And what a year it was for this city by the bay.
We surged into and out of the national and international spotlight -though sometimes it seemed more like cross-hairs- and came through all of it bloody but unbowed, and the bigger for all of it and the wiser and prepared for what comes when you move to the adult table and find you’ve made it to the cover of People magazine…and the punch line on the late night comedy shows at the same time.
We’ll get to the scandal later.
For months the name on everybody’s lips was Republlican National Convention.
We primped, we curled, we pruned, we painted and planted this city into a veritable combination of a tropical paradise and Wall Street and Museum Row in Washington, D.C.
Chris Matthews, way back in January called us the ‘epicenter of the political universe for the next seven months.’
Occupy Tampa said they were going to immobilize the city to the point that the convention would have to listen to them and their many co-demonstrators coming from around the country to ‘take the streets, and commit mayhem.’
We held our breath and crossed fingers and toes and admired all of the new finery around an already beautiful downtown.
The 50,000 delegates, journalists and dignitaries all stormed into Tampa right on time in August, right ahead of Hurricane Issac.
Issac left after one brawling day, and the tens of thousands of demonstrators never materialized.
There were a few demonstrators, and they were met on the streets with an impenetrable wall of well-trained officers who helped them to find their way around without creating ‘mayhem.’
Then the election.
Well. There we were again. The region which was supposed to throw the winning dice into the electoral college, doing the ‘Mi bad, but it’s Florida and it’s an election year and what did you expect..democracy?’ thing.
Ok, now to the scandal.
It happened. These were Bayshore party people looking to score friends, influence and business and they stepped into a hornet’s nest when through an e-mail imbroglio a love affair between the head of the CIA and his biographer came to the attention of the FBI and the rest of the whole world.
And there we were, we had gone from ‘epicenter of the universe,’ to ‘electoral laughingstock,’ to ‘Desperate Housewives.’
Basically, on the ‘Don’t ever invite those people to dinner again.’ list
Well, it’s over, forget it and let’s get back to business in this beautiful city by the bay, we have bigger fish to fry , like the rockin’ Gasparilla Pirates coming to town in a few weeks.
Ok, international images of grown men and women wandering in and around the waters of Tampa in half-dress and loaded and shooting guns and kidnapping the mayor isn’t so great but, hey, at least they’re not protesting anything, eh?
One great thing about the year, we got to keep all of those great bikes the cops had during the convention.
And some sad things too.
We lost some great and honorable people this year.
Bill Sharpe, Sam Gibbons, Bill McBride and General Norman Schwarzkopf.
And some great and honorable warriors.
Clarence Williams III, Ricardo Seija, Matthew Sitton and Brittany Gordon all killed in Afghanistan.
And dozens of fine folks who got lost on the way home and were without homes and on the streets when they passed.
For all of them we say, well done, and God take you in peace and we will miss every one of you.
Happy New Year