Racial relations

July 22, 2015, The Tampa Bay Times

By William March

Black community leaders discussing race relations at last week’s Tampa Tiger Bay Club event took some shots at Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the controversial bicycle enforcement policy in black neighborhoods.

Samuel Wright, an education activist and former University of South Florida administrator, said Buckhorn has suffered among blacks in Tampa by comparison to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Wright said Kriseman “immediately moved to diversify his staff” after being elected — an apparent reference to Deputy Mayor Tamika Tomalin — while Buckhorn hasn’t named a high-level, inner-circle black aide.

Buckhorn called that “absurd,” saying he has the most racially diverse city administration ever, naming police Chief Eric Ward, fire Chief Thomas Forward, CFO Sonya Little and half a dozen black administrators and department heads.

“They may not be at every press conference, but they are in powerful positions running real departments,” he said.

William March can be reached at wemarch@gmail.com.