Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Council Forum (6-8-06)

06/09/06

Mayor Pam Iorio’s Hispanic Advisory Council hosted a public forum last night at Jefferson High School. The aim was for officials to highlight projects, programs and services geared towards Tampa’s growing Hispanic community. Ernesto Difilippo files this report.

In the lobby were tables of general public information translated into Spanish. The Police Department, voter registration, the Housing Department and others were there to communicate their services to the Spanish speaking community. The public was slow to show up and didn’t really know what exactly was going to be addressed by the forum.

ACT: “[in English] My name is Michael Hart … see about services for learning English … train for something…�

ACT: “[in Spanish] My name is Jannette Palencia, I work for Moffit Cancer Center. My job is to come to community events to know what is going on and to see how their going to improve the community with all that they are doing.�

Mayor Pam Iorio said she was there to listen and mostly let her Spanish speaking staff address the audience. Santiago Corrada outlined what the mayor’s office was doing for the community.

ACT: “[in Spanish] The city of Tampa guides itself on a strategic plan that has five focus themes. The first is investment in neighborhoods. This is realized by better streets, better parks, better infrastructure and public security. That is the first theme; the second is economic development in those areas that need assistance, using East Tampa as a model. The third theme is the development of the down town business district into a residential community. All you have to do is take a ride around down town to see all the new buildings sprouting out of the ground in that area. The fourth theme, one we are very proud of, is of efficient governance that is focused on customer service, to the clients who are you the citizens. Every year this plan is refined to bring better services to the public. And the final theme is the one of a city that supports Art.�

Other panel presentations included general public information. On the federal level social security and Medicare statistics were given. Florida’s Financial Department underlined the importance of home insurance and paying your bills ahead of time if there’s a hurricane. The Tampa Fire Department reiterated the importance of storing water and canned goods in the event of a hurricane.

Meanwhile members of the public filled out cards with their questions. Most had to do with fears of police profiling and reporting labor abuses. Others had to do with very basic needs such as affordable public transportation to and from jobs at all hours of the day and night. Mayor Iorio spoke up on this issue.

ACT: “I’m concerned about public transportation … transit plan … separate agency (Hartline)… not enough money … County commission has to vote for placing referendum … until there’s agreement … can’t be funded at city level.�

Perhaps Luis Coldero, from the public, put forth the most poignant and all encompassing issue of the evening. He first related an experience moving several undocumented workers to a church made of block during a hurricane watch last year. The people were afraid to go to a normal shelter for fear that they would be rounded up. He asked if there was any support for neighborhood teams, in the tradition of Latin American “equipos barriales�, whereby each neighborhood has its leaders and knows what to do in case of an emergency. His reasoning was that if local people help each other out there is less fear of ones status interfering with basic humanitarian aid.

I’m Ernesto Difilippo for WMNF evening news.

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