Tampa approves electric car charging stations
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07/14/11 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

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An electronic parking pay station in Downtown Tampa.


photo by Kate Bradshaw, WMNF

Electric cars have been generating a lot of buzz in recent years. The Tampa Bay area is already home to a number of electric car dealerships, and the Tampa City Council approved an ordinance that paves the way for more electric car charging stations around the city.

It’s a chicken or the egg situation. Does prevalence of electric cars make more charging stations sprout up in a given city, or is it the other way around? Tampa City Council member Lisa Monteleone said demand will determine whether a city will pursue the kind of infrastructure to support cars powered by electricity.

She said that market creates the right climate for the city to take electric vehicles seriously.

Today, Tampa city council passed an ordinance to pave the way for new charging stations throughout the city and Hillsborough County.

Monteleone said the charging stations are coming about thanks to a joint effort by the city, the county, and the US Department of Energy.

The same agenda item addressed the relatively new option to pay with a credit or debit card for a city parking space. Monteleone said it was more of a housekeeping item to make sure the language was up to date.

Today in council chambers officials also discussed a lawsuit that’s costing the city a pretty penny. It has to do with former Police Chief Marion Lewis, who challenged incumbent mayor Pam Iorio in 2007. The suit is over the question of whether Lewis should have been able to stay on as chief during his campaign. City attorney Jim Shimberg said it’s been bogged down in courts for several years.

Legal staff said they’re hoping the Florida Supreme Court will hear the case, which has been sent in between civil and appeals courts and most recently decided in favor of Lewis. Shimberg cautioned the council members not to stray into discussing the merits of the ongoing case in public. Council member Mary Mulhern said it was probably best for the council to talk about the city’s next step in a closed door, or shade, meeting.

The meeting has not yet been set. In its final judgment, the Second District Court of Appeals ruled that Lewis is entitled to up to a million dollars in lost wages and legal fees.

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