CITY COUNCIL TAKES UP USA PATRIOT ACT. . . AGAIN - Mitch Perry

04/22/04

Last Thursday night, the Tampa City Council voted to support a resolution advocating the revision of portions of the controversial anti-terrorism law known as the USA Patriot Act, which passed Congress weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

Since that vote, Ballast Point President Gene Welles, who lost last year to John Dingfelder in his bid for the City Council, denounced the vote in a letter he e-mailed throughout the city, claiming that council Democrats had 'railroaded' their partisan ideology by opposing Homeland Security....

But in fact Tampa was just joining over 280 cities and Counties - including Sarasota- who have passed similar resolutions in the past couple of years.

Today at the Council, Welles verbalized his anger at the process and the result of the last week's vote (roll tape#1 o.q." partisan tact") And Welles asked that the Council reconsider their vote....

One of those Councilmembers who voted to repeal revisions of the law, Kevin White, told Welles he objected to the tone of Welles remarks (roll tape#2 o.q."I personally take offense at ")

City Councilmember Rose Ferlita agreed with Gene Welles that the side supporting the Patriot Act was not given a fair chance to speak out against it last week (roll tape#3 o.q.

Come in here and discuss it")

Councilmember John Dingfelder, whose vote AGAINSt the resolution stunned some of his supporters, told Welles that though he agreed with him regarding his opposition to the Council's vote last week, he disagreed with him that there should be a 're-vote' (roll tape#4 o.q. "to be more divisive")

South Tampa resident Marilyn Durst said she too would have liked to have seen more citizens have public comment on the resolution (roll tape#5 o.q."partisan issue")

Mike Pheneger introduced himself as a Republican with a slightly different perspective.....Pheneger is a member of the Tampa Chapter of the ACLU and was a leading figure with Tampa Safe and Free, the group that coalesced to get the Council to approve a resolution against the Patriot Act. (roll tape#6 o.q."voted overwhelmingly")

Councilmember John Dingfelder, said he voted against the resolution last week because he feared it could somehow prove damaging to Tampa's bid to maintain McDill Air Force Base, when the next round of base closures begins.....But Pheneger, a longtime member of the military, called that remark absurd (roll tape#7 o.q." part of our soldiers")

Councilmember Rose Ferlita then read aloud an e-mail written by a constituent that she herself believed, that the Council had far more pressing issues to discuss and vote on than Federal Legislation regarding civil liberties (roll tape#8 oq."dealing with national security")

In the end , it came back to Councilmember Mary Alvarez, usually a solidly conservative voice on the Council...But proving that opposition to the Patriot Act transcends political labels, Alvarez said she would NOT change her vote (roll tape#8 o.q."not to support this reconsideration")

OUTRO: Yesterday the Hillsborough County Commission discussed a resolution putting the Country out in SUPPORT of the Act, but did not vote on the matter.....

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