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By Richard Danielson March 30, 2012

Buckhorn creates administrator for economic opportunity

On the campaign trail, candidate Bob Buckhorn repeatedly promised to name two deputy mayors, one of them for economic opportunity. This job, he said, would supervise every department at the city involved in business regulation and economic development. He also said the position, which had not existed at the city of Tampa, would be created by consolidating existing positions.

On Feb. 23, 2012, Buckhorn announced a reorganization at City Hall that elevated Bob McDonaugh, who at the time was serving as the city's acting economic development administrator. McDonaugh took on the economic development administrator's duties after Mark Huey left the city to become president and chief executive of the Economic Development Corp. of Sarasota County.

Buckhorn named McDonaugh administrator for economic opportunity. In that job, he reports directly to the mayor. His assignment is to focus on attracting new businesses to Tampa, helping to grow entrepreneurship, and growing and retaining existing businesses. He oversees all city programs and divisions related to economic development and business regulation, including the planning and development department, the community redevelopment areas and the Riverwalk.

To pay for that position and a couple of other moves, Buckhorn consolidated three vacant positions: Huey's, the vacancy created when director of growth management and development services Cynthia Miller left for Atlanta; and the opening created when Cathie Schanz resigned as the parks department's program and organizational development manager. City officials estimated the consolidations will save more than $425,000 annually.

Buckhorn said McDonaugh's new job is exactly what he promised during the campaign, just with a different title.

"I wrestled with this a lot,” Buckhorn told PolitiFact Florida on Feb. 28, 2012. When asked why he didn't call the job a deputy mayor, as promised, he said, "I don't know that there is necessarily a good answer. I was just more comfortable with, at the end of day, giving that person all the powers that I had talked about from day one. But because it's more of an administrative slot, the title senior administrator just seemed to work better.

"Bob McDonaugh has every bit of responsibility that I've talked about for a year and a half,” Buckhorn added. "His mission is economic opportunity, streamlining that process down there, making sure the culture changes, making sure that we implement all these balls that we have in the air. So none of that has changed. The only thing that has changed is the title.”

Asked whether classifying the job as a deputy mayor would have given the position political overtones, Buckhorn said, "I would agree. This is about execution. This is about getting things done.”

Ultimately, Buckhorn said, he believes Tampa residents voted for someone they believed would get results. "As long as I get done what I said I was going to do, what the person's called doesn't make any difference to them.”

As a candidate, Buckhorn promised to create a deputy mayor who would oversee all economic development and business regulation programs, and to do so by consolidating existing positions, saving money. As mayor, he has gone a long way toward checking off every item on that list. But he stopped at the job title. Buckhorn said he wrestled "a lot” with what to call the job, which indicates that the names given to high positions of responsibility count for something -- both on the campaign trail and in office. Because he promised to create a deputy mayor's position, but ended up naming it something else, we rate this promise a Compromise.

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