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Iorio drops out of the spotlight, but Dave enters it

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By ERNEST HOOPER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002

If for no other reason, I lament Pam Iorio dropping her mayoral bid simply because it makes the race a little less interesting.

Iorio, who announced Thursday she would give up the pursuit to focus on her role as supervisor of elections, had the name recognition to challenge front-runner Bob Buckhorn and the vision to rival Frank Sanchez and Charlie Miranda. And as the only woman, she was going to lend diversity and a unique perspective to the campaign.

* * *

Don't toss the remote tonight: Dave Flood, aka "Dave the Dwarf," is being featured in a segment on ABC's 20/20 at 10 p.m. Flood, who is fighting a ban against dwarf-tossing, and his Tampa attorney Michael Steinberg will appear in a segment hosted by reporter John Stossel.

Steinberg, who is running for the state House in District 47, and Flood also traveled to New York last week to tape an upcoming appearance on Sally Jessy Raphael.

* * *

About the only thing that has remained the same about Ybor Square is the red neon sign and the Spaghetti Warehouse. ZOM Development's $10-million renovation has converted the old entertainment square into an office complex.

Much of the architecture of the three buildings -- the warehouse, factory and the stemmery -- has been restored to its original form. Danielle Kiely of Kiely Commercial said the project is already at 50 percent capacity, but the area that once housed the Jazz Cellar is available.

An open house by Gerard Alexander Consulting last week gave folks a chance to see how the high ceilings offer a nice option for companies looking for a lot of open space.

Most notable is the ongoing presence of Spaghetti Warehouse. The restaurant has proved its staying power, surviving the renovation as well as the building of an adjacent parking lot and the trolley construction on Eighth Avenue.

Manager James Allen said it is the loyalty of Spaghetti Warehouse's long-time customers that has kept it going.

* * *

John Santoro has bought out co-owner Joe Redner and now has complete control of Ybor City's Amphitheater club. The real news, however, is that Santoro, who also owns Club Hedo, has designs for a third Ybor night spot that would open at year's end.

Tentatively named Aqua, the upscale club would have waterfalls, water jets and a "cirque du soleil" atmosphere. Santoro likened the concept to a South Beach feel and said it would definitely be aimed at a 25-plus professional crowd.

With the upscale VIP section of Amphitheater selling out most weekends, Santoro is convinced he can make an upscale club work.

* * *

Some dog lovers are barking about the Gasparilla Art Festival's rule against canines. Although several pet owners brought dogs along with them last weekend, others decided against it after learning the festival prohibits their presence.

The idea is to create an inviting atmosphere for the artists, and there is a concern a wagging tail or lumbering paws might damage some works, particularly glass and other fragile items. A festival official pointed out no one with a dog was asked to leave, but if there are concerns, a message can be left at 876-1747.

* * *

Did Iorio make the right decision? Well, if there had been any problems with the touch-screen voting machines in this year's election, opponents could have said it was because she spent too much time campaigning for mayor.

Now she avoids that possibility, and at 42, still has a valid political future -- especially if the voting machines prove efficient.

That's all I'm saying.

-- Ernest Hooper can be reached at 226-3406 or

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