© 2022 All Rights reserved WUSF
News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Salon on Tampa: America's Hottest Mess


Let the Tampa bashing begin.

"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:

These choices have left their mark. In 2010, Forbes ranked Tampa dead last out of 60 metro areas for commuting. Transportation for America declared it the second-most-dangerous city for pedestrians. And a 2007 survey of 30 metropolitan areas found exactly one with no walkable destinations: Tampa, Fla. 

We're also overrun with birthers and paranoid conservatives, he says:

Tea Party paranoia includes a bizarre fear of smart-growth policies, in which more intelligent land-use management is seen as a shadowy United Nations conspiracy (complete with a scary-sounding name: Agenda 21). And while the city of Tampa might not be hard-right politically, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, which control many of the decisions that affect it, are bona fide birther territory.

Yes, he admits that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others are finishing the Riverwalk,  USF is diversifying the economy, but he implies it is too little, too late.

But Tampa can only do so much thanks to a toxic combination of hostility toward government, revenue and collectively used amenities. What’s the matter with Tampa? The Republican conventioneers will get to see for themselves when they arrive. Except that some of them will be staying up to 90 miles away from the convention venue. 

I'm not sure he's right when he says some convention-goers are going to be THAT far away. But this is just one of the first salvos in the fight over Tampa Bay's image during the convention.

Are we a warm, beautiful city? An affordable place to live with a good quality of life?

Or are we, as Doig says, "America's Hottest Mess."

Or, as the Daily Show called us, "Horrible." And hot. Very hot.

Scott Finn is a former news director at WUSF Public Media, which provides in-depth reporting for Tampa Bay and all of Florida.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.