Tampa city council fights for more control as it clashes with Mayor Jane Castor over charter amendments

The power struggle between Tampa City Council and Mayor Jane Castor intensified Thursday when council members voted to override four of the mayor's five recent vetoes of their charter amendment proposals.

One of those proposals would give the council more control over the selection and approval process of top officials, including the police chief.

The conflict between the mayor and council reached a tipping point last year during the mayor's controversial selection of former Tampa Police Chief Mary O'Connor. Several council members complained they felt like they were nothing more than a rubber stamp on an appointment with which they didn't agree.

Councilwoman Lynn Hurtak led the charge in proposing changes to the city's charter, which is its governing document.

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"People want this done. They want to vote on it," Hurtak said. "There's nothing special about overriding a veto. It's just one of the things we can do as council."

"I find it unnecessary and offensive [for the mayor] to do a blanket veto of everything," added Councilman Guido Maniscalco.

Other proposed charter changes include ending the mayor's power to create city boards, while also establishing term limits for council members.

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Not one person who spoke during public comment supported the mayor's vetoes.

Mayor Castor was in Washington, D.C., and wasn't able to attend the council meeting. In a statement, she said: "Every decision I make as mayor is based on what's best for Tampa residents today and their children tomorrow, rather than what's easy or politically expedient. My charter amendment vetoes reflected that, but I was under no illusion that I would convince every council member to change his or her mind."

The charter amendment proposals will be up for a vote on March 7.