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Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo, Marion Sell


Material Information

Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo, Marion Sell
Series Title:
Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman administration oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (53 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Crawford, Sherry, 1950-
Rotolo, Debbie
Sell, Marion
Kerstein, Robert J
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Community development -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
City planning -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
Tampa (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


During the tenure of Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman (1986-1995), Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo and Marion Sell all served as executive aides in the mayor's office. Some of the topics they discuss include the mayor's Model Cities Program, the United Way, Paint Your Heart Out, and downtown development issues. The interview ends with a discussion of various visiting dignitaries including Al Gore, Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Simmons, Bill Clinton, and author James Michener.
Interview conducted on April 3, 2006 at the University of Tampa.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
Streaming audio.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Robert Kerstein.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 028546293
oclc - 180114522
usfldc doi - F50-00022
usfldc handle - f50.22
System ID:

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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: Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo, Marion Sell Interviewed by: Robert Kerstein Location: University of Tampa, Plant Hall Date: April 3, 2006 Transcribed by: Rebe cca Willman, July 2006 Audit edited by: Rachel Lisi, February 15, 2007 Final Edit: Rebecca Willman, March 2006 and Nicole Cox October 03, 2007 [Tape 1, Side A] were assistants of different managers and the mayor during the Freedman administration; each is going to introduce herself. R A W F O R D. And I worked for George her Chief of Staff. RK: Thank you. O T O L O, and I served as Executive Aide to Robert L. Smith, the Public Safety Administrator, and Joe Abrahams, the administrator over Parks, Recreation and Cultural services. RK: Thank you. E L L. I was an Executive Aide during the Freedman administration, and I worked for Mike Salmon, who was the administrator over Public Works and Water Resources. And also Bob Buckhorn, who was the Special Assistant to the Mayor your backgrounds, and then when you started working for the City of Tampa. SC: I tell you my name again? [laughs] SC: This is Sherry. I started with the city when I was still in high school with the a Model Cities pro gram in several departments in the city; went to work for the Downtown Development Authority. And when Mayor Freedman took office that was one


2 of the agencies that was disbanded, and I was asked to come up there and work for Mr. een with the city sixty sixty eight! [laughs] thirty eight years [laughs]. RK: Wonderful. SC: Is that it? RK: OK. DR: And this is Debbie again. And I started with the city back in 1978 as a summer worker at the police department. And worked at the po lice department until 1985 when then Mayor Martinez appointed Robert L. Smith as the first city public safety administrator. At which time, he asked if I would come over and serve as his executive aide, and from that point on I stayed with that administrat ion and then worked through the Freedman administration. And [I] have been with the city all that time, now twenty parents and grandparents are all from Tampa also. So I love this city. RK: What neighborhood did your parents or grandparents grow up? DR: Ybor City, West Tampa. SC: I was born in Tampa too, been here all my life, born and raised in Hyde Park. And until we moved out to the suburbs when I was, [in] middle school. RK: Thank you Sherry. MS: Hi, this is Marion. I started working with the city in August of 1981, and started with of Hillsborou gh County. Worked there for a couple years, and then went to waste water, and started working with the Freedman administration, I believe in February of 1987. So six years. I was originally from Allentown, Pennsylvani a and I would never go back. Love Tampa, and will probably retire from the City of Tampa. Three women: Yes. [laughs] I would like to ask about your interactions and, I guess, how would you characterize the mayor, Mayor Sandy Freedman? I know that you worked directly with her, Sherry, you


3 two [Rotolo, Sell] did not. But, you interacted with her to some degree, or at least observed her. How would you characterize the may SC: We all worked with her about the same, the only difference was that I, when Sonny, who worked for the mayor was out, I would sometimes take you know, help the mayor out. I was kind of her back up. But all of us interacted with the mayor about the same. What did you ask me now, what was the question? RK: How would you characterize her style of, her way of kind of handling the job? And her way of interacting with others? SC: I have never seen anyone in my life that never forgo t a name. She would know, she would meet somebody one time and could always remember their name. Some people She was, I thought she was wonderful to work for. I liked her ideas. Sometimes a lot of ew that if she asked for something or did something it was because she really believed that that was best for the City of Tampa. And I always respected her for that. RK: Thank you. DR: And this is Debbie again. I found her very personable, like Sherry s aid, she would always, you know, ask me about my parents. She would know them by name. She would see people in the elevator and she could call everyone out by name. She remembered people. She always remembered details. If she had come in the office one da y and said, you know you know, what police had done about it, or you know, the status, or if she you know just details on different things. If a street sign was down, and she n oticed it a week later she was very concerned. You know all those type of things were important to her from the smallest item of city government to the biggest. It was a lot of budget constraints during that time, but she made a lot of things happen still. I mean, you saw the Florida Aquarium open, the Convention Center. There were just great things happening during her administration. RK: Thank you. MS: This is Marion. I agree with my friends on their thoughts about the mayor. She, I for everybody. She did have huge attention to detail, she would come to you with her little black book, and would follow up on that. In fact we used to joke with the police pothole repaired or that street sign back up. You know, give us two weeks before you go She always made everybody feel


4 welcome. She, at Christmas time would go to each and every floor and look at their Christmas decorations and wish everybody Happy Holidays and just made everybody f eel like they were a member of the family. All Three: Oh! Oh! Wow! The black book, she had a very thick black book! [laughs] MS: All those things that she wanted done. And she would come back to you and say, I DR: If she was out at public meetings you know, and the citizens would come up to her the answers. SC: And she read every piece of mail that entered that office, every piece of mail. You somebody would or something actually sitting there reading every piece of paper that comes into the office. But, she did it. RK: You worked for Mr. George Pennington as well? SC: Yes, yes. RK: And did he play the major role in kind of organizing the administration? much interaction or how much oversight he did with your [Rotolo and Sell] departments housing, wha DR: Purchasing. SC: Purchasing. Any type of administrative department and housing, which was, of thing. We had a director, but George oversaw that, that department. RK: Can you tell us a little bit how it worked with the weekly meetings for example? SC: Staff meetings? RK: Yeah.


5 SC: I was only in one. [laughs] [All laugh] SC: It was kind of just like a round table discussion. I mean they just all sat there and notes and things that they had to do for the staff meeting. RK: say each of you necessarily, but that you would have some interesting stories about some SC: Should we start with Bob Buckhorn? [Laughs] RK: I think that would be a good one. SC: He jus t had a different personality than everybody else. He was young. You know, I remember when we celebrated his thirtieth birthday in the, in the office. We have a picture of it, and, you know, with him with the hat on and holding a Happy Birthday sign, MS: And I used to just instigate him, just to get him going. For instance if his phone Marion, it rang well gee Bob, if yo u had the time to [All Laugh] SC: He was, he was right across the hall from us, so, you could, you could get along with MS: He had a great, he has a great sense of humor. Absolutely. I think he always had the SC: Yeah


6 think. DR: The way the office was set up we had cubicles, which is hard to believe for top foot walls type of things, cubicle style. So the four of there was four of us sitting in front of our administrators, so you could hear a lot even though, you know they were talking about sensitive things sometimes. But Mr. Abrahams he had a very loud ions where Mayor Freedman would walk around the corner and say, I can hear him all the way in my office! You know? [All laughs] DR: [Mayor Freedman would say,] Would you tell him to pipe down? You know, and anyway, it was just, it was like family the wh ole day we were there, you know. We all had a good cause to work towards. But you know, we looked out for each other and you know, it was just a nice time, a nice working group. Everybody pitched in, you know, while I had my two administrators to work for, we all helped each other out. And George Pennington, there would be staff meetings that, that I sat in, and if anyone got too longwinded, he was the perfect person to move the meeting along. He would just say, [lau ghs]. And George Pennington would move things on, and he could keep the ball rolling in there. So, that was always interesting. then I mean he could really raise his voice, know we got used to it after a while talking to the person just like nothing had ever happened. You know, it was just his way of getting his point across. DR Right. SC But I know when I first started working for George, I was scared to death of him, I went He kind of had a reputation I think with, throughout the city, that he could be pretty stern. So I know I was a little a little leery of him when I first came up there. But MS: He was very, he was a kind DR: Yeah. RK: You probably know his wife, [she] worked here for several years. SC: Oh yes.


7 DR: Yeah, Barbara. SC th Anniversary. SC but. Who else? Oh, John, John Dunn. SC : John was wonderful, yeah. MS : ...made you laugh. Mike Salmon was, I think laid back, very, very easy going. I would think Mr. Salmon is a true leader. I learned a lot from him. I re member he always that was something that always stuck with me. Who else was up there? Steve LaBour. SC : Oh, Steve, yeah. DR : Single handedly. MS DR: Right. Neighborhoods became very important to the administration and their ideas, SC : That was the start of it. DR: That and he, he was great at baking chocolate chip cookies. [All laugh] M S : Yes he was! Even without the chocolate chips. [Laughs] DR: He would always make a special batch a little bit burnt for Joe Abrahams, because he preferred them burnt. [All laughs]


8 DR: Yeah. MS: ... so he would come in with all his little special made batches. [Laughs] SC: And other, the bake sales bake sales? RK: No. ittle pledge cards and give our fair share. But to earn more money, the mayor started this bake sale up on the eighth MS: Two items. SC: Was it two or three? MS: It was two. DR: Two, yeah. S C: Yeah, two or three items, and the mayor would come in with twenty, twenty items. And we would write letters to all the news stations, and you know, news personalities, and ask them to donate their favorite dessert for DR : Right. nine hundred dollars. It MS : Big deal. DR: Big donation for United Way, it really was. Yeah, that was real important. there selling to the building. And everybody would look forward to it, the whole building looked forward to it. Because you never knew what the mayor was going to bring in. It SC: Carts.


9 MS SC : I mean, just full of baked goods! [All Laugh] MS SC: Roasted almonds, her, what were those? Walnuts? MS : Pecans. DR : Pecans. SC: Pecans! DR: Yeah, the sugared pecans. SC : Yeah. MS : She did. SC: Yes. DR: She did, yes. MS: We all got one. DR: The lemon bars were in that cookbook! [All laugh] RK: You mentioned John Dunn who dealt with the media, who was media relations I guess. Did you also have to, some way, interact with the media? DR : We were always no comment [All laugh]


10 MS: Yeah. No comment! But being, we, you know, we knew I mean I knew John when he was still w ith the [Tampa] Tribune. When I was working at the Downtown Development Authority he used to cover us with them, I with all the calls, the juggling. Everybody you know, has a deadline to beat. But he was SC : Yeah. He was. MS: And he always made sure that our story was told fair. [All laugh] RK: I was wondering about that. MS: Absolutely. RK: I was there one day and he seemed to be having some, heated words with a reporter, he looked out for the city. MS : He did. RK: Did you ever get the feeling that the media was being kind of hard on the city, on the administration? SC: Yeah, especially during the, during the last, the last part I think. MS : I do. SC: There were a couple of thing MS: I think they were harder on her than some of the other mayors. SC: Oh definitely.


11 hard on her, you know mayor, you know, to help set up for the next administration or something, you know. But it was, they would have their damage control in place. [All laugh] SC: She probably had a little, little, you know mayor when she won the elec tion, won the first election, after remember all the flowers in her office? DR: Right. because it got to her allergies, remember? [All laugh] MS: Yeah DR: Yeah, I wasn DR: Yeah. you know, Greco had his problems second term, so RK: Can you think of any other comparisons between the mayor the same people stayed with the Freedman admi nistration from Martinez, but did Debbie. DR: I came in just at the end. He left to run for Governor. It was a smooth transition as far as I remember. Mayor Freedman was the Chairman of the City Council and came over. But it might have been a little bit different management style you woul Mayor Martinez walking around the corner of the cubicles to ask a question. His assistant would come over and ask the question normally. Whereas Mayor Freedman, she felt very comfortable with coming around and asking any of the staff members for a ssistance with


12 something or a question, or to get some answers, things like that. Just a little bit different management style like that. RK: You mentioned Steve LaBour before was active with citizen associations. Did you ever have citizens or representa tives of neighborhood groups come to the offices and speak about issues? SC: Oh we had, we dealt with all the citizens when they would come in with you, constituent concern, that was part of our job, you know, to go out there and get all of the informati on and try to help them solve the problem, whatever. But I guess you know, looking at our neighborhood office now and you know, in this administration, and seeing what it was back when Steve had it, you know, that was really, you know actually t he neighborhood office. DR: Yeah, gave it some status. [All laugh] MS : He just did it all by himself! [All laugh] DR: It wa s bare bones. [More laughter] MS : Yeah, it has. meet up those needs. SC: Meet those needs. DR: Yeah. ring the Freedman administration that obviously has stayed and not only stayed, but expanded. MS: Expanded.


13 MS : Absolutely. SC: And I mean, things like the Challenge Fund and all the affordable housing programs that are still in existence today started during her administration. MS: Well how about Paint Your Heart Out? Did she start that? SC: Paint your heart out is another thing. DR : Right. MS: We used to always, every year, as an office, we would paint. DR : Yeah. She wo uld assign us a house, and we would come and paint! [All laugh] MS: Yep. DR: That started. lot of and all these volunteers that come together. MS: And the tow n hall meetings how about the town hall meetings? She used to have SC : Oh yes! MS: No. She did not make us go. [All laugh] RK: Did you hear about it the next day? [All Laugh]


14 [All Laugh] RK: Sometimes you hear people criticize government just in general, Freedman administration, but just your experience is it because a nything valid about these kind of critiques of local government? SC: Well not from where we work! [laughs] SC: Yeah individuals. And I think we give it the majority of us give it 100% each and everyday. our life and we try to do the best job that we can. he citizens call. You know, you have city government, you have county government you know that would be county government, let me get a number for you. hear that, they want help right then. You know and you know, you want to assist them, just not fast enough for them. But realisti cally, one problem may involve several departments, and by the time you get an answer for them, you know I think anyone that conscientious about helping the public. But you know their expectations on the no, hard sometimes, because you give them no. DR: Yeah. MS DR: Yeah.


15 [All laugh] [All laugh] MS: Basically. RK: Do you recall the period when the Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was supposed to have SC : Bamboleo! I forgot about that I still got the cup at home, yes. RK: And, that was difficult time I believe, for the mayor and the administration. It seemed to SC she st uck to her guns, and she said, I just love it. You know, I like to see the pirates come and kidnap the mayor and you know, get the key to the city, and really believed that she needed to do what she did and she did it. DR: And changes did come from it. SC: Yeah, they did. MS: Yep. RK: Did you get nasty phone calls? SC MS: No. RK: You remember a volume of calls over any particular issue? SC: Take home cars.


16 RK: Oh. DR : For the police officers. SC : That was a rough one. know necessarily? ust a lot of bad press and just a lot of bad, you know calls and you know, the police officers felt that was one of their benefits that were being taken away from them. And so that was a, that was a pretty rough time. Anything else? anything off hand. The, atmosphere with City Council, I think it was pretty good at the time. You know each administration deals with different Council issues and I think we were very responsive to anything Council asked for, and so nothing comes to mind t hat would stand out. SC : Yeah. DR : Right. DR: Oh, yeah. SC: Definitely, yeah. DR: No doubt about it. [laughs] DR : Right! MS: And she was always reachable. SC: Was there ever anything she had to veto? And we were afraid she might I think she what it was.


17 RK: Do you remember the period at the end of the administration when there was some chance of getting a hotel where now the Marriot is and City Council voted against that? Does that ring a bell? MS : Absolutely. thing that she really worked hard on. But the economy was so bad during that period of time. You know she did an awful lot with very little resources, so. RK: Each mayor I think has different people that he or she are relatively close with who are not in the city government but are active in the community on one way or another, business or neighborhood associations. And I wondered if, in your eyes, Mayor Freedman had certain people that she was very close with who she consulted with informally or formally who came up to visit. she relied a lot on her staff. I remember some of her friends. You know, like the Shimbergs and er that. DR: Yeah, I you know I know she, you know had an open door policy that she would see her staff when they needed to see her on different issues or things like that. And she confided in her administrators and, you know they were very honest with e ach other and close. And I know she used them as sounding boards for ideas. RK: One issue that came up with some regularity I suppose was trying to widen city government in terms of hiring African Americans and women at different levels of the administra tion. Is this something you saw from your perspectives? SC: Yeah, oh yeah, that was, you know that was another, another thing that was going on, you know at the time. We needed to make some changes and I think she handled that very well. There was the on MS: She did. She just tried to ensure that women and minorities received promotions in a lot of in, in departments whenever she could. She, she believed from, in promoting from within and sought out the best candidates. And it was always wonderful, if it turned SC and DR : Yeah, yeah.


18 DR: Did she start cultural diversity training? Or was that already in place? SC: I t ago. It might have been that might have been something that was started during that administration with the T Police [Tampa Police]. DR: All new employees go to cultural div ersity training. RK: And has that continued over time? DR: It has continued. RK: Were there tensions at all because, if, if there was an emphasis on promoting and hiring of minorities and women? Was there any tension due to that? MS: No because she DR: She was very, very fair. SC: Qualified. DR: Right. MS RK: And [End Tape 1, Side A] [Tape 1, Side B] DR the time change has got me. kind of, the emphasis has continue d.


19 MS: Prevalent. people were, were, waiting, you know looking to see what the city was going to do in that regard, so that was, you know that, I think was one of her strongest, strongest things too was how she felt about those issues. course, but did she get nasty letters r egarding this issue or any others? every mayor gets them. MS [All laugh] MS RK: Each of you stayed in with Mayor Greco, is that tr ue? RK: Oh I see. DR: Special assistants? SC : Yeah. [laughs] RK: Who was that? SC: Ron Rotella. RK: Yes. Ma yor Greco I think had a different kind of persona than Mayor Freedman. SC: Yes, yes. RK: How would you characterize the major change, just in terms of leadership style? [all pause]


20 MS: Silence. [all laugh] SC: It was totally different. I mean tot ally different. and things like that, I felt. MS: Yeah, MS: He left to his staff. RK: So tha t was the major difference? [Sounds in agreement] RK: Can I ask about the present mayor as far as style? SC: A lot, a lot more like Mayor Freedman. Yeah, very detail oriented. Is in, you know, she stays involved in, in everything. You know, she, to m e she reminds me, I mean their attention to detail, their concern about things is about the same. RK: Any other recollections or stories, or impressions? DR: It was just great the way ever yone worked so well together in the Freedman administration. Chief Smith, you know, while he had his expertise in police and fire, that type of field, I, it would be often that he would meet with the other administrators on issues and they would work toget her and you know, with Mike Salmon and Joe positive time. SC: Team, you know, very team oriented.


21 DR : Right. MS : Very, very team oriented. At the holidays the mayor would always have a holiday MS SC MS MS: Absolutely. around in, in her office and, you know. But like issues that would come up on the Bayshore. There was a time when the balustrade, is that... SC: Yeah. DR SC: Yeah. DR: There was a debate whether to it needed to be renovated, i mproved. And they going out into the water, or replace it and, and refurbish it. And she went around the room, and here we are, the aides to the big administrators, and she was asking you know I felt like my opinion counted in her administration. And of course I wanted it to be replaced and, I mean, refurbished. And I was glad the vot e went that way. But you know, she cared what anyone, you know great. MS : Oh absolutely. DR : Yeah. SC: Yep. And I remembe r at Christmas when she would come in to help during the holidays, well she just had to be out there putting some ornaments she had to have, she had to have at least put two or three ornaments on that tree. I mean, she just had to. You


22 DR: But she was fair, we had Hanukah and Christmas up. [All laugh] MS: Represented. DR: Christmas trees on every floor, an SC: Yeah. he elevator with people and just start asking them about their family and you know, I mean she might have only met them one time it was just, it was just amazing. To have that gift, you know, to remember somebody and remember things about them. And so I ju st never knew where that, where the press SC: No. MS: And she has a wonderful sense of humor, and always takes a second to joke around RK: Did she ever return to City Hall for any functions after she left? not sure wha DR: They had a, a ceremony for Joe Abrahams; they had named the Wellness Center in Ballast Point after him. And they had a ceremony, and all the mayors that he worked for


23 were on the podium. And she came to that event, and they all ha d nice comments to say. That was really an amazing day that they all came out in his honor. And it was a great tribute. SC: And we see her, you know, we have lunch with her. Try to do it at least once a year, twice a year. Probably irritated with us now DR : Yeah! [All laugh] SC: After all these years you know, we still get together as a group and, you know, at least, you know, try to get together. DR: I remember when she did come out with h SC : Yeah. SC : Yeah! RK: I heard that. MS : We all have our cookbooks. DR : Yeah. SC: I remember going to a DR: Her condo? went or of Tampa at her yard sale! [Laughs] DR: Well one thing, when her administration was ending, all the things that she had accumulated through the years, all of the memorabilia and little gifts and trinkets and things


24 SC: She, we had auctioned them off, I think it was, we had it at they go to benefit Paint Your Heart Out, did it? DR: Yeah, we had a flea market, and she sold all those items and it benefited Paint Your Heart Out, so I still have a little heart, and red white and blue flag heart from her office. MS: Yeah. [All laugh] MS : Right. DR: So we all bought a piece of the administration. MS: I think I have some Super Bowl item. [All laugh] DR: You and y our football. [Laughs] DR: Yeah, RK: You got to go to the game? All Three: No. SC: No, but it was exciting. You know, MS: For the planning. you know and it been


25 RK: Did you get a lot of outside reporter s calling and asking questions? SC: Oh yeah, during that time, yeah. DR: Yeah SC: Poor John was about ready to pull his hair out, you know. DR: Especially with Robert Smith, with public safety, a lot of the news affiliates would call and ask about yo u know, our strategy for crowd control and things like that. And he took a lot of calls during Super Bowl. RK: Any other memories? I had forgotten all about a couple of the things you mentioned [laughs]. RK: Well I very much appreciate you coming. Again, I know you spent a full day at work and it was very, very nice of you to record your thoughts and observations. SC: Oh, well we thought a lot about her, so, you know, she means, means a lot to us, so. RK : Thank you very, very much, I appreciate it. All Three : Thank you. DR: Thank you for having us, we appreciate it. [Tape stopped] [All laugh] DR: We forgot abou t poor Kathy Betancourt! because you could hear her. I mean, Kathy does not know how, what it means to be quiet. DR: So when she was in town from Tallahassee we knew she was there.


26 SC: Yeah, but she, I mean MS: Absolutely. Or when she was in Tallahassee and she would call daily, if you had to hold on a minute! [Imitating Betancourt,] [All lau gh] MS: Well, give me a minute Kathy. SC: But when something would make her laugh, I mean, the whole floor could hear it. I mean she would just let out with a laugh. MS: Do we but at the time that Richa rd Simmons had come to the office. SC: Yes, and, and James Michener. SC: I got my picture taken with James Michener. [All laugh] RK: Richard Simmons, is he the exercise person? DR: Yes! MS: The exercise person! He came in his little, little short, short, shorts. And we all went DR: And we were proclaiming something that day. the lobby to see him. And I remember Mayor Freedman came out and she had a polka dotted dress on. And he looked at her and he said, my dog has the same outfit.


27 [All laugh] MS: He must have a Dalmatian! [Laughs] SC: Do you remember when he picked her u p and carried her [laughs]? [All laugh] thought she was going to slap him. But she, she found it humorous; I mean you know, she just played right along with it. DR: And I remember at that point, Kathy Betancourt walked out and the dress she was [All laugh] oh my! A virgin pilgrim! [All laugh] [All laugh] MS: But we got to meet Henry Winkler. SC: Oh yes, MS: Cop and a Half ? Cop and a Half here. RK: He came to visit? MS: Yeah, he came.


28 MS: He did. DR: And Burt Reynolds. ee him. SC: I missed him. MS: And the Queen. SC: The Queen! How could we not, how could we forget to tell y ou about the Queen! MS: Oh, remember the Queen? SC: And me, when I met Prince Phillip! Queen has ever been here before or since. DR: Right. SC : So it was a really huge event. And we were all on the Esplanade, you know where that is? MS: The mayor made sure that we all got to see her. SC: The mayor made sure we were all there so that could see this, I mean this was really big. And there, she how are you doing? And takes my hand and shakes my hand. I said, fine! beside me, I went who was that? [laughs]. MS : I said, that was Prince Phillip! DR: You knew from that point on,


29 DR: But the mayor had ridden in the limo with the Queen. And when they got to the Esplanade, Mayor Freedman mentioned to Queen Elizabeth, you might want to bring Because the Queen was going to carry her umbrella on her arm. A nd so, when Mayor Freedman says, and the Queen goes to the mayor, one never knows! [All laugh] DR: And she proceeded to carry her umbrella! MS: Or how about when Mayor Freedman got to go to the White House, and she told us that she got to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, but the bed was so high, she had trouble getting into it [laughs] SC: Up at her podium, you always had to take her little step stool with the podium, RK: Did James Michener visit at all? SC: Yes he did, he was one of my favorite authors, I read all of his books. RK: He was living in St. Petersburg is that true? SC: I believe so, and it was shortly before he died. But he came in the office I still to t a novel on this area, I mean I have no clue. But Mayor Freedman knew how much I liked t do well with important people or famous people. You put a camera in front of me and I And she made me go out front and stand in front of the city seal and have a picture taken with him. And I remember they took one picture and she said, at each other! DR: She liked those details! SC: I dreaded that picture, y eah. MS: Who said, [Laughter]


30 RK: Did George Steinbrenner ever come? tape, but this is a funny story. He, when I was filling in for Sonny one day, his office called for the mayor. And I had never I think it was one of the first couple times I had s George Steinbrenner, and he wanted to talk to the mayor. And I said well you put him on? And she said well, you put her on first. And I went, [Laughs]. And the mayor told me later, can put me on first! the funny story about Steinbrenner yes he did. Yeah. MS: And a Bob Buckhorn story, Bob always came in dressed to the nines. His suits, his ties, everything, you know was high dollar Bob. And h e wore this one suit, it was a blue and white striped, seersucker suit. And that suit used to drive me crazy, it reminded me of the ice cream man [laughs]. [All laugh] SC: George had one too, remember? George had one! DR: Joe had one too! MS: I could not stand that suit! [Laughs] DR: But Bob was the kind of guy that after about two months, he would get tired of his MS: Joe! He would! me in, there were the ties. DR: Joe had a great tie collection. [All laugh] SC: And what about the lunch we went to, when we pulled that joke on Joe? MS: Yeah, there, it was always pranks going on even though we were working hard. We had gone to a sp go container, and brought him back all the leftovers, because he always had such a big appetite. But


31 SC: But the waiter, when we told him to put it in a box, I mean he fixed it up just so MS: This lunch! [All laugh] [All laugh] MS: Or do you, do yo u all remember the year when you made the mistake to send me to pick up the birthday cake. And I went to pick SC: It was black, right? MS: Yeah, it ha d little tombstones and black icing and everything. And I went to get it out of the car, and the whole thing just slid right out of the box onto the parking lot, this ma the box [laughs]. It had gravel and everything in it. They, they were good sports about it. DR: Yeah, right. DR: Ye ah! [All laugh] DR: It definitely a [inaudible] MS: It definitely was [laughs]. What else? SC: We worked but we had fun! RK: Did Donald Trump every come to your office? All Three: No. MS: Yes he did when he was ru


32 SC: And a couple, a couple of democratic candidates came to the office. It was Al Gore I believe, once. Gephardt. MS: Gephardt. SC: I remember, I felt so I used to say some pretty silly things. and somebody had introduced me to him. And a little while later, somebody else came in and introduced me to him. And then the mayor came out a nd said, Sherry, this is could have sworn it was Al Gore, and I went, yes, Mr. Gore, for the third time. [Laughs]. [All laugh] pretty sure it was him. DR: Yeah, Sherry had the pleasure of doing all the city proclamations. And so she helped compose a [All laugh] them, because Sonny did a lot. And then I would back her up so. And I still do them to MS: Yeah we did. RK: Was it hard for a group to get to see the mayor? MS: Not really. mean tension. MS: No.


33 DR: No. you know it was just not never, we never felt hectic or.... MS: Well I think we, because we enjoyed what we did and we, we were just one big family. DR: Yeah, we backed each other up and we, you know, made the best of it. SC: Yeah, one person got busy, the you know helped them out. It was a good, it was a good group. DR: Yeah, the ten years went fast. MS: Yeah, they did. They did. DR: Went really fast. [All laugh] RK: Thank you for that addendum. [End tape]

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Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo, Marion Sell
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interviewed by Robert Kerstein.
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1 sound file (53 min.) :
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Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman administration oral history project
Interview conducted on April 3, 2006 at the University of Tampa.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Streaming audio.
During the tenure of Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman (1986-1995), Sherry Crawford, Debbie Rotolo and Marion Sell all served as executive aides in the mayor's office. Some of the topics they discuss include the mayor's Model Cities Program, the United Way, Paint Your Heart Out, and downtown development issues. The interview ends with a discussion of various visiting dignitaries including Al Gore, Queen Elizabeth II, Richard Simmons, Bill Clinton, and author James Michener.
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Sell, Marion.
Freedman, Sandy.
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Sell, Marion.
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University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
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