TAMPA MAYOR LOOKS TO FUTURE IN STATE OF CITY SPEECH By Roxanne Escobales

03/28/06

Today in downtown Tampa, Mayor Pam Iorio delivered her third state of the city speech. She did not look back over her three-year career as the city’s leader, but instead she focused on the future. WMNF’s Roxanne Escobales reports.

Addressing an audience of suited civic and business leaders at the Tampa Convention Center, Iorio made her vision of what is to come the theme of her third state of the city speech. Calling Tampa a young city, she said that it is now in a critical stage of evolution.

Making the image of youth ever present in her address, the mayor opened with the statistic that 30 children will be born in Tampa today. She appealed to the city’s sense of foresight when assessing its current period of growth, and repeatedly reminded the audience that her initiatives are building a better future for the children of today.

ACT: “Our decisions should always be about the future – short term and long term – based on the premise and the promise that the Tampa of tomorrow will be better than the Tampa of today.�

In keeping the “our children are our future� theme, the mayor launched a new education initiative called the City’s Make the Grade program. Three failing local elementary schools will receive city funding beyond what they get from the county and the state.

ACT: “A young person without a quality education does not face a world filled with possibilities… This is a generous and caring community and lending a helping hand to those schools that need an extra boost is in keeping with our character.�

While Mayor Iorio outlined the major issues facing Tampa, such as community development, the arts and education, it was the concern of mass transit that drew the most questions after the speech.

Iorio told reporters of the need to sustain a dialogue throughout the many levels of government in developing a mass transit system that meets the needs of Tampa Bay’s fast growing population.

ACT: “Really what we need to do is look at it on a regional basis, not divide it up by county… we need to have a better bus system. And then we need to look to a transit system like other communities have, like light rail… but this is going to take cooperation from the county and the state too… that is our challenge in the coming years�

When asked by WMNF why there hasn’t been more done on mass transit, Iorio pointed to a lack of action by the county.

ACT: “Mass transit I will continue to talk about, but it’s really going to take a county wide effort if there’s ever to be additional funding for mass transit it’s going to take a referendum by the voters and it’s going to take the county commission to do that… you’re going to have to interview them.�

Unfortunately, none of the county commissioners were available to respond to the mayor’s remarks. But despite taking shots at county government, Mayor Iorio remains optimistic that the relationship between city and county will change.

ACT: negative trend between city and county that will eventually fizzle

Until then, Mayor Pam Iorio seems intent to keep her vision trained in a distinctly forwardly direction. So maybe one day the 30 children born in Tampa today will hop on a trolley or a monorail to get to work.

For WMNF in Tampa, I’m Roxanne Escobales

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