Mayor Buckhorn holds first of three town hall meetings on impact of Republican convention

08/15/12 Samuel Johnson
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Is Tampa prepared for the challenges the Republican National Convention will bring with it? It is according to Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Tuesday night was the first of three scheduled Town Hall meetings before the convention. It was at the Florida Aquarium on Channelside Drive. When the small conference room swelled to full capacity of around 100 people a second close circuit viewing area was set up to accommodate more than 100 others.

Representatives from transportation, law enforcement, fire department and other city offices showcased Tampa’s preparedness for the upcoming convention. The number of law enforcement personnel gave the impression that this was a dress rehearsal. Buckhorn said thorough preparation allows the city to manage the unexpected.

Citizens and advocacy groups have voiced their concerns about the ability for protesters to fully express their First Amendment rights. The law enforcement agencies have been listening. Police Chief, Jane Castor, says a deeper understanding of the First Amendment benefits law enforcement and citizens.

The majority of questions posed to the mayor and other government officials dealt with logistical issues like garbage pick up and road closures. Mary McColgan who lives on South Nebraska Avenue found out through her landlord that she and her neighbors are effectively under house arrest for the week of the convention. Her home is along the parade route and is across the street from the area designated for protesters. She said the road closure has a negative impact on her neighbors and her family.

There are two more scheduled town hall meetings to discuss the impact of the RNC. Wednesday’s meeting is from 6 p.m. until 8 the Tampa campus of Stetson University College of Law and Thursday at the same time at Kate Jackson Community Center in Hyde Park.

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