Wengay Newton St. Pete City Council Member from District 7 has been carrying the mantel of the youth in South St. Petersburg for most of his time on City Council.
Newton has been pushing for a move to civil citations for youth arrested on minor offenses to keep them out of the criminal justice system. He has not gotten a lot of support from some of his fellow City Council members.
It all boiled over in a meeting of the Youth Services Committee, one of those City Council burying holes where ideas someone doesn't want get shuffled to for endless debate. Newton resigned got up and walked out of a recent meeting; you can read Christopher O'Donnell's account in the Tampa Tribune article: Newton and ST. Pete council clash on inaction in youth arrests.
Part of the problem is Wengay himself, as I and any number of other commenters have said Wengay needs to ratchet it down a notch or two and limit the dialog. He really grates on his fellow Council members, and his sometimes very clear cut and simple solutions are difficult for the self assumed great minds of Council members Kennedy and Gerdes to get their brains around.
Gerdes ever willingness to talk about anything some more and Kennedy's deep dislike for Newton and everything South of Central Avenue have kept this and other south side issues bottled up forever. Add to that Council Chair Dudley willingness to go along with the two guys on his left, and at least a mild reluctance to push Southside issues and you begin to see why Newton's efforts have been so difficult.
The game changers can be Amy Foster and Darden Rice.
So far they have tiptoed along the dais, not wanting to "upset" anyone but the time for agreeing with Gerdes babblings about consensus, endless input and all that dribble, and Kennedy's outright disdain for Newton and South St. Pete require some action.
It will be easier for Foster; she has no openly political agenda, so it's time to start objecting too and stop voting for the next round of stall and delay tactics regarding South side issues.
Every day young kids get arrested, taken to jail and their lives are forever ruined. It needs to stop.
Rice who, in my opinion, spends way to much time concocting answers and responses to fit her next campaign, needs to get off the dime leave the comfort fold of flowery rhetoric and niceness and recognize that there are people on City Council who do not want to make things better in South St. Pete and you are either part of that group or you're not.
It's time to step up girls and remember the people who voted for you, or the good old boys are going to trample you into the abyss of stall, delay and most of all don't make a decision.
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