City Council & Mayoral candidates talk about the environment by Mitch E. Perry

02/20/07
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday

Green buildings and water.  Those 2 issues dominated an environmental forum featuring 11 of the Tampa Mayoral and City Council candidates in Ybor City last night.

 

The Forum was sponsored by a variety of groups including Friends of the River, the Clean Water Fund, the River Roundtable, FCAN and the Sierra Club.

 

After opening remarks, each of the candidates were allotted 1 minute to answer a specific question, with everyone else relegated to only 15 seconds to weigh in on the subject.

 

When asked what  steps would a candidate do to make the city of Tampa more environmentally friendly, District 7 candidate Joseph Caetano said he wanted reclaimed water to be installed in all new subdivisions in the City (roll tape#1 o.q.”and we need it”)

 

The candidates were asked what steps they would take to try to slow down the effects of  global warming on the populace.    District 2 Democrat Mary Mulhern (roll tape#2 o.q.”and education”)

 

District 1 candidate Julie Jenkins appeared to take a shot at the Iorio Administration for not doing enough to curb greenhouse gas emissions in comparison to other cities (roll tape#3 o.q.”.like Lisa Tamargo said”)

 

But District 4 incumbent John Dingfelder, who boasted of his environmental credentials both before he was on the City Council and in his 4 years on the board, said that citizens needed to be ‘realistic’ about what the city could do (roll tape#4 o.q.”our air pollution”)

 

Early in her term in office, Mayor Iorio proposed and the City Council approved an increase in stormwater fees.  Most citizens now pay $36 a year into a fund to have the city deal with one of its most vexing quality of life issues – how many of Tampa’s streets, particularly in South Tampa, are virtually impossible to drive through after a heavy rainstorm (roll tape#5 o .q.”something now”)

 

The City of Tampa has a major estuary that runs through the city.   It’s called the Hillsborough River, which is also its main source of drinking water.  But over the last 3 decades, environmentalists say the City has caused significant harm to the river by withdrawing so much water that there is now no flow down the river at least half of each year, eliminating habitat for some fish. 

 

A recent 5 year study by Swiftmud identified that it would take a daily flow of 30 to 40 cubic feet per second to halt the damage, more than the 20 feet per second that the City wants.

     

The question asked of the candidates then, was : do they support a minimum flow standard that fully restores fish habitat and maximizes dissolved oxygen. 

 

Former Councilman and current District 6 candidate Charlie Miranda suggested an idea that he floated years ago to handle what he called a ‘complex’ problem (roll tape#6 o.q. “at very little or no cost to the city”)

 

District 1 candidate Joe Redner said the answer to the problem is that there’s too much development in the city (roll tape#7 o.q.” where the water collects “)

 

Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association President Randy Baron is running in District One (roll tape#8 o.q.”no reclaimed water in the river”)

 

Mayor Iorio did not attend the event.  But her 2 opponents were there.  Former Police Captain Marion Serious Lewis tried at every opportunity to pivot from an environmental question into an indictment on her administration (roll tape#9 o.q.”are being spent”)

 

There were several questions about more ‘green’ or environmentally sustaining buildings, including whether the city should mandate that new Art Museum should be a ‘green’ building. 

 

District 4 candidate Joseph Citro decided that despite the long search for a site – it should be put into the old Federal Courthouse downtown (roll tape#10 o.q.”my friends kids”)

 

Mayoral candidate Aria Green admitted before the forum that he came mostly to learn from others.  (roll tape#11 o.q.”  small to medium sized businesses”)

 Early voting has begun in Tampa..The election is on March 6th.

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