By Jim Bleyer
Ever seen Tampa mayoral hopeful David Straz at a Sierra Club meeting? Me neither.
If he made his debut waving a check, he probably wouldn’t receive a warm welcome.
Earlier this year, Straz was designated a “water hog” by the Tampa Bay Times. From January through May while Tampa Bay experienced one of the worst droughts in its history, Straz was deemed to be the second highest water user in Hillsborough County at 1.14 million gallons.
But that measurement by the factually challenged Times might have been made by an NFL referee waving a folded imdex card.
Straz actually was the top user but the Times cut him a break by not including his guest house in the calculations. That structure alone made the top 30 while the average City of Tampa homeowner was coping with brush fire potential.
The Times ran the story when Straz reportedly was being courted for a $1.5 million “investment” in return for favorable Times coverage. The article screamed, “look how we can bend reality in favor of our patrons.”
But the truth is that Straz has about as much environmental awareness as Donald Trump, whom he supported and voted for in 2016. His main house used 1.14 million gallons during the five drought-stricken months. The state classifies a “high-use” house as one that goes through more than 15,000 gallons of water a month.
The David Straz excuse: his property spans nine lots so proportionally, on a per lot basis, it’s not that bad. Lame. Lousy math for a banker. No apologies and no pledge to cut down on usage.
Every grass blade on the splashy Straz spread displayed a deep green hue. Elitists must keep up appearances.
All this “me first” while Florida was in a declared state of emergency. The National Weather Service termed the dire local situation “a severe drought.”
According to property records, the 14,209 sq, ft. mansion belonging to the flush Straz has six bedrooms and 10 bathrooms. The garage can hold up to seven vehicles. How many are hybrid and how many are gas guzzlers? Think he’s on the Tesla waiting list?
Straz, with his stated views and past actions as testimony, cannot identify with anyone not inside his insulated social circle—in this case South Tampa’s champagne and caviar crowd.
Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” is a Florida Orchestra staple that has been programmed at the David A. Straz Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa. The venue is ironic. Copland had anything but an entity of Straz’ ilk in mind when he wrote the famous piece.
It was written in response to the U.S. entry into World War II and was inspired in part by a famous 1942 speech where vice president Henry A. Wallace, a staunch progressive, proclaimed the dawning of the “Century of the Common Man.”