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.

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: 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.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Mayor KRISEMAN has IGNORED residents QUALITY of LIFE

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

     Major,

     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.

    Sincerely,

    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.


       

Friday, October 13, 2017

St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign - The Baker Blueprint for Jobs and Economic Development – Midtown

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


St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign -  The Baker Blueprint for Jobs and Economic Development – Midtown

Any successful city must have great jobs and a vibrant economy

This is the sixth of an eight-part series detailing the Rick Baker Blueprint 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.
MIDTOWN

The keys to the Midtown development effort are, first, expansion of resources and assets in the community and, second, expansion of opportunities for those in the community.
  • OUTREACH: When I say I am ALL IN for St. Petersburg I mean all in for every area. We will be seeking input from the citizens of Midtown and Childs Park, through a series of community gatherings, asking them as I always have for suggestions on development in their community. The ultimate plan will reflect this input. We have had remarkable success in the past, and we will again.
  • RESOURCES/ASSETS: Issues and ideas I have heard while campaigning:
  • Urgently work to replace the assets lost by the current mayor – a new grocery store, and replacements for Walgreen’s and Sylvia’s. To see residents waiting in line at a convenience market after Hurricane Irma because there was no other grocery option was heartbreaking, and must stop. Reject plans that gentrify the community such as the current mayor’s plan to put a BMW dealership on the historic Sno-Peak site and a Cuban restaurant at the Manhattan Casino.
  • Needed activities for youth beginning with exploring the idea of a roller skating rink for youth.
  • Ensure Midtown CRA funds are used for improvements that benefit the people of Midtown – reject efforts to use them for inappropriate purposes – such as the current mayor’s efforts to divert Midtown CRA money to his political party. On this front I will be adamant.
  • During our administration we brought in a SweetBay grocery store; post office retail center; Dell Holmes Park; Royal Theater redevelopment; GTE Federal Credit Union; Enoch Davis Center upgrades; Mercy Hospital Clinic; Davis-Bradley Drug Rehabilitation Center; Childs Park Swimming Pool, YMCA and football fields; Manhattan Casino rebuild and others. Four years from now, you will know that we were just warming up!
  • OPPORTUNITIES:
  • Expand the college scholarships and school programs described in the Education section above.
  • Add an apprenticeship program in order to give potential job holders the skills they need to obtain and hold jobs, also as described in the Education section.
  • Expand the SPC presence on 22nd Street South to provide more opportunities and a greater campus experience.
  • During my term we brought SPC, Job Corps and Jordan School Head Start to Midtown. We will build from there!
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.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

St. Pete City Council Races: Bankers, Realtors, Cowboys, Activists, Professional Politicians and a young newcomer. The choice is yours.

It is extremely important that you vote in these races. They are all voted on citywide. 


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

I have been focused on the St. Petersburg Mayoral race because I think St. Pete is at a major crossroad, and the Kriseman administration’s approach is seriously lacking.

I have, however, received a number of questions about the St. Pete City Council races, so here is my over view of the District candidates.

District 2
The candidates are Barclay Harless a banker and Brandi Gabbard a relator with deep ties to her profession. I have struggled with this one. I have always been reluctant to support candidates with a long career and connections to the real estate profession. The problem is with years of “real estate” experience, they tend to view everything through the eye of property values, buyers and sellers.

If you read the Catlin Johnston review below you will note most of Gabbard’s answers reach back to property values and development.


To work for St. Petersburg, Gabbard will need to leave her realtor’s hat in the City Council staging room and take a bigger view than property values.

My reluctant nod on this one is Gabbard, but you may want to take a close look at Harless since I think he comes to the table with fewer preconceived biases.

District 4
The candidates in District 4 are Jerick Johnston and Darden Rice.

Darden Rice will win this race going away but there are a couple of things to consider.

Darden is a consummate self-promoter, and her emphasis on grand-scale issues like transportation and campaign finance reform don’t always serve St. Pete well. She is also a professional politician.

You can rest assured that within a month of being sworn-in Rice will have already selected her next political office and will start campaigning for it immediately.

Rice’s political fundraising acumen has not escaped fellow Democrats, so she will get a lot of ongoing party support and the demands that come with it.

Jerick is a young political neophyte, and he deserves some credit and a few votes for his willingness to step into a race where about all he can hope to accomplish is to get some experience. A loss to Darden Rice will not be a big political resume killer, and I think we can hopefully expect to see more from Mr. Johnston.

You can get more details from Divya Kumar, Times Staff Writer; Know Your City Council Candidates: Jerick Johnston vs. Darden Rice | District 4.

My nod goes to Rice, but if you would like to send a message to our local Democrat Diva, you might just cast a vote for Johnston.

If Johnston does a bit better than expected, it might just give Darden a pause for thought.

District 6
The worst thing about this race is the District itself. Gerrymandered to the nth degree this District presents many major problems. In my view, none of the constituents in this District are going to get fair representation.

No matter who wins this race, the people living south of Central Avenue have a serious bone to pick with the process.

The Candidates are Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll.

The real choice is between a cowboy and a mild-mannered neighborhood activist.

In my 28 years with the City, we had a couple of cowboys and cowgirl or two on City Council. They are fun to watch and provide some often-needed comedy relief. They are seldom effective, frequently disruptive and on rare occasions contribute a gem of common sense or wisdom.

On the other hand, the neighborhood associations and their leadership have contributed a number of highly effective City Council members who have been especially useful under the strong mayor form of governance.

You can get some additional information from Waveney Ann Moore, Times Staff Writer; Know Your City Council Candidates: Justin Bean vs. Gina Driscoll, District 6.

No messages to be sent here.

My nod here goes to Driscoll, because if a) Kriseman wins there will need to be some strong voices on City Council to reign in what is a runaway political nightmare; and b) if Baker wins there will be a strong effort to rebuild neighborhood association leadership, and they will need a strong advocate on City Council alongside Amy Foster, Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

It is extremely important that you vote in these races. They are all voted on citywide.  

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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

St. Petersburg Mayoral Campaign -The Baker Blueprint for Jobs and Economic Development – Downtown

Any successful city must have great jobs and a vibrant economy


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


This is the fifth of an eight-part series detailing the Rick Baker Blueprint 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. 
DOWNTOWN
  • GENERAL: While a major retail center, many don’t know the products and services that are available downtown. I will develop a program for more and better promotions and communication. As mayor I will redouble stalled efforts to bring major company headquarters to St. Petersburg. That means jobs, customers and revenue.
  • DISTRICTS: We will more aggressively support all downtown districts and main street programs.
  • INNOVATION DISTRICT: I will complete the pedestrian connector, monument signage, and branding efforts on an expedited basis (five years in process so far).
  • WAREHOUSE ARTS DISTRICT: I will complete the pedestrian connector, monument signage, and branding effort on an expedited basis (over two years in process so far).
  • CENTRAL AVENUE PARKING WEST OF 4TH STREET: I will immediately work with retailers to address the parking challenges that hinder businesses here. Driving around the block looking for parking is not a viable option. The solutions must also work for taxpayers.
  • THE PIER: Like many citizens I believe the Pier was, and should again become, an icon of our city. I constantly hear from residents that they felt betrayed when the current mayor ignored the outcome of a promised public vote favoring local architects that proposed keeping elements of the past with a look to the future. Going forward as mayor I will immediately address the following:
  • COST: Seek out ways to address the massive multi-million dollar overspending, far in excess of the original Pier budget. I am also concerned by the large increase in the annual operating subsidy planned by the current mayor and will work with others to get that back to a more manageable subsidy. The effort is made more challenging by the current mayor’s attempt to lock in the overspending through commitments being made now.
  • REVISE THE PLAN: Stop the current administration’s plan to build two concrete buildings on our historic waterfront parkland. This effort is a betrayal of our founders’ stewardship of the precious waterfront parkland – and more importantly it is a theft of our future generations’ public land. My alternate vision is a plan for green space and signature playground/water features/picnic pavilions at Spa Beach similar to the features we built at Dell Holmes Park, which draws thousands of children and adults from throughout the city. This will immediately return the long-sought vitality to the pier. Also, explore ways to modify the Pier head building to make it less nondescript and more iconic. I will reach out to a variety of local architects for creative ideas – our community deserves more than Rick Kriseman has settled for.
  • GET IT DONE: While modifying the approach, stay on schedule for completion. The project is already two years past the time the current mayor promised completion – no more delays!
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  • TROPICANA FIELD SITE: Make no mistake the biggest project we as a city will likely undertake in the next 10 years is the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field site. It is imperative that we have the best and most creative business, design, and economic development people focused on this, and that citizens be given a real seat at the table. It is also critical that we have a mayor who has the experience, negotiating skill and capability to seize on the opportunities for our city.
  • RAYS: Let me be very clear: my first goal is to retain the Rays in St. Petersburg, even though the current mayor has given up our rights and allowed the team a chance to look elsewhere – making retaining the team much, much harder. It was a horrible deal for our city! Yet any stadium solution must not increase our taxes. To that end, I will work with City Council and the Pinellas County Commission to aggressively pursue this. Baseball has a long history here and we will do whatever we can to extend this tradition. A redeveloped downtown Rays site should include housing, business and retail components, along with expanded green space.
  • OTHER DEVELOPMENT: If the Rays do not stay downtown, we will develop a plan for the Trop site that includes areas for business/employment locations, supporting retail, hotel and housing (especially workforce housing). A significant portion – at least one third – of the site should be dedicated to public green space. As a portion of the green space we will aggressively consider the development of a lake – tied to our existing storm water creek – with surrounding park – think Mirror Lake with more green space. Finally, the people of Midtown who originally gave up much for this site must be included in the discussion – and in the end of the day there must be a benefit to both the city and the Midtown community – especially the reality of long-promised jobs for the community.
  • EVENTS: Continuously look for opportunities to expand the downtown event experiences, and actively support the ones we have, such as the Grand Prix, St. Petersburg Bowl, First Night, Friday Night Shuffle and Saturday Morning Market that began during my prior term, and the Rowdies MLS effort that I led after leaving office. Brand the “St. Petersburg” name whenever possible!
  • CONVENTION & CONFERENCE SPACE: Explore opportunities to expand conference or convention space downtown in association with the growing downtown tourism and hospitality industry.
  • PEDESTRIAN CONNECTORS: We started the downtown pedestrian connector program and plan to expand it, especially into blossoming areas like Central Avenue, Edge District, Grand Central, Warehouse Arts District, Innovation District and 4thStreet Intown.
  • HOMELESS: The approach to the homeless population must be more than simply pushing them from one area of the city to another. There continues to be a need for transitional housing that gives homeless individuals the opportunity to stabilize and work toward becoming independent. During our term we partnered with Catholic Charities to create Pinellas Hope in mid-county, a facility where over 350 homeless individuals will sleep tonight, providing them with a safe place to get off the street and work toward a point where they can support themselves. More needs to be done in this area – especially with regard to emergency housing for homeless parents with children, a situation that is at a crisis point in our county. As before, we will focus both on keeping a positive environment in our city, developing more opportunities to help the individual in need and partnering whenever possible.
  • EXTEND BEACH DRIVE: Everyone loves walking along the sidewalk cafes of Beach Drive in our Downtown. I will work to extend the walkway all the way to the Dali Museum! Our downtown waterfront is one of the best and now we have a chance to make it even better.  
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
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Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 

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