St. Petersburg Times Online: Business
 Devil Rays Forums
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather




printer version

District shuffling; Wal-Mart bustling

Tampa columnisthooper
Click here

By ERNEST HOOPER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published August 16, 2002

While a lot of people are trying to figure out if County Commission candidate Ken Hagan missed a District 2 debate in Temple Terrace to go to a Bucs game, I'm just wondering if the next debate is going to be held where I live in Seffner.

I knew the commission's redistricting plan had stretched District 2 farther east and south, but not until I got my voter registration card did I realize the southern boundary encompasses my neighborhood.

District 2 is largely made up of the area we call North of Tampa (Carrollwood, Westchase, Citrus Park, Lutz, etc.). But it also includes Thonotosassa, Seffner, Mango and virtually everything else east of Interstate 75, north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and west of Plant City.

If you still don't understand the vastness of this district, consider this: In about the same time it takes for me to drive from the east side of the district (Seffner) to the west side (Citrus Park), I could drive from Seffner to Brooksville.

Most of us shop, drive and have kids attending schools in District 4, which is considered the East Hillsborough district. For months, we have seen campaign signs touting either incumbent Ronda Storms or challenger Arlene Waldron.

For us to be cut out of that district doesn't seem fair. I bet the people in the coastal sliver of South Hillsborough that has been redistricted into District 1 (South Tampa/Town 'N Country) feel the same way.

* * *

On a lighter East Hillsborough note, the new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened Wednesday on State Road 60, and let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've been to a Wal-Mart grand opening.

The pomp and circumstance included the Bloomingdale High band, the Durant High color guard and the Valrico Elementary chorus singing the national anthem. The associates (that's sales people to you and I) spelled out Wal-Mart, and when they got to the dash between the L and the M, they shook their hips and cheered "squiggly, squiggly, squiggly."

Now contrast that with the daunting looks on the faces of the shoppers waiting for the store to open. Lined up in rows with shopping carts, they looked like drivers in the starting grid of the Indianapolis 500 -- except they were more intense.

* * *

The first thing you noticed about Thursday's Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce meeting were the musicians sprinkled about the Wyndham Harbour Island Hotel.

There was a flutist at the garage entrance, a guy playing saxophone at valet parking and a classical guitarist at the basement entrance to the hotel. Near the ballroom was a jazz duo, and in the lobby were the Men of Note, an outstanding a capella singing quartet.

The luncheon was a celebration of the city's cultural arts, and while the entertainment continued during the meal, the biggest impression was left by a statistic that came courtesy of chamber cultural arts committee chair Joanne Rock: the economic impact of the arts in Tampa Bay last year was $402-million.

Maybe this new cultural arts district will prove to be an economic engine.

* * *

Correction: The name of local rock legend Johnny G. Lyon was misspelled in a recent column. Johnny also wanted me to know that if I think he's in the twilight of his career, I need to come to the Aug. 30 grand opening of A.J.'s Ale House, the restaurant he recently purchased. He's prepared to prove me wrong.

* * *

My lament about being lumped into District 2 (instead of District 4) is a day late and a dollar short since the redistricting was approved last year. The challenge now is to make our voices heard to the person who ends up being "our" commissioner, even if the person isn't intimately familiar with what it's like to live in East Hillsborough.

But I'm all for taking another run at redistricting.

That's all I'm saying.

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

Back to Tampa area news

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111

Times columns today

Howard Troxler
  • All aboard Mickey's roller coaster of emotions

  • Ernest Hooper
  • District shuffling; Wal-Mart bustling

  • Robert Trigaux
  • Bay area owners feel heat of distant coal operations

  • Gary Shelton
  • McCardell is a quick study as understudy

  • From the Times Metro desks
  • Issue of race raised in election
  • Grant helps seal housing project for farm hands

  • North of Tampa
  • Life cycling
  • Having a game plan
  • Tournament champ focuses on home team
  • Hands-on theater experience
  • Rocky the shepherd dies from arrow wounds
  • No hotly contested race here
  • Some will have to get out to vote
  • Divided board sends community plan forward
  • Private school to lose lease on ballfield
  • Teen makes gift of the heart from the head

  • City Times/South Tampa
  • The promise and prose of posies
  • Rough past inspires him to keep kids on track
  • Want to save wad of cash? Be own general contractor
  • Brothers Glazer as neighbors
  • Football wins over chocolate
  • Howard Frankland: Bridge boosted corridor growth
  • Fourth grade to the future
  • His motto up to the end: 'I've got to ride'
  • A table waits at Cabaret
  • Loving the lofty life in historic Ybor
  • Signups begin for fall sports activities
  • Noodles are their new specialty
  • Meet primary candidates Aug. 24
  • Is shooting a sign of creeping crime?
  • Sports only add to academic growth
  • Residents ask: When will work end?
  • Roofers pitch in for Boys, Girls Club roof
  • The King and I
  • Groups seek review of Greco's Cuba trip
  • Man accused of hate crimes
  • How I spent my summer: 'Survivor'
  • Candidate assumes populist stance
  • Franciscan brother is charged with assault on four altar boys