Food Not Bombs, the charitable activist organization whose mission is to provide food for those who need it around the world, kicked off it's 2012 World Gathering on Monday. Keith McHenry, the co-founder of Food Not Bombs, said he chose Tampa not just because the Republican National Convention is in town, but also because of Florida's strict anti-homeless laws.
With the presidential nominating conventions right around the corner, NPR is continuing our already extensive multimedia coverage of the 2012 election.
In addition to live special broadcasts from the Republican National Convention (August 27-30) and the Democratic National Convention (September 4-6), our Election 2012 team is trekking down to Tampa, FL, and Charlotte, NC, to offer in-depth news, interviews and analysis across all newsmagazines and online. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations.
If you've been to Tampa lately, you may have noticed the new landscaping on Bayshore Boulevard or the brightly lit bridges over the Hillsborough River.
You have the Republican National Convention to thank.
Much of the estimated $43 million improvements to the city are being paid for by the city and by a $50 million federal grant. Other private funders have chipped in as well.
It's hard to pinpoint exactly how much is being spent because many of the projects expedited by the RNC were already on the drawing board.
Also, others pitched in to cover costs. AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint have each spent $800,000 to upgrade their phone infrastructure in the convention center. Tampa Electric and TECO People's Gas are the founding sponsors of the "Lighting of the Bridges" project.
Here is a list of projects to be completed before the RNC from the city of Tampa.
Tampa Police confiscated bricks and pipes found on a rooftop of a building at the corner of Florida Avenue and Tyler Street. It's not far from a secure zone being set up for the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor says the discovery of the items - including graffiti of a Guy Fawkes mask - similar to those favored by anarchists - is not alarming.
"Finding those items for us was not a surprise," Castor said during an afternoon press conference. "This is historically how these things proceed before a large political event such as the RNC."
Organizers of next week's Republican National Convention may be experiencing a case of tropical depression.
While it's too early to make landfall predictions, a tropical depression in the Atlantic could intensify into a hurricane and may rain on convention organizers best laid plans.
Tropical depression 9 is headed towards the Caribbean and is expected to soon become a Tropical Storm. Meteorologist Diane Kacmarik at Bay News 9 says conditions look favorable for the storm to eventually become a hurricane.
Red and blue lights filled the streets surrounding Occupy Tampa's encampment at Voice of Freedom Park last Friday night, as the Tampa Police Department made its presence known. Officers in body armor patrolled the streets and squad cars stopped passing vehicles for random searches. Occupy activists recorded it all and held a press conference on Monday, claiming that the TPD had overstepped its bounds and infringed on their rights.
"Tampa is a hot urban mess, equal parts Reagan ’80s and Paul Ryan 2010s," writes Will Doig of Salon.com.
Doig paints the Tampa Bay region as perhaps the least-pleasant, most poorly-designed metro area in America. He dings the area for rejecting a tax increase for light rail, for its sprawl and its lack of green space.
It is "a disaster" and a cautionary tale -- elect Romney/Ryan and the rest of America will become just as hellish:
The economic impact of having the Tampa Bay region reported on by 15,000 journalists is one of the main reasons given for hosting the Republican National Convention. And local business leaders are not leaving to chance the kind of impression the bay area makes.
Preparations started in January to shape how out-of-town reporters write about the Tampa Bay area during the RNC.
The Tampa Police Department demonstrated for business leaders the equipment and tactics they will use to control protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention.
Several police officers acted as demonstrators whose actions grew violent. Their counterparts in uniform then showed how they plan to respond to a riot. Officers on bicycles formed a barrier, and mounted police corralled protesters until men in riot gear dispersed the crowd with smoke.
A massive protest bringing together thousands of people from around the country is planned for the streets of downtown Tampa during the first day of the Republican National Convention. A group of organizers met today, and they promise the event will be peaceful.
They call themselves the Coalition to March on the RNC. A handful of organizers came out to Perry Harvey Park, the sliver of green on the outskirts of downtown that will be the starting point for their parade on the convention's first day.
It's less than two weeks to go before the Republican National Convention invades Tampa. But many people are still unclear about how it will affect those who live and work in and around downtown. So Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is holding several town hall meetings to alleviate those concerns.
The speculation is over. Republican National Convention Chairman Reince Priebus announced this morning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will get the coveted keynote speaking slot. In this press release, Priebus praised the straight-shooting governor as a model of "bold Republican leadership."