Hispanic scenario from mayoral poll?

Recently the Tampa firefighters union conducted its traditional mayoral poll. Only 436 out of the 1,889 registered voters contacted had an opinion — other than “undecided” — on the 2003 race.

But of those 436 political junkies, their preferences broke down this way: Tampa City Councilman Bob Buckhorn, 114; Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Pam Iorio, 98; former Hillsborough Chief Circuit Judge Dennis Alvarez, 97; City Council Chairman Charlie Miranda, 46; City Councilwoman Rose Ferlita, 40; Hillsborough County Commissioner Chris Hart, 24; and former Assistant Secretary of Transportation Francisco Sanchez, 17.

What this mainly means is that while it’s never premature for candidates to look ahead a political light year, a 2003 race is decidedly too far out for most voters. Thus, these poll results are mainly a function of early name recognition.

What it also indicates, however, is that while it surprises no one that Buckhorn tops this or any other early poll, any coalescing of Hispanic candidates — although problematic — could prove formidable. Even decisive. Especially in an election that historically draws less than 40,000 voters.

It’s in the mail
Never let it be said that Tampa isn’t on some cutting edges. And no, we’re not talking face-scans, lap-dances and sneakercams.

Starting next month Tampa will be one of just three cities nationwide giving the Segway Human Transporter — aka “It” and “Ginger” — a formal, 30-day, 12-mph run. The much hyped, battery-powered, gyroscopic-stabilized scooters will help ferry Tampa mail carriers on their rounds.

The check may not be in the mail, and the mail may not arrive any sooner. But this could be fun to watch.

A tragic lesson
At the risk of piling on a tragedy, just one question regarding the terrible hunting accident that resulted in a Tampa man accidentally shooting and killing his 9-year-old son last month. Why wasn’t that child in school?

An excursion to see Harry Potter on school time is enough of a reach, but a parent taking a kid out of school for several days to observe deer hunting? That’s where the negligence began. Tragically, it didn’t end there.

Reno reaction ill-advised
Just when you think the Florida Legislature’s special session, also known as Fiscal Food Fight ’02, couldn’t get much more bizarre, it does. Thanks, in part, to Janet Reno. But even more thanks to Cuban-American legislators.

Last week Reno, the former U.S. attorney general who’s running for governor, turned up in Tallahassee and was introduced as a guest to the House by North Miami Beach Democrat Rep. Sally Heyman. This prompted about a dozen legislators, mostly the usual suspects from Miami-Dade County, to walk out.

Nice touch. And great for the “cause.”

“We weren’t disrespectful,” sniffed Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. “We didn’t hiss.” The hiss-less demonstration, of course, was the Cuban-American delegation’s way of reminding Reno — and everyone else, thank you — that they neither forget nor forgive her for deciding to return Elian Gonzalez to his Cuban father last year.

The unflappable Reno didn’t indicate if she were hissed-off or not by the walkout. Deep down, however, she had to know it couldn’t hurt.

Having a bunch of grandstanding South Florida Cuban-Americans walk out could, if anything, earn sympathy for Reno. It’s also a reminder that even if you disagreed with Reno’s Elian position, you could still respect her stand in the face-off with the forces of outrage and intimidation. Finally, how much can you be hurt by a demonstration by those who discredited themselves nationally over the Elian affair?

Waytogo, Mario.

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