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interviewed by Robert Kerstein.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (47 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman administration oral history project
Interview conducted on April 28, 2006
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
During the tenure of Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman (1986-1995), Ron Ibarra served as the city's chief accountant. He was employed by the City of Tampa from 1974 until November of 2005. In 1974 Mr. Ibarra served as the city's auditor. He discusses the city's bond issues as they related to the Performing Arts Center bond refunding, water and sewer bond refunding, and the Aquarium bond conduit issue. He also discusses the citys bond issues in regard to LifeLink, Moffitt Cancer Center, and DACCO. Mr. Ibarra talks about Tampa's revenue and budget issues during his time with the city. The interview ends with a discussion of key people within the city's finance offices during Mr. Ibarra's employment there: Lou Russo, Finance Director for the city; Jim Stefan; and Sam Hamilton. There is also a brief mention of the Florida League of Cities.
Office of the Mayor.
Kerstein, Robert J.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y USF ONLINE ACCESS
C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0
1 Sandy Freedman Oral History Project University of South Florida Interview with: Ron Ibarra Interviewed by: Robert Kerstein Location: Unknown Date: April 28, 2006 Transcribed by: Rebecca Willman Edited by: Robert Kerstein, September 7, 2006; Ron Ibarra March 23, 2007 Audit Edit by: Cyrana Wyker September 12, 2007 Final Edit by: Nicole Cox September 25, 2007 [Tape 1, Side A] RK: This is an interview with Mr. Ron Ibarra on April 28, 2006. Thanks a lot for making time to come, sir. RI : No problem, looking forward to it. RK: Can you please tell us what exactly your job was at the city? RI: Yes, I was Chief Accountant from 1978 until November of 2005. But I started with the city before that. RK: Okay, when did you start with the ci ty? RI: June of 2006, and I did the audit of the city for two years prior to that. RI: [Corrects himself] 1976. RK: 1976. But you also did the audit of the city ? RI: Since 1974. RK: Okay. RI: For two years. RK : And you were there for the entire administration of Sandy Freedman, and can you tell us what your responsibilities were sir? RI: My main job was to do the accounting work. We did pension, payroll, all the accounting, [cash,] receiving, probably 90% of the money. Did all the payments, and I
2 did some of the financings, the bond issues for the city, and made sure that the audit was completed on a timely basis every year. RK: Cities often have to borrow money from major expenditures, major capital expendit RI: Yes, and I most of us know, including myself. And then can you speak about some of the major bond i ssues during the Freedman administration? RI: Yes. The might be a museum, a performing arts center, convention center, whatever it might be. And the next thing is you what we did wa s usually an RFP to solicit for an underwriter to assist us in the process. whoever had the best idea and the best background do all the standard questions, you know, professional skills, background, how many had you done and would work with sue. And then bonds to different entities. Mostly wealthy people would buy tax exempt government ce companies. But a lot of wealthy people especially many from Tampa who, if they had a pet project, like a performing arts center, and they had some amount of wealth, they would say, some tax exempt bonds. RK: And how do they become aware of t hese bonds? and clients. Most of them are clients, that are wealthy people. And the [underwriter does the] solicitation, approximately ten days before you issue the bonds to get them so they can prepare [buyers for the bond sale]. RK: And can you give an example of some of the underwriters? RI: We used Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley. RK: So these are national or multinational firms. Did they all have offices here did you ?
3 RI: Correct. Usually we solicited, we selected a firm that had a local Goldman Sachs at that time you h ad Dean Whitter and a lot of them that are no out or merged with other companies. RK: And the underwriters would bid for your work? RI: They would quote us the price was mainly on qualifications, ability of the, you know, the people they had on staff. And went with the firm that h ad large a lot of offices, especially locally, but nationwide. So they could sell the bonds and get the lowest rate. RK: Were there certain individuals who you worked with often, working for these major firms for them? RI: Yes, but sometimes you know, typically be returning people that we would get familiar with. RK: Do you remember any names? RI: There was a gentleman named Frank King with Merrill Lynch, Coleman Cordell with Morgan Stanley. Who else? Henry Reyes, he was with Smith Barney. RK: And so did this process change at all when the Freedman administration came into office? In terms of any the way any of the ways in which you went about your business? main doing the same process, being consistent. She the main thing that I would say that she did is she wanted to mostly do refundings if at all possible. She wanted to some mayors elected you know, maybe to have pet projects, but her goal was to if it was a refunding, it was almost like, do it. And to do the refunding you got to have interest rates lower than the original rate that you issued on the bond, sort of like a house refinancing. So her goal was, if you can find way that you notice them when you look at, in the what I do is you look at the financial statements at the end of the year, and you just look at people to see if t hey can, you know, if they can make it work. RK: So she focused on that more than other mayors? RI: Correct. Her goal was, yeah. She, she said that to me several times, you know, refunding, do it Ron.
4 RI: Go after those. RK: RI: Yes sir. Very much so. RK: What were the major bond issues you were involved with from the time that Mayor RI: I think most of the bonds th we refunded under administration. We had a bond for the zoo that we refunded during her administration. We did a couple of and we also did water and sewer refundings. And so edominately did refunding bonds during her administration. The only bond and we did not do it during her administration was the Aquarium bonds. We did, but those were not city bonds initially, they are now. Because the Aquarium, we assisted, we did which i RK: Conduit bond? RI: Yeah. RK: And that was the initial bonds for the Aquarium? Aquarium. But we gave th em our tax exempt status by doing a conduit issue, so they got lower interest rates them for Moffitt Ce RI: Drugs RK: Okay. they just want to buy a building, they do the drugs and stuff and o they could acquire a new building in Tampa. We did one for Tampa Prep. RK: So is the primary at least one of the primary criteria here that they have to be not for profit organizations? Is that true? RI: Yes. RK: And then beyond that, how do you dete rmine whether or [not] to assist them?
5 RI: The key to it for the city other people do it different ways the key to the city the way we did all our conduits, was the city had no responsibility if there is a default, they had to find a bank, like Bank of A merica, SunTrust, Wachovia, all of them did conduit bonds for the nonprofits. And they would have to buy all the bonds, and the bank would each of the nonprofits had to get a letter of credit bank to guarantee the bonds. The city was not a guarantor. Absolutely, so RK: So the reason they wanted to go through you is to get the note for so that the purchaser of the bonds do[es] not have to pay tax? RI: Correct. RK: Okay. Do sometimes companies and ask for you to be a conduit but the city decided no to? RI: There were, was a couple. Very few, but a couple. Most of them knew our criteria. Which was being a not for profit. We had a couple that were sort of like, on the cusp, so RK: Did you often you mentioned that sometimes you hired advisors in addition to the underwriting firm. RI: Right. RK: And would that be for the larger bond issues RI: Correct. RK: And refinancings? RK: Right. Yeah. The t echnique that they would have that we would not have as good of access to was they could determine what was good interest rates at the time to make sure why we woul d hire them. That they would most of them had what they call a desk, like and they could call their desk and say, what are interest rates today? insight as f ar as you know, knowing for sure that you know, you paying for that information from that company to tell you that 5% is the lowest rate today. Go ahead and exercise them. them. Rarely mo re than 10,000 dollars. Never more than 10,000 dollars, I should say. RK: And were you able to do everything you did regarding bonds from Tampa, or would you sometimes have to go to New York or ?
6 RI: In the beginning everything, and even sometimes the would be out in New York because Tampa had not matured at the time. And to sell the the modernization and computers and, and some of them have their office locally that sell RK: Can you recall abruptly when that changed? after 1986, sta rting method and expand a little more. RK: Because of federal legislation? RI: Right. It was called the oh, I forgot the letters e federal things. RK: [laughs] Is it true sir that cities cannot go into debt as far as operating expenditures? operations state law. RK: State law, Okay. Now are there limits of any type, legal limits onto what degree you can be bonded, the city can be bonded? RK: What is a GO bond? about, we had did a utility tax revenue, like the Convention Center, Performi ng Arts you got to get it ratified. You got to send it out to the voters RK: R eferendum. RI: Referendum, thank you very much. RK: Okay, but you never bothered with that? RI: No.
7 RK: Are they seen as riskier, is that true? currently all our bonds say this is not secured by the full faith and credit of the city. That type of bond would be dedicated by the full faith and credit of the city. School boards do many of those. But millage to a bond issue. RK: And why does [the] city shy away from this? RK: Has there been any difficulties as far as this dedicated source having adequate funds bringing in adequate funds to pay the bank the bond issue? RK: If Mayor Freedman well, we only had one new bond issue during Mayor RI: No, there were some others, we had a water bond. What was that project for? I believe we expanded the plant. I know we did. We did a water bond during particular project. RK: Okay. The Convention Center is something that was initiated to her in Mayor RI: Now that went under her administration we did issue that bond under her RK: Can you tel l us, Okay because this, the Convention Center is something everyone is you know, aware of and familiar with of course RI: Right. RK: Do you recall and I know this is going back some time, sir. Do you recall it was complex, because initially had worked out an arrangement with Mack Harborside to build a Convention Center and a hotel, and that fell through. And then the city went ahead with the bond issue, just for the Convention Center I believe. So it was very complex and I never did understand all of t detail many, many years later. But can you tell us what you do recall about the Convention Center situation?
8 RI: What I remember is we did negotiate with Mack. There was one issue on the issue that, that caused the city to go, to not do it with Mack? Mack wanted the city to pay for the infill of the land that went to put the office building there. There was going to be a hotel. It was going to be a convention center, those two buildings, and the land had to be the question was, who was going to pay for the infill of the land? And the Mack people kept saying, we want the city to, because they said they would donate the land. And the city sa id, we said we would donate the land, but it was the land that we already had. And so it was just that little subtlety of you know, infilled it, then you had to do a buffer. You had to do the seawall to reinforce it, so it wound up being quite a few million dollars, and the city says, And they said, Because it just increases the size of the project, and it fell apart. So the city marc hed forward. I remember that part of the negotiations, thinking, golly! RK: So third of the money and we spent it on land. And when we started, we had land prices at 75 dollars a square foot. When we ended up, we had prices at a hundred and a dollar twenty five 125 dollars a square foot. And so the, the subtlety and we were the and back for money, and so she said, And so, and we sort of tried to estimate the amount of money that she could lose, and we gave her some nu mbers, and she said, RK: Why did the price escalate so much with the land? RI: I that we learned fo rm or the other, the minute you buy one, all the other people are going to ask for more. In fact I heard that the people that, at Embassy Suites, paid a lot more for it than that. And RK: But it was high? RI: I heard it was high.
9 RK: As I recall the Convention Center deal, and you might not have been involved with this part, another factor contributing to Mayor Freedman going along with it was that the city was already ob ligated for significant amounts of money in legal fees. RK: And why did the legal fees, I remember they were not just thousands of dollars, I why, how did that happen? RI: Well, all the attorneys that were involved on their side and our side wanted to be paid. And the ones on their side said their total was $750,000, and that was brought forward by the Mack people. And on our side we had people that were asking for at least $200,000, so you know, you had al l that money invested, so the resources to pay that extra million dollars was, was you know, hard to come by. s aid well you, you know, you put us to task. Which there was nothing in writing to confirm that, so the city was able to RI: No. RK: Oh I see. And so you culminat ed the bond issue during the Freedman administration RI: Yes sir. RK: And were they then later refinanced at a lower rate? RI: Yes, yes. RK: So you benefited from that. RI: [sounds in agreement] RK: Were you involved sir in any of the efforts to g et a hotel to go along with the Convention Center? Ultimately you got one when Mayor Greco was in office, but there was some attempts prior to that. Were you involved with any of those? RI: Two of them, yes.
10 RK: Were there any difficulties in terms of t he possible bond deals that led them not to succeed? RI: It was really just City Council. It was a tough issue that the last one that we tried, which was pushed by Smith Barney. And that was to have the city own the place and who would receive all the pr everything ready and just went to City Council and the vote was 4 to 3. RK: Do you have any idea why they voted it down? RK: When I sometimes read about other cities and they speak about the finances and bonds, and bond obligations, they often suggest that those w ho handle the bond deals I the campaign so Mayors you know, were politically connected. RI: Correct. RK: Has that been the case historically in Tampa as well? RK : It happened during, until they came out with the MSRB which is the Municipal Security Bond Regulation arm. The answer is yes, they came out with the regulation of that after that they were fully, you know, they had a lot of bond issues that were not fully collateralized or fully secure. So they strengthened that, came out with this MSRB that says, underwriters can no longer provide m oney to directly. And then they capped it, you know, the state federal law came out with that as a different entity, different branch of the government. But MSRB came out with something RK: Had Tampa often given the bond work to those who had contributed or is it just ? and who was not giving. RK: I see. RI: And myself and a couple other people would be in the selection process o f the of the requests for proposals.
11 RK: And it was based just on professional criteria? RI: Correct, yeah. So there was no connection. Now, now we would run our decision by Mayor Freedman, but she never did change whatever we recommended, so you know, we would always confer with her. RK: I see. RI: And RK: Were there any earlier mayors that sometimes changed your decision? RI: No. RI: To my knowledge it was, yes. I, I did most of the RK: You would know. RI: Yes. RK: You also sir, oversaw the overall budget, is that, is that correct? RI: I saw, I oversaw the accounting of it, yes sir. RK: The accounting of it. RI: Right. I did not formulate the budget. Freedman, working with another now Louis Russo, the Finance Director would always do that. RK: Okay, but you did the accounting. RI: I did the accounting. RK: Now many people the budget department. RK: Do y ou, obviously [it] is a constraint on any mayor, or potential constraint as far as what the budget looks like, that can allow the mayor to undergo [or] initiate certain projects or not financially speaking, allow certain projects. Do you recall when the Fr eedman administration first came into office what the fiscal or budgetary picture looked like? In other words, was there a fair amount of room to potentially spend more,
12 or was it very tight? RI: It was tight when she came in. It was the main reason and it became tighter as she went along. In the beginning it was probably just fine, and then when the bond issue the one on the Convention Center, there was a provision in there that, that we had to use utility tax, and utility tax was sort of our back stock for our general fund. And the money maybe would only use about 10 million of it so. And so that coming along was shock to our budgeting process because it was at that time, I would have said, I would ventures like 12 or 15 percent of the budget. It had an affect of you know RK: That much? RI: Yes, yes. RK: But that sir was all from the utility tax, is that true? RI: Yes. RK: So was it 12 to 15 percent the utili ty tax, or of the entire budget? RI: Of the utility tax, at that time it was probably half of the utility tax. But then the utility tax had other bond issues that were pledged or obligated to it. So it was, I think were at about 30 million dollars of util ity tax maybe not quite that much 28 or 29 [million]. And 14 to 15 [million] of it was, was for this bond issue. And she was saddled with that. RK: So that limited any potential for new bond issues? RI: Correct. RK: I see. RI: And now when we did t he refunding, we got the debt service down to 13 and half million dollars a year. RK: Do you recall sir any other projects being considerate that would have necessitated RI And basically we did one small one. Well she I know we did the refunding a gas tax bond that did all our road work, a lot of our road work, excuse me. And I do remember if we did another administration issue.
13 RK: So therefore the money dedicated to pay back the bond was from the gas t ax? RI: Right. RK: I see. RI: So, but we could have used utility tax, we could have used any other source. But gas RK: I see, I see. Many people look at convention centers, not just in Tampa, but but just in terms of the financing of it. Did revenues come in from the Convention Center that in some way offset your obligations? th year now. He has turned a profit which made not the peripheral benefits, you know, that would be an economist who would forecast that or predict that, or project. He $400,000 years. So that means you got ten years where you were just barely you know, making your operating budget. An or just slightly under your operating budget. Most of the times when they get to lose, you adjust everything, you know, you adjust people, how they work. So every ma amount of money, just small. RK: But when they have a profit, does that go into further advertising, or whatever? RI: It goes back into the general fund RK: It, oh? RI: Which means [inaudible]. Since the U tax and the general fund are connected, it benefits the U tax, utility tax fund. Typically the way our budget is done is you got the oney the utility tax fund, you say, these are all for capital projects and debt service, so what capital project am I going to come out, so I can keep [inaudible] arou nd, or do I eliminate people?
14 automatically in their budget, it goes to general city revenues, and then annually the Convention Center is budgeted just as is the police depar tment and so on? RI: Yes sir. RK: I see, Okay. Now the Performing Arts Center is different, or am I wrong? RI: It is different, completely different. They are autonomous and you could consider that bond. The city issued it, said you people run it. city did a second bond issue. We did one no, no, we did a conduit bond to do the on and did another bond and bought the Aquarium. Now the Aquarium and the Performing Arts Center [are] exactly alike. They both run independently and they come to the city for any shortfalls. RK: And is the city obligated to the provide to them? RI: Th like that. The Performing Arts Center just says, you leased the land from us and run it. dissimilarity the Aquarium bond has a little caveat that says we will assist you. The other two do not. RK: I see. So is it true from the taxpayers perspective that t he Performing Arts Center is not costing the tax payers money annually? RI: We still send them money. RK: Oh I see. [End Tape 1, Side A] ___ [Tape 1, Side B] RK: Okay, we were speaking about the Performing Arts Center [and] the Aquarium. Can people interested in it. RI: Right.
15 Performing Arts Center that is responsible for paying back the bond, is that true? RI: No, the city pays the bonds. RK: Oh, Okay. So the city, every year, is paying back the Performing Arts Center bonds, tion? RI: Correct. RK: Okay. Then beyond that, sometimes the city chooses to subsidize the Performing Arts Center for operating, is that true? RI: Correct. RI: No, that is not contra hand sort of like RK: And who actually owns the Performing Arts Center? RI: The city. RI: [Sounds in agreement] RK: I see. RI: Same with the zoo. Th e zoo we own the zoo, and the zoo board runs it. The Aquarium we own, and the Aquarium board runs it. RK: Okay. And there we have some type of contractual obligation to help out with operating, is that correct sir? RI: Correct, yep. And that, in that ag reement with them we have a little the first two this, the Aquarium is a, was and will assist you. RK: I see. RI: Those [the zoo and Performing Arts] we call lease agreements management agreements, this one [the Aquarium] we call an operative. You know, semantics in the titl e.
16 RK: I see. And the Performing Arts Center sir, does that revenue to retire the bonds come from the utility tax is that ? RI: Well it comes mostly from the utility tax; we also have another revenue source for that one. RK: Okay. And the Aquarium is RI: Yes. RK: True? And the zoo? RI: The zoo is primarily utility tax. RK: Has the utility tax sir periodically been increased? RI: Yes. RK: State law. R I: Correct, ten percent. RK: I see, I see. they often know that And if it, what does growth help? In other words, Tampa has attracted new businesses and RI: That help.
17 RK: And so on. So the revenue increases over time in general, is that true? RI: Absolutely. RK: So that kind of is of assistance as far as meeting the modifications. RI: Definitely, definitely, definitely. RK: And has the general trend been upward do you recal l? at least three to five percent a year, consistently. RK: Does the county ha ve a utility tax? RK: And so is it true work for the county. But what do they use to back the bonds? RI: T hey try to use different revenue sources like we do. They have people called the different things with the stadium for an example. But they in the stadium. They helped in the arena using that, the resort tax. the Ice Palace? RI: Yes. We have, we did two differen t bond issues for them. One of them was a tax functions, you know, we keep track of the revenues when they have a function and give that money to pay for that service on that bond i ssue. It is about ten million dollars. We also did another smaller one for they have a seat surtax. So when you buy a ticket, you pay an sufficient, we got to find monies out of our general profits to pay the difference. RK: For the the playoffs, we may pay out of, you know, out of the and the aver age debt service on that is $750 did I say that right? Yeah. And $250[,000] on the other piece, the surtax. And that bond issue the whole conflict was complicated. The, the people that owned the what do you want to call it now? [Laughs]. Is it the forum?
18 RK: I guess the St. Petersburg Times Forum. Am I correct? RI: Right, yes. The people that own the Forum, when they first did it, they had to do a bond issue; we did two bond issues. They ha a bond issue, and the county did two bond issues. So we had six bond issues to just build that facility. And anyway, back to your question. So we had a parking piece, and we had our surtax piece. And toget her they combined for a million dollars. If each either one of those, on RK: Right. RI: [inaudible] RK: Does that often happen? ned. In anywhere the most I ever saw was like $158,000, until happy. The parking depart ment said, hey we made money! [Laughs] RK: And what about Raymond James Stadium? Does the city have an obligation? RI: Yeah, we have two little ones there also. Yes, and we pay for them out of our utility tax. RK: Is there a ny trade off as far as from a citizen perspective? In other words, if the city undertakes different capital projects, whatever they might be, does that potentially at least s whether it be police, fire, or whatever it might be or are they completely separate? RI: I think each mayor and the city itself has done a good job of keeping them separate because of the two funds, the utility tax, and general fund. And the general fu nd never subsidizes a project. The general fund is funding for people. And the pretty much, that when I think people do their budget to provide operations, and the only downside is if, if they economy goes real bad, and the funding for the general fund goes eliminate positions and and some years, what we usually d o when, when you notice that, is we, we try to put you know, cost constraint. She stopped traveling, you know, other mayors have done other things like freeze hiring. You know, if you lose a position e that say, And many
19 practice of the city. Just worry about fire and police, you know, all the other functional things that provide services that are you k now, important, but not as important as police and fire. Like recreation, parks, administrative like my staff could sitting maybe a year or two without filling a vacancy. ownturn? RI: National and now they think the housing was starting to go back down then, and it was just but that goes back [laughs]. been with people who were in office during the Freedman administration. I wondered, and you served with several mayors. I guess you started with Mayor ? RI: Poe. RK: Poe. Okay. So Mayor Poe, Mayor Martinez, Mayor Freedman, and you stayed on with Mayor Greco and to some degree with Mayor Iorio, though just the beginning. RI: Correct. RK: Is there anything you can say about the period when Mayor Freedman was in office, regarding how she managed your operation, or just what are your general operations r egarding Mayor Freedman as a manager or as a mayor for that matter? five different mayors I would xcellent memory. You know, she remembers everything about you just cordial type person, just you know wanted them to, to do their best, and Freedman also. And Martinez like Iorio you can see that he had a goal to advance, so those two mayors you can, you could sense that you know, I hate to put it this way, but I you just feel like excellent too, Poe still says hi to me. Mayor Poe was good, I think he was just a, a very social, common, you know, did not have objectives to go onto another level of, of government. But I think you could sense that, once you were around the mayor, you know if t heir goal was to just, you know, do their job and get it done. People have mentioned that, Freedman just had some sense that you can derive from her. As far as managing, she had them. And Martinez also did that, but he limited the number of people th at would visit with him.
20 So she was very flexible, she had her points that she was very concerned about and would know she just wanted I thought one of her biggest goals was to improve housing, and that is I think everybody knows that. And when she took away police cars to save t he money because it was [an] internal audit done up, that probably said, save a lot of money head, c ould make a decision and make, in my opinion, sound decisions. RK: So she was very detail oriented? RI: Yes, in fact I discovered that when she was on City Council. She was one of the few who, who would probably read all the documents and had, you know, pertinent questions for every conflict that came across you know that, showed that she had read them. use the financial team people who focused on finances of the city when you were in office during the Freedman administration? Who would the others be? RI: It was Lou Russo [who] was probably key. He was the Finance Director, that was my s o it was really Russo was the key. And there was a guy named Desolay [?] who started off, he was good. Then there was Jim Stefan. And beyond that, there was just probably the three of us, and she would also talk to the City Attorney at the time, whoever th at was who was Fogerty for a period and became Pam Aiken to get their perspective legally on financial type things. And then there was a gentleman named Sam Hamilton who was the attorney on the who worked for Pam who had good ability when it came to finan keys were Sam, myself, Lou and Jim Stefan. RK: Does any interaction sir with other Florida cities to try to share ideas or experiences, or did the Florida League of Citie s ever get involved in a sense of, again, trying to share what other cities were doing? Did that ever make a difference? member, I helped organize a couple of conventions during her tenure here. And became anyway us and we look at them were, flexible spending a ccount, which are the you probably have one too you know, where you get the pretax money to use for your, I mean for your drugs and doctors visits. And we used that idea. These were subsequent, but they,
21 some of them started in her administration. So the F lorida League did send, you know sort of professional people to talk to about other cities. RK: But for the most part it was Tampa experiences? RI: Correct, yeah, yeah. RK: Well, I very much appreciate your coming to speak to us about a complex subje ct, but, one that obviously is very, very important to all the citizens, so thank you sir. RI: Thank you, hope I was clear. RK: Oh you were, thank you.