Sunday, April 29, 2018

St. Petersburg is it a crisis of trust or a crisis of competency?

Just tell them what they want to hear and hope the truth never comes out.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog 
It has been a couple of bad weeks for the Kriseman administration.

There is the growing controversy over the Noise Ordinance, the cost over run on the Pier, and the ongoing in ability of the Kriseman Administration to get a handle on the sewer issue. 

On the Noise front, there is this by Bay Post Author Robert Neff:
St. Pete’s bar noise can cause irreparable harm to residents.

Then there was this on the City’s Wastewater management issues:

It was enough to make Kriseman’s Spin Doctor Ben Kirby dash out for some more antacid pills.

I like Times Columnist John Romano. I read almost everything he writes and usually agree with his positions. I have a bit of an issue with his latest article,  Romano: Forget the sewers, St. Pete has a crisis of trust.

I don’t think it is a trust issue for the Kriseman Administration anymore.

Anyone with half a brain that has been following Kriseman since the election, and the sewage crisis lost any trust long ago.

We are now down to a crisis of competency. Kriseman has been noticeably absent on major issues lately unless you count the cute little substance free e-mail blasts the Kirby machine spits out periodically.

The Deputy Mayor has been holding down the Mayor’s chair during City Council meetings and doing an admiral job I might add. Good exposure for the next Mayors race.

If you don’t worry about how much money, the Kriseman Administration is running through, the Mayor has had a pretty good spring so far by staying out of site and not doing anything about the growing lack of respect for his administration.

It is time the Mayor made some major changes over at Water Resources and if Goodwin can’t get the Noise Ordinance off the ground with enough substance to give City Council something they can hang their hat on, then Kriseman better step in on this one too.  

We need to get all we can from the Mayor before the primary and midterm election season heats up, and the Mayor begins his campaign efforts for fellow Democrats which will surely take up the majority of his time.
 After all Politics is what Kriseman is best at.

Kriseman hasn’t been very good at the Major’s job from the start, think Pier, Pier Park, etc., and his on-the-job training has not helped much.

Kriseman’s greatest failure so far has been his inability to instill competency and respect for the City and the Citizens in his key staff people. When he stands up and lies to the public everybody, and I mean everybody in the City organization gets the message.

Just tell them what they want to hear and hope the truth never comes out.

Great plan, just has not been working out well lately.

E-mail Doc at
mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
See Doc's Photo Gallery at
Bay Post Photos.

Contributor to: Rick Scott for Senate
Please comment below

Friday, April 27, 2018

Florida Democratic Party Still Hounded by Racism, Suppression of Progressives

The latest: a proposed confidentiality clause that would essentially protect sexual abusers and racists.

Tampa, Fl

Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer

The 1964 Civil Rights Act—the racists that lead the Florida Democratic Party might want to read it.
By Jim Bleyer
If the Florida Democratic Party doesn’t clean up its act—and soon—it might as well gird for a November calamity.
The Blue Wave that pundits expect nationally could amount to a trickle in the Sunshine  State.   This in spite of Democrats holding a registration edge, albeit a narrow one.
Corporatist Democrats have controlled the party for decades.  The end result: getting pounded by Republicans in statewide races and ceding both houses of the state legislature by large majorities.
The arrogant chairwoman of the state party, Terrie Rizzo, continues to foster racism while her cohorts in power attempt to suppress dissent. Rizzo and her gang’s main goal is to maintain party power, collect money from corporatists, and stifle minorities and the progressive wing.
The latest: a proposed confidentiality clause that would essentially protect sexual abusers and racists.
Resentment over Rizzo’s inaction in excommunicating racists and her encouragement of suppression is boiling over in Duval County.  There, unhappy Democrats have taken to barraging social media with their discontent over the Rizzo regime and local committeewoman Lisa King.
Jimmy Deininger, one of the most vocal critics, has bombarded Facebook with lengthy discourses accusing local and state leaders of failing to eradicate racism from the state committee.
“Because the Florida Democratic Party refused to address multiple requests concerning the validity of the ‘Lisa King confidentiality’ bylaw clause Kimberly Love and I were forced to file a official grievance to FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo via United States Postal Service certified mail,” Deininger stated.
The “confidentiality” clause was introduced after John Parker, King’s husband, was forced to resign after Politico Florida and other news outlets exposed his racist statements.
The confidentiality clause would, in effect, protect abusers and muzzle the voices of complainants from seeking their first amendment rights, according to Deininger.
Kimberly Doctor, a nurse (no kidding), expressed deep concern that the confidentiality clause would protect sexual abusers.  Her letter appears below:
If the FDP and Party leaders around this state refuse to hear the many calls from members and elected officials like Reggie Brown calling for Chair King’s resignation and a total restructuring of DCDEC leadership they should expect multiple grievances exposing further racism, corruption, and collusion in this Party,” Deininger warned.
Duval County isn’t the only region dissatisfied with Rizzo’s leadership. Introduced at a Democratic gala in Hillsborough County last Saturday, Rizzo’s reception was something short of a golf clap.  Activists on the county Democratic Executive Committee oppose the weighted voting that gives Rizzo’s Politburo disproportionate representation and influence.
The state Democratic apparatus has always been slow to address racism within its ranks.  Former Democratic state party chairman Stephen Bittel made disparaging remarks about black legislators at a major party fundraiser last June 17.   He apologized and then the Florida Democratic Party carried on as usual.
Five months later Bittel resigned in the face of sexual harassment allegations by six women.  A party leader exhibiting racism didn’t qualify as a capital offense in the eyes of his minions.
Condo commando Rizzo hasn’t made any racist remarks publicly but condoning bigotry amounts to a transgression of equal proportions.  

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: or send me a Facebook Friend request.
Please comment below, be sure to Like or share on Facebook and follow Bay Post Internet on TWITTER @DOC ON THE BAY
See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

PSTA Must Fix Funding Gap & Misleading Info for Central Ave BRT

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

We posted here recently about PSTA's proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit project (CA BRT). It will use road diets and huge 60 foot buses on Gulf Blvd and take out parking spaces in St. Petersburg along its route from downtown St. Petersburg to the Don Cesar.

There are issues with this project because PSTA submitted misleading financial information in their Small Starts grant application submitted to the FTA in September 2017. PSTA included St. Pete Beach as a funding partner for the CA BRT project.
PSTA financial info submitted to FTA included St. Pete Beach
as a funding partner
PSTA included this map of the BRT's route alignment from downtown St. Petersburg to the Don Cesar in St. Pete Beach in their grant application to FTA. There is no indication in this map of different options depending on funding commitments.
Central Ave BRT alignment submitted to FTA September 2017
St. Pete Beach has never taken any action to fund or support the project.

In addition, the action taken by the PSTA Board at a January 25, 2017 Board meeting reflect the Board approved a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) alignment from downtown St. Petersburg to 75th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard on St. Pete Beach with an option to extend south to the Don Cesar Hotel pending local funding commitments. 

PSTA staff told the PSTA Board at the January 25, 2017 Board Meeting that they had to approve the alignment that day to stay on schedule to get FY2019 federal funding. This chart of the full route was presented and PSTA staff admitted there was still a St. Pete Beach funding issue but indicated it would be resolved by the summer. What alignment did all the Board members think they were approving?
Route Presented to PSTA  Board 1/25/2017
The funding issue has never been resolved and PSTA continued to move this project forward as if it had been and with the route terminating at the Don Cesar.

Who reviewed the grant application packet before it was submitted to the FTA?

As recently as April 12, 2018,  PSTA took their CA BRT presentation over to a Hillsborough MPO committee meeting. The presentation shows the route terminating at the Don Cesar and includes this chart - falsely stating St. Pete Beach is a funding partner.
PSTA presentation 4/12/2018 to Hillsborough MPO committee
Local media has reported about this project but never about the funding gap until TBBJ reported last week St. Pete Beach mayor says city won't pitch in $1.5 million for proposed bus project. The article is behind TBBJ's subscription firewall but includes this:
The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is trying to identify creative funding sources to bridge a $1.5 million gap in local funding for the proposed Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit route connecting downtown St. Petersburg to St. Pete Beach. 
“To be honest, there’s no way in hell I’m going to give them $1.5 million,” said St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson. "As much as I'd like to have it, it's just not worth it to us." 
The BRT terminus at St. Pete Beach would be at the Don CeSar, but the route would not continue into the community.
How did this happen?

After Greenlight Pinellas failed miserably 68-32% in November 2014, PSTA decided to focus on incremental improvements rather than another grand transit scheme like Greenlight. PSTA sought and received $500K from FDOT for the Central Ave BRT design work in December 2015.

The project started as a 10-14 mile project at an estimate cost of about $16.5 million. By the time PSTA submitted their grant application in September 2017, the capital cost had more than doubled to over $41 million (in 2019 dollars), the route was 22 miles and the project was taking out 13 miles of general purpose lanes of traffic.

PSTA sought and received a local funding commitment from the City of St. Petersburg who voted to financially support the project.

PSTA also pursued a funding commitment from St. Pete Beach. PSTA initially went to an October 11, 2016 St. Pete Beach City Council Workshop to present an overview of the BRT project to the council members.

PSTA Executive Committee meeting was held the next day on October 12, 2016 where the funding issue with St Pete Beach was discussed.
At the meeting last week, the St. Pete Beach City Commission indicated that because of the millions in spending the city faces to repair and upgrade its leaking sewer system, there is no money left for the proposed rapid transit route. 
"It's unfortunate they are not being more cooperative," said PSTA Board Chair Darden Rice. 
"There is no free lunch," said PSTA board member and Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, warning her board not to start the rapid transit service without St. Pete Beach paying its share.
PSTA went back to an October 25, 2016 St. Pete Beach commission meeting with their formal request. They asked for $1.5 million from St. Pete Beach for capital dollars to implement the CA BRT and also wanted St. Pete Beach to provide more dollars to operate and maintain the service.

The end result of that meeting was St. Pete Beach council stated they had other higher priorities to address and they took no action. Since then, St. Pete Beach has never voted to fund the project or vote to support the project in any way.

Since the January 25, 2017 PSTA Board meeting, we could find no mention by PSTA of the funding issue with St. Pete Beach as if it disappeared or got resolved.

Long's warning to not start the service without St. Pete Beach paying its share must have gone out the window when the schedule to pursue the federal money was more important than resolving the funding issue.

PSTA has never been back to St. Pete Beach since October 2016.

From a March 13, 2018 St. Pete Beach council meeting (go to about 2:21 in the video) it appears that PSTA had not continued any negotiations with St. Pete Beach about funding. It seems St. Pete Beach thought the project was still preliminary, that the route was not finalized and were unaware that PSTA had submitted a federal grant application that included St. Pete Beach funding the route to the Don Cesar with 60 foot buses on Gulf Blvd.

There is a flaw in the FTA transit grant process. There should be a requirement that all grant applications must provide evidence of the actions taken that all funding partners and stakeholders have approved their financial commitment of the project by each governing body. FDOT should require that too.

From a conversation with FDOT, it is PSTA's responsibility to provide accurate information to the FTA regarding all local funding commitments.

PSTA must fix the funding gap asap and update their grant application because the FTA has already rated this project. No federal grant should be awarded based on erroneous information.

PSTA's Board must also get some questions answered. Why did PSTA submit misleading financial information in their FTA grant application last September? Why did PSTA include the route alignment to the Don Cesar in their FTA grant application when the St. Pete Beach funding issue had not been resolved? Was there a breakdown in oversight and communication within the entire process?

There is no excuse for PSTA submitting misleading financial information to the FTA and continuing to perpetuate the deceptive information ever since.

There is already reason for distrust as PSTA was caught misusing federal transit security funds for Greenlight Pinellas ads in 2014 and had to hand $345K back to the Feds.
When the pursuit of federal transit funding is more important than providing accurate and honest information in the process, messes like this get created.

That should be alarming to all.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Self Preservation or Playing Politics with the County Charter

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

On the Consent Agenda (where the commissioners rubber stamp approvals) of tomorrow's BOCC meeting is this item:
Authorize the County Attorney's Office to Schedule and Advertise a Public Hearing for May 2, 2018 at 10:00 AM, for the purpose of adopting an ordinance to amend the County Charter to require that amendments to the charter be effective upon approval by a 60% vote of the electors.  Other than the cost to publish required legal notices, adoption of this Ordinance will have no impact on the FY 18 Adopted Budget.
At the last Hillsborough County BOCC meeting on April 4, 2018, Commissioner Miller put an item on the agenda asking for a draft ordinance proposing a Charter amendment that future Charter amendments require 60% super majority to pass. The original motion at that meeting by Miller excluded citizen-led initiatives which would remain at 50%. The motion was amended that ALL charter amendments require 60% super majority. That amendment passed with Kemp, Miller and Hagan voting NO and Murman, White, Crist and Higginbotham voting YES.

Miller's proposed charter amendment ordinance was coincidentally made at the same last BOCC meeting that Commissioner Higginbotham placed an item on the agenda proposing the 5 Constitutionals elected positions be changed to non-partisan.
Direct the County Attorney's Office to bring back a draft Ordinance on May 2, 2018 proposing an amendment to the Hillsborough County Charter to make the five constitutional officers elected on a non-partisan basis, and to request the Supervisor of Elections to place the referendum on the November 6, 2018 General Election ballot. (Commissioner Higginbotham)
Higginbotham's proposal was rejected 4-3 with White, Kemp, Crist and Miller voting NO and Hagan, Murman and Higginbotham voting YES. All citizens who showed up to make a public comment on this item were opposed to this proposal. No one showed up to speak in favor of it.

And coincidentally at the same last BOCC meeting, Commissioner Pat Kemp put a proposed term limit item on the agenda. She proposed a change to the Charter that county commissioner terms be limited to no more than ten consecutive years of service. Commissioner Sandy Murman subsequently tried to make an amendment to Kemp's proposal to include changing the Charter from the current 4 single and 3 countywide districts to 7 or 9 single districts. That motion died for lack of a second but Murman said she would bring it back at a future time.

Kemp's original motion asking for language for an ordinance to change the Charter for 10 year term limits was watered down to directing staff to bring back to the next Board meeting a report reviewing all possibilities, including 10, 12, and 18 year term limits; the impact on current Board member terms; and Board members serving in single-member and Countywide districts. 

Read the transcript of the commissioners discussion on this agenda item here. A lot of self preservation was on display.

Commissioner White wanted to prohibit the clock being reset so that years already served would count toward the term limit but that failed for lack of a second. (Self preservation kicked in….)

The County Attorney then said any term limit changes would reset the clock. Really? 

It is mid April with the mid term election just over 6 months away and this commission is now proposing some major changes to the County Charter for the November ballot. If all these changes are so important, where have these commissioners been - since the last election in 2016? 

The Hillsborough County Charter was approved by voters in 1983. In 35 years only a handful of charter amendments passed in 2002, 2004, 2012. That is quite different from the abuse that has occurred using Amendments to the State Constitution that should have been passed by legislation instead of being codified in the State Constitution. We all can recall the pregnant pigs amendment in 2002. The class room size amendment passed in 2002 52-48% BEFORE the 60% super majority amendment was passed 58-42% in 2006. The repeal of the classroom size amendment failed 55-45 in 2010 AFTER the 60% super majority was in place even though more voters voted to repeal it than initially approved it. Though there are these instances, we believe the 60% super majority required for State Amendments is good.

Is a 60% super majority for all county charter amendments good or necessary? Some of the County Charter changes were housekeeping items. It takes a super majority of 5 commissioners to put a Charter amendment ordinance on the ballot - unlike tax hike referendums that only need a simple majority of 4 to get on the ballot.

A question asked at the April 4th meeting is whether this charter amendment would affect any other referendum that could go before voters. The County Attorney responded that this proposal only affects amendments to the Charter not referendums that state statute has authorized. 

The problem in Hillsborough County is not with Charter amendments but with unnecessary sales tax hike referendums. Tax hike, revenue raising referendums should require a 60%. This would help reign in pursuing unnecessary sales tax hikes as the primary go to means advocated for by special interests that benefit them. This would help force more fiscal due diligence within existing budgets, especially as revenues are naturally increasing due to growth and rising property values. 

Unfortunately, it was very noticeable that almost all the county commissioners do not want super majorities required for tax hikes.

The State can fix that problem The State needs to change Florida Statute 212.055 that authorizes discretionary sales surtaxes to require approval by 60% super majority of the electors in the county.
Yes - the process to put a proposed 60% super majority for all county Charter Amendments can be met even at this late date for ballot initiatives to be approved by August to be on the November ballot. We are already anticipating the state Constitution Revision Commission putting numerous State Amendments on the November ballot that may create enough chaos and confusion.

But are all these proposals political expediency? Something smells a bit when these proposals for major charter amendments suddenly appear at the same BOCC meeting this late in an election cycle. Four county commission seats have races in November and four incumbent county commissioners have filed to run again. But the commission may change with new members after November.

If the proposed amendments are so good, are needed, or are necessary, pursue them for the 2020 ballot during a Presidential election year when the most local voters turn out. 

The county commissioners should not be playing politics or pursuing self preservation with the County Charter.

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

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?

That is, how many times has the City fined the individual who worked there is how the noise ordinance is written. 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. Since 2014, the City has wasted resident's taxes for the next four years. 

However, in 2016, due to resident complaints that went unresolved, they marched into City Council Meeting. The City struggled to revise the noise ordinance. In March 2016, Council approved the revised noise ordinance and did not include decibel 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 similar to 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? Now, 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

I have shared my noise and medical research with the City. Noise can have a negative impact on adult and kid's health. Recently the City has mentioned the health concerns in their presentation at the Public Service and Infrastructure meeting, which is responsible for accepting the new noise ordinance's draft.

While noise's health concern is mentioned as a line item, there has been no other discussion. This seems to be a "box checked," rather than a talking point. 

City Staff allotted 7 second to "Health effects associated with noise" and this did not cite sources, studies or research. This did not mention OSHA and noise impact to bartenders, waitstaff and patron's hearing. Former Mayor Foster, representing Jannus Live, "Jannus may blow a 100 (dB) at the sidewalk on game night. and you get across the street and they are in the 80s and potentially the 90s." If they are 100 decibels on the street, then decibels inside are greater than 100 dB. OSHA has workplace requirements for noise. Has anyone in the City checked on that? 

At the end of the meeting, Council Members did not ask any questions on the noise's impact to our health. However, Council Member Kornell allotted 36 seconds minutes introducing former Mayor Foster for his presentation to Council and 57 seconds on an impassioned speech for the music industry. 

I had asked the City to bring a medical expert from the National Institute of Health to address and educate the Mayor, City Council, Police, residents and bar owners. To date, this has not occurred. The City may want to hear from several experts to understand the risk to resident's health before they make ANY decision. 

The city must have their decibel recommendations vetted by an independent expert before the recommendation goes to vote.

In 2017, the City had hired an acoustic expert to analyze the noise downtown. The results were way worse than expected.

According to The Noise of Music, Sound advice for the music and entertainment sectors. Guidance on how to comply with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007. Ireland, these noise exposures are identical:
  • 80 dB for 8 hours
  • 83 dB for 4 hours
  • 86 dB for 2 hours 
  • 89 dB for 1 hour
  • 92 dB for 30 minutes
Now the City wants to allow the Downtown Core to have 85 dB. Taking the average between 83 and 86 dB from the above list, and say that is outside on the property line, then 85 dB is approximately 3 hours. This is for the A-Weighted (Audible) and not the C-Weighted (Bass). The nearby condominiums and apartments will be inundated with noise at 85 dB. 

If you are inside, the dB will be more, and the noise may become a health hazard under OSHA guidelines for the workers and patrons.  

How did 85 dB go over in Austin, the nation's Live Music Capital which was changed to 85 dB? According to Map: In Austin, Noise Complaints are on the Rise
So it's not surprising that as Austin grows larger, it might also be growing louder. Over the past five years, noise complaints in Austin have gone up by 470 percent, from 2,782 total complaints in 2010 to 13,100 in 2014. Still, only 1.5 percent of those have faced citation – 515 out of 33,107, according to city data obtained by KUT.

If you think Austin has a low citation rate with 1.5% in 2014, St. Petersburg's citation rate in 2017 was only 0.4%.  

Other Considerations?

Another consideration for the Downtown Core's noise level requirement are FAA standards for Airports. The FAA has a day-night average of 65 db. Why does the City want the Downtown Core to be louder than the living near a runway? The FAA is now reviewing the 65 dB, where the decibel level is expected to be lowered. 

While the FAA may be looking to to protect resident's health, the City of St. Petersburg's Mayor wants to do the opposite and increase our noise exposure, our health issues, health costs and decrease our quality of life. 
The Mayor and City Council want the downtown to be louder than an airport runway! 

Criminal Acts at the Bars

Establishments that serve alcohol may or may not have police calls for criminal acts. The non-noise column includes a minute number of police administrative calls, like out to pumps or off duty.  

How safe are the bars?

The overwhelming number of calls to Police are for criminal acts. Trouble with Individuals, Call for Assistance, Battery, Burglary, Brawling and Theft are high ranking incidents. Narcotic, Battery on an Officer, and Domestic incidents do occur. Mental health issues such as Marchman Act, Suicide, and Mental issues also occur.

Former Mayor Foster spoke to Council representing Jannus Live and an undisclosed number businesses?

City Council Member Ed Montanari (Republican) made the request to have former Mayor Foster (Republican) deliver a short presentation on behalf of Jannus Live. However, Montanari's District is District 3, which does not include downtown. While any City Council Member may bring forth a request, this request should have come from District 6's Driscoll (Democrat)Public Services and Infrastructure Committee Chair Steve Kornell read the request, made the motion, which the committee approved

No resident was asked nor permitted to rebut Mr. Foster's remarks. This was failure in due process. 

When former Mayor Foster introduced himself, he said he was representing Jannus Live and other businesses along the Jannus block. Foster did not disclose which businesses along the Jannus Block. 
Listen: Former Mayor Foster speaks at PSI Committee meeting on Apr 12 2018, St. Petersburg

At the 33 second mark, Foster stated that the City Attorney is working with Jannus Live. Why isn't the city Attorney working with residents? Or has the City Attorney labeled them re-occurring complainants? 

During Mr. Foster's "almost 8 minute" presentation, he incorrectly stated,
  • Jannus had no noise calls. WRONG. There were 11 noise calls and you can read the Police Reports in the article. Many were right after The Landing at Jannus opened. However, Foster fails to state there were 168 non-noise calls, which were mostly criminal acts. Administrative calls are in yellow.
  • Better windows would reduce the noise issue. No, the window rating is called STC and stands for Sound Transmission Class. STC windows may block some audible but do not block the bass which coms through the walls. Windows will not stop all the audible noise (A-Weighted). Windows will not stop the bass (C-Weighted), where the building filters the sound and leaves the thumping inside the condo. If the noise is loud, this can drown out the television, dinner conversation, and disturb sleep, or residents may have to leave their home. This can last a solid 2-8 hours. He did not volunteer Jannus to pay for the windows.
  • Doesn’t think there are weather concerns. Wind and weather can impact the sound. Partially true, but weather is more likely to impact audible noise than bass. 
  • Foster is against the decibel measurement and thinks clearly audible is working fine. He has not read the police reports that say, the Jannus cannot be cited because the resident live too close.  

Former Mayor Foster is not an acoustic expert and is not well researched. The presentation amounted to #FakeNews. Former Mayor Foster has  again proven he is out of touch. 

City wants to increase Downtown Core's noise level

If you increase the allowable decibels, this will increase calls. Why? Because the sound will have more energy and travel farther, which will now impact a new set of residences who are farther away than the current callers. This will also increase criminal acts, which will require more resources.

But there is one key data point that council needs to understand. There are more noise calls to addresses with repeat calls than addresses that had a one time call.
In 2017, there were 2,535 noise calls. 1135 addresses had one noise call, whereas, 1400 repeat noise calls were for 361 addresses.    
Of the Top 20 Addresses with Noise Calls, six were bars that account for  the calls. Of the six bars, five are in the Downtown Core and one is in the Skyway Marina District. The non-noise calls include criminal acts.

The number of noise calls will be lower next year because (1) Many residents have stopped calling the police, and (2) there has been no change in the noise ordinance, and (3) Police have targeted residents identifying them as re-occurring complainant or identified them as the only one calling, which is not true. The City and the Police didn't do their homework like the residents did!

If the Police were to reduce the 361 addresses (bars and residences) with repeat calls, the Police costs for noise would decrease. The City could also run a marketing and awareness campaign to educate bars and residents to further decrease calls and Police costs.

What are the City Council Member's Concerns?

Council Members voiced a couple concerns in the Public Services and Infrastructure committee.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed Senate Bill 7026 into law. Will the City will be required to fund the gun control legislation? The concern shared was the cost of the resources required to manage a noise ordinance with a decibel limit may take a back seat to the gun law.

If the Downtown Core's noise level is raised to 85 dB, this will bring more crime. Then the City will need to increase the downtown bar task force. This will increase police costs. This was not mentioned.
Another data point to consider is bars with noise calls have high non-noise calls, which is mostly crime. What happens when you increase the noise at the bars? You will have more crime. Police already have a task force dedicated to the downtown bars. This cost factor will need to be a consideration.
Since the City may need to allocate funds for the Florida gun law to protect students in the classroom, the noise level should not be 85 dB, but 70 dB or less. 

However, once enforced, the noise ordinance will reduce repeat calls and raise awareness to encourage residents to be respectful of the neighborhood. This will reduce police costs in both the short- and long-term.

Kornell's Empassioned Speech for Music Industry

Steve Kornell is the Chair of the Public Services and Infrastructure committee is Council Member Steve Kornell. In April's meeting, he gave an impassioned speech for the music industry. Kornell stated he knows many people in the music industry. Then added how is it worth millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. He needs to: 
  • Bring them to the meeting, have them present and then allow residents to respond. 
  • Ask them why musicians who play live gigs wear specially made hearing protection that cost $300 and are made in Clearwater.
  • How much research he has on aging rock stars who have lost their hearing or have had their hearing severely damage, such as AC/DC, The Who, and Neil Young
  • Ask his music buddies if they live next to a noisy bar? 
  • Kornell does not live near a noisy bar! 
Kornell shared that a strong noise ordinance would scare his music industry buddies away. Has he ever considered if a weak noise ordinance would scare away luxury hi-rise condo. The property at 400 Central will have 43-story mixes use. Will the City mandate a multi-million dollar hi-rise add expensive windows and sound proofing? That may scare away developers!

Wait until the condos at One St. Petersburg open and see how the enjoy their million dollar condos being pummeled and possibly rendered unlivable.    

Does St. Pete want to become Miami, where "The conflict between the clubs that operate 24/7 and condo residents yearning for a decent night’s sleep is sure to grow if they can’t find a way to co-exist," according to the article, Downtown Miami's Heart Nightclub sues city to challenge noise law | Miami Herald

In a previous meeting Kornell made a joke about the noise. He whispered, is this too loud? Residents impacted by the noise did not find his remarks to be humorous. In the video, Kornell's audio gain was increased so he could be understood.

The Flamingo Resort is in Steve Kornell's district. Amongst "Establishments that Serve Alcohol" the Flamingo Resort ranked #1 in the city for noise calls and 4th for non-noise calls, which was mostly criminal acts. Kornell represents my district. 

Quality of Life

Once the number of repeat calls is under control, the amount of time required would be minimal, because the City would be actively enforcing a noise ordinance that provides a quality of life for all residents, not just the bars.

While St. Petersburg may want to be the next live music venue and boost tourism, residents need to let the City of St. Petersburg know that the noise issue isn't just about downtown, but the entire city. St. Pete needs a city vibe for all residents!

What can you do to help? 

Contact Mayor Kriseman and your City Council Member at the phone number or email address on the flyer.  Right click to download the flyer and share! Or share this article! 

Tell them, 
Yes, we want decibels measured!
"NO" to 85 db in the Downtown Core

The opinions here are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bay Post Internet or the Blog Publishers where it appears.

Please Comment Below