Monday, October 16, 2017

St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign - The Baker Blueprint for Jobs and Economic Development – Arts, Culture, Branding

I believe the Arts is one of our most significant assets and one that is of great interest nationally and globally. - Rick Baker

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

This is the seventh of an eight-part series detailing the Rick Baker Plan for St. Petersburg.

For more than eight years as Mayor, Rick Baker worked to transform St. Petersburg into a modern, prosperous, safe, neighborhood- friendly and seamless city. From jobs and economic empowerment, to schools, neighborhoods, the arts, our environment, and public safety, this “blueprint” will guide Rick Baker’s efforts to restore competence, commitment and honesty to City Hall.

Any successful city must have great jobs and a vibrant economy so all residents can earn the type of living that provides the greatest opportunity for themselves and their children. That is why I want St Pete to once again become a dynamic leader on this front, leaving no one behind.

  • Thanks to many people over multiple decades, we have developed an amazing arts scene in St. Petersburg. On any given evening the richness of our creative citizens is on display in theater, music (ranging from jazz and classical to hip hop and choral), ballet and dance, visual artists (both world renowned and emerging), film festivals, and of course our incredible mural fest! What a gift our artistic citizens give us, yet most of them pursue their passions despite the obstacles of finances. Our current city administration has boasted greatly about the arts when talking about the city, but could have done more to encourage and accelerate this important area. I believe the Arts is one of our most significant assets and one that is of great interest nationally and globally. It’s time City Hall understood that, and did something about it.
  • Marketing: We will aggressively move to market the arts. I will empower a senior level arts position in my administration to be responsible for marketing, arts, communication, culture, international, branding, and promotion with overlaps into education and economic development. Marketing this great asset is important not only for the economic success of the artists but also for the city as a whole. Arts creates jobs. Arts draws tourists. Arts defines a community.
  • Arts Degrees: We have heard from many members of the arts community that having an arts degree available in St. Petersburg would further our presence in the global art world. We worked hard to obtain the Savannah College of Art and Design here when I was mayor, and nearly succeeded. I commit to pursuing such a degree here, either in partnership with USFSP, Eckerd College, SPC, or by enticing a degree program to
    move to St. Petersburg.
  • Giving Our Artists Visibility: I will direct my senior staff to look for ways to connect our art scene with national and global events. We want our artists to be noticed and we want to assist them in finding buyers and viewers. There is no reason why we should not have a presence at Art Basel in Miami (one of the largest art gatherings in the world).
  • Joint Marketing: Our marketing and promotion efforts should work in concert with all of the arts organizations. The Arts Alliance does a terrific job and we need to look for more ways to partner with them and with Creative Pinellas in furthering the marketing.
  • The St Pete Music Scene: One of my personal passions is playing the guitar, so I have had a love of music for a very long time. We have so many incredible musicians in our area and our administration will look for ways to expand and market music from and for St Pete. I like what Et Cultura has done locally and will encourage that event, and others like it, that feature local musicians. Think Austin.
  • Artist Work Space: Attract artists to relocate here by supporting efforts to expand work space for artist. Space in major areas like NYC and Los Angeles can be prohibitive for both experienced and young emerging artists. St. Petersburg offers a great place for creative expression, and historically has been more affordable, but as success comes, affordability is an issue.
  • Prior Progress: While I was mayor, we rebuilt the Mahaffey Theater and worked to bring the DalĂ­ downtown along with Chihuly, the new American Stage, the Florida Orchestra headquarters, the SPC Palladium Theater, the expanded Fine Arts Museum, and others. We also created St. Pete Arts, a collaborative of arts administrators that ultimately led to the St. Pete Arts Alliance. After leaving office I co-founded the Warehouse Arts District. This is a great foundation, but we can do so much more if we turn words into actions!
  • I will work with all members of the Arts community to make St. Petersburg one of the great Arts destinations in the United States! 
The “blueprint” by design is a living document that will evolve with further input from you, the people of St Petersburg, to enhance the quality of life for everyone living here. - Rick Baker
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 

Please comment below.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Is the self-driving bus an option for Bay area public transit?

Why would you build a billion-dollar bridge and include a 19th century transit solution?

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.

The light-rail lobby is once again poking its nose around the Tampa Bay area with FDOT, including a light-rail path on the proposed new Howard Franklin bridge.

The problem is light rail is a last century technology, environmentally inefficient and single purpose limited. 

For example, take emergency evacuation. Quoting from Sharon Clavert from Eye on Tampa Bay: Drain the Regional "Swamp" Before Its Filled. “Expensive rail systems must shut down days before an approaching hurricane or major storm. Trains can do nothing to help any evacuation effort in Tampa Bay and it takes days or a week or longer after the storm for trains to come back in service.  

Evacuation routes must be considered with any proposed mobility solution in Tampa Bay. If taxpayer big bucks are being spent on transportation in Tampa Bay, it better include accommodating evacuations.”

Would you ride a train across the bay if a storm was coming?

A rail track is a rail track and nothing, but a train can run on it. We will pour millions into a single purpose, decades old, high-cost  solution.

Another solution is well along in development –  The Autonomous bus. Check out Aarian Marshall, Transportation: DON'T LOOK NOW, BUT EVEN BUSES ARE GOING AUTONOMOUS.

A lane or lanes on the new Howard Franklin dedicated to autonomous mass transit vehicles would not only look into the future it would also provide flexibility in those moments when we need it most such as the ever-increasing need for evacuation.

Dedicated roadways and autonomous vehicles make a lot more sense than dedicated rail paths. They allow for more flexibility, Uber like pickup,  smaller stations, less taking of private property, lower overall cost and upkeep. As technology morphs the dedicated roadway can adapt much more easily and inexpensively to new advances.

In the longer view, dedicated interstate and secondary road lanes for autonomous mass transit would meet the salivating needs of the relators and developers who put so much value in transit-oriented  redevelopment.

Let’s not waste the opportunity to solve the Tampa Bay Public Transit problem by taking a big leap into the past and build a bridge with a rail line that will usually be empty when we drive across the bay in our electric cars and automated vehicles while costing a fortune to operate and maintain.

I for one do not want to drive over the “new” Howard Franklin bridge and look out the window of my self driving electric car at rusted rails and dilapidated semaphore signals.

E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Be sure to follow me on Pintrest (Doc Webb),  Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign

Please comment below.

Saturday, October 14, 2017


Remember to ask your City Council Member and candidate what their position is on our quality of life, especially as it relates to noise!   

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

Mayor Rick Kriseman has focused on his pet projects and not improved residents' quality of life. Noise continues to be an issue for downtown and in South St. Pete and Skyway Marina District. National Institute of Health and researchers have published articles on noise's negative health impact for both adult and children, particularly with low frequency noise. Yet, under Mayor Kriseman's leadership, the St. Petersburg Police Department has not cited a business since Kriseman's first day in office from 2009 to June 30, 2017.

Here are two mind-boggling data points. There have only been three individuals and residents cited for noise violation from 2014-June 30, 2017. Businesses have sued three residents for calling the police

What Mayor Kriseman and any Council Members needs to ask themselves is, Why have we put our residents in a position to be sued? How many resident can afford an attorney? How many have the time and skillset to research the issue and fight a lawsuit? Not many residents have the necessary skillset. Mayor Kriseman and City Council's inaction have applied a chilling effect on a resident's right to call the police.

 On May 18, 2017, the City received the results of an acoustical (noise) study by an acoustic engineer.The study's scope was Downtown Jannus Landing Block and along Beach Drive through Vinoy Park. The main observation was:
In general, nearly all venues exceeded 90 dBC and multiple venues were well in excess of 85 dBA and 100 dBC at the property lines (commonly used to assess compliance with a decibel based noise ordinance) and were often plainly audible at distance of several hundred feet or more.
The noise was worse than expected! According to the FAA, maximum day-night average sound level of 65 dB is incompatible with residential communities.

As the city grows, businesses will encroach upon neighborhoods. The bars and restaurants bring will noise. The bars also bring crime. My research shows that bars and clubs have 2 to 7 times as many crime and police calls as noise calls.

Mayor Rick Kriseman is very much aware of the data and research. So is the Police Department and Chief Holloway. Kriseman could have demonstrated leadership and ordered the police to enforce the noise ordinance, yet he did nothing.  By not enforcing the noise calls, Mayor Kriseman is wasting resident tax dollars. If the police enforced the noise ordinance, this would reduce the noise calls, and allow the Police to focus on other issues.

Mayor Kriseman and City Council have demonstrated that businesses need to be protected over residents' quality of life. However, businesses do not have the same rights as residents. When I reported the noise from a local resort in the Skyway Marina District—mostly on Sunday afternoons, and after 11 PM—Mayor Kriseman, through his Executive Assistant, did inject himself into the noise conversation in an email to St. Petersburg Police's Acting Assistant Police Chief Kovacsev. But only to apologize for me wasting his officer's time.

      From: Mayor
      Subject: RE: Noise Complaint at the Flamingo Resort. 
      Date: June 29, 2015 at 3:55 PM
      To: Michael J. Kovacsev


     Thank you for your tolerance and patience in dealing with this, our office greatly appreciates it. I also want to apologize for what seems to be a significant waste of the officers time in dealing with this, I know you have better things to do.


    Lisa Brekke
    Executive Assistant to the Mayor and City Administrator
    City of St. Petersburg
    P.O. Box 2842
    St. Petersburg, FL 33731
    (727) 893-7788 

However, former Mayor Rick Baker's neighborhood plan directly addresses the St. Petersburg's noise issue as such:
NOISE: This has become a significant issue, especially downtown, where many new residents continue to have concerns about the increasing level of noise. We will enforce the existing (or any new) noise ordinance, something the current mayor has not done, including taking appropriate legal action when necessary against repeat violators.  
On Monday, October 10, I attended a Meet-n-Greet with former Mayor Baker at Leslie Curran's ARTicles on Central Avenue. Mayor Baker was relaxed and approachable. Baker listened as I shared my research, other residents's stories, and how noise impacts our health. Baker broke this down into two simple comments, (1) Resident's quality of life is very important, and (2) The noise ordinance will be enforced.

So, when you vote for St. Petersburg's next Mayor, ask yourself, do I want Mayor Kriseman who does not listen to residents and apologizes on your behalf? Or do I want former Mayor Baker who respects resident's quality of life, listens and has a neighborhood plan, and jobs and economic blueprint? I chose former Mayor Baker to be St. Petersburg's next Mayor.  

Remember to ask your City Council Member and candidate what their position is on our quality of life, especially as it relates to noise!  

Robert Neff  has extensively researched the city's noise ordinance and has written several articles on the issue. Robert has used public records requests to collect the data and analyze it. Robert has used public records requests to collect the data and analyze it. Robert created a heat map that shows the addresses of all noise calls. His previous articles are available on his web site, see the lower left side of the article, Noise pollution ordinance in St Petersburg wastes resident's tax dollars

The opinions here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bay Post Internet or the Blog Publishers where it appears.