Bobbie O'Brien


Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

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It’s unanimous. The “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich” is now officially Tampa’s signature sandwich.

The reading of the resolution and the vote by Tampa City Council took less time – about 2 minutes – than it takes to order a Cuban at some of Tampa’s more popular lunch spots.

Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin also wanted to trademark the term “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.” However, she decided against the trademark when she found out the it would require anyone using the phrase to get city permission.

Tampa City Council will vote today on a resolution “designating and authenticating” the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.” But, Miami’s Cuban community disputes Tampa’s claim to the sandwich.

The mixed meat sandwich, originally called a “mixto”, became popular in Tampa among Cuban cigar factory workers in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

The resolution specifies the ingredients of the authentic Tampa Cuban sandwich as sweet ham, mojo-marinated roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard and Genoa salami.

You might already know about the Tampa City Council resolution to define a Cuban sandwich as the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich."

But did you know they might try to trademark it?

It's on the Tampa City Council agenda for Thursday. The City's legal department is scheduled to provide a report "on whether or not the City of Tampa can acquire a trademark for the 'Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich' as being Tampa's signature sandwich."

A new program for military veterans interested in earning an MBA just received a $409,299 grant.

The College of Business at University of South Florida St. Petersburg is one of 12 organizations worldwide to win a grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council MET (Management Education for Tomorrow) fund.

The St. Petersburg program, “Leading in a Civilian Context: A Socially Responsible MBA for Returning Veterans,” begins in June with 20 openings for student veterans.

Steve Newborn/WUSF

The Port of Tampa is key to increasing exports of U.S. goods – that’s the message that President Barack Obama delivered during a brief visit Friday on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

Surrounded by stacked shipping containers with an American flag flying above, President Obama delivered a 10-minute speech to an enthusiastic, invited crowd of about 100 people at the port. He also took a quick tour of port facilities.

Richard Elzey / Flickr

The most recent numbers from give Florida a "foreclosure rate heat"  of hot with 1  out of every 336 housing units in foreclosure.

It takes on average 861 days - more than two years - to process a foreclosed property in Florida according to a National Public Radio report:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn kicks off his quest Wednesday night to create a master plan for turning downtown into a vibrant, bustling place where people want to live, work and play.

When asked, Buckhorn enumerated mistakes he thought were made developing the downtown area:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signaled that he’s flexible regarding some elements of his proposed “Clean Zone” ordinance. It sets up strict rules about protests in and around Tampa the week of the Republican National Convention.

Buckhorn said that he’s willing to negotiate with Tampa City Council which delayed its vote on his Clean Zone ordinance after raising concerns about its scope.

After losing a county-wide vote in 2010 to fund light rail in Hillsborough County, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has come up with a new idea to bring mass transit options to his city.

Buckhorn wants Florida lawmakers to give municipalities the right to go to the voters for a sales tax referendum. Right now, all such votes must be countywide.

"If we had the ability to do that, I think you could see Mayor Foster and I get together to run referendums in our respective jurisdictions that would pass," Buckhorn said.

The birthplace of the Cuban sandwich isn't Havana, or even's Tampa.

Watch David Audet, Cuban sandwich afficianado who has researched the history of the sandwich.

The sandwich itself consists of sugar-cured ham, shredded pork marinated Cuban sytle, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, sour pickle and authentic Cuban bread.

About a half-dozen people showed up wearing face-masks and carrying neon colored squirt guns Thursday morning in the shadow of Tampa City Hall.

They used their “visual aids” to demonstrate everyday items that would be banned inside a five mile radius of downtown Tampa if the mayor’s proposed “Clean Zone” ordinance is passed.

Security for the Republican National Convention is a top priority of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. So, he’s proposing the sweeping ban of items and strict rules like time limits on public demonstrations.

Major League Baseball opens Wednesday night at Miami’s brand new, retractable roof ballpark as the Miami Marlins host the St. Louis Cardinals. Along with the new ballpark, the team gets a new manager, Ozzie Guillén.

The Tampa Bay Rays open their season Friday at 3:10 p.m. against the Yankees at Tropicana Field with manager Joe Maddon, a two-time American League Manager of the Year.

City of Tampa

With the Hillsborough River at his back, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the “State of the City” is “good” but its future is even “brighter.” The first-term mayor delivered his address outdoors at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to emphasize his vision of expanding downtown so that the Hillsborough River, now its western boundary, will eventually become its central core.

“This is a catalyst for change in this city,” Buckhorn said. “What you are looking at right now, this river, is going to change this downtown as we know it.”

Military service is voluntary in the United States, but it’s a different story for the children born into military families. That’s an estimated 1.8 million children who face many unique challenges and stresses of military life not known by civilian kids.

“The frequent deployments often mom or dad is gone,” said Gail Mouse, director of MacDill’s Child Development Center 3. “As well as, they’re moving every two to three years. They don’t have the support systems that many of the civilian children have with having family right there.”

Bobbie O'Brien

On Florida Matters this week, WUSF brings you exclusive interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Host Carson Cooper traveled to Tampa City Hall to talk with the first-term mayor.

1- On Being the ‘Pool Guy’

Mayor Buckhorn has often said he won’t be the “boyfriend” who breaks up the marriage between the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Petersburg. He told WUSF, “I may be the pool guy though.”

2- Knowing Tampa’s ‘Options’ with the Rays

Tampa City Council voted unanimously Thursday to establish a Domestic Partners Registry. Whether same sex or heterosexual, domestic partners living in Tampa will soon be protected and treated like family when it comes to things like hospital visitations and medical decisions.

Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Florida is home to more than 1.6 million veterans. So, it’s no surprise that Florida lawmakers passed several bills this session that benefit military veterans and active duty service members.

Among the bills agreed upon was the “T. Patt Maney Veterans Treatment Intervention Act.”

Named in honor of Okaloosa County Judge Maney, the bill authorizes each judicial circuit to set up a Veterans’ Court or program to handle the cases of veterans with psychological problems like substance abuse and PTSD or traumatic brain injury as a result of their military service.

Jeff Vinik became the new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning just over two years ago and quickly won over fans and local officials for what he’s done both on and off the ice.

He bought the team with his own money and privately funded $40 million in renovations to the publicly-owned Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Yet when Vinik first arrived in town, sports writers did not get a good first impression.

There's a rising discussion on whether Tampa Bay residents should stay in the region or head out on vacation the last week of August when the area hosts the Republican National Convention that could attract as many as 50,000 people.

Members of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee equate hosting the political convention as second only to hosting the Olympics when it comes to gaining national and international exposure with long-lasting economic impact.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF 89.7 News

In just over five months, organizers expect about 15,000 members of the news media to descend on the Tampa Bay region to cover the Republican National Convention. Their goal will be to cover who wins the GOP nomination.

However, Tampa Bay officials have a different aim during the four day convention scheduled August 27-30 in downtown Tampa.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the “eyes of the world will be watching” so, he plans to use that opportunity to show off Tampa and hopefully do some business.