Mayor Pam Iorio has been in office a little more than a year now. Most observers would grade it a good start. She hasn’t exactly frittered away the mother lode of good will she debuted with. Many might even call it an ongoing media honeymoon — even if the mayor disagrees. (Officially, she does.)
Her persona is still positive, her public image still unflappable. “I love it,” she still says of the City Hall experience.
She tries to diffuse anything that’s less than lovable — say, the latest incarnation of Ryan Construction or smutty e-mail circulating in the parking department — early in her day. She speed-reads both dailies each morning between 6:00 and 6:20 A.M. “Whatever irritates me, happens then,” she acknowledges.
“I sometimes vent. But that’s what husbands are for. Then I drive to work, maybe talk to (Chief of Staff) Darrell (Smith) or maybe (Special Assistant) Fran (Davin). Then it’s all right.”
“What you see is what you get,” says Smith. “She doesn’t turn it on for the public spotlight. You won’t hear her raise her voice. She’s remarkably calm. She’s about logic and problem-solving and holding people accountable. She treats the public and the media as customers.”
The only scandal on Iorio’s watch has been in the housing department, and that was an inherited mess of arrant audits and criminal indictments. But the new mayor owns it, especially since it continued to fester through her first year. She then literally cleaned house, which is the best way to deal with debacles.
The mayor has a fairly lengthy short list of her administration’s first year accomplishments. They’ve been well chronicled in the media — including a 14-minute city video. What is worth underscoring here, however, is what tops that list.
She has hired well, she emphasizes, from Police Chief Stephen Hogue to Solid Waste Department Director David McGary. She also touts the diversity of her hires: of the 18 department head and managerial positions filled by Iorio, more than 40 per cent are minorities — blacks and Hispanics.
And, no, she doesn’t agree with those who feel she may have beefed up the bureaucracy with some of those hires, none of them at modest salaries. That’s because Iorio not only filled positions, but also added some, such as Paul Wilborn, the creative industries manager, Santiago Corrada, administrator of neighborhood services, Susanna Martinez, a full-time communications director and Davin, the special assistant.
“I’m proud that we’ve assembled a quality team,” says Iorio. “It’s about bringing in the best and brightest. It’s what I said I would do — to serve the public. I don’t think we added ‘layers’ as some have said.”
Co-topping that list of accomplishments is the effort at helping residents of East Tampa take back their neighborhoods from the druggies. The police crackdown on drug holes didn’t end with Operation Commitment, she stresses.
“I really credit the police and the community policing policy,” says Iorio. “They are going after the drug suppliers. You could drive to 29th and Lake right now, and you won’t find open-air drug dealing any more. And we haven’t seen any evidence that it has simply gone elsewhere. We monitor that.”