Hoe Brown is not a slumlord

By Chris Ingram

I am disappointed in my friend Hoe Brown, the Tampa Port Authority chairman who it was recently reported has some rental properties with questionable conditions and that lack necessary permits. If I know Hoe as well as I think I do, he is disappointed in himself as well.

I have known Hoe for seven years. In fact, I have been to his offices on Stanley Street countless times. I’ve seen and spoken with some of his tenants while there, and even witnessed some of them pay the rent. 

Hoe’s office location always seemed to be a bit odd, but I attributed it to his thriftiness. While I’ve never seen his bank statement, I imagine it is sizeable; one could argue his wealth was achieved in part by being frugal. In addition to running his office in a “low rent” part of town, he drives a Jeep Cherokee that I would guess is close to ten years old.  Flashy Hoe is not. And he’s not some Daddy Warbucks living and working in a mansion. He works in the same place with the same conditions of the “slums” he’s accused of renting out.

Since knowing Hoe, I have commented to others on many occasions that he is one of very few Republicans who bridge the divide between the two largest factions within the party: the country clubbers who write the checks, and the grassroots activists who do the grunt work.  I say this from having seen Hoe “in action.” You’re just as likely to catch him at a black-tie donor affair, as you are to catch him out putting up yard signs into the wee hours of the night during campaign season – something I’ve never seen GOP heavyweights such as Al Austin or Don Phillips ever do.

The media’s accounts of Hoe’s properties in my estimation are probably accurate, but if one thinks they were the most “deplorable” they’ve ever seen, they need to see more. I’ve been to Africa many times and have visited real slums. To characterize Hoe’s property as a slum is hyperbole for sure. Still, that doesn’t excuse his actions for not having the necessary permits as appears to be the case. While Hoe should be embarrassed for not getting the required permits, the bigger picture here is not “what is Hoe Brown doing?” Rather, it’s, “how does one get so down and out that they have to resort to living in such a place?”

The media has reported the fact that people have died while occupying some of Hoe’s properties and that the police frequently respond to calls and complaints initiated by, or involving his tenants. But these facts have nothing to do with anything Hoe did wrong, and those elements of the story aren’t really part of the story. Rather, they are cheap and unwarranted asides by the media to vilify Mr. Brown and paint him as something he is not.  Clearly he had nothing to do with the deaths (two for drug overdose, one stabbing), and he can’t control the fact that some people in his units (convicted felons and drug users among them) who are not exactly “exemplary pillars of society” are going to have frequent issues with the police.

But the bottom line is, these criminals, drug users, and those who are down on their luck, still need a place to live. Hoe merely found a way to provide a need – albeit a poor choice, and a potentially illegal one (for not having permits and being up to code) – he could provide to those with few options.

These people are out there in our society. They may not live in your neighborhood, but they need to live somewhere, and unless you’re willing to open up your home to them, they’re not going to find the Ritz, or the Motel 6 for that matter.

As for Hoe Brown, he is not the grim reaper, and his years of business and public service should not be overlooked because of poor judgment and one mistake that is unrelated to his public service. Ultimately his future on the Port Authority (where he serves as chairman), is a matter for him, his colleagues and the governor to decide.

Regardless of that outcome, from this experience, Hoe Brown will become a better man, and I will continue to call him my friend. And the public and the down-trodden will benefit from the discussion of their plight – which was not Hoe Brown’s making. Though it appears to be easier to suggest it is, rather than identify the root of the problem and find a way to fix it.

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Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of Irreverent View. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, and National Review online. He is the Republican political analyst for Bay News 9, the only 24 hour all news channel in Florida’s largest media market. The opinions expressed here are those of author and do not represent the views of Bay News 9. E-mail him atChris@IrreverentView.com.

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6 Responses to “Hoe Brown is not a slumlord”

  1. Chuck Says:

    If you call a tail a leg, how many legs has a dog? Five? No, calling a tail a leg don’t make it a leg.

    Abraham Lincoln

    Just like implying a Slumlord an Angle of Mercy doesn’t make it true. Assuming he doesn’t himself live there (and in two cases, even if he does), check out the following on line definitions:

    slum•lord (slmlôrd)
    n.
    An owner of slum property, especially one that overcharges tenants and allows the property to deteriorate.

    slumlord [ˈslʌmˌlɔːd]
    n
    Informal chiefly US and Canadian an absentee landlord of slum property, esp one who profiteers

    A slumlord (or slum landlord) is a derogatory term for a landlord, generally an absentee landlord with more than one property, who attempts to maximize profit by minimizing spending on property maintenance, often in deteriorating neighborhoods. They may need to charge lower than market rent to tenants. Severe housing shortages allow slumlords to charge higher rents.

  2. YF Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful column about Hoe.

  3. Liz Says:

    Chris, thank you for pointing out the good Hoe has done for those without other options. While Ms. Capin should be ashamed of herself for saying he took advantage of those people. I too call Hoe a friend and support him.

  4. MikeS Says:

    Well stated Chris.

  5. fh Says:

    chris – I occasionally agree with you – but this time – you must be living in an alternate universe.

    Hoe is – at best – a split personality. dark and foreboding versus a polished pwere broker. there is a serious disconnect that you cannot recognize.

    Hoe must Go! the “R” party has enough problems without Hoe creating a whole new genre for the “d”s to glom onto.

    for God’s sake – STOP defending the indefensible.

  6. Chris Ingram Says:

    Tom,

    I just haven’t seen that dark side of Hoe. I think he failed to use good judgment. I hope you’re wrong. But if you are correct, I’ll unleash a heaping dose of irreverence on Mr. Brown.

    Chris

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