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TGH, ex-spokeswoman settle lawsuit

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 11, 2000

TAMPA -- A former spokeswoman at Tampa General Hospital has settled her discrimination lawsuit against the hospital on confidential terms, her attorneys said Wednesday.

The settlement came just weeks before a trial that would have featured many of the players who converted Tampa General from a public hospital to a private one in 1997, including former hospital president Bruce Siegel.

Hospital officials had called spokeswoman Cindy Tanner's departure in 1997 part of a downsizing. But Tanner, who is white, said she was illegally dropped from her $37,000-a-year job in favor of an African-American consultant deployed to smooth over the hospital's race relations with the community. In court papers filed for the lawsuit, Tanner said she was penalized for speaking out against what she saw as Siegel's dishonest public relations tactics. They included using hospital employees to pack the audiences of public hearings at which the hospital was trying to sell its privatization plan, court papers stated.

Prison proposal locked out of Hernando

BROOKSVILLE -- Efforts to bring a federal prison to Hernando County unraveled Wednesday as County Commissioner Nancy Robinson withdrew her support.

Growing community opposition to the project, combined with a negative 60 Minutes II report about Wackenhut Corrections Corp., prompted her decision. Wackenhut had proposed building the 1,500-bed low-security prison on 74 acres at the county airport.

"They have been told it's not going to happen," commission Chairman Paul Sullivan said of Wackenhut, adding that the commission officially will reconsider on Tuesday its resolution supporting the prison.

Robinson said the CBS report shook her support. 60 Minutes II detailed problems at Wackenhut prisons in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana, including riots, guards without training and cruel treatment of inmates.

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