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Council member puts off lending her name to center

By DAVID KARP, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 3, 2002

TAMPA -- The moment was awkward for everyone around the City Council dais. Council member Gwen Miller was supposed to ask her colleagues to name a playground activity center in her honor.

But saying the timing wasn't right, Miller withdrew the item from the council agenda Thursday.

"I did not ask, I did not request, I did not persuade anyone to get the community center named after me," Miller said.

Although the issues ended up in Miller's hands as the chairwoman of the council's parks, recreation and culture committee, it didn't start with her. A neighborhood group suggested the city name the playground building for Miller, and Mayor Dick Greco's staff forwarded the decision to the council.

When an assistant city attorney told Miller about the proposal, she said she was surprised.

"I didn't know that people cared that much about me," Miller said.

Critics also saw it as a political ploy, intended to boost Miller's campaign for a citywide seat on the council. Since 1995, Miller has represented one district of Tampa.

The resolution creating the Gwendolyn "Gwen" Miller Playground Activity Center in Woodland Terrace specifically praised Miller for being "very responsive" not only to residents in her east Tampa district but also to residents "in the entire city as well."

Thursday morning, an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times called the proposal "tacky" and "distasteful self-aggrandizement." It called on Miller to withdraw it.

Miller said she decided to do so because the timing wasn't right in the middle of a campaign.

"There will be some other time," she said.

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