Tempers flare at Tampa City Council Meeting

09/17/09 Mitch E. Perry
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The first flare-up occurred when City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena asked Councilman Charlie Miranda if he would agree to cancel a previously-scheduled workshop next week on converting treated wastewater into drinkable water.

Miranda began discussing the idea back in May, and the City Council later voted to put the issue on the 2010 ballot.

Saul-Sena, not a supporter, said that because Mayor Pam Iorio had recently commented that she did not endorse the idea, the Council should cancel plans to discuss it further.

Miranda thought the idea of not discussing the idea further was absurd. And he began listing on how the City could soon be devoid of water sources in the coming years.

After hearing discussions earlier in the meeting on a variety of other issues, Miranda said nothing was more important for Tampa’s future than the idea of doing what is being done in other parts of the U.S. and the world: taking some of the 55 million gallons of treated wastewater that is dumped into Tampa Bay every day, and using it for potable water.

After he finished speaking, Councilwoman Saul-Sena confirmed that Miranda would not cancel next week’s workshop.

Councilman John Dingfelder then made a motion to have a member of Mayor Iorio’s administration come before the Council to truly express what the Mayor thinks of the idea.

Miranda disputed that the editorial cited by Saul-Sena characterized the Mayor as being completely against the idea.

Commissioner Tom Scott, an ally on many voting issues with Miranda, then questioned Dingfelder on why it was necessary to have a member of her staff come before the Council.

Tempers again grew short when Councilwoman Mary Mulhern asked if the City is developing a list for drought-tolerant and sustainable plants that the city uses.

Council Chair Thomas Scott asked Mulhern if she was requesting that a workshop be held to hear back from City officials; he wondered if the subject was worthy for a workshop.

Scott was the only Council member to vote against the motion to hold the workshop later this year.

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