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Thursday, Jul 24, 2014
Columnists

Otto: Tampa has plenty of things to feel good about

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“It’s our turn!’’ You’ve heard that one before in a dozen different ways. But the other day when Mayor Bob said we weren’t playing second fiddle to Miami or anyone else anymore and that it is “our turn,’’ there was every reason to believe he wasn’t just blowing some of Tampa’s finest cigar smoke.

We’re not – and thanks be for this – Miami. We will never be the giant theme park that is Orlando. We don’t have the sugary sand beaches on our front door that you find in Pinellas or Sarasota.

But what we do have, and you could pick it up throughout Buckhorn’s state of the city speech, is a growing understanding of who we are and what we need to do if we are going to become that next great (sorry for even saying that) city.

I think we are finally beginning to realize that we have assets and roots that are not typical of other cities of the New South. Our heritage coming out of the great immigrations at the close of the 19th century has blessed us with a rich and diverse mix that is unique.

We have a newfound respect for our history in our decisions to encourage preservation in creative ways such as the new hotel coming to the former federal courthouse and even the mayor’s decision to make his annual speech in the abandoned Kress building downtown in hopes that someone would take note of its great façade and potential for the future.

The mayor, again to his credit, spoke about the entire community and that we are in this together. He understands that fixing storm sewers and transportation issues is as important as the planned new downtown towers.

All in all it was a feel-good speech when, despite a continuing strain on the economy, we have a lot to be feeling good about. Maybe it is our turn.

Commenting on a column the other day, several readers wrote in about the crowds outside the Salvation Army.

“Every day the Trinity Café serves lunches to the homeless and working poor. That is what the lines are about. The Trinity Café depends only on donations and is run by volunteers who serve the guests and sit and chat with them. The Trinity Café will be moving to Nebraska Avenue into a newly renovated building soon.’’ – Judie Tarasco.

In similar news, Faith Café, which also feeds lunches to the homeless, now says it will open its doors on April 8. The facility, which was forced to close its operation on Kennedy Boulevard, built an entirely new building at 1340 Clearview Ave. They had a grand opening two months ago, but permitting problems have stalled the organization, which is a coalition of churches using food from Metropolitan Ministries to operate. Now they say they are ready to roll.

Finally – and unfortunately we can’t write about every missing pet – I wish you would keep your eyes open for Meatball. She is a 6-year-old Shih Tzu, who was a rescue dog and is owned by Alina Diaz. Meatball has been missing since March 8 in Seminole Heights. She has her own Facebook page, “Bring Meatball Home.’’ Call (813) 758-9921 or email me at sotto@tampatrib.com.

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