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Election 2004

Tampa mayor's day has no time for Bush

Published February 17, 2004


TAMPA - At his stop at a manufacturing plant Monday, President Bush offered this advice to three local mayors.

"Fill the potholes," Bush said.

The mayors of St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Seminole were there to listen.

Where was Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio?

She was back at the office, filling the potholes, in a manner of speaking.

Iorio had scheduled an interview Monday with a candidate for the post of director of arts and cultural affairs. She couldn't reschedule it, she said.

The job candidate, Wendy Ceccherelli, had flown in for the interview Saturday from Seattle, where she heads a nonprofit and used to work as executive director of the Seattle Arts Commission.

While other mayors were listening to the leader of the free world, Iorio was showing Ceccherelli the Tampa Museum of Art.

Iorio said the governor's office called Friday to invite her to the president's talk. By then, the job candidate's schedule had been set, she said.

Of course, it's hard to imagine that Ceccherelli would have minded. The job candidate planned to remain in Tampa through today - at the downtown Hyatt, where the president stayed.

Bush apparently wasn't dying to meet Iorio, anyway. He invited former Mayors Dick Greco and Bob Martinez to dinner Sunday night at Bern's Steak House. Iorio learned about the dinner the next day, from the news.

Greco campaigned for the president and Gov. Jeb Bush. Iorio is a Democrat, and her top aide and political mentor, Fran Davin, helped run the campaign of Bill McBride, who ran against the president's brother for governor.

Though it may look that way, Iorio said her absence wasn't meant to be a political snub.

"In the future," Iorio said, "when the president comes to our fair city, I would be happy to welcome him."

[Last modified February 17, 2004, 01:05:15]

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