In the week since the Tampa City Council voted to draft an ordinance to allow them free parking at city lots or spaces, the public has responded with sharp criticism.
The proposal was offered by Councilwoman Yolie Capin, and the reviews haven’t been kind.
“Uh, Ms. Capin? You’re a member of the Tampa City Council. You’re not the supreme allied commander of NATO. Your job is to vote on zoning issues, listen to constituent complaints about potholes and serve on various boards,” wrote the Tampa Bay Times Daniel Ruth.
“If council members want the same privileges, they should run for mayor, ” chimed in The Tampa Tribune in its lead editorial Thursday.
So as the council convened a discussion on decriminalizing the possession of marijuana at Thursday’s weekly meeting, Capin made an impassioned plea for understand of where she was coming from.
“What you’re here for, is what City Council does, which is legislate,” she said to the startled members of the public. “It’s a majority vote which passes an ordinance, which is a law. So when I see column after column marginalizing the City Council, which is a disservice to the citizens of the city of Tampa, who voted these people here. And they all said ‘you have to be like everyone else.’ We are. Just like our constituents.
“Every single member of City Council has a second job, in order to meet their bills, and pay for their children’s college, helping an elderly parent, or just to live,” Capin said. “And the main reason they have a second job is so they can serve on City Council. So, that’s what we do. We legislate, we pass ordinances, which are laws.”
After a beat, Councilwoman Lisa Montelione spoke up.
“I don’t have a second job. This is my job,” she said, laughing. “I’m a full-time City Council member and I live on every penny of that salary that we have.”
Council members make $41, 139.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn has already indicated that if the bill reaches his desk, he will veto it. The odds appear unlikely that the measure will even make it there, at this juncture.