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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jan. 2, 2004 14 years ago

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

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This week's items: Junk that junk-mail listThe Fourth biannual Tampa Bay Political Seminar.presents A How To-for novice politiciansSeminole's Hard Rock Hotel on hiring binge

Coffee Talk (Tampa edition)

Junk that junk-mail list

Coffee Talk received something out of a time warp in the snail mail recently.

Kerry D. Hatch, an executive vice president at American Express, was writing to invite us to join his company's Small Business Network: "Dear Small Business Owner: You do something every day most people only dream about. You run your own business."

Hatch was so fired up about us running our own business that he was willing to waive the $75 annual fee for an AmEx Business Gold Card.

Oh, boy.

Alas, there was a problem with Hatch's appeal. The envelope was addressed to the Sam Gibbons Committee.

Not only was the Sam Gibbons Committee never a small business, the official campaign organization of the now-retired Tampa congressman has been out of business for a decade. Sam Gibbons, 83, last needed the Sam Gibbons Committee in 1994, when he ran successfully for his 17th and final term in Washington.

Apparently, GCBR's Tampa office occupies the former headquarters of the Sam Gibbons Committee.

Gibbons himself didn't seem to mind that we had opened his former committee's mail. Coffee Talk called to ask him what we should do with the AmEx solicitation.

After we shared a laugh at AmEx expense, Gibbons said: "Would you do me a favor and tear that up? They have a very outdated list."

Will do, Mr. Congressman.

The candidates

Speaking of politics, anybody out there thinking about getting into the game? It's an election year, you know.

Please obtain a complete psychological evaluation if the urge doesn't pass quickly. Should the doctors certify you sane and you still want to run for public office, you might attend the fourth biannual Tampa Bay Political Seminar.

Leadership Pinellas takes over the Safety Harbor Spa for the day on Jan. 24 and presents an all-star lineup of political experts to counsel novices on what annoyances to expect from election foes, pollsters, reporters - and, yes, even those dear voters.

Ubiquitous University of South Florida Professor Susan MacManus leads one panel discussion that tackles the topic of "Ethics, The Media and Public Perception." Jack Latvala, a former state senator and a direct-mail wizard before, during and after his political career, speaks on targeting your message with help from the post office and the elections supervisor's voter rolls.

Finally, recovering journalist Wayne Garcia, now a political consultant, lectures on building an effective campaign organization.

The cost is $85, which includes breakfast and luncheon feedings. Call (727) 585-8889 for more information.

Rolling the dice

The Seminoles are on a major hiring binge as their Hard Rock Hotel prepares to open in March at the tribe's new $110 million gambling complex five miles northeast of Tampa.

They're running daylong job fairs at the Tampa Convention Center, where recruiters are seeking greeters, waitresses and the like. "We are offering positions at all levels with competitive salaries and medical, dental and 401(k) plans," General Manager John Fontana says in a tribal news release.

But it is unclear whether the casino hotel is offering hires any assurance that they will be covered by the same employment laws that apply off American Indian land.

The news release didn't address the question. So Coffee Talk asked Will Wellons, a spokesman for Tampa's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, whether anti-discrimination, health and safety, or wage and hour laws are recognized by tribal authorities on the Seminole property in Hillsborough County.

Lena Sadiwskyj, a Wellons colleague at Orlando-based leisure industry publicity agency Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell Public Relations, e-mailed us later to double-check the nature of our question.

But Coffee Talk had heard from neither Wellons nor Sadiwskyj by our deadline.

Show of force

Each year, business and political leaders from Miami-Dade County stage a show in Tallahassee for the state Legislature. Over the past 15 years, this public-private delegation has treated legislators to a variety of activities - mambo-dancing exhibitions, for one - during what is known as "Miami-Dade Days." Last year, the group sponsored a paella feast replete with 450 pounds of rice, 500 pounds of shrimp and 1,000 pounds of chicken.

The impact of this ostentatious lobby is not lost among business and political leaders throughout the seven-county Tampa Bay region. If Miami-Dade can do it, why can't Tampa Bay?

To that end, members of the Tampa Bay Partnership have joined with their colleagues at Leadership Tampa Bay, an affiliate of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, to sponsor "Tampa Bay Days" March 10-11 in Tallahassee.

Members of the partnership's public policy committee want to impress one fact on state legislators: The counties of Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Policy and Sarasota make up about 25% of the state legislative delegation.

The big issues for the partnership this year include economic development, especially funding of the Qualified Targeted Industry tax-incentive program and the Enterprise Florida marketing program; transportation funding, focusing on projects such as the State Road 70 improvements in Manatee County and the I-4-Crosstown Expressway Connector in Tampa; and higher education, with a particular emphasis on funding University of South Florida programs and projects.

The Tampa Bay public-private delegation has met only once, so it's uncertain yet exactly how they expect to top the Miami-Dade show.

Considering the actualities of Tallahassee politics, perhaps, delegates could don the dress of Gasparilla-style pirates, storm the backrooms and pass out Tampa-made cigars.

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