Tuesday, April 24, 2018

St. Pete’s bar noise can cause irreparable harm to residents

St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

The article, Why restaurants became so loud — and how to fight back, describes the restaurant transition that started in the 90s. However, there has been a pushback against the "Great Noise Boom”.  
Being exposed to noise levels above 70 to 80 decibels — which many restaurants subject you to these days— causes hearing loss over time, Gail Richard, the president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, told me. This kind of hearing loss is “preventable, but it’s also irreparable,” she added.
Today, more people are choosing conversation over noise. People want to hear the conversation, but they have a choice. They can decline to go or not go to a noisy restaurant. However, when your home is subjected to noise, you do not have the same option.

Let's take a look at the word, irreparable (adjective). According to Merriam Webster dictionary, this is not capable of being repaired, regained, or undone. Thus, living next to a loud bar, and being exposed to loud music and thumping bass, can cause irreparable harm to your hearing.

The police have also stated that they do not want to issue a noise citation because they would be called upon by the bar to defend their actions in court. Then why didn't the Police, Mayor and Council work to change the noise ordinance to protect residences? My response is, this was a failure of leadership. The only conclusion one can make is, the Mayor and Police Chief chose to protect the bars over residents.

One thing is for certain, Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway and a few City Council Members have been gaslighting residents! But now residents have the City's noise data and some of the emails. Residents have been readily debunking City and Police comments. The City is  unsure how to side-step the resident’s data and research. 

Every new angle the city puts forth, residents debunk the argument. Bottom line is, the city is backing the bars, but the City has not realized how a noisy city will impact hi-rise development or after residents move into the $1 million dollar condo. 

Will the City require new buildings to include expensive noise abatement in their new designs? This will be passed onto the buyer. If the City does not require noise abatement, then new buyers will move in and be pummeled by the bar noise.

If the City is unsure, they need to research the bad press and court battles between Miami luxury condos and the bars. The City is enthusiastic that there are two new hi-rises going on 400 Central and One St. Petersburg. They will be right in the middle of the downtown noise. Let's see how those residents react when their multi-million dollar condominiums are pummeled with bass and audio. Those two hi-rises will soon join the residents in the other hi-rise condos complaining. How long before the police labels them as "re-occurring complainants". 

Current Noise Ordinance is Flawed

The current noise ordinance has a several flaws. First, the current noise ordinance is based on distance and not decibels. Second, the ordinance relies on the police officer's ability to hear the noise. What may be plainly audible to you or bother you for eight hours, is not a concern to the officer, who is there for a minute or two. This observation is based upon reading over 180 Police Call for Service Reports at the Flamingo Resort in the Skyway Marina District—some of which I personally experienced, and over twenty reports downtown. 

While, the noise ordinance specifically includes low frequency (bass), See 11-47, 
Plainly audible means any sound produced by a source, which can be heard by any reasonable person of ordinary sensibilities using his or her unaided hearing faculties. Measurement standards shall be the auditory senses. Words or phrases need not be discernible and low frequency sound reverberations are included.
the police have not trained officers on how to differentiate between audible and low frequency sound. Nor have they been trained on low frequency noise and how far it can travel, how it can penetrate walls or how it impacts your health. Thus, the police look at you and think you are crazy. Some officers had stated they are tired of responding to the address.

Many residents are subjected to the thumping inside the home for 2-8 hours at a time. You can’t escape. Yet, the responding police officer, who is there for one to two minutes, will probably not consider the noise to be an issue, even if they feel the vibration. 
When there have been noise complaints, officers have responded and stated the volume does not rise to the level of being a plainly audile or a nuisance. Yet, the officers have no issue asking the bar to turn down the music. In fact, from 2009-2016, the police asked the Flamingo Resort in the Skyway Marina District to turn down the music 66 times they responded to noise calls in over 160 calls since 2009.
Third issue is the bar, business or homeowner is not fined, just the most senior person on site. So one can say, the City has fined no bars!

How often have the police issued noise citations?

Next, how often have the police issued noise citations? That is, how many times has the City fined the individual who worked there. When you check the citations in 2016 and 2017, there were 24 citations and only three (3) bars cited out of 5440 noise calls. Yet, no one in the Police Department or City questioned this data point!

In 2013, Police Incident Reports spiked. Did the police consider why it spiked? Which addresses were involved? What changed?

Noise Ordinance revised in March 2016

Due to residents complaints, the next year the City revised the noise ordinance to mandate speakers must be turned inward and doors shut. City council declined to implement the decibels and kept plainly audible and the distance language in the ordinance. 

In 2017's 2nd Noise Ordinance Public Meeting, Kornell called me a liar when I shared my police noise experience. Kornell took exception that I had said the police had heard the noise and called me a liar. He was not there when the police told me they heard it. On one instance the two police officers responding after midnight issued an Ordinance Violation for the Flamingo Resort, located in the Skyway Marina District, and not a noise citation.  

If the City had implement a decibel standard and enforced it, there would have been fewer calls. Police manpower costs would have reduced. Resources could have been transferred to focus on high crime areas. In 2014, the City wasted resident's taxes for the next four years. 

However, in 2016, due to resident unheard complaints, they marched into City Council Meeting. The City struggled to revise the noise ordinance. In March 2016, Council approved the revised noise ordinance but omitted  meters. The revision had two changes, point speakers inward and close the doors.    

In the 2016 article, City Council Member Kornell state fought back criticism that he was pro-noise in St. Pete adopts changes to noise ordinance. Kornell said people wrongfully assumed he was anti-noise ordinance, but that was not the case.

Here is an example where the officer had responded to a repeat noise calls from a resident regarding the newly opened The Landing at Jannus. The Officer's Actions indicate the resident lived too close to the noise source. Thus, there was no violation of the noise ordinance. There are more instances like this. 

Why would any Council Member representing their district vote on an ordinance proposed by the City that requires a minimum distance before a citation can be issued? So a person living next door to a newly opened bar has no legal recourse. The bar would need to be farther away before it could be cited. 

The only conclusion is, the City and Council did not make a data or health driven decision. Rather, the decision was based on sentiment for the bars. City Mayor and Council did not seemed concerned the bar owner were telling the resident to move. That is the sad state of City leadership. in St. Petersburg, Florida.

City Council should ask the Mayor to have City Legal research and provide an opinion to determine if the City's noise ordinance violates the Supreme Court's KOVACS v. COOPER decision.
The US Supreme Court has stated with regard to amplified noise in the community and preserving the tranquility:  “The unwilling listener is [336 U.S. 77 , 87] not like the passer-by who may be offered a pamphlet in the street but cannot be made to take it. In his home or on the street he is practically helpless to escape this interference with his privacy by loud speakers except through the protection of the municipality.” KOVACS v. COOPER,  336 U.S. 77, 135 N.J.L. 64, 66, 50 A.2d 451, 452 (1949) (underline added)

Medical Research on Noise - To Read more click below

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

A bunch of reasons not to buy an engagement ring

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales.

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

It is that time of the year when relationships bloom, heart's flutter and bride to be eyes light up with vision's things, that sparkle.

In the print media, electronic media, the Internet and just about everywhere else you look, there are ads promising the best deal on that much needed and desired engagement ring.

Before you plunk down a significant portion of your annual salary for an engagement ring here are a few things to check out.

First take a look at the number of engagement rings for sale on line.

I am not suggesting you buy one on line, although what she does not know probably won’t hurt her, but the real question is. Where did all those rings come from? The answer is they were bought by idiots who got caught up in the Diamonds are forever marketing ploy, and things did not go well. They are now for sale and usually NOT by the original buyer.

As one who has had a number of engagement and wedding rings end up in a pawn shop case, the return on your investment is really poor. Example: a lovely blonde who pawned her(our) engagement rings (worth several thousand dollars) to make a $200 car payment. I know she was upset the wedding was off, but if she had called I would have probably made the car payment for her.

The whole engagement ring thing started in the late 1930’s as a marketing effort to kick start diamond sales. Since nothing says I love you like a diamond and diamonds are forever resonate, guys have been on the hook for ever larger upfront investments in their matrimonial future.

That is kind of interesting given that fact that according to the American Psychological Association 50% of marriages end up in divorce, and subsequent marriages are more likely to fail even if the engagement ring is bigger.

So, if she is sending you all those signals about getting married and suggesting an engagement (read that I want a ring) set down and have a long serious talk.

Right now, the “recommended” amount you should spend on an engagement ring is two months’ salary.

If you make $60,000 dollars per year that’s $5,000/per month or about $10,000 for a ring.

If you make $100,000 per year that is about $8333/month or about $16,700 for the ring.

These days you can finance that amount for up to eight years, and that number is interesting because the average marriage in the United states lasts about 8.2 years.

Think about your student loan. If that upsets you, think about how you will feel five or six years into a marriage that is slipping away, and you still have few years to go pay off what got you into all of this.

So, remember all this engagement and to some degree wedding ring stuff is a marketing creation of people who dig crap up out of the ground, polish it up, claim it is their own, establish outlandish prices in a closed market and take advantage of your situation.

The bottom line on all of this engagement ring hoopla, is it gives your beloved a symbol to wave about in the faces of her less fortunate friends who are still looking forward to reeling in a “ring” of their own.

See From BRIDES by Elizabeth Mitchel, 18 Things to Do as Soon as You Get Engaged

If a ring costing 20% or more of your annual salary is a required pre-commitment of endearing love do a little research, have a serious conversation with your partner and remember this: diamonds are not forever: they're just expensive.

E-mail Doc at
mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate
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Friday, April 20, 2018

Beware of the Blue Wave

There are some adept sensible Democrats out there, but none were present in this first debate.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
A lot of political analysts and pundits are predicting that the Democratic Party will have a banner year in the upcoming midterms. Goodness knows the Republicans are doing all they can to help them.

Before you decide to change your voter registration from Republican to Democrat and show your displeasure with Trump, and the feckless bunch of Republican do nothings in Congress that would rather investigate Trump than represent their constituents take a look at what is happening around you.

The first debate featuring four of the Democratic candidates for Florida Governor was an interesting affair.

 If I had to pick a central theme(s) it would be let’s raise taxes, shut down funding of charter schools, raise some more taxes, put in some more social programs and continuing pouring money into a failing educational system even though none of them knew what the education budget was.

In other words, these candidates are proposing what Democrats do; replace governance with social welfare.

You can check out the debate at: FOX 13.

Florida has experienced phenomenal growth over the last eight years. The economic infrastructure that supports that growth has been carefully put together. Looking at the Florida economy as an apple ready for picking could quickly undo what eight years of hard work has accomplished.

Just electing a bunch of Democrats to offices from the school board to the State house and Governor will not cure anything. An old-line social programs Democrat in the Governor’s mansion and one or both houses of the Florida Legislature controlled by the Democrats will bring the current growth trend in Florida to a screeching halt.

There are some adept sensible Democrats out there, but none were present in this first debate.

The real questions are: can any of these candidates morph into someone who can actually run a government and not turn it into one massive welfare program and secondly are there any of these candidates you want to bet your small business on along with the education of your children?

The Republicans are up next will they do any better or get “Trumped?”

E-mail Doc at
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tampa Bay Tabloid Shuffle: The Bad News and the *footnote

Tampa, Fl.
Published By: Jim Bleyer
April 12, 2018

By Jim Bleyer
First, the bad news.
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, the area’s much beloved alternative weekly, was bought out by Euclid Media Group.  Known as EMG,  it owns a portfolio of nine such city publications including the Orlando Weekly.
EMG has shown a penchant for marginalizing and, in some cases, eliminating political news. It didn’t take long for the Cleveland-based outfit to telegraph its intentions to Tampa Bay readers.
Two immediate casualties of the local acquisition were ultra-proficient Editor-in-Chief David Warner and kickass News Editor Kate Bradshaw.  EMG’s track record suggests independently-sourced news stories in Creative Loafing will henceforth be a rarity.  Those who perused the Orlando Weekly before and after its changeover can attest to that.
Readers accustomed to in-depth exclusives can now expect more stories like this: a profile of former county commissioner Kevin Beckner who failed to win the 2016 race for Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Courts.  That campaign was two years ago.
Wednesday’s digital edition of CL carried the story.  It was basically a list of Kevin Beckner’s favorite things from obsession to meat market to performance venue.
The pap was listed under “Politics” on CL’s front page.  The “writer” should be thankful there was no byline.  Embarrassing.
So the fraternity of Tampa Bay news sources untainted by pay-for-play investors and the corporate establishment lost an important member.  The public will become more reliant on local blogs for independent political commentary: Tampa Bay Beat, Eye on Tampa Bay, Shadow of the Stadium, Ybor City Stogie, Bay Post Internet, and the Tampa Bay Guardian.
On to the innocuous.
The Tampa Bay Times announced it would scale back publication of its *tbt tabloid from every weekday to once a week.  Only puzzle aficionados will notice.  Other than offering the L.A. Times crossword, the *tbt is basically a stripped down version of the Tampa Bay Times with pun-laced headlines.
The *tbt freebie was bad business anyway.  Its only competition: the Tampa Bay Times whose pay news racks are frequently side-by-side in the same locations.  Rolled out in 2004 as a weekly, *tbt started publishing five days a week in 2006.
Reason for the cutback: Trump-inspired tariffs on imported newsprint.
The ironies are too rich.  Last year, publisher Paul Tash announced the debt-laden Times wanted “to connect with Trump voters” while simultaneously accepting a $12-15 million cash infusion from right wing investors.  With propaganda disguised as news stories, the move backfired humongously as subscribers rebelled and voters rejected endorsed candidates.
And, it was the tariffs that triggered the *tbt contraction, not any in-house recognition that it used an incredibly poor business model.

 Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook Friend request.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dysfunction or Deception: Road Diets & 60 Foot Buses on Gulf Blvd

Only government can be so out of touch with reality. This is why the transportation issue in Tampa Bay has become so dysfunctional.

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

Since Greenlight Pinellas failed in 2014 and Go Hillsborough failed in 2016, FDOT in Tampa Bay has been doling out millions and millions for more transit studies like it's Christmas candy.

For the moment at least, the strategy has changed to pursuing individual transit projects instead of going after some massive grand transit plan that have consistently failed in Tampa Bay. Pursuing individual projects enables projects to proceed more stealthily under the radar of public scrutiny.

It is all about getting a pot of federal transit money - at a time when transit ridership is declining, vehicle ownership is increasing, vehicle miles travelled is increasing, innovation is disrupting traditional transit and less than 2% use transit in Tampa Bay.

Only government can be so out of touch with reality. This is why the transportation issue in Tampa Bay has become so dysfunctional.

The transit project in this new scheme that is the furthest along is PSTA's Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) in Pinellas County. This is the catalyst of the catalyst project. It is in the federal funding spigot pipeline and has been rated by the FTA. It appears this project got this far with little public scrutiny and probably not enough transparency.

We'll start shining a bright light on what the CA BRT project is and the process used to further it.

Do not forget that PSTA was caught in 2014 abusing federal transit security funds by using those funds on advertising for Greenlight Pinellas. Due to this deception, PSTA was forced to hand back $345K dollars to the Feds. Wonder if the FTA knows that?

PSTA submitted their Federal Small Starts application for the Central Avenue BRT to the FTA  September 7, 2017. Small Starts projects must have a total estimated capital cost of $300 million or less and must be seeking less than $100 million from the feds.

The name Central Avenue BRT (CA BRT) is a misnomer because the route actually runs on First Avenue North and South. The existing Central Avenue trolley route continues business as usual.

The CA BRT is a 22 mile long route from downtown St. Petersburg to the Don Cesar at St. Petersburg Beach. To meet the federal qualification that greater than 50% of the route must use a dedicated lane, this project uses a road diet that takes away13 miles of general purpose lanes along First Avenue North, First Avenue South and Pasadena Avenue in Pinellas County.

PSTA CA BRT 22 mile route from downtown St. Pete to the Don Cesar
According to the Small Starts Application submitted to the FTA in September 2017 (emphasis mine):
Along the entire length of 1st Avenue North and 1st Avenue South, and along Pasadena Avenue from Central Avenue to Huffman Way, one general purpose lane will be converted to a Business Access and Transit (BAT) lane that will be used by only buses and turning vehicles. Along 1st Avenue North, the BAT lane will run on the left side of the road with island stations for boarding on the right. Along 1st Avenue South, the alignment runs on the left side of the road in a BAT lane with island stations for boarding on the right between Pasadena Avenue and 20th Street. East of 20th Street, the alignment transitions to right side running. Along Pasadena Avenue, the BAT lane will run on the right side of the road. In total, the BAT lanes will comprise 13 miles of the 22-mile alignment.
While First Avenues North and South are local roads, Pasadena Avenue aka 66th Street is a State Road. Pinellas County has responsibility over their local roads. Why is FDOT allowing a road diet  taking out a general purpose lane of traffic on a state road? When the Corey Causeway draw bridge is open, traffic gets backed up for quite some way and can take a long time to clear.  Imagine the bigger traffic backup mess created when the Corey Causeway draw bridge goes up and traffic is even worse because a general lane of traffic leading to it has been taken out.

Qualifying for federal funds requires committed local funding for both capital and a long term funding source for operating and maintenance costs. According to PSTA's CA BRT Financial Plan submitted to the FTA (page 5), the capital cost of the CA BRT is estimated at $41.36 million (in 2019 dollars) and PSTA is asking for $20.36 million (49.2%) from the Feds. The chart below is included in PSTA's submittal to the FTA last September. 

PSTA CA BRT capital funding plan provided to FTA

Page 6 of the Financial Plan states:
The City is currently in negotiations with PSTA regarding financial support of the BRT project for both capital and operations.
What is so striking is the City of St. Petersburg Beach has never taken any action, has never voted on or approved to "plan" or "commit" $1.5 million to the capital costs or provide operational funding for the CA BRT. PSTA went to the St. Petersburg Beach council in October 2016 requesting financial support for the project but no action was taken by the council. PSTA has never gone back to St. Petersburg Beach since October 2016. There is no evidence of ongoing negotiations between PSTA and St. Petersburg Beach.

This is no small mistake so why did PSTA include such misleading information in their September 2017 Small Starts application submittal to the FTA? Is PSTA being deceptive again? This question deserves an answer - especially in light of what PSTA did pursuing Greenlight.

The CA BRT project will put 60 foot buses with four stops and no bus bays on the narrow congested Gulf Blvd. This service is in addition to the existing Jolly Trolley that runs along Gulf Blvd and the Central Ave Trolley. 
PSTA 60 foot bus on narrow, congested Gulf Blvd
with 4 stops & no bus bays in addition to Jolly Trolley
The project will also eliminate 231 parking spaces in St. Petersburg.

The documentation PSTA submitted to the FTA in September 2017 for this project stated it had gone through an extensive public involvement process. The Eye has attempted to get information regarding such extensive effort and the data captured from it from PSTA. To date, we have only received this list of public involvement events.

PSTA's list of CA BRT public involvement events

Is this considered "extensive" outreach?

Of the 39 events attended by 462 attendees, most were meetings with elected officials,  the bureaucracy and special interests.

Where are the sign in sheets and the data captured from the meetings? Were surveys done? If so, where's the data captured from those surveys? Do all the residents and businesses along the route know about this project and its impact?  What were all the communication vehicles PSTA used to inform the public and capture feedback, emails, newsletters, letters, social media, from their website, etc.? Where is the information captured from that communication?

All the data and information captured from public involvement are public records The information should be either accessible by the public or easily accessible to provide to anyone who requests it.

We have talked to people in Pinellas County who are unaware of the project and certainly do not know about the road diets and putting 60 foot buses on Gulf Blvd.

We can bet most, including those most directly impacted, those who live in St. Petersburg Beach and probably those who live in S. Pasadena, do not know about this project or what it is doing.

It is time they do.

More to come about this project and PSTA.

Stay tuned!

This post is contributed by EYE ON TAMPA BAY. The views expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher of Bay Post Internet.
Cross Posted with permission from: Eye On Tampa Bay

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is a Millennial migration possible in St Pete?

Will Generation Z follow in the Millennial's footsteps and embrace the old urban core?

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

 As the Millennials get older, some new trends in their behavior are emerging. One interesting switch is the beginning of a decline in craft beer consumption.

Fifty-eight percent of craft beer drinkers are under the age of 35, putting them in the Millennial generation. Here are some links for consideration.

There are also changes in Home-buying patterns. From the National Association of Realtors, NAR Generational Survey: Millennials Increasingly Buying in Suburban Areas.

The share of Millennials buying in an urban or central city area decreased to 17 percent (21 percent a year ago) in this year’s survey, and fewer of them (10 percent) purchased a multifamily home compared to a year ago (15 percent).Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says while Millennials may choose to live in an urban area as renters, the survey reveals that most aren’t staying once they’re ready to buy.

Check out Smart Asset: Where Are Millennials Buying Homes? – 2017 Edition for more details.

The issue for St. Petersburg is essentially this: The “downtown St. Pete renaissance” grew up with the Millennials and now that they are grown up (median age is in the 30s) will they like their forerunners the baby boomers' bolt for the suburbs?

It looks like the answer is yes.

According to Forbes (2015), the generation after Millennials is Generation Z, which they defined as people born from the mid1990s to the early 2000s, made up 25% of the U.S. population, making them a larger cohort than the Baby Boomers or Millennials.

So, will the next group follow in the Millennials footsteps and embrace the old urban core?

More importantly for St. Pete will Generation Z want craft beer, loud bars, sleazy looking out door cafes, gum laden sidewalks and dying landscaping that is represented in downtown St. Pete, or will they be looking for the newer, slicker more articulately planned and designed core like the Jeff Vinik development in downtown Tampa?

The Kriseman administration continues to emphasize the “precious Millennials” but the facts would tell us they are getting older and moving on and so should St. Pete.

Over four decades ago St. Pete woke up to find its downtown dead. It took a number of years for that to happen, but in today’s world, the Millennial migration could end up like more of an instant rapture.

It would only take one or two of the downtown “high tech” businesses deciding to head across the Bay to start a stampede.

One only has to look up at night in downtown St. Pete at all those dark windows in the tall buildings and in the not so tall ones to see that the seeds of disaster are already sown.

City Council and the Kriseman administration need to begin now working on a plan for Generation Z and the soon to be retiring first wave millennials.

Too early you say. We have time let’s leave that to the next mayor. That’s probably what they were saying in the mid 70s right before the bottom dropped out.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Friday, April 13, 2018

Will the Floating art sculpture survive state arts funding cuts?

As far as the arts in St. Pete are concerned there are a lot of better ways to spend public art funding.

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

At a recent City Council, meeting a couple of people made impassioned pleas for support of Janet Echelman’s proposed, “floating art structure” for the new Pier and Pier Park.

You can get more detail from the Tampa Bay Times, Waveney Ann Moore, What artist Janet Echelman’s Pier District sculpture would look like. And you can check out my recent post Flotsam Jetsam and Floating Art for a slightly different view.

There is not enough money in the “public art budget” for the Pier or the uplands project to cover the proposed cost of the floating bag of lights, and it looks like any help from the State is not going to be forthcoming. See Andrew Meacham Times Performing Arts Critic,  As Florida dramatically slashes arts funding, theaters and museums scramble.

As the art lovers of the city begin to gush over the proposed project “defining St. Petersburg for the world,” City Council may have some tough decisions to make.

The whole concept seems to me a bit out of touch with reality, and probably just another way for the artsy to force their view on the rest of us.

If the high rollers of the St. Pete art scene really want a large bag of lights floating out in front of the Vinoy, then maybe they should fund it, install it, maintain it, insure it and take responsibility for it.

Think keep it local!

Since local art and our arts community depend to a great degree on donations and reliable public support it seems a bit unseemly to ship all that money out of town.

It would also be nice to be able to point to a local artist or artists as the one who created the artwork that will frame the City’s downtown water front, rather than a sign hanging from the bottom of the floating light bag.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sternberg’s Best Bet: Las Vegas

Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

By Jim Bleyer 

After decades of being shaken down by sports franchises, their billionaire owners, and professional sports leagues, sensible cities are refusing to pay subsidies to keep or lure a professional sports team.
There is one exception: Las Vegas.  It appears to be the most likely destination for a Tampa Bay Rays franchise desperate to feed at some public trough.
Though much ballyhooed in the local media, a Rays move to Tampa, contingent on hundreds of millions in public subsidies, is highly unpopular on both the right and left sides of the political spectrum.  A public referendum would go down in flames.
Cobbling together an enormous subsidy from several revenue sources for owner Stu Sternberg would jeopardize Tampa’s financial rating and neglect important city services that need upgrading.
But Vegas gets tons of dough from gambling and other related sources. It has successfully lured a new hockey franchise and an established NFL team to relocate.
Sin City’s NHL franchise, the Golden Knights, is enjoying a banner inaugural season in both attendance and on the ice.  It became the first team in NHL history to start its first year winning eight of their first nine games.
The Golden Knights lead their division and rank third in the 16-team conference as the regular season winds down.  A combination of liberal expansion draft rules and shrewd front office transactions enabled the fledgling Knights to wow its fans and hockey aficianados in general.
Average attendance at the T-Mobile Arena is 17,892—103 percent of capacity. According to ESPN, Vegas is third in the NHL in overall arena capacity percentage.  The 14,000 season ticket holders can expect to kick up more jack next year.
The team’s mascot is a gila monster named Chance.  A relocated Rays team could accurately be represented by a desert rat named Sure Thing.
Hedge fund managers like Sternberg and the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Jeff Vinik share one characteristic: they make fortunes with other people’s money, often reeling in bigger bucks than their investors, or more appropriately, “customers.”
Grifter and Rays Owner Stu Sternberg
Other cities mentioned as landing spots for the Rays make little sense. Montreal, a city that failed to support the Expos and lost the team, is now governed by a mayor that ran on a platform of setting a high bar for any stadium subsidy.  Charlotte and Portland have younger populations that don’t put pro sports on their radar.  Cities in Mexico and Cuba would support professional baseball but they’re not viable in the present poinsonous political climate.
So the last city standing is Vegas, having drawn no line in the sand. It is willing and able to spend whatever it would take to land a professional baseball franchise.
The biggest hurdle for Sternberg: waiting too long.  Like St. Petersburg, the city of Oakland has been threatened by MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that it will lose the A’s without new facilities.
An Oakland move to Vegas makes more sense than Tampa Bay geographically but baseball has seamlessly realigned its divisions in the past.  Sternberg should act quickly.
The perennially shiftless NFL’s Oakland Raiders will begin play in Vegas in 2019 or 2020, depending on stadium availability.  The Raiders have fans thoughout California from San Francisco to San Diego and they travel well.  This move has “success” written all over it.
Like the Rays, the Raiders have an owner, Mark Davis, that will travel to where he can get the best deal.  Unlike the Rays, the Raiders have a storied history of success on the field and at the box office.
 This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.

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