There are two lawsuits hanging out there from the Foster Administration that don't really seem to make a whole lot of sense. They are both the result of a Mayor who either failed to listen or failed to think.
Save the Pier
Following the highly contentious LENS/Pier debate, and the ensuing lawsuit brought by Kathleen Ford, the City decided to pursue Ms. Ford for the legal fees. The amount, at this point is something less than $20,000, mostly from in house staff time that really did not add any actual cost to the City.
At the time it seemed to me that this was more of a vindictive reaction to the effort to Stop the LENS/Save the Pier effort and also to perhaps send a chilling message to anyone else who would challenge the City in Court.
The City appears to be on good legal ground, as they prevailed in court, but an appeal by Ms. Ford is pending. This whole thing could drag on for some time even spilling over into the new Pier discussions.
The real issue is about a Mayor and a City Council who failed to listen to the public and punishing a citizen who stepped up and challenged them.
The Mayor and the City Council should make this one go away so St. Pete can move on to a new Pier without any baggage, and the public can feel safer in challenging their government.
For the record I was working at the Police department the day this all happened and I remember it like it was yesterday.
Christine Lacey is the wife of Hydra Lacey who killed two St. Petersburg Police Officers. You can read more in the Tampa Bay Times article by Kameel Stanley Wife of man who killed 2 officers sues St. Pete for destroying her property.
In the chaos that surrounded those few awful hours then Mayor Bill Foster ordered the home demolished. Mrs. Lacey had no time to remove anything from the home including her car, the home and all of her possessions were destroyed.
The Mayor in a very public statement promised the City would make Mrs. Lacey whole for her loss. Two years have passed and that has not happened.
Mrs. Lacey is now forced to sue and the City's response is: "We've been aware of the claim for some time," Assistant City Attorney Joseph Patner, who is head of litigation for the city, said Tuesday. "We believe there to be defenses and were going to explore those defenses. … We have no comment beyond that."
It is easy to let the emotions of those moments boil up again. I personally directed the television coverage of those funerals, and I don't think other than at the passing of my parents have I ever wept as much.
But it's time to end all of this. The top elected official of this City made a commitment and the commitment needs to be honored in an appropriate way and that is not to litigate to somehow teach someone a lesson or extract more punishment.
Either the top official of St. Petersburg's word is good or it isn't. The circumstance should not overrule the commitment.
The New Kriseman administration and City Council needs to resolve this quickly and not put everyone through reliving in yet another Court room one of St. Pete's darkest moments for the sake of the few dollars promised. There will be a lot of legal talk about setting a precedent, but the precedent that you can't trust the Mayor seems to me to be much worse.
Every citizen of St. Petersburg has the right to believe and expect that the City will honor its commitments.