TAMPA, Fla. — Mayor Jane Castor vetoed five ordinances passed by city council on Wednesday saying they were “rushed, lacked transparency,” and “could lead to negative outcomes and unintended consequences” if they’re enacted as written.
That decision led protestors outside City Hall on Wedesday to encourage council members to push back on one of the ordinances that would impact policy changes regarding law enforcement misconduct in the city.
“If we want to care about democracy, then why not just let the people vote,” said Taylor Cook, a protestor with Tampa Bay Community Action Council.
Cook wants city councilmembers to push against the mayor's decision after she vetoed an ordinance that would have allowed voters to decide if the Citizen’s Review Board could have outside legal counsel, separate from the same attorneys who counsel the city. The board was created to review disciplinary cases or issues of importance between the police department and community.
“I mean, if you were in a court of law, and the person representing you was also representing the other side, you would feel a bit cheated,” Simon Rowe of the Community Action Council said.
In a memo sent to city council, the mayor explained her decision saying that “an assistant city attorney who does not represent the Tampa Police Department serves” as the board’s legal advisor, going on to say that “in proposing this change, City Council members never considered or quantified the financial impact on taxpayers of hiring an outside attorney.”
But protestors say that decision should be up to the taxpayers and that the mayor is blocking voters from getting to see that choice on their ballots.
“If people are saying that the police need more accountability, why not let us vote on it?” Cook asked. “If it votes down, it votes down, but if it votes ‘yes,’ then at least the people got to vote.”
Protestors said they’re planning to show up at Thursday’s city council meeting to urge councilmembers to overturn Castor's decision.
10 Tampa Bay reached out to the mayor’s office for comment on this story. A city spokesperson referred us to the memo sent to city council members and to an op-ed the mayor wrote for the Tampa Bay Times.