Bean There, Done That

It’s no secret that the relationship between Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa seems like a wreck in progress right now. As a concept, the city-as-economic-hub might as well be the quantum theory to the county commission. Tampa, along with Plant City and Temple Terrace, is seemingly just another incorporated city – only one with an attitude.

But should this area suffer the brute force of a major hurricane or other disaster, Tampa will be a lot more than Temple Terrace on steroids. It will be ground zero. But it also will be, in effect, everybody’s ground zero.

That’s why Mayor Pam Iorio has been adamant about the city’s role in any disaster scenario. That’s why it has been disheartening to see how the county-city dynamic has been playing out here between Iorio and Hillsborough County Administrator Pat Bean. Think: Son of Civitas.

Of course, the county is responsible for coordinating all emergency activities within its purview, which is everything within its boundaries. State law and county ordinance codify it. And any effective chain of command only has one person at the top, where the buck necessarily stops. That’s Bean, who’s also the designated emergency management director.

That said, however, why wouldn’t the county administrator want the mayor on board as her out-front, go-to person for Tampa, the county’s flagship and its most vulnerable area?

What can’t continue, however, is the ongoing antipathy between the city and the county. It’s debilitating on a good day; absolutely disastrous should a disaster strike — a time when we all have to pull together as residents without label.

Hopefully, cooler heads will truly prevail, and Iorio and Bean (and Commission Chairman Chaperone Jim Norman) will sit down – outside the posturing context of a press conference – to hash out the appropriate role for the mayor of the county’s keystone. A good start would be for Bean, who’s ultimately in charge, to stop sounding like Alexander Haig in the process.

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