While the Trop site looks like a plum ready for the picking, it could quickly turn into a real nightmare.
You may have missed the Post on St. Pete PATCH a hyper local news site if you did check it out. St. Pete PATCH By: Jackson Hollingsworth, This Time 'Til It's Won! Make the Southside Black Again!
By now, you may have forgotten the fiery election rhetoric from the local black activist group the Uhurus. Lead by Akile Anai who ran for City Council and Jessie Nevel who ran for mayor. They had a brief but somewhat spectacular impact on the St. Pete elections in 2017.
It would seem the group is back with a new structure the Conference of Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED).
In a somewhat rambling Post, Hollingsworth lays out what he touts as a new direction, but it is essentially a rehash of the election efforts with one exception.
Quoting Hollingsworth “A major campaign being launched by CURED is the "Take Back the Dome" referendum, where CURED will be going out to the people of the city to win petition signatures to return the land of the baseball dome, known as Tropicana Field Stadium, back over to the black community as an expression of reparations.”
I am not sure if they know it, but the CURED folks could be on to something.
Central to their theme has been the issue of “reparations” or payments to the African-American Community for the property acquired to build the DOME (Tropicana Field). This new approach, a return of the land, is something different altogether.
The Kriseman administration could just blow this off as an attempt by Anai and Nevel to raise some funds, so they don’t have to get real jobs but that may be a big mistake.
I was working for the City when the Dome property was being assembled, and the structure was being constructed. Things were moving fast.
Many of the African-American people whose property was “acquired” for the Dome project have passed on, and their children may or may not have copies of the agreements they signed.
Since there were no electronic records during this period public record if they still exist would be hard, but not impossible, to find and the effort would be costly.
What CURED needs is a good law firm that is not issue driven and has enough resources to pursue the information.
If the CURED group can find an instance where the City acted improperly or even questionably in a Dome land acquisition action and get a serious lawsuit with evidence filed that might grow to class-action status the Tropicana site redevelopment would likely come to a screeching halt.
No developer in their right mind wants to end up in the middle of a fight as potentially ugly as this one might be.
The real problem of the moment is getting Anai and Nevel under control. I have rarely seen people who become more unglued than these two when you hand them a microphone or point a camera at them.
The timing is critical, and CURED be on to something, but actions like those of the Mayoral election cycle will allow CURED to be smothered in a blanket of ridicule as just another nonsense radical effort.
Kriseman would be wise not to simply write this one off. Even a hint of this kind of issue could send Trop developers and financiers running for the woods.
It may be time for the Kriseman administration to sit down with CURED and get an idea of who is involved, who is pulling the strings and where their money is coming from.
While the Trop site looks like a plum ready for the picking, it could quickly turn into a nightmare.
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