Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Sunday Post – Low income housing, Baseball, BP Money and the Pinellas County Commission

December is usually a slow month in local politics

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
  
Now that we are in that mad rush shopping period between Thanksgiving and Christmas things tend to be quiet in the political arena- especially local politics.

On the National scene, interests may remain a bit higher with Carson in Jordan, Trump only opening his mouth long enough to change feet and all the rest of the Republican wannabes struggling to catch up.

It does not seem that there are any serious efforts in St. Petersburg to rush something past a distracted electorate and before the new City Council Members are seated, but it would be a good idea to keep a wary eye on the Kriseman administration as they tool up for the New Year.

Waverly Ann Moore has an interesting piece in the Tampa Bay Times: Commission rules against St. Petersburg neighborhood in fight against affordable housing. On the surface, this may seem like a lot of noise about nothing, but the Riviera Bay Civic Association is not a group to be taken lightly. Look for this one to continue to be a hot button.

Baseball should be relatively quiet for the month of December, the boys of summer like to enjoy their holidays without any distractions.

 Mayor Kriseman would like to put off any vote on the decision to let the Rays look for a new stadium site in the Bay area until the new City Council Members are seated. Primary reason is, so he can enjoy his handpicked vote from Lisa Wheeler-Brown and shore up his position as political mover and shaker.

Look for the BP money issue to come up next month. Outgoing City council members would like to get their stamp on how the money is spent. The spectrum runs from Darden Rice, who would give it all too esoteric causes like the arts and other social programs to Karl Nurse who would put it all in the sewers.

Compromise likely? Only after some uncomfortable discussion.

Some good news from the County scene, at least from my perspective, Charlie Justice will be serving as Chairman of the Pinellas County Commission. Bad news Janet Long will be serving as Vice-chair. Charlie will be dragging an anchor all year.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours

If you're paying attention to the news, it may seem a bit difficult to feel thankful this year. Ignore it all for today.


St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.

Where I was born snow symbolized Thanksgiving. Northern Indiana is beautiful this time of the year.

Often we awoke on Thanksgiving Day to a fresh snowfall. Everything was covered with a clean white blanket, and for a little while everything seemed so perfect.

I have been in Florida for over 40 years now, and I have become very fond of Thanksgiving Day  sun rises and sun sets enjoying a walk on the beach, some coolness in the air and a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

If you're paying attention to the news, it may seem a bit difficult to feel thankful this year. Ignore it all for today. Enjoy your family and hug each one.

Every day a lot of people do a lot of good, and they really don’t ask much in return; first responders, honest public servants, doctors, nurses, teachers, preachers, truck drivers, trades people, your mom, your dad and the next-door neighbor.

Be thankful for all of them.

There is a lot to be thankful for in a sunrise: a new day, a new set of opportunities.

I hope you have safe and very special Thanksgiving.

Doc

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

I used to be a really big NASCAR fan

If you can't see the race it's tough to be a part of the sport.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog
  
Wikipedia defines NASCAR: The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto-racing sports events.

I used to be a really big NASCAR fan. Went to the big races in Florida, Georgia and Arizona. On Sunday during race season everything stopped at my house until the race was over. In fact there is still an entire wall in my home dedicated to my NASCAR experiences including the tracks I drove with the Richard Petty Experience; Daytona, Indianapolis and Talladega to name a few.

The 16 laps I did at Daytona at over 150 miles per hour were the wildest thing I have done so far.

From the kitchen cabinets to the closets and the garage many of the products we bought were from NASCAR sponsors.

Now there is hardly a NASCAR logo on anything in the kitchen cabinet, I haven't deliberately stopped at a Sunoco station for gas in a year or so and while I still shop Lowes every now and then I haven't bought a KOBALT tool in years.

I couldn't list five NASCAR Sponsors at this point.

What happened you might ask?

It all started when my cable company pulled TBS out of my cable package. I lost half the season that year. I called and complained all to no avail.

The fine people at NASCAR, the family owned business, decided to follow the NFL chase the money in cable TV game and started farming out races to various cable networks. The next thing I know the Sunday NASCAR race is moving around my cable dial faster than Jimmy Johnson takes a lap at Talladega.

Some of these channels were in my cable package most were not.

I just gave up

In the few races I managed to catch, I noticed that there were more and more empty seats. You can tell by the number of those large signs next to the grandstand. Those are covers over empty seats.

The NFL is gradually moving its games to pay TV channels including the NFL crown jewel, the NFL network. Soon there will be no football on over the air TV or basic cable channels.

In the case of football that's really not a bad thing.

The theory here is we will make you pay if you watch our product and then sell you stuff while pay you watch it. I could go into why it works for the NFL, but I don't really want to offend anyone.

The average guy who can't afford the elite sports cable package, which by the way are getting more expensive because of the cost of growing broadcast rights, is just out of luck.

I am not sure this will work for the NFL in the long run and I think NASCAR is making a bad bet.

Stock car racing got its start among the common folk, those who would go out and buy the stuff plastered on those cars. That was how you participated in the sport and that was how the sponsors justified the expense of a NASCAR team.

If you can't see the race it's tough to be a part of the sport.

You can catch the final race on NBC.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Progress on Pier demolition continues as the Pelican parking lot closes

If a walk out on the Pier with your family was a Thanksgiving family ritual, you might want to pass this year.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.

The City has closed the Pelican Parking lot (south side) at the base of the Pier approach.

Until this week, the lot was  open for those wishing to stop by and watch the inverted Pyramid come down and for the few fishermen who are regulars on the parking lot sea wall.

It is unclear at this point if people are prohibited from the parking lot and sea walls.

I have been stopping by regularly for the last month or so as the pier demolition proceeded. It was surprising how many people would drive through the parking lot stop and take a few pictures.

Many would just stand and look while shaking their heads.

A few tears were not uncommon.

The inverted pyramid is now totally gone.

There have been some issues with turbidity barriers and navigation lights other than that, things seem to be going along as planned.

The Pier deck will be dismantled next, and then the approach will be removed. These are big jobs and as we approach fall and winter, the Northeasterly winds could cause a few problems.

If you're planning on going down and want to walk out on Spa Beach for a closer look, be sure to park on the street or over in the North lot which is still open.

If a walk out on the Pier with your family was a Thanksgiving family ritual, you might want to pass this year. Thanks to the Kriseman administration it's really just a sad sight with some remaining rubble and demolition equipment.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

In Defense of Momma "T" Lassiter

If you think she is brash now, you should have been in City Council meetings 10 or 15 years ago.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
  
Last week Janelle Irwin, saintpetersblog, took Momma "T" to task in a post Momma Tee Lassiter: Activist or antagonist?

In the interest of full disclosure, I have known Momma "T" for over 25 years.

I worked with her on a couple of issues and was a regular at her 'Law Day" event for a number of years. I like Momma "T". In fact, it goes way beyond like I have a deep respect for the woman.

Momma "T" has spent a large portion of her life trying everything she can to improve conditions for people on the south side and really in all of St. Pete.

Momma "T" has been promised help that never came, lied to by staff and virtually every administration, and yet she keeps coming back and trying to move forward.

If you think, she is brash now, you should have been setting in City Council meetings 10 or 15 years ago or better yet sat down with her one on one.

Momma "T" is running out of time.

She is frustrated by the City's inability to get things moving south of central. The kids in South St. Pete, her "babies" as she calls them, are still underserved by the schools they go to, arrested too often and many die way too young.

Poverty in her world is not getting better it is getting worse.

The Kriseman Administration isn't much better than their predecessors, lots of promises but not a lot of results. All the redevelopment promises are just that promises for the future but Momma "T's" people live right now in the present.

She can be brash; she has a way with words, a short temper, a mean streak and absolutely no tolerance for indecision.

Part of the problem with cites is as they grow elected people on City Council become more of the elite and less of the people. Those like Momma "T" become more of an annoyance than a source of valuable direction such is the case in St. Petersburg.

Momma "T" doesn't need to be "shamed" and she doesn't need to be thrown out of City Council meetings.

Could she tone it down a little – sure?

However, think about this: If you went home every night after dedicating a good portion of your life to trying to improve the lot of your community and your last thoughts as you dropped off to sleep were after all these years things are still going bad.

The people who could change all that have no problem spending $70 million on a downtown park and play ground for the wealthy, but you have to beg for after-school programs.

They won't step up and take on the School Board for allowing the school mess in south St. Pete, and their solution for South St. Pete is a long term development plan that will have no immediate impact, and in all likelihood will never come to fruition.

You would probably be angry too.

As for me, I will sit there and listen to every word "T" Lassiter has to say, smile at some, be shocked at a few and know that pretty much all of it has value.

I think we would all be amazed at the number of people, white and African American, that watch "T" Lassiter on television and wish they had the courage to "wag their finger" at City Council.

Love ya Momma "T". I always have always will.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

The new St. Pete City Council will anything change?

Newton and Dudley gone, Montanari and Wheeler-Brown in will there be less strife more congeniality – maybe.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.

There is quite a bit of speculation about how the outcome of the recent St. Pete City Council election will change the balance of power on the City's governing body.

Ed Montanari will be a steadying voice on the new City Council starting January of 2016. Montanari, a jumbo jet pilot by trade, is a calm and steady thinker who spends time understating the facts and the options. His long run of public service, including his work in the airport group and the Pier task force gives him a lot of back ground. Look for Montanari to be insightful, and cooperative. He is not a big conflict person and will like to have things well worked out before they go to a vote.

Lisa Wheeler-Brown could be tagged as an inexperienced newcomer, but that would be a big mistake. After several years of navigating her neighborhood association and a stint as head of the Council of Neighborhood Associations, she is not coming to City Council as an uninformed light weight. She has already had time in front of Mayor Kriseman. I sat down with Lisa in March of 2014 for a Casual Conversation with CONA President Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

Lisa took some hard knocks during the election and got some great support in the process. There was concern among many, me included, that she may be a bit of a rubber stamp for the Mayor. I expect the Mayor will get a couple of favorable votes from Wheeler-Brown, especially on the Rays issue.

Look for Steve Kornell to be more bullish on the issues he is concerned about,  Charlie Gerdes will stay steady with a possible eye toward a bid for the Mayor's seat, Amy Foster is a bit of a question mark given her support for Wheeler-Brown's opponent, look for her to be a calming voice.

Kennedy now term limited will be more aggressive and with his nemeses Wengay Newton gone meetings should be less frustrating for the two-term council member.

Biggest issue on the table seems to be the Tampa Bay Rays driven by the Tampa Bay Times obsession with getting a "deal" so the Rays can look for a new stadium site within the Bay area.

There is a growing understanding upon the part of City Council that continuing to be tied up in the Rays dispute is a waste of valuable time. Pressure from the County Commission is also adding some immediacy to the discussion. I expect this issue will be quickly dispatched with or without Wheeler-Browns vote.

The whole Rays deal could be done before the new council members are seated in January, but look for Kriseman to try to drag out the process, so he can cash in on his support for Wheeler-Brown and try to flex his political mussels a little.

Without the constant questioning by Wengay Newton 2016 meetings should move more quickly. There will be less actual decision making as things should be pretty well hashed out before they get to the Agenda. 

South St. Pete, failing schools, stormwater/wastewater, Pier Park, The Uplands Project, the Toytown Sports Complex, crime, roads and public transit: this Council has its hands full.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Bait House debacle

There are two really important lessons in this latest episode of Pier Park.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
  
Once again, it looks like the Kriseman dream team has only stopped shooting themselves in the foot long enough to reload.

Who would have thought that the little bait house at the end of the Pier would cause such an uproar?

The Mayor and his cohorts decided they would auction off the old Pier bait house to make a few bucks, save some demolition costs and just move on.

The result was a mild uproar and a cry of fowl as apparently at some point the Kriseman administration had promised the old bait house would be saved. You can get the sorted details in Waveney Ann Moore's article in the Tampa Bay Times Auction of Pier bait house gets called off after outcry

There are two really important lessons in this latest episode of Pier Park.

First, you just can't trust the Kriseman administration. They will probably try to write the whole mess off to short term memory loss or something like that. I doubt anyone will buy it.

Second, there are a lot of people watching what is going on at the Pier site. A lot of promises have been made, and the Kriseman team would be well advised to stick to the plan and not innovate especially since they are not very good at it.

Will Michaels, a preservationist who was a member of Pier History committee, said he was, "delighted to hear that the mayor and his staff have such a high regard for our city's history and are willing to reconsider decisions that sometimes might not be the best."

I not sure the decision to reconsider selling the old bait house has as much to do with the "City's history" as it does with saving face.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Disclosures:
Contributor: Waterfront Charter Amendment (Vote on The Pier), Carly Fiorina for President
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Friday, November 6, 2015

Marco Rubio – Media's current darling

Problem is as the scrutiny of Rubio picks up, things don't seem to be going all that well.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.

With the Republican presidential candidates up in arms about everything related to the debates following the CNBC debate meltdown it seems mainstream media is giving Marco Rubio a little push to see if they can help eat into the Trump/Carson outsider lead.

Regarding the CNBC debate, the continuing poor performance of the cable industry's so called top journalists has become a major embarrassment. Sooner or later cable news executives will realize that hiring so-called journalists for their cleavage, haircuts and nasty attitudes simply doesn't work.

In fact, it may be time to be quit calling these cable channels "news" organizations and call them social media outlets because that's what they are.

In any event, Rubio is getting a shove from almost every media source to try to push him up in the poles so a traditional candidate can at least have a shot at the nomination.

Problem is as the scrutiny of Rubio picks up, things don't seem to be going all that well. Rubio's Senate voting record is dogging him; his finances continue to come under attack, and he is attracting some interesting large scale donors.

Here is an article from CNN politics Marco Rubio dismisses questions about his finances.

The Republican establishment, desperate to get back in control, is willing to try anything to get a so-called traditional candidate back to the center of the stage, including Marco Rubio.

Rubio wasn't prepared for the Senate, his approach and respect for the institution of the Senate and failure to represent his state's interest show that, and he is certainly not ready for the White House.

For now, the media and the political pundits are trying to push someone out front to disrupt the Trump/Carson band wagon. I don't think it will work.

Sooner or later, the real Marco Rubio will show up, and it will be all over.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Who would be the next St. Petersburg Mayor?

Too early you say?  Not really.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
  
One of the interesting things about being a blogger, and especially a blogger who writes opinions, is people like to ask you questions.

I have been at several gatherings recently with a number of St. Petersburg employees, and the questions were very interesting.

Apparently Kriseman's inner circle, notably Kevin King and Ben Kirby, are starting to get under the skin of some staffers as they filter inbound and outbound communications with the Mayor's office.

The most recurrent question was "who do you think will be the next St. Petersburg Mayor?' The implication seeming to be Rick Kriseman will either not run or will not be reelected.

I turned the question back by simply asking, "Who would you like to see as mayor?"

The most common answer from senior staff right down to workers was Rick Baker, usually followed with a comment like, "He was tough to work for, but he really got things done and he (Baker) knew how to lead."

Implication noted.

Baker is currently said to be mulling over a run for The US House seat in District 13.

Other names who garnered interest: Karl Nurse and Charlie Gerdes.

Outsiders Scott Wagman and Bill Edwards get favorable mentions.

Now that the midterm City Council election is over it is time to look forward to the next mayoral election.

Too early you say?

Not really.

Some of the knowledgeable political writers, Bloggers and St. Pete movers and shakers need to look around town and throw out some names that are not currently on the radar. Let's see whether some new bolder faces will step up and take an interest in leading Florida's fourth-largest City.

There seems to be a growing consensus that surviving the last two years of the Kriseman administration will be bad enough and four more years of Rick Kriseman will not take St. Pete where it needs to go.

Who would you like to see as St. Pete's next Mayor.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

St. Pete City Council election is NOT all about baseball.

To make this election all about baseball does a serious disservice to all St. Petersburg residents.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want to Blog
  
Regardless of what the Tampa Bay Tines is telling you, tomorrow's St. Pete City Council election is NOT all about baseball.

With an average attendance for the last few years of about 13,000, if the Tampa Bay Rays packed up and left the entire bay area tomorrow the economic impact would be minimal, and the public outcry would be barely a whimper.

Baseball never has and never will define St. Petersburg or Tampa Bay for that matter.

To make this election all about baseball does a serious disservice to all St. Petersburg residents.

Recommending Phillip Garrett over Steve Kornell and Lisa Wheeler-Brown over Will Newton simply so the Tampa Bay Times can fill up a sports section with ads is an affront to every St. Pete voters' intelligence.

Garrett has no grip on reality and Wheeler-Brown's background, lack of experience and campaign management skill, which resulted in two ethics complaints so far, should tell voters all they need to know.

Is baseball so important that you would sacrifice the integrity and capability of City Council? I hope not.

Baseball is still just a game, but running a City affects every citizen.

If you have not already voted be sure to go to your polling place on Tuesday November 3rd.

Every vote is critical.

Got a mail in ballot you forgot to complete and send in? Take it with you and go to your polling place they will help you vote.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rick Kriseman over playing the strong mayor hand

Kriseman has continued to make unilateral decisions without City Council input.

St. Petersburg, FL
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog.
  
Rick Kriseman seems to have missed the fact he was elected Mayor of St. Petersburg not anointed. From the very outset, Kriseman has pushed the limits of the strong Mayor.

Immediately upon entering office, he appointed two of his top political aids Kevin King and Ben Kirby to highly paid staff positions, making him the first strong St. Petersburg Mayor to practice open cronyism.

Kriseman has continued to make unilateral decisions without City Council input.

His failure to respect the public's view of the Pier and deliberately manipulating the Pier selection process have left many with declining respect for the Mayor.

The poor handling and cover-up of the facts around recent waste water discharges into the Bay, and Clam Bayou have people questioning his honesty and integrity.

Kriseman is the first St. Petersburg strong Mayor to create his own "Communications Director" to distribute what at times could best be described as propaganda.

The problem is getting worse with City Council as reported by John Romano in the Tampa Bay Times article Tension between Kriseman, council becoming harder to ignore.

Kriseman's history is telling.

Kriseman's first City Council terms resulted in lackluster accomplishment along with some hijinks.

His terms in the State legislature were mostly marked by his failure to work with his fellow legislators and accomplish any significant legislative trail. The talk was he didn't work well with his fellow legislators.

Now, here in St. Petersburg, Kriseman and his Chief of Staff seem to be following the Kriseman pattern and alienating City Council and staff.

We are currently just about half way through Kriseman's first term.

If you read the Ben Kirby propaganda post SUNblast, you would come away thinking all is well.

However, on key issues like crime in south St. Pete, failing schools, job creation, the Rays, building a pier "the people want" and transparency on major issues like the waste-water spill the Kriseman administration is coming up short.

Kriseman has about six to eight months before he begins to consider running for a second term.

How long will the Mayor keep his two top political operatives on the City payroll as we head for the next mayoral election?

Will he work to improve relations with City Council?

Will any of the current or soon to be elected City Council members support a Kriseman second term?

Will he live up to his campaign promises of transparency?

Kriseman has a lot of work to do for the City and for his reelection.

E-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.
Disclosures:       
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