Tuesday, January 31, 2017

HART Must Protect Local Taxpayers and Their Sovereignty

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay
Posted by: Sharon Calvert

The Eye was at HART's Legislative Committee meeting Monday where the proposed Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) agreement between HART and PSTA was discussed.


Important to note: this MOU is a legally binding agreement just like any other inter-local agreement.

Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat who is also Vice-Chair of PSTA, has been using PSTA as a proxy to push her regionalism proposal that includes merging PSTA and HART, regionalizing decision making and power and pursuing a multi-county sales tax hike [2020?].

As we find out what is going on in those "quiet discussions" held underneath the radar of the public, there are valid concerns about the true intent (at least by some) of this MOU agreement.
Long's Regional Vision Presentation to PSTA
For transparency, I made a public comment at the beginning of the HART Legislative meeting expressing concerns about the MOU and requested assurances that this agreement not be used to pursue a merger with PSTA.

The Board members discussed the MOU. There were a few fireworks and some tap dancing going on as statements were made that the MOU is an endeavor to work together and collaborate and not a merger. 

SaintPetersblog reported on the meeting: HART board members deny that collaboration with PSTA is a backdoor attempt to merge agencies. They reported what HART Attorney David Smith said after citizens voiced concerns during public comment.
“Anyone who tries to interpret this as a pre-merger or merger, is, I don’t want to say hallucinating, but there’s no basis in fact for that,” said HART attorney David Smith, when asked if it was necessary to include Calvert’s “no merger” request in the MOU itself.
Ironically it was HART Board attorney David Smith who recommended some changes for clarification and we assume he was not hallucinating.

Smith recommended changing the terminology in the MOU agreement from "Partnership Opportunities" to an agreement for "Future Collaboration". That change is an improvement since Partnerships are legal relationships whereas collaboration is to cooperatively work together. But who knows if their next collaboration will be to collaborate on merging…

Another change added to the MOU is that the agreement must be reviewed and re-authorized annually and a document on all actions taken must be annually provided. That is good as it adds needed accountability.

As SaintPetersblog also reported Murman and Suarez are on record stating
“None of these words in this document speak to any type of merger, taxation. Nothing about going to Tallahassee. Nothing,” said an exasperated Sandy Murman, chairman of the committee.
Board member Mike Suarez also said he didn’t see anything in the draft agreement that touches on merging.
Perhaps the HART Board members should watch the videos of PSTA's January 4th Legislative Committee Meeting where Long stated the timeline is more important than the MOU; and PSTA's January 6th Executive Committee Meeting where Miller outlined the aggressive timeline to get the agreement approved and immediately take it to Tallahassee to ask for state money to fund Long's regionalism agenda; and read Commissioner Long's Presentation she gave at PSTA's January 13 Workshop meeting that clearly states her direction is for a merger and regional sales tax funding.

The PSTA videos confirms Miller and HART's Eagan were working together on the agreement.

Considering all of this:
  • Multiple attempts to merge HART and PSTA (that failed)
  • January 2013 video of PSTA's Miller egregious proposal to go around voters with a backdoor merger
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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Third Season Update - Oldsmar still in the race for the new Rays Stadium


Where else in the United States could you go see a horse race or two, bet on the ponies, walk across the street, and catch a major-league baseball game.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

You just have to love Doug Bevis the Mayor of Oldsmar.

“I would say that we’re still in the running and I think we have a site that offers things that some of the other sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas don’t offer,” Bevis said.

In case you are not familiar with Oldsmar, it is a Pinellas County City, lying along the border between Pinellas and Hillsborough County North of St. Petersburg with a population of about 13,800.

Check out Bay News 9 Josh Rojas, Oldsmar still in running for new Ray's stadium site

As the Third Season, the time between the end of the World Series and early spring training, winds down it has been quiet especially in Hillsborough County and Tampa.

Ben Kirby, the spokesman for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, said the city has no formal meetings planned with the Rays, but the “mayor does talk with them occasionally.”

According to the Rojas, Bay News 9 piece Mayor Bevis indicated the Rays are hoping to pick a site in the next five months. Wonder of Kriseman knew that.

That would be interesting since MLB likes to focus on baseball during the season and leave the politics to later.

When Bevis first announced that the 120-acre site near the Tampa Bay Downs racetrack might be available, a lot of people just laughed it off. Apparently, the Rays did not.

Maybe Mayor Kriseman and St. Petersburg would be better off if he gave the Rays a little pat on the fanny and endorsed the Oldsmar location.

With a series of nightmarish problems, a number of huge projects, and a struggling south side, drumming up public dollars for a gazillion dollar baseball stadium may be a big campaign downer.

It will also be interesting to see if, when and how much the Rays put up for the Mayor's re-election campaign.

For now, my money is on Oldsmar.

Where else in the United States could you go see a race or two, bet on the ponies, walk across the street, and catch a major league baseball game.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene 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.

Please comment below.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Is the Kriseman Administration hiding behind the Public Records Statute?

I resubmitted the request with Kriseman, King, Kirby, Logan and Tankersly removed the remaining information was provided at no cost.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Section 119.07(4), Florida Statutes, provides for fees and charges for processing public records requests.  Extensive use of information technology resources and extensive clerical or supervisory assistance will require payment of a special service charge for the use of such information technology resources and labor cost of personnel to process the request.  A cost estimate will be provided to you should copy fees or special service charges be assessed.  These costs must be paid prior to record retrieval and production.  Please direct any questions to the Office of the City Clerk.

Recently I filed a Public records request for Ben Kirby's, Kriseman Communications Director, internal and external e-mails to and from these individuals: Rick Kriseman, Kevin King, Bill Logan, Claude Tankersly, Campaign Partner.com, Tom@BlueTicketConsulting.com, Tom Alte, Megan Salisbury, Vito Sheely, Mike Fox, Wanda Schwerer, Rick Boylan, Brittany Barefoot, Ben Diamond, mitymo.com, Mo Eppley

The response from the Kriseman Administration:

 Ben Kirby: Review and Redact 613 email items with the key word search (Rick Kriseman, Kevin King, Bill Logan, Claude Tankersly, Campaignpartner.com, Tom@Blueticketconsulting.com, Tom Alte, Megan Salisbury, Vito Sheely, Mike Fox, Wanda Schwerer, Rick Boylan, Brittany Barefoot, Ben Diamond, mitymo.com, Mo Eppley)
Hours 4.5
Rate: 65.41/hr
Total Cost: $294.34

The technology (search) portion of the request is done since they indicate in their response there are 613 emails represented in this Public Records Request.

Note that the Statute allows charges for extensive use of information technology and extensive use of clerical or supervisory assistance. Four and a half hours hardly seems extensive.

The first four names, Rick Kriseman, Kevin King, Bill Logan, and Claude Tankersly are all members of the Kriseman administration. The remaining names are those associated or possibly associated with the Kriseman reelection campaign.

The issue of redaction, as indicated in the response, is troubling at best.

 If the redaction is provided through the Legal Department that is one thing but if, Kirby and King are going to go through the e-mails and "redact" them how are we to trust the public records request process.

I resubmitted the request with Kriseman, King, Kirby, Logan and Tankersly removed the remaining information was provided at no cost.

As long as Kriseman keeps, his two political operatives on the City payroll there will be questions about campaign activities on City time. Kriseman is subtly reneging on his claims of transparency by using or misusing the Public Records Statute.

It will be tough to convince anyone to run against the incumbent Mayor if the Kriseman Campaign operates from City Hall.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene 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

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Aggressive Timeline: Merge HART PSTA Into Tampa Bay Transit Authority

Tampa, Fl
From: Eye On Tampa Bay


Posted by: Sharon Calvert
We recently posted here there is an orchestrated backdoor effort to merge HART and PSTA.

This is the latest.

After some HART Board members had issues with the Inter-local Agreement HART drafted, an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) was subsequently drafted.

PSTA held a Legislative committee meeting on January 4, 2017 where the MOU was discussed. 

A video of the meeting can be found here. At about 3:00 PSTA CEO Brad Miller starts the discussion of the MOU with admitting HART and PSTA already work closely together. He states the MOU is binding just like an Inter-local agreement but this MOU is more definitive about merging departments and looking at all functions to "combine".

Miller said Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, who is pushing the regionalism agenda, spoke with HART's CEO Katherine Eagan to create a "timeline that was more important than a MOU". Miller indicated that the full PSTA Board would be "comfortable" voting for this MOU at their January 25 Board meeting. 

PSTA also held an Executive committee meeting on January 6, 2017 and video of that meeting can be found here.

At about 2:00 in the video Miller begins speaking about the MOU stating the intent of it was to present it to the state legislature. He outlined a timeline of PSTA approving it 1/25, HART approving it 2/6 and then he and Eagan and their lobbyist(s) going to Tallahassee on 2/7 to jointly present it. 

Such an aggressive schedule indicates the orchestration for this has been going on for a long time. 

Miller states this agreement fits into the larger context of a governance study they are asking the state legislature to pay for on how to implement Commissioner Long's proposed Regional Council of Governments Cronies. Miller also states "it's not going to take an act of the legislature" to do this - merging without going through a legal merger.

At 6:55 in the video, the question of how funding works with this "joint" agency is asked. Through Long's proposed regional entity? Long responded that the state legislators did not like the name "Regional Council of Governments" and preferred Tampa Bay Transit Authority, confirming this is really about merging and regionalizing decision making.

At about 8:30 in the video, Long states a merged entity speaking with "one regional voice"
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Wal-Mart Leaving South St. Pete- another Kriseman failure

This development, Tangerine Plaza is a key to the continued redevelopment of South St. Pete

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

To quote Yogi Berra "It's like déjà view all over again" Another major retailer/grocer cannot make it work in St. Pete's South side Tangerine Plaza.

The story begins late 2012 early 2013 see Robert Trigaux Tampa Bay Times Business Columnist, Sweetbay's exiting Midtown: Does anybody really know what's going on?

Fast-forward to 2017 Alli Knothe Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, Walmart is pulling out of St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood.

The typical reaction of the local politicians is to wring their hands and ask what they can do: Charlie Frago, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, St. Pete officials ask Walmart to reconsider Midtown closing.


There is no one better at operating retail in stressed communities than Wal-Mart. If they cannot make Tangerine Plaza work, then it is unlikely that without serious intervention from the City, anyone can.

All of this leads me back to Robert Trigaux question, "Does anybody really know what's going on here?"

And, the answer is a resounding no.

Local officials are asking why Wal-Mart did not come to them about the store.

I spent over ten years with a major retailer and when stores get in trouble, they just do not go to local governments, air their dirty laundry and ask for help. That is just not how it works.

The City just coughed up $2.2 Million to bail out the shopping center, and one would think when you make that kind of investment you would be following up to see how the tenants are doing.

This development, Tangerine Plaza is a key to the continued redevelopment of South St. Pete.

Here again, the Kriseman administration has failed the residents of south St. Pete.

The amount of effort put in by previous administrations to get this site developed and the amount of money recently invested to bail the project out warrant continued hands-on involvement with every business in the area.

This problem is a classic example of throwing public money at a difficult project and running back your safe office in City Hall to focus on the shiny stuff like the Pier and the Ferry.

This property needs a manager that understands the retail business and can work with senior management at these retail organizations.

The hire/appointment should not be ethnicity based to appease the community but someone with real qualifications regardless of their race.

It is unlikely that Wal-Mart will change their plans, but even if they did it would require some significant and ongoing investment of money and effort on the City's' part to keep things afloat. Bringing in another grocery retailer is an option, but here again; the City must be prepared to be an ongoing partner and not just a property owner.

Finally, it would be interesting to know how the Wal-Mart Representative Monesia Brown felt after Darrel Rouson's comments as reported in the Tampa Bay Times: “I felt like taking everything off the shelf and throwing it on the floor,” Rouson said at a late-afternoon meeting at his downtown St. Petersburg office with Wal-Mart representatives and local officials.

Maybe the problem is more obvious than one would think.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene 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

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Some thoughts on Inauguration day 2017

How will Trump govern amid all of this chaos?


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The election of 2016 left America not only divided but highly compartmentalized. It is not just Republicans and Democrats or even right and left; our divide is a series of compartments resembling a honeycomb.

Within each of the categories of Republican/Democrat and right / left, there are groups of individuals who are subsets of the major divisions.

Many would say the racial divisions are the greatest, yet within almost all ethnicities there subsets of differences about Trump and his presidency.

All of these divisions are being fueled by a nearly out of control media, that is losing its grip and influence on the American public.

Not only are we faced with new" politics thanks to the Trump Campaign, we are experiencing a new way to hear about, experience and feel that new politics through social media and the megaphone it provides to all of us.

Mainstream media challenged, used and criticized by Trump has lurched into a death spiral of tabloid style journalism that attempts to exploit every un-vetted report that pops up.

All of us are left to try to sort out truth from hyperbolism from all sources.

How will Trump govern amid all of this chaos?

There is great opportunity to facilitate change when chaos and confusion reigns. We see the traditional politicians lashing out at the new politics and the selection of leaders and cabinet members that are "untraditional."

When you hear a career politician carp about the lack of experience of a challenger or a new comer that is code for we do not want to upset the apple cart.

What we are seeing is the real reason why the country is where it is and that is simply the fact that the career political establishment fears and represses change.

Without a willingness to embrace change, little gets done and nothing ever changes.

The divisions surrounding the Trump/Clinton election are real, deep and in search of solutions.

How will you cope with this new normal?

The key to this may well be in where you get your information. For years, most people have watched their "favorite" news network or channel and formulated their views around what they herd and viewed. Today that is simply not enough.

To be informed in today's world you must do three things. First, get your information from a variety of sources and not just those who promote your views. Second, you must think about what you read and see. Third, discuss what you see and hear.

The election of Donald Trump is a shift in the political landscape of this country. The new administration may, with all of our criticism, help and support, set this country on a new path. Only time will tell.

For now, just like it has always been in our democracy each of us has a role to play to "Make America Great".

I simply encourage you to in kindness, respect and love for our country to find your role and pursue it with passion, common sense, respect and honor.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene 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

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kriseman's answer to the St. Pete Sewage problem – Out of site out of mind.

These injection wells could be serious temptation to take the easy way out in a crisis.St. Petersburg, Fl

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman's quick fix to the City's massive wastewater problem is wastewater injection wells.

The plan is to drill up to four injection wells about 1000 feet deep at the South West Treatment plant and pump wastewater into the wells.



Want to know more about injection wells, check out the Environmental Protection Agency article:  General Information About Injection Wells

There are pluses and minuses to deep injection of wastewater, and you can find more by Goggling "waste water injection wells."

The primary concern is long-term pollution of the aquifer or the layer of underground water that supplies much of our drinking water.

Kriseman is correct when he says these wells will not affect St. Pete's drinking water.

The reason is most of St. Pete's drinking water comes from well fields north of the City. These new injection wells are at the southern most end of the City and the general migration of water in the aquifer is southerly.

The folks in Manatee, Sarasota and counties further south should be concerned.  

This might be a more viable solution if the Kriseman administration had a pristine reputation for following the rules and being honest with the public about its actions.

The thought of these wells where there is no way to tell, what is being pumped down them opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. Once something is pumped down these wells, the results from that action may not surface for years.

The people who operate the City's wastewater treatment plants are licensed by the State and are of the up most integrity.

A lot of people on City staff are as concerned or maybe even more concerned about the political fallout from their decisions as they are about doing the job.

When they ask for federal whistle blower protection before they raise issues it does not increase the level of confidence in the Kriseman administration's ability to govern or manage.

Instead of looking for the quick fix and a solution that is essentially out of public and regulatory view, Kriseman and his team should be focusing on building more treatment capacity and actually solving the wastewater problem with time-tested technology.

The real solution lies in restarting the Albert Whitted Treatment plant with an upgrade to the latest technology.

In a crisis, we can only trust Kriseman, and his team will do the right thing.  He and his administration's record of accomplishment regarding forthrightness, honesty and transparency are less than stellar.

These injection wells could be serious temptation to take the easy way out in a crisis.

City council needs to ensure that there are proper controls and secure automated monitoring so when the question is asked what did you pump down the wells, there is a credible answer.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Messing with Medical Marijuana

Dispensaries will only perpetuate the reputation and mystique marijuana.

St. Petersburg Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin
It seems like every elected political body in Florida is trying to set its own rules for medical marijuana dispensaries.
Here are some local thoughts from Tampa Bay Times writers:
Mark Puente Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer, Pinellas County considers moratorium on medical marijuana
It seems the local politicos just can’t pass up the chance to jump into the middle of a mess they may soon regret.
Most of this panic rush to local regulation is fueled by years of the war on drugs and constant pressure from state, county and local law enforcement touting the fears and dangers of marijuana to prop up funding to fight the drug crisis.
It is also worth pointing out the war on drugs was lost years ago.
Never mind the fact that the State Legislature is working on rules to deal with distribution of medical marijuana. The local politicians are working to shore up their political fences against the marijuana scourge.
The State should make the necessary declarations to consider medical marijuana as what it is a drug, authorize is the distribution through regular pharmacies and do away with the “dispensary” concept which will only create a series of highly suspect businesses that will ultimately become corrupt.
Dispensaries will only perpetuate the reputation and mystique marijuana.
While local political body's race to set up rules they hope any State action will not preempt, they are creating a patchwork of regulations that will be easy to circumvent and difficult to police.
 These local rules will ultimately result in a long series of complicated lawsuits costing taxpayers millions while potentially denying those in real need access to the benefits medical marijuana can provide.
These days, marijuana is a much bigger hot button among politicians and law enforcement than it is among the public. Beating this political drum is much more a dull thud than a resounding battle cry.
If the local politicos were really interested in you and your children’s health and safety, they would be lobbying Tallahassee to set rules and definitions that put this drug in the pharmacy system which while far from perfect is much better than a bunch sleazy opportunists setting up storefronts and forcing respectable people with serious needs to deal with them.
e-mail Doc at mail to:dr.gwebb@yahoo.com send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend Request, and be sure to Like of Share on Facebook.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Will Kriseman drain his swamp?

It is hard to see how Kriseman can mount a serious campaign effort without his two political sidekicks.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

Surprisingly, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman announced he is running for reelection last week, including an e-mail blast to solicit funds.


Surprising on a couple of fronts, first as I posted last week In Bay Post Internet, The Kriseman Kerfuffels and the fact that now he is an announced candidate for Mayor the conduct of his political cronies and former campaign operatives Kevin King and Ben Kirby should come under a lot of scrutiny from the media, and the public.

There have also been several appointments by the current Mayor some of which would probably not survive a change in the Mayor’s office. They all deserve careful attention.

I would expect this to be one of the most politicized administrations ever as staff will be “encouraged” to support the Mayor and vote for him.

Most important in this group of political appointments are Kirby and King, who came directly from the Mayor’s campaign staff, although King was an outlier and had no official campaign position, probably due to his controversial past, he was a fixture at every Kriseman campaign event I attended.

King and Kirby both have a much stronger penchant for politics than governance, and it is hard to see how Kriseman can mount a serious campaign effort without his two political sidekicks.

In their current positions, these two already have the ability to communicate with the public directly from the office of the Mayor and access to information that other candidates will find hard to get, and unless you really understand the public records law, it could be very expensive for candidates to get some of that information.

For the first time in St. Pete’s history with a strong mayor, it is possible that opposing candidates will be competing against the office of the Mayor not just Rick Kriseman.

It is also possible that St. Pete taxpayers will be funding the key part of Kriseman’s campaign staff.

These issues bring new meaning to the power of the incumbency.

All of this raises some serious questions and issues for City Council and the City Legal staff.

How much “campaigning” can Kriseman’s Chief of Staff and his Director of Communications do before they step over the line?

Check out  Kriseman for Mayor.

Kriseman could save himself and all the voters who are going to be watching this election a lot of time and stress if he simply removed King and Kirby from the City payroll.

I am sure the boys will get their high-paying jobs with the City back with hansom raises should Kriseman win.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sears Sells Craftsman tools to Stanley - The end of an era

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

The death rattle continues at Sears as the once leading retail giant struggles to survive in an ever-changing world.


What has always been so puzzling to many is what happened at Sears.

Many of you are way too young to remember but Sears built their retail empire on mail order sales.

You got a catalog in the mail that contained everything from tractors to bras, you placed an order and Sears shipped your purchase to your home.

Sears had distribution centers, contracts with suppliers and shippers and the ability to process orders reasonably quickly. Early on in their history, you could order a complete house from Sears.

The folks at Sears were simply the best merchants in the world up through the early 1970’s.

If you take that Sears catalog and clean it up put it online and you have well – Amazon.

What happened – in two words: Allstate Insurance.

As the financial side of Sears, Allstate and credit services, began to grow exponentially the top management at Sears became enamored with the ability to make large sums of money without all that annoying retail business of buying, handling, selling and shipping “things.”

Moving around pieces of paper and later computer files to make vast sums money was just much simpler or so they thought.

Sears morphed from a retail giant to a holding company only to see investments in real estate brokers and financial services fail.

The final nail in the coffin occurred years ago, as Sears was acquired by their once arch nemesis K-Mart; not only a huge business defeat but also a moral blow from which Sears would never recover.

Under K-Mart leadership, the Sears brand was left to struggle with little help or support and the death has been slow and painful.

For generations, the Sears brands: Weather Beater Paint, Die Hard Batteries, Road Handler tires, Kenmore Appliances and the, legendary Craftsman Tools were staples in US households.

For many years, I had the great pleasure of working for Sears in sales and on the management team. During that time, I received my Master Degree - an MBA.

Their employee training was the best and I used those experiences long into my career.

Their stock option plan bought me and my x-wife houses.

Each month when my Sears retirement check shows up as it has been doing for over 20 years, I get not only a few bucks but also a reminder of a great experience.

The Sears Store in the Tyrone Mall where I worked for many years is closing soon along with a number of other Sears stores around the nation.

The sale of the Craftsman Brand to Stanley Tools is near the last step in the history of a great retail company that helped many families raise their kids, provided excellent products, goods and services as well as jobs and great futures for many of their employees.

I suspect that next month when the check shows up it will bring a tear instead of smile.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: Former Sears employee – retired.
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Sunday, January 8, 2017

The 2016-2017 Baseball "Third Season" – a sleeper so far


Are the Rays are having some trouble getting a serious stadium conversation started?


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

I have defined the Tampa Bay Baseball "Third Season" as that time between the last world series game and the start of the spring training media hype or roughly late October to late February.


This is the time when the Rays usually beat the drum loudly complaining about poor attendance blaming it on Tropicana Field and lack luster appreciation of the sport by the local population.

In the past the Third Season" has included games between Tampa, Hillsborough County, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County and this year the City of Oldsmar and a small skirmish with Derby Lane.

There has been little of the normal posturing and hype associated previous "Third Seasons." While one could conclude that there is a lot going on in the background, the silence is deafening.

Mark Topkin, Tampa Bay Times staff writer reports some interesting comments from Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred in, Manfred: There has to be "end game" in Rays stadium bid or ...

Manfred said, "Ultimately, there has to be an end game. If in fact, there's not a site or there's not a financial arrangement that's viable and we become convinced of that, our rules allow for the possibility of relocation."

Every since Jeff Vinik made the statement about his downtown Tampa development "Baseball is not the best and highest use of the property" (paraphrase) interest seems to have waned across the Bay.

Smart money in Tampa has apparently heard Tampa's premier developer and current talk in the Legislature about limiting funding for sports stadiums has thrown a bit of cold Gator Aid on the new stadium site.

The clock is ticking.

With the dawn of 2017, the Rays have just ten years left on their lease agreement with the City of St. Petersburg. That may sound like a long time but when it comes to new stadiums, the time window from start to first pitch could consume most of that time.

Consider getting land accumulated, an actual agreement, arranging a controversial and complicated financing deal, a possible referendum, a plan for paying for infrastructure costs, and an electorate not real thrilled with public funds being diverted to sports franchise owners, the whole process spanning several major political races and elections while baseball interest in the Bay area continues to deteriorate.

How much of your money would you invest in a new stadium?

It could be the reason why we have not heard much during this "Third Season" is the Rays are having some trouble getting a serious conversation started.

It is starting to look like Mayor Kriseman may be correct about the Rays looking around and finding the Trop site is the best place after all. Maybe what they find is it is the ONLY place.

I have long said the real problem St. Petersburg faces with the Rays is not that they leave, but they will want to stay.

As the Commissioner said, "Ultimately, there has to be an end game. If in fact, there's not a site or there's not a financial arrangement that's viable and we become convinced of that, our rules allow for the possibility of relocation."

So far, not so good.

Or there's always Oldsmar. See Christopher O'Donnell, Times Staff Writer  Rays stadium in Oldsmar? The mayor sure thinks so.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

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Friday, January 6, 2017

St. Petersburg needs another "Baker Plan" and a person who can implement it.

St. Petersburg has languished for eight years it is time to get a plan and leadership that can take the City into the next decade.


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

For those of you new to St. Petersburg, here is a bio of former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker.

Wikipedia - Born in Chicago, Baker is married to wife Joyce.[1] While attending Florida State University, Baker was the President of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He also served as the school's senior class president and president of the Student Senate. Baker has a long] background in management and law. Baker received a BS in management, an MBA and Juris Doctor (honors) from Florida State University. He also studied comparative law for a semester abroad at University of Oxford. Baker has practiced corporate and business law for 20 years, serving as president of Fisher and Sauls, P.A., a St. Petersburg law firm.[2] Prior to his election as mayor, Baker served as the chairman of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.[2] He is also the author of Mangroves to Major League, a historical account of the development of the city of St. Petersburg.

Rick Baker became St. Pete’s Mayor in 2001 running on a simple premise called the “Baker Plan” 

The Baker Plan:
Improving schools
Neighborhoods
Public safety
Economic development

The "Baker Plan," concentrated on five areas: education; economic development, particularly in Midtown St. Petersburg; public safety; neighborhood associations; and improving the efficiency of city services.

Baker focused on these four key issues for the four years of his first term drawing the entire City organization into a tight focus on these core issues of public service and commitments. There was no doubt about where we were going as an organization.

It was truly amazing what an organization clearly focused could accomplish. There were measurable positive improvements in every area of the Baker Plan.

In 2005, Baker ran for reelection and won with 70% of the vote. From Tampa Bay Times By CARRIE JOHNSON and JON WILSON Published November 9, 2005 'A city united:' Baker cruises to re-election.

The major problem with the Kriseman administration is the complete lack of focus. There is no central theme, no anchor of ideas to guide the City's administration, no compass that the staff can look to for planning.

Kriseman's inability to provide leadership and focus have led the City into series jerks and fits with no clear direction for anything.

Rick Baker may or may not be the right person to lead St. Petersburg forward into the next decade but his concept of a simple clear stated course of direction that can focus budgets, efforts, plans and measure results is surely, what is needed.

Rick Baker has not made a decision yet about running for St. Pete Mayor this year, and I think his decision will be strongly influenced by who steps up to take the challenge.

If you love St. Pete, you only need to look around at the burgeoning office of the Mayor staffed with political cronies, the decline in south side schools, no effective plans for the problems that face the City, a midtown and south side that are only slightly better off thanks not to the Mayor but the tireless efforts of Steve Kornell and a staff with no direction seeking legal protection when they bring forth problems.

It is time for local business leaders, community leaders and others to look at their community role and maybe read one or both of Baker's books (The Seamless City: A Conservative Mayor's Approach to Urban Revitalization that Can Work Anywhere  and Mangroves to Major League: A Timeline of St. Petersburg, Florida and consider doing what he did: steeping out to make a difference.

St. Petersburg has languished for eight years it is time to get a plan and leadership that can take the City into the next decade.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY

See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Disclosures: I was a member of the Baker Administration for eight years. 

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