Monday, August 26, 2013

The Mayoral Candidates on The Quality of Life In South St. Petersburg

I asked each of the Mayor and City Council candidates this question: What specifically what will you do to begin to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in South St. Pete?
Here you can see how each Mayoral candidate compares on this critical issue.

Anthony Cates
No response

Paul Congemi
Not nice to insinuate that one part of town has the only crime problem. Steve Galvin had the best answer, so ditto what Steve said.

For the Record Mr. Galvin a candidate for City Council in District 8 said:
Reducing crime and improving the quality of life is something that is applicable to many parts of St. Petersburg. Jobs creation would go a long way towards achieving both of these goals and if we move forward with the Greenlight Pinellas project, the ability to seek employment from a greater radius should be helpful. Education. It's mighty hard to get a decent job without skills. I would encourage more adult learning opportunities and doing whatever we can to keep kids in school. Additionally I feel that the City could offer some assistance to help people stay in their homes and offer tax breaks and lien forgiveness to encourage homeowners and investors to rehabilitate the countless number of homes that need work. I have personally restored 4 homes in N. Kenwood, 3 of them foreclosures, in an effort to improve the neighborhood where I live and we now have a much safer and more beautiful place to live. I have been personally responsible for making sure that 2 individuals that were breaking into homes in my neighborhood went to JAIL. As citizens we all have to step up and not wait for someone else to do it.

Kathleen Ford
We need to support education, summer jobs programs, after school activities and vocational and technical education to ensure that everyone finds a place to work and be successful in our community.

The citizens of St. Petersburg deserve open, honest, and accessible and accountable government. I will work to restore our neighborhoods, revive and support our commercial districts, ensure that every child has a successful education, seek out sustainable environmental opportunities and demand fiscal responsibility.

Bill Foster:
No Response

Rick Kriseman
First, I am a supporter of the traditional community policing philosophy which emphasizes the relationship between the police officer and the neighborhood in an effort to promote trust and cooperation.

But one of the most important things we can do is focus on education. A strong public education system fuels our economic engine and has a positive impact on public safety. That’s why the mayor and all municipal leaders must work with our schools to help our young people succeed.

As a state representative, I passed legislation requiring the Department of Education to make service-learning curriculum available to our public schools. Integrating meaningful community service with instruction and reflection, service-learning enriches the learning experience, teaches civic responsibility, and strengthens communities. As mayor, I will work to have service-learning implemented in all of St. Petersburg’s public schools.

I will continue and strengthen the Mayor’s Mentors & More program and seek out additional corporate partners to assist with volunteering, resources, and strategic planning. And because not all students and young adults take the same path, protecting the Job Corps program located in Midtown will be a priority of my administration.

Finally, as I believe crime is the outcome of many unfavorable conditions, including the lack of jobs paying a living wage, we must do what we can to understand and address these root causes in order to create a safer St. Pete for future generations.

My Thoughts
If you deny that there is a difference between the north and south sides of St. Petersburg as it relates to crime you are deluding yourself.
Mayor Foster's approach to the South side has been pretty typical of his entire term, a general lack of leadership. Recently two new efforts have been introduced that set up a CRA and TIF funding for two narrowly defined areas in south St Pete. These programs are years away from any significant impact although they do establish a firm foundation in the limited areas they will serve; but they will likely fail if the crime issue is not directly confronted.

The Foster administration has allowed the Police department to continue to use its old model of containment to deal with crime in South St. Pete. Foster has allowed the Police Chief to continue to play the "good budget soldier" and not ask for more police officers to increase police presence in high crime areas. The number of sworn police offices has not gown significantly since the beginning of this century.
Crime statistics, Police Chief Harmon's bread and butter, can be misleading. They provide information on reported crimes. After a while people just watch the drug deal go down and move on. They don't even bother to report it.

As long as the "we don't want another riot mentality" drives policing south of Central Avenue, there will be no lasting solution to the south St. Petersburg crime problem.
Everyone seems to jump on the really safe "we need more education" band wagon and while I agree, when the highest paying job in the area is drug dealer, then it is essential that the cost of drug dealing be raised.
The thing that won't work is the ostrich like, politically correct approach of not wanting to admit there is a crime problem in south St. Petersburg and an unwillingness to talk about it.  The residents admit it, the businesses admit it, the churches admit it and talk to Council members like Karl Nurse who really gets it.
It looks like most of the Mayoral candidates who responded to the question understand there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The problem is crime let’s see if they are willing to use the “Crime” word.

Some clarification and detail on the campaign trail would be helpful.

Since these questions were first posed Anthony Cates, a political new comer  has expressed a deep concern for South St. Pete issues. Cates carries a lot of baggage for politics, but his sincere interest in solving his District's problems cannot be overlooked. With some patience and some mentoring from someone like Goliath Davis, Cates could become the strong voice missing in South St. Pete

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Campaign Disclosures: Contributor to Kathleen Ford Campaign, Darden Rice Campaign, Concern Citizens of St. Petersburg
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