Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snipe Signs Making a Comeback In St. Pete

Snipe Signs.  You see them tacked up on utility poles, and at busy intersections in the right of way. 
Snipe Signs.  Definition - Any sign of any size, made of any material, including paper, cardboard, wood and metal, when such sign is tacked, nailed, posted, pasted, glued, or otherwise attached to trees, poles, fences or other objects, and the advertising matter appearing thereon is not applicable to the premises upon which said sign is located.
There are a lot of things that can make a City look tacky and snipe signs are one of the biggest forms of visual blight. All Cities have a snipe sign problem of one sort or another.  You can never stop this activity entirely for two simple reasons: it works and it's cheap.
Up until recently the City of St. Petersburg had a very aggressive program dealing with snipe signs and the results had been pretty good.  There was a person in the St. Petersburg Codes department working primarily on the snipe sign problem, and when they got stuck finding the business that placed the sign they could call on a Police Detective, Det. Krickler, who like most of us hates to see our city littered with these signs.
The program worked like this: If signs were not removed after a warning period a citation and fine would be issued for an ordinance violation.  The program was successful at reducing the number of signs and for the most part produced enough revenue in fines to offset the cost of the inspector.  You can’t say that for many of our City’s programs.
 More recently the city has started a “robo calling” project that calls the numbers on the snipe signs with a recorded message notifying the business of their ordinance violation.
To avoid detection and fines and the City's robo call program, snipe sign businesses have started to use what are called "burn phones" for the call back number.  Once the City begins a robo call campaign to the burn phone, the business just throws the phone away, and because the phone is difficult to track, the individuals responsible are often difficult to find.
So as a result we’re seeing more of these signs around our city – but what happened to the previous enforcement program?
A few years ago when the Codes “Compliance Assistance” department was reorganized under the Foster administration. The City employment rules requiring a college degree for department directors were modified to support the appointment of a Codes Director who is –  it appears - simply not up to the job. 
Since this change in the Codes department enforcement of our ordinances has languished and Code enforcement in general has not been up to its previous high standards.  Unfortunately, this takes the edge off the department’s effectiveness, particularly with regard to snipe signs.
While the Mayor’s election campaign talked a good game about “the broken window theory” and quality of life issues, the results speak more loudly than those promises.  Neighborhoods are complaining about the recent proliferation of signs, but their complaints fall on deaf ears.
Strong Codes enforcement usually upsets the violators, and some of those violators can have strong voices also.  However, it is up to our government to enforce the rules – that is what we expect them to do and that is what we pay them for.
This is just another example of where some leadership from the top along with simply enforcing the Ordinances on the books would go a long way in solving a problem.  But the evidence shows we’ll need stronger leadership and a more capable Codes director before we can expect any change.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The New Columbia - Great Idea--Bad Process?

I noted with interest the announcement Thursday by a beaming Mayor of the quietly negotiated deal with the Columbia Restaurant Chain for the new anchor spot in the HUB.
Indications are the City will put up $500,000 with the Columbia folks putting up the rest. The lease deal is for 10 years which avoids the waterfront lease issue requiring a referendum, but does include a buyout clause where by the City has to buy out the Columbia if the lease fails to renew. In business I think they call that a poison pill.
On the surface seems like a pretty good deal, the Columbia folks are a class act, the whole food service issue is wrapped up, they also get the small food service area out on the LENS. Nice package.
It seems like the this whole deal was done under the covers. There was no announcement, no solicitation, no bidding process, no opportunity for another even larger provider to make an offer that might lower the City's cash out lay.
No opportunity for public input, even the arts folks seem to have been left out.
I wonder how the  restaurant folks on Beach Drive feel about no opportunity for some input or a chance to bid?
Once again the Foster administration prefers to operate as a lone wolf, in a rush to tie up as many deals as possible to prevent anything from stopping the LENS.
It might also be a good idea to keep any eye on where the campaign contributions come from.
It would just seem to me that given the continuing public outcry about the LENS process, Mayor Foster would want to be a little more transparent in the dealings with this project.
The City has a very good procurement process that works extremely well. It provides equal opportunity and transparency in the City's procurements. It's just a shame the Administration chose not to use it.
But then following the rules has not been a big concern on the LENS project.
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Williams Park -- Some Solutions to Think About

My Posts Williams Park -- Time for A Referendum and Williams Park What's Really Wrong?  produced a lot of Comments, e-mails and a few calls.

Here is a synopsis of the Comments  and some thoughts from the e-mails and conversations.
As to be expected, not very many people were enthused about my redevelopment idea for the park. In fact several took me seriously to task for even suggesting it. I am not hurt but seriously wounded.
Several people felt the moving of the bus hub would help eliminate the problems, but offered no reason as to why. Although one indicated all of that diesel smoke may be partially to blame for some of the problems.
There was a suggestion that we look to some other Cities who have successfully dealt with this or a similar problem. Actually the City has done that and so far the ideas have had only mixed results.
There was a thought that if we make Williams Park uninhabitable for the current occupants they might just move to the LENS once it is built. It might then become nick named  the "Spice Trail"
The street car/transportation hub with routes to the Pier(LENS) and a regional transit center seemed like a good idea.
There was a suggestion the City close the Park, renovate and then open with an aggressive program schedule to attract citizens to the Park.
My favorite was the skate park suggestion which I think has real merit. It would be a really big skate park.
So here are some other ideas:
·         Put the new Police Building on the site and take all of land at the PD make some a park and develop the rest.
·         Build a new combination Municipal building, City Hall and parking garage on the site. The new government Center theory. Currently no money at all for that one.
·         Give the Park to the County and hold them responsible.
·         Build a very nice house in one corner of the Park and require that the Mayor and his family live there as a condition for holding office.
·         A downtown Wal-Mart.
·         NBA Basketball arena so we will still be a big league sports town.
But my favorite Comment so far was the story of the Chinese Village. A comment on the second Post above. Therein lies the real message.
What is interesting is that all of you who took the time to comment or e-mail seem to recognize there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
There is a lot of residential development starting up in the downtown area. These people are going to want more than Beach Drive. For the renaissance to continue, the Williams Park issue must be resolved.
You probably have a few ideas. No matter how wacky,  login and leave them in a comment or send me an e-mail.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Williams Park -- What's Really Wrong

If you missed my Post  Williams Park ...Time for A Referendum? you might want to take a look at the Post and especially the Comments. Thanks to each of you who took the time to comment. Let's keep the dialog going.

As to be expected,  the "preserve the Parks at all costs" folks are up in arms at even the suggestion of a change at Williams Park, but here is the issue.

The tradition of Williams Park as a center piece of the City and a gathering place for the people has been replaced with the tradition of Williams Park as a haven for destitute.
Several police chiefs have tried to solve the problem and probably the most intelligent comment I ever heard made by a police Chief about Williams Park was made by Chuck Harmon when he said, "we cannot incarcerate are way out of this problem".
The legacy of Williams Park over the last three or four decades has been set by legacy of the very people who populate it today. More and more it is becoming clear you cannot legislate, incarcerate or motivate people to give up something that has become part of THEIR culture.
The homeless, the addicted, the frail,  the addled go to Williams Park because it is their hub. It is their gathering place. It is where they feel comfortable, accepted and not alone. It has become the center of their world.
The average person who lives in St. Petersburg does not congregate at Williams Park. Williams Park is not the place people go on Saturday or Sunday for a Picnic. The local politicians rarely make their announcements at Williams Park. There is no picture of Williams Park in the City's slick advertising material.
Those who would hold out Williams Park as the central hub for St. Petersburg are simply out of touch with reality.
In fact a good question for our friends over at St. Pete Polls would be "What's the name of the park in downtown St. Petersburg? Give three choices.
Maybe commercial development is to big a reach, but no amount of feeding programs, social workers, cops, paint, programs, villages or bus tickets out of town will change what Williams Park has become. And the downtown core and the current 4 block renaissance will not grow much larger until something changes at Williams Park.
One of the commenters mentioned the original Doc Webb, (Webb's City) we are not related, but share a similar family history as my family was also in the retail business.(Not nearly as successful as Webb's City).  I studied Doc Webb when I came to St. Pete. He was a master merchandiser.
Open of the interesting things about Webb's City and Doc's approach is when they tried something and it didn't work, they tried something new.
Three different Mayors, all reasonably intelligent, have struggled with the Williams Park issue and we are basically where we started.
It's simply time for a dialog with new ideas.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Williams Park.... Time for A Referendum?

There are a couple of very interesting and well written articles in the Tampa Bay Times about Williams Park. In Williams Park 'Spice' addicts Overwhelm Idyllic Setting and What Can Be Done to Fix Williams Park, by Jon Woodrow Cox.
They are worth a read for both content and form.
Williams Park, as Cox points out, has been a significant problem for down town workers, business owners, City Hall and law enforcement for years.
I was working at the St. Pete PD when the current Ordinance and Policing plan for Williams Park was put together and it was a difficult process trying to protect individual rights, get people the help they need and improve the Park, It has been successful to a point.
The problem is and was recognized at the time, the base members of the homeless population simply don't want a different life or life style, and no amount of help, support or incarceration is likely to change that.
The two officers mentioned in Cox's pieces, Taylor and Kenyon,  have done some really good work, but if you have ever tried to help someone who just doesn't want to be helped multiply that by about 1 million and you an idea of what these two face every day.
The basic problem with Williams Park is that it is simply there, right in the heart of the City  a major transportation hub, surrounded by a bunch of well meaning homeless support efforts which in the final analysis probably do more to encourage the problems than mitigate them.
The City Charter does a wonderful job of protecting the City's park land from encroachment by developers, but maybe, just maybe, the time has come to take a second look at Williams Park.
Now might be a good time to put together a citizen and staff group to look at crafting referendum language that would remove almost all of Williams Park from park land status and rezone it for development. A reasonable but small portion could be retained as park land for relocation of the numerous meaningful monuments in the park, a task paid for by those who would develop the land.
It could be that the assignment of the servitude for Williams Park precludes such an approach but if it does not, putting the question of resolving the Williams Park issues to the public and establishing a way to accomplish them while providing for control of the development could be a real step to solving the problem.
It seems unlikely that the core of the City will develop to any great extent as long as the issues so well defined in John Cox's articles continue to exist. And it would also seem that most reasonable people after looking at the extraordinary efforts the City has made to address the problem would agree.
If an effort like this were undertaken, keeping those who might benefit most at bay for the moment, the public could weigh in at the ballot box and just possibly provide a path to resolving the Williams Park problem once and for all.
 e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Connect the Bay - Connect the Dots

Whenever a new advocacy group pops up for a potential major project effor,t especially if the project is in  Pinellas County and the Group is mostly headquarter in Tampa, it gets my attention.
In my Post:1% Sales Tax Increase for Busses and Trains Good Idea or Not?  I hinted that The proposed property Tax referendum being nudged toward the Pinellas County Commission would bring out some interesting and perhaps highly motivated players.
The newest entry Connect Tampa Bay.
Here are the players, you can find some more detail  in Anna Phillips Tampa Bay Times article: As transit talk builds in Pinellas, a new advocacy group arrives.
Brandi Miklus:
Works for Jacobs Engineering whose web site says: Our strength in this industry includes transportation, aviation, water infrastructure, and telecommunications. Jacobs provides full life-cycle capabilities, including planning, design, consulting, engineering, design-build, and construction and program management services to clients engaged in civil construction projects throughout the globe.
Brian Willis:
Brian is an attorney with Shumaker, Loop &Kendrick, LLP. He  represents individuals and corporations involved in business, contract and real estate disputes. He has assisted clients from a wide variety of industries including real estate, manufacturing, health care, construction, state and local government, community associations, banking and finance, and venture capital and start-up companies. Member Citizen advisory Board Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority.
Brian Steel:
An engineer with the Beck Group which was founded in 1912 and is a full service builder with an international footprint. Local projects include Tampa International Airport - Airside C, University of Tampa Kennedy Place and the Salvador Dali Museum. Whose mother just happens to be Pinellas County Commissioner Karen Steel.
Kevin Thurman
Consultant and political operative worked for Hillary Clinton as Deputy Internet Director, currently Executive Director Connect Tampa Bay.
So we have a Planner, an Engineer an Attorney and a political operative, at least three of whom work for companies that just might play in the Big Pinellas Transit pie.
Notwithstanding the heartwarming stories about mass transit from this group, my bet is you will have better luck meeting these folks at the BMW dealership than in the seat next to you on a PSTA or HART bus.
Just the thought of a never ending source of revenue like a 1% sales tax has those who might benefit salivating in the wings. A never empty public trough is a Planner/Consultant/Engineer/Attorney's dream come true.
Just look at TBARTA millions spent, mostly on Planners, Engineers, Consultants and Attorneys and not a whole lot to show for it.
So far Commissioner Steel is on record as not favoring moving the sales tax question to the ballot, we will see if Junior has any influence at the dinner table.
I am not anti public transportation, we need to come to grips with the growing traffic problems and public transportation in the County. What we don't need is a Pinellas version of TBARTA funded by a never ending source of revenue.
Pinellas County politics is kind of unique. My advice to the big law firms, train manufacturers, Engineering and Planning company's and real-estate speculators would be lay low for now.
All that hype didn't work so well  in Hillsborough County, and it's a pretty good bet it won't work in Pinellas County, even if your mom is a County Commissioner.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.
 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The St. Pete PD and Twitter Will It Be Helpful?

I got taken to task by several folks for my recent Post Some Good News From Police Chief Chuck Harmon.
Here is an e-mail, used with his permission, from a good friend and long time advocate for more access to Police information Travis Jarman.
Travis has long been active in CONA and his neighborhood Association, and has pushed for open access to Police information.
I couldnt believe it when I read this in your blog about SPPD’s improved use of Twitter ---
“Next time there is some activity in your neighborhood just check the Twitter account.”
On January 15th in a meeting at City Hall with the Mayor, Chief Harmon, and eight or more neighborhoods that have been clamoring for improved communications between the SPPD and the public Chief Harmon told us that Twitter notices would be posted “only when a major public safety threat was present” and that this might happen “a dozen times a year”. The Chief soundly rejected our calls for adoption of a more timely online reporting system such as is in use by the Pinellas SO, Tampa PD, and Clearwater PD. He also denied our request for a daily report on police incidents (as promised by Mayor Foster in his ‘Foster 40’ and as produced by the Tampa PD), saying that “Tampa PD was providing too much information about crimes and he was going to call them and explain why they shouldn’t be providing these details to the public”.
Frankly I don’t think we will find Twitter of much use for those burglaries in process, suspicious persons, vehicle burglaries, man-with-a-gun calls, or the other police activity that occurs in our neighborhoods.
Travis Jarman
St. Petersburg
There is certainly more information the St. Petersburg PD can easily share, but it will take more people like Travis pushing both the mayor and the Police Chief to get the information out.
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

 

Some Good News From Police Chief Chuck Harmon

At Thursdays City Council meeting Police Chief Chuck Harmon gave the normal run down of reports and crime statistics. Crime is down. Then he made a bit of a startling announcement.

The St. Pete PD, which has long had a Facebook and Twitter account that were mostly for show and not much substance, was going to use the Twitter account to inform citizens of current police activity.
In a world increasingly dominated by social media, you might think what's the big deal, but for this Police Chief this is a major move.
For the 5 years I managed the PD IT operation we slowly pushed for more access to police information. The Chief, mostly supportive, was very cautious. Some in the Community took this as a reluctance to share police information, but that was, for the most part, never really the issue.
The issue was the Chief's very legitimate concern about how instant information access might affect the Department's ability to police the community and officer safety.
Now, with almost 5 years experience with CRIME REPORTS, a system posting police incidents directly from the police information data base, the Chief has more confidence and more knowledge about how online information affects operations and public input.
Data on CRIME REPORTS is delayed about 4 hours, so when a bunch of St. Pete Police cruisers show up in your neighborhood, you cannot find out what is going on by checking CRIME REPORTS, and if no report is taken or the report is delayed it may be some time before the incident shows up on the CRIME REPORTS map.
That's where Twitter comes in. You can now follow current police activity like homicides, bank robberies, shootings, major traffic accidents at @stpetepd.
Don't expect to find a TWEET every time you see a police cruiser drive through the neighborhood.
Posting will be done from the Police Department Communications Center. Expect it to be pretty general, not a lot of detail, especially in the beginning. The Chief will move slowly on this new approach to information sharing watching the affect on operations and getting some public feedback.
The balance between the public's curiosity and need to know verses law enforcement's need to be effective and safe is a difficult struggle for any Police Chief. That is especially true for Chuck Harmon. He cares deeply for his City and his officers and does not want to do anything that will harm either.
If you have a Twitter account, just add @stpetepd to those you are following. If you don't have a Twitter account click on the link and set one up. Set up is quick and easy once you have an account add @stpetepd to those you are following.
Next time there is some activity in your neighborhood just check the Twitter account.
Be a little patient with the PD as they move into this. If you have some comments send me an e-mail and I'll get it to the right person at the PD
 e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

How Long Can Baseball Last?

As the Tampa Bay area looks to build a new multi-million dollar palace for baseball to play in, one of the questions should be just how viable is baseball as a business. Stadium, deals are typically long term commitments due to the large sums of money, most of it public funds, that are required to build baseball stadiums.
Here is a breakdown of the cost and financing for what is now Tropicana Field.
Cost: $115 Million (original), $85 Million (renovations)
Public Financing: 100% (original): general obligation bonds, 79% (renovations)
Private Financing: 21% (renovations): $14 million by Rays. Source: ballparksofbaseball.com
When St. Petersburg built what is now Tropicana Field, it was built to what baseball thought would be the venue of the future. The totally enclosed baseball stadium never really was accepted and now 25 years or so later the venue is in baseballs words "unworkable"
It would be interesting to see if the venue was unworkable if attendance was 20 million per year.
Baseball has long turned to new venues to prop up attendance. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't.
The bigger question may be how viable is baseball over the next 20 to 30 years as a business. A new stadium will be a 20 to 30 year debt/financing deal for whoever decides to build it.
Assuming the new stadium works and attendance is at least MLB average, how long will it be before baseball begins to fade away, as league wide attendance has not grown appreciably in the last decade.  Also, as media revenues start to drop, will the baseball business continue to work?
We are really betting that 20/30 years from now in a society that is changing rapidly and shortening its attention span and event time allocations every day, that a sport that moves at a pace just past watching grass grow will endure.
The problem with these sports arena deals is the emotion is of the moment and the reality is way out in the future.
It could be that baseball will endure forever, and those parents hanging their retirement plans on their teenager's pitching arm may retire in financial comfort, but are we willing to bet the farm on that?
It could also be that 30 years from now all that is left of baseball is what remains in Coopers Town.
I am not totally in the "let them pay for it" camp but I do think owners and MLB need to have more skin the game and  a 50/50 deal on financing makes a good starting point.
The reality is the Bay area won't wither and die without major league baseball. In fact between Mayor Foster, Mayor Buckhorn and the two County commissions, we have probably done more damage to the area's reputation than if the Rays had just packed up and left.
It's time to dial back the emotion and crank up the reality with some good solid thinkers.
What is there to lead us to believe that 20 years into a new 30 year stadium deal MLB won't be making the same arguments all over again?
Nothing.
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

KARL NURSE - Front and Center

The question on a lot of people's minds: are the Rays trying to nudge Bill Foster off  the pitcher's mound and bring reliever Karl Nurse?
With Mayor Foster throwing nothing but lease laden hardballs, the Rays would like a little finesse in the game.
Nurse tossed out a slow high one last week when he suggested the Rays explore the Darryl LeClair/Carillon project for a new stadium as a deadlock breaker.
The Rays countered with an offer that the team might consider looking at the Carillon project for a period of time, if they could then look for a period of time at some options in Hillsborough County.
Nurse was quoted  "Outstanding. Anything that can be accomplished that can break this logjam is constructive,"
Mayor Foster, typically out of the loop said "This is all news to me."
Note to Bill Foster: This is what you call negotiating.
Over in Hillsborough, the Commission is expanding their effort bringing in regional leaders to help study the baseball problem.
Bill Foster finds himself being slowly surrounded by opposition to his position on major baseball.
The Pinellas County Commission is becoming more concerned and aggressive, the Hillsborough County Commission is moving steadily ahead, Bud Selig has had enough, Major League owners are getting restless. 
Does  the phrase Custer's Last Stand ring a bell?
The Rays are looking for a moderate voice to break the stalemate and at least get something started before MLB  pulls the plug.
Much to the consternation of The Mayor and the City attorney, Nurse is walking toward the mound. Look for a stern warning to Nurse to be mindful of his position, maybe even a veiled threat.
The game is in the final innings, St. Pete needs someone who can do more than wave a lease in the Rays and MLB's face, we need someone who can actually get a pitch over the plate. Something everyone can take a swing act.
It should be clear to even the Mayor that the Rays are NOT St. Petersburg's team. They are a regional asset.
It make take a village to raise a child, but it's going to take a region to save this baseball team.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Negotiation Fee, Blackmail, Larceny What is going On???

The latest wrinkle in the Rays fight to stay alive comes from Council member Charlie Gerdes as he proposes to extract a cool $1.42 million from the Rays for the "right to talk to Hillsborough County".

I don't know about you, but this just does not sound right to me. There is no doubt the Rays can pony up the $1.42 million, but this sounds more like extortion than negotiating.
What's the point? There is no logical rationale or real connection to the issue, the City just takes $1.42 million out of the Rays coffers.
What is the basis, other than tying the number neatly to the Trop operating subsidy, for asking the Rays for a payment to work on a deal to save the team for Tampa Bay.
This whole deal sounds more like something from a divorce case than a legitimate position for a local government.
This sort of legitimizes the position of: if you want to negotiate something with the City put up some money. Seems like all of that fairness and equal opportunity stuff just went out the window.
Even bringing this approach up sets a bad example for how those leading St. Pete think. "Just bring us enough money and we will let you do what you want".
First, St. Pete slaps the Rays around with a lease and even refuses to acknowledge the realities of the situation, then a Council member offers to over look that little barrier for a few bucks.
This approach does not further the effort,  it is downright inappropriate and borders on disgusting.
The big money players in St. Pete already exert way to much influence in City Hall and once they find out this is the new way of doing business, you will see all sorts of "offers".
It is a short walk from making these offers in public to making them in private and we all know where that goes.
I would have expected more from Charlie Gerdes, I think this just makes St. Pete look tawdry and cheap.
One thing is for sure if Stu caves in on this one, there will be line at the door with people from every corner of government asking for money.
I hope Stu Sternberg shows some real integrity and passes on this attempt to get cash for talking rights. He has to draw the line somewhere, I hope this is the place.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

KARL NURSE - Front and Center

The question on a lot of people's minds: are the Rays trying to nudge Bill Foster off  the pitcher's mound and bring reliever Karl Nurse?
With Mayor Foster throwing nothing but lease laden hardballs, the Rays would like a little finesse in the game.
Nurse tossed out a slow high one last week when he suggested the Rays explore the Darryl LeClair/Carillon project for a new stadium as a deadlock breaker.
The Rays countered with an offer that the team might consider looking at the Carillon project for a period of time, if they could then look for a period of time at some options in Hillsborough County.
Nurse was quoted  "Outstanding. Anything that can be accomplished that can break this logjam is constructive,"
Mayor Foster, typically out of the loop said "This is all news to me."
Note to Bill Foster: This is what you call negotiating.
Over in Hillsborough, the Commission is expanding their effort bringing in regional leaders to help study the baseball problem.
Bill Foster finds himself being slowly surrounded by opposition to his position on major baseball.
The Pinellas County Commission is becoming more concerned and aggressive, the Hillsborough County Commission is moving steadily ahead, Bud Selig has had enough, Major League owners are getting restless.
Does  the phrase Custer's Last Stand ring a bell?
The Rays are looking for a moderate voice to break the stalemate and at least get something started before MLB  pulls the plug.
Much to the consternation of The Mayor and the City attorney, Nurse is walking toward the mound. Look for a stern warning to Nurse to be mindful of his position, maybe even a veiled threat.
The game is in the final innings, St. Pete needs someone who can do more than wave a lease in the Rays and MLB's face, we need someone who can actually get a pitch over the plate. Something everyone can take a swing act.
It should be clear to even the Mayor that the Rays are NOT St. Petersburg's team. They are a regional asset.
It make take a village to raise a child, but it's going to take a region to save this baseball team.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Surprise!!! Pier Mediation Fails

Actually I doubt if anybody in St. Pete was surprised that the mediation on Pier/LENS Ballot language failed.
What is surprising is the City deciding to let a judge have the final say. Not a normal City Legal approach. I guess the plan must be to appeal if they lose, keep appealing and finally settle a day or so after the LENS dedication ceremony.
The appalling part of this whole fiasco is the little regard everyone from the Mayor's Office, City Council and the Legal department has for the public they so often plead they serve.
There is no service here, no respect for the public, no regard for a democratic process only the desire to use whatever means are possible to go forward with something the people who are paying for don't want.
I often wonder how the Mayor, The City attorney, and seven of the 8 elected council members sleep at night. All of this talk about loving the City, while they turn their backs on the very people who are the City.
It would seem there was no intent to negotiate in good faith, no intent to "work out the ballot language" I think it would be nice if the Judge held the City in contempt for failing to negotiate in good faith an and found for the plaintiffs in all counts. Not likely to happen.
But the City will just keep appealing anyhow.
The City's tactics are clear, delay and deflect. Get the process for the LENS so far down the road it cannot be stopped.
 And it's working.
It seems at this point that the Stop The LENS petition drive is more important now that ever.
The Stop the LENS petition process is not complicated but it is a bit convoluted. To be a legal petition, it must be signed in front of a witness. That means you have to make an extra effort to get your petition accepted. You have to go to a designated location to get and sign the petition in front of a witness. Click on the link for more information.
Some have been reluctant to sign the Stop The Lens Petition, after the lawsuit issue with Save the Pier petition signers.
This one is different. There will be no lawsuit. The City is already on record saying this petition meets all of the City Charter requirements and City Council must take action.
St. Pete used to be a really well run City. What the people wanted was respected. The Neighborhood Associations were respected and encouraged, There was leadership in the Mayor's Office and on City Council, Public Forum was serious business and peoples voice could be heard.
That's all gone now thanks to a lackluster Mayor, a City Council that views its self as representing the artful, powerful, and the privileged as opposed to the people.
I think it's a sad day, when the City Leadership will not direct their legal representatives to negotiate in good faith with those who represent the people so their voice can be heard.
But these days, its "Just another sad day in St. Petersburg".
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.