Editor's note: Mayor Joe Affronti is responding to reader comments on his piece, “”
From Mayor Joe Affronti:
I would normally not respond to comments made by some citizens publicly, but when my honesty and integrity is challenged, I will respond. When people cannot enter into an intelligent debate, they tend to challenge the character rather than to address the facts presented by the other party. To me, this is sickening and uncharacteristic of the citizens in our community. My wife and I have always treated everyone with the utmost respect, and I am very upset with the slanderous innuendos expressed by some of the responders. I will also address some of the questions posed in several replies.
To Lucinda Johnston: The Hillsborough County Tax Appraiser notifies each jurisdiction of their projected property values and these projections are as of July 2012.
To Chase: I absolutely would like to see this project move forward during the balance of my term. We have been working on this for 10 years, and I was just as committed with our two previous developers as I am with Vlass.
My passion for the redevelopment began in 1998 when I ran for City Council. That was my main platform, and I have not deviated from that goal in my 14 years serving this city. Our city’s No. 1 goal, established by our council over the past several years, has been and still is the Downtown Redevelopment. As mayor, it is my responsibility to do everything reasonably possible to make it happen.
Regarding your disagreement with the 4 percent property value projected decrease, I suggest that you call the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser and tell him that his Property Values for Temple Terrace are wrong and you have the right figures. I am sure that he will appreciate your input.
The statue was put up by Vlass, who owns the land. To my knowledge, the citizens were not asked to vote on his decision. Do you really think that Vlass should have asked the city to have a referendum to approve the statue? You can't be serious!
Your accusation of “back room deals” is appalling. Maybe you are more familiar with this kind of activity, but it is not and never has been in my make-up.
Lucinda Johnston: Your comments about my wife and me “wondering what we did to deserve such a nice gift. Make you wonder doesn't it.” What could we have done to deserve the gift? Are you implying that I promised to give him my vote to approve his project? I have no vote, and in my eight years as mayor, I voted only once to break a tie and that was in 2009 for the MDA. Do you suppose that I made a deal with Vlass in 2009 that I would vote for the MDA if he would erect my statue two and one half years later? That defies good logic.
Quentin: Regarding your accusation that “I do not feel that you care anything about Temple Terrace.” I represent Temple Terrace as the chairman of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization, which meets twice a month, and have been re-elected chair each year for the past five years. I represent Temple Terrace as chairman of the Hillsborough County Transportation Disadvantaged Coordinating Board, which meets every other month. I represent Temple Terrace on the Economic Development Corporation for Hillsborough County, which meets at least once a month. I
represent Temple Terrace on the Tourist Development Committee for Hillsborough County, which meets each quarter. I meet with our school principals three times a year. All of these activities have been very beneficial to our city directly and indirectly.
In addition, I participate in our city's Garden Club events, Woman’s Club events, Friendship Club events, Preservation Society events, Chamber of Commerce events, city park events and many meetings in general that could benefit Temple Terrace.
What have you done for our City?
JW: To the best of my knowledge, Marbella is trying to sell what they already have at bargain prices. The original developer went under.
You, I am glad to say, are not “the people.” We have 26,000 residents in Temple Terrace and every day I hear from citizens who want this project to move forward. At a town hall meeting in July 2009, Vlass stated that the multi-family could be condos or apartments depending upon the market. I assume you missed that meeting.
Taxpayer (No Name): The first two developers pulled out because they did not have the financing to do the project.
Regarding the government intervention issue. I set up a Small Business Roundtable made up of 15 well-known small businesses in our area to meet with elected officials at the national and state levels to express our small business concerns. We met with Congresswoman Cathy Castor, Congressman Gus Billerakis, State Representative Shawn Harrison and then State Senator Jim Norman.
Some of the main concerns among the group were the rules and regulations imposed by our government that is inhibiting our business growth. Maybe you have done the same with different results. The small business views are not unbelievable. They are real, and since we employ more than 60 percent of the workforce, they should be listened to and not ignored.
Richard Diaz: “The mayor sold our city out for a statue.” I cannot even respond to “DUMB” and “STUPID.”