Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Newspaper Shines Light On Sleazy Deal To Demolish Building At Tampa Airport

Bicycle Stories is all about celebrating life by bicycle, but occasionally I slip in a news blurb or two that I believe is relevant for people to read.

Such as Mike Van Sickler's St. Pete Times story about Tampa International Airport's plan to demolish an office building because TIA's director, Lou Miller, thought there were no interested tenants.

Well, it turned out there is an interested tenant -- Moffitt Cancer Center, which is mulling paying $600,000 in annual rent. Moffitt expressed interest in October.

But nobody knew about it. Director Miller didn't tell anyone. But the Times learned of an email yesterday about Moffit's interest. The punchline: TIA Board Chairman Al Austin owns 400,000 square feet of nearby office space. And Director Miller and Austin both knew about Moffitt's interest in October.

My point is that in a democracy, a newspaper has many roles. The most important is playing a watchdog role of the people who govern our lives and spend public money.

Mike Van Sickler did a great job bringing to light an underhanded arrangement where an airport director was ready to demolish a building even though there's a potential interested tenant and where the airport board chairman just happens to own office space nearby.

I also urge Bicycle Stories readers to support public elected officials and agency leaders who support bicycling resources. That's why I hope Pat Kemp of Seminole Heights wins the special election on Jan. 26 for House District 58 in Tally.

Pat has expressed her support for bicycling and alternative transportation. District 58 includes Seminole Heights, West Tampa and a piece of Town N Country.

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