MANATEE — Attorney Cliff Walters calls it a forum for deeper, more substantive discourse.
Pat Glass, doyenne of county politics, says it’s a non-partisan objective meeting on issues concerning our citizenry.
Rose Carlson cuts to the chase.
“Will there be fireworks? I hope so,” said the vice president and general manager of Bright House Networks-Manatee.
Welcome to Manatee Tiger Bay Club Inc.
It’s a non-partisan organization that will meet monthly at Mattison’s Riverside and introduce thought-provoking luncheon programs on wide-ranging topics concerning political, social, local, state, national.
“What’s hot, we’re going to deal with — the economy, offshore drilling, etc. — in a very unbiased format,” said Linda Cinque, the Tiger Bay program administrator. “The purpose is to hear both sides of an issue in a forum from which people can walk away and make their own decisions.”
Modeled after Tallahassee’s original Tiger Bay, formed in 1971, the local group will debut Feb. 4. The inaugural forum will feature a panel of leading members of the regional business community.
The moderator will be Glass, former Manatee County commissioner for 26 years and longtime community leader.
She’s also president of its board of directors, which includes Carlson as vice president, Walters as secretary, and accountant Bob Christopher as treasurer.
“There have been a lot of successful Tiger Bays around the state and it’s something we’ve needed here,” Glass said. “It opens the door for a non-partisan objective meeting on topics people are concerned about and gives the public ample time to ask questions uppermost in their minds.
“The best and brightest in the community will be participants and it’s not going to be easy to appear before this type of group. It’s an open process, but if it turns into a debate, it turns into a debate.”
Walters said the Tiger Bay arrangement is intended to go further than normal civic debates held around the community.
“It’s an ongoing initiative to help the community think through issues, and prevents anyone from dominating an agenda,” he said. “Tiger Bay can push issues like hometown democracy, transportation initiatives, what’s the best allocation of our limited resources, challenging politicians who always say they want lower taxes and increased services. This forum challenges them to flesh that out. It’s not supposed to be adversarial but a discourse that doesn’t allow people to hide behind their normal slogans.” “It will provide some lively discussion on issues that may have been missing,” Carlson said. “Have people talk about what’s happening, the reasons why decisions have been made, and what to expect to happen in the future. Maybe make a difference.”
Membership is $100 annually. Lunch for members is $20 and member guests is $25.
The public is invited, but reservations are encouraged.
Call (941) 746-1151 for details.
The club’s Web site — www.manateetigerbay.com — will be up in about 10 days, Cinque said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206 or e-mail him at email@example.com. Please include a phone number for verification.