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Tampa finds global perspective; Disney expands its color palette

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By ERNEST HOOPER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 17, 2001


Imagine you are at a symposium that has brought together political and economic experts from around the nation.

Each person is asked to stand up and talk about what makes their city special; its trademark.

What do you say when it's your turn? What's Tampa's economic identity? What's our future?

Francisco J. Sanchez, a potential candidate for mayor in 2003, could stand and deliver. He would like to see Tampa tie its cultural heritage and its best assets -- the universities, Tampa International Airport and the port -- to a natural link.

"We could become a very significant gateway to Latin America because we have so many things to offer," said Sanchez, the managing director for Tampa-based Cambridge Negotiation Strategies, an international consulting firm. "We have a lot to offer the Americas and it would enhance our community by strengthening those links."

The best aspect of Sanchez's idea is that it has a global perspective, something we need to attract more high-tech jobs and raise the quality of life.

In the banter about who may end up replacing Mayor Dick Greco, Sanchez has been flying under the radar. Yet he has a resume worthy of attention.

Before returning to his native Tampa this year, Sanchez spent nearly two years working in the Clinton administration, first as a special assistant to the Americas and then as assistant secretary of aviation and international affairs.

His work as a consultant before joining the Clinton administration included a role in helping the World Bank solve a conflict in Peru, and he helped resolve a border dispute between Ecuador and Peru.

He has a master's degree in public administration from Harvard and a law degree from Florida State University.

For now, Sanchez, 41, is getting reacquainted with Tampa -- he grew up in Ybor and graduated from Hillsborough High -- and he readily admits talk of him running for mayor is premature. Yet he is being encouraged by some, and his outlook is undoubtedly fueling that encouragement.

* * *

A few months ago, my 8-year-old son wondered out loud why we had never seen a Disney movie with an African-American.

He has seen nearly every animated feature offered by the mouse, and couldn't help but notice that American Indians (Pocahontas), Chinese (Mulan), Arabs (Aladdin) and even Merpeople (The Little Mermaid) had gotten a turn in the spotlight.

Sure, notable black actors have provided the voice for animated animal characters such as James Earl Jones' Mufasa in The Lion King, but not until Friday had he seen an image that looked like him in a Disney cartoon. In Atlantis, both my sons thought the inclusion of a black doctor named Sweet, was, well, sweet.

I was just thrilled he wasn't the first guy to die.

* * *

For fathers, there can be more difficult issues, but Bucs coach Tony Dungy has never been one not to help. Now Dungy, the non-profit Family First organization, and a group of former and current NFL players and coaches have joined to form All Pro Dad (www.allprodad.com), a resource center to help men be better fathers.

You can take an online survey to see where you rank on the "fatherhood field" or sign up to get daily e-mail advice.

* * *

Here's another tip for fathers on this day: You can take your children to Ernie Haire Ford on N Florida Avenue from 1-5 p.m. today to be photographed and receive a free identification booklet. Participation may keep your child safer or help in a missing child case.

* * *

E-mail of the week comes from a pheromone company, which boasts of a product that will make "beautiful men or women beg for you even if you're not good looking." It's only $49, but the e-mail doesn't tell you what to do if you attract someone who isn't good looking.

* * *

- Ernest Hooper can be reached at (813) 226-3406 or Hooper@sptimes.com. His column appears on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

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