Friday, November 10, 2017

Kriseman won – St. Petersburg lost its innocence

It is interesting to note that none of the former strong St. Petersburg Mayors has gone on to a stellar political career.

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

The results of the St. Petersburg Mayoral race were disappointing, but not unexpected. Smarter political observers than me were quietly projecting that Kriseman would win by a narrow margin, and win he did.

This election brings the switch of St. Petersburg governance full circle.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s as the then power brokers of the day rewrote the City Charter, they tried to prepare the way for those who wanted to run for Mayor to do so in a nonpartisan way. The thinking was if the election was nonpartisan, strong candidates who were not career politicians would come forward to run.

The nonpartisan approach was to eliminate political party control over the City government, prevent cronyism and allow participation for those who might not have access to political party financial support. Political Action Committees (PACS) were not even on the radar.

The Charter did not and probably could not contain in enforcement or penalty mechanisms to enforce the nonpartisan requirements, and if it had they would have likely been struck down by the courts.

It was a grand idea, and it worked in sort of/kind of way up until Rick Kriseman was elected the first time.

Those of us, who were there when the transition occurred from council/manager to the strong mayor were absolutely sure that the nonpartisan requirement would not last forever, and prediction of the nonpartisan election ranged from 10 to 20 tears. They were not far off.

There will be a lot of postmortems for this election, I may even write one, but the fact is this election was destined to happen.

You can blame Trump, Obama, the RNC, The DNC, the PACS, voter lethargy or whatever, but we live in an ever-politicizing society.

The real looser here was St. Petersburg.

 St. Pete has enjoyed a robust political history since the strong mayor was instituted. Good Mayors, for the most part, all ethical and honest, all hard working for St. Petersburg not so much for their political careers or the Party. Little or no corruption, modest if any cronyism, no one charged or incarcerated.

It is interesting to note that none of the former strong St. Petersburg Mayors has gone on to a stellar political career. They are still in St. Pete working to make their City a better place.

That’s all over now.

It will be difficult to get the non-politician to run for Mayor in St. Pete because of the threat of Political Party involvement and the amount of money it will take to mount a campaign.

St. Petersburg will drift politically toward Tampa, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and the corruption ridden Cities on Florida’s gold coast.

With all the money that flowed into this race, Kriseman will be hard-pressed to pay off all those favors in just four years.

St. Pete has enjoyed a good reputation among governments up to now. Vendors and suppliers could trust in a fair bidding process, and fair treatment in the market place.

If your name is not on the Kriseman donors list things will likely get a lot tougher.

Honesty was a main part of the City’s approach to citizens, businesses and the Governments around the State.

It is time to take off the rose-colored glasses and realize that St. Pete has a government pretty much like all the rest, self-serving and not all that honest.

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Disclosures: Contributor to Rick Baker for Mayor Campaign 

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