Wednesday, October 18, 2017

St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign - The Baker Blueprint for City Services

We will immediately put back online the City Scorecard


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

This is the eighth of a 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.

A city must provide great services in the most cost efficient way. Our city should and will track how it is doing and how we can improve.
CITY SCORECARD:
We will immediately put back online the City Scorecard, performance measures in readable, graph form measuring significant aspects of the city’s success in accomplishing the plan moving forward. The scorecard becomes a management tool to improve all operations of the city – across the board. I don’t understand why our current mayor removed the City Scorecard and I believe that every taxpayer has a right to know how our government is performing.
Examples of City Scorecard metrics include school performance, crime rates, permitting turnaround, emergency response time, sidewalk and pothole repair time, tax rates, trees planted, sewer repair progress, bridge replacement and others – 160 measures altogether across the five strategic areas of Public Safety, Neighborhoods, Schools, Economic Development and City Services. This information belongs to the people of St Petersburg, open and available for all to see. It will be constantly reviewed by our internal auditors to prevent political tampering.
SEWER SYSTEM: The criminal and civil investigations of the Kriseman administration’s sewage spill, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife report that followed, have made it clear the cause of the crisis was Mayor Kriseman’s premature shut-down of the Albert Whitted Treatment Plant, along with his refusal to re-open the plant after his first spill of 31 million gallons occurred four months after the closure. Trust me, I will be rolling up my sleeves and aggressively addressing this area on Day One.
We will immediately work with state environmental regulators toward the goal of reopening the downtown sewer plant (treating up to 25 million gallons per day) which
was prematurely taken offline by the current mayor. The problem is complicated by his efforts to dismantle portions of the plant.
We will continue efforts, accelerated during my administration, to repair and upgrade our sewer plants and distribution system. This includes seeking budget support from the state for new infrastructure, and devising a plan to reduce the financial impact on the rate paying public – especially those in low income categories – who now face soaring utility bill hikes.
Most importantly, I will openly and honestly tell the citizens what’s going on, even if it’s bad news, in contrast to the current mayor who consciously and purposely misled, misinformed and lied to us about the cause of the spills and the existence of sewage pollution in Clam Bayou and in our west side neighborhoods. We will also create an atmosphere where employees can feel safe telling the truth; today employees are seeking whistle-blower protection from City Hall insiders so they won’t be punished for telling the residents what’s going on. I will also work closely with City Council, keeping them informed and in the loop – not treat them as afterthoughts as has happened in the recent past.
REAL ESTATE TAX RATE: The real estate tax rate under the current administration is about 14%+ higher than my last budget in 2010. During my term I had reduced the tax rate by almost 20%. We will evaluate opportunities for tax rate reduction in light of recent record levels of revenue coming into the city, but record expenditures going out by our current mayor. There has been an indifferent disregard by our current mayor of the costs he is putting on the taxpayers and ratepayers of our city. That approach will end!

STORMWATER SYSTEM: We will work with USF Marine Science and others to evaluate and modify the existing storm water improvement plan in consideration of existing needs and projected sea level changes!

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com 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.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Climate Change – How Serious is Rick Kriseman?

Climate change will not be part of Rick Baker’s politics, but it is a real part of his concern for the City he loves and cares bout.


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

Rick Kriseman has made a big issue out of Climate change in the St. Petersburg Mayoral election.

Unfortunately, most of his concerns are more political than practical. “Outraged” by President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement and also energized by the political opportunity, Kriseman set out on an effort to tie his opponent, Rick Baker to the Climate Change controversy.


What is important is the fact that Kriseman’s practical efforts have been more politically grandiose than effective and in reality, his actions would indicate a complete lack of understanding of the primary ingredients of climate change on Florida: sea-level rise and storm surge due to tropical storms.

WUSF Jim Nash June 22, 2017: St. Pete Mayor Picks Up Climate Change Banner.

Here is a quote from a Kriseman Campaign Flyer: “Because of the dangers climate change poses to our city, I pledged to transition St. Pete to a 100% clean energy city. We are preparing for rising seas, volatile weather, and increases in the number of powerful storms.”

Let’s look at two of the most glaring examples in this lie:

Downtown development – Pier Park
If you really believe in climate change, then you must accept the fact that the sea level is going to rise.

When you are the Mayor of a low-lying coastal City, your climate change concern should not be headlines, talk show appearances and national conferences it should be how do I protect my City. And how do I make development decisions that are not compromised by the impending results of climate change.

Kriseman has pushed the $20+ million development of Pier Park, which essentially sets at sea level. Is that a wise utilization of public funds?

Thinking in the climate change/sea level rise community says that Beach Drive will likely be somewhere between 2nd and 3rd Avenue if the sea level rise predictions are even close to being accurate.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “water park.”

Maybe a better expenditure of those funds would be to begin to provide some protection from sea level rise for what Mayor Kriseman sees as the “heart” of St. Petersburg. Like a seawall.

Renewable energy, green buildings and all the rest of the climate change hoopla make great political fodder, but a Mayor, who believes that the climate is actually changing will not waste his taxpayer’s money on things the results of climate change may swallow.

Wastewater treatment – The South West Wastewater Plant


Kriseman must not bother to read his own press clippings. The South West Wastewater treatment plant literally sets at sea level. Yet he is pouring millions into this sea level endangered facility and making plans for it to become the major wastewater treatment facility for the entire City.

What happened to the climate change argument in this scenario?

More importantly what will St. Pete do when the water level starts to rise at the South West plant or a major storm surge makes it inoperable?
 
That’s a climate change question that deserves an answer.

These are just two of the climate change issues Rick Kriseman has created while he “worries” about climate change.

Climate change with Rick Kriseman is the same as it is with all Democrat politicians. It is a great stump speech issue, and it is easy to tie up clear thinking opponents in a nonsensical argument about believing climate change or not, but when it comes down to applying the climate change problem to real decisions, Rick Kriseman does not have a clue.

A real leader will consider the effects of a changing climate and not ignore them.

Rick Baker is not a climate change denier, and he is also not a climate change exploiter. He knows the climate is changing, and he understands the effects on St. Petersburg.

Climate change will not be part of Rick Baker’s politics, but it is a real part of his concern for the City he loves and cares bout.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com 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.

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.

ARTS, CULTURE, BRANDING
  • 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: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com 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.