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Mystery ads, mayoral game plans, a lucky bar

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By ERNEST HOOPER, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 28, 2003

If everyone loves a mystery, then people should be particularly fond of a new set of billboards in town.

Several outdoor advertisements on Interstate 275 and Interstate 4 are adorned with oak tree silhouettes and these words: "Coming Soon --"

So what's it all about? All I could determine, with the help of Times research artist John Martin, is that the site is registered to a Coral Springs man named Ron Donofrio. He declined comment Monday but said he would have someone get back to me.

The site says it will reveal the promotion on March 15, 2003, and it allows you to register so you can be "first in line for this wonderful opportunity."

Hmmmm. I guess we have to keep digging.

* * *

So how did the mayoral candidates spend Super Bowl Sunday?

Charlie Miranda said he went to his daughter's house and watched the game while filling out candidate questionnaires from the Times and the Tampa Tribune. He also signed 1,000 personal letters that are being mailed out for the campaign.

"I had a sore hand and I didn't even play the game," Miranda said. "But I'm happy they won."

Bob Buckhorn said he went to three churches to pray for the Bucs: Christ the King, St. Luke AME and St. John Missionary Baptist.

"Time in the pew counts," Buckhorn quipped. "I said three rosaries. The nice thing is I think it's just the beginning of a lot of nice things to come for the city."

Frank Sanchez attended a couple of parties on Sunday, but he had what he called a "friendraiser" on Saturday night. It was a karaoke party at the convention center and Sanchez said he did a tribute to the city by singing Old Tampa Bay to the tune of New York, New York.

Pam Iorio may have had the busiest Sunday. She followed through with plans to hold a fundraiser at 3 p.m. The event was scheduled before the Bucs made the Super Bowl.

* * *

Speaking of the election, the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs is sponsoring a forum tonight for mayoral candidates and the District 5 City Council candidates. It begins at 6 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel on Cypress, and hopefully the community will make a statement about how much influence it plans on wielding with a significant turnout.

* * *

The 81 patrons who chose to watch the Super Bowl at Bilmar Station in Town 'N Country chose wisely. That was the bar Pepin Distributing chose for its Bud Bowl promotion. Just before halftime, they walked in, locked the doors and gave each patron a share of $15,000.

Don't pull out the calculator. I'll tell you that averaged out to $185 for each adult in the bar.

* * *

Update: Remember Brandie McGowan, the woman who stood at Interstate 275 and Busch Boulevard handing out her resume in the hopes of getting a job?

Well, it worked.

McGowan, 29, has taken a temporary clerical job with Tampa's CP Ships, but she expects it to lead to a permanent position. One of the company's employees picked up her resume and turned it in to the human resources office at CP Ships.

McGowan said she received a number of inquiries from prospective employees, and she also received several e-mails from people who said she was inspirational and courageous.

"That's great, but my main goal was not to make a name for myself, but to just get my foot in the door," McGowan said. "If I have to do it again, I will. Everybody gets to a point where something has to give and that's where I was."

Wouldn't it be neat if the intersection became an informal job service center? Job seekers would come out every morning in business attire carrying resumes, and prospective employers would swing by to find people hungry for work.

"Some people say, "I saw you out there the other morning,' " McGowan explained. "I say, "No, that wasn't me. I only did it one morning.' I was just trying to get a job, but I don't mind people copying me. If you want something bad enough, you'll get out there and do it."

Maybe Brandie has started something.

That's all I'm saying.

-- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or .

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