone’s agenda, but it is a constituency.

Yin, Yang, Ybor
Call it the architectural yin and yang of Ybor City.

For too long Ybor had gone, well, Ybor-less when it came to statuary honoring historic figures. There’s Queen Isabella, Jose Marti, Nick Nuccio, Tony Pizzo, Cesar Gonzmart and anonymous immigrants. And some day there will be Sam Leto and Dick Greco and maybe Ferdie Pacheco and Roland Manteiga.

But now, finally, by the entrance to Centro Ybor, there’s a six-foot bronze replica of Vicente Martinez-Ybor, without whom there would be no Ybor City. Muchas gracias (great-grandson) Rafael Martinez-Ybor, the Ybor City Rotary Club and sculptor Steve Dickey.

But then there’s the proposed 170,000-sq-ft., modern entertainment center on Seventh Avenue and 15th Street. With its blue, conical, smokestack-like skylight, portholes and reliance on the color gray, it is as incongruous to the surrounding architecture and history as the Martinez-Ybor statue and Centro Ybor are complementary.

No one is telling land-owner/developer Penet Land Corp. to rebuild the Blue Ribbon Supermarket that previously stood on the site or to replicate its yellow-brick look. No one is even telling Penet it can’t exceed the national historic district’s height allowance — by 14 feet.

But what the Barrio Latino Commission is saying is that the Penet project, while no Hillsborough Community College abomination, is an inappropriate fit in an historic district.

The Barrio, while compromising on the height restriction, is doing the right thing by issuing a small-craft warning to the ship-shaped building. Now it’s up to architect Kenneth Kroger to transcend his ego and remember why it is that we have designated historic districts in the first place.

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