Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Why didn't Mayor Kriseman enforce noise ordinance before April 11, 2017?



St. Petersburg Fl
Public Opinion by author: Robert Neff

On April 11, 2017, St. Petersburg, Mayor Kriseman followed up on a morning conversation with Police Chief Holloway. Mayor Kriseman’s 11:32 AM email had three paragraphs that discussed, (1) An order to enforce the noise ordinance and why, (2) List of bars with greatest number of complaints, and, (3) Suggestion on how to get officers to buy into enforcing so the officers did not give the Police Chief the same amount of pushback. Mayor Kriseman needs to explain why the Police have not been enforcing the noise ordinance since he became Mayor in 2014. Mayor Kriseman needs to tell us if City Council knew this? Who else in the Mayor’s Office knew? Did City Council know? Or was this a best-kept secret?

In Mayor Kriseman’s email, the Mayor stated the Police Department was not enforcing the Noise Ordinance. This explains:
Why residents have suffered from noise, been targeted by police police, had to live in fear of retribution, been told to move by bar supporters, have moved, needed to wear ear earplugs in their own home, were subject to online trolling, some paid for expensive window upgrades, why Council Members have called residents liars or a problem, why residents have received Cease and Desist Orders, and why several bars filed civil lawsuits against residents. Mayor Kriseman’s leadership has created a “hostile environment,” had a negative impact on quality of life and not protected residents in their home. 

Residents Fight for Quality of Life

During the Mayor’s leadership, the noise issue has reached its boiling point.  Residents have been fighting for a quality of life, their property values, and the right to enjoy their home.

Mayor Kriseman’s email to Police Chief Holloway is a slap in the resident’s face. The Mayor needs to explain to residents, why he has avoided resident’s pleas for help from 2013 to 2017. Why wasn’t the Noise Ordinance enforced then?

After Chief Holloway said, “Will do, sir,” what happened? What was the action and result?

Public Record Request Discovered Mayor Kriseman's NOISE email

Last week, the email was obtained through a Public Record Request for Police Chief Holloway’s email regarding noise. The City cost to produce, review and redact exempted information for 230 emails responsive to the request was $76.00 (4 hours of staff time at $19.00 per hour).

Mayor Kriseman’s conversation and email with the Chief, and the chief’s response opens a can of worms. The email can be read in its entirety at the end of the article. Here are my thoughts on the email’s three paragraphs.

Mayor Kriseman asked Chief Holloway to enforce Noise Ordinance but officers didn’t follow instructions

After April 11, 2017, the number of calls for the four establishments increased from 21 to 25. The number of calls in violation after the noise ordinance's allowable time decreased by a small margin. There are several variables to consider. Did frustrated residents stop calling? Due to close proximity of the bars, calls may be logged to another bar, or the caller’s residence. Here, you would need the police reports for the area to determine the violator. However, in 2017 only one bar, Park & Rec, was cited twice. 


Whereas, the total noise and non-noise (including crime) calls for each bar is:

Examining Mayor's April 11,  2017 email — Paragraph 1

Chief, just to follow up on our conversation this morning, while there is a revised noise ordinance in the works, I need your officers to begin enforcing the existing ordinance now.  Specifically, if they were to engage in an intense operation over the period of a few weeks, and announce that this operation would be forthcoming, it could have a deterrent effect going forward and would go a long way to making the public feel like the City was engaged in this issue.


  • Why did Mayor Kriseman, need your officers to begin enforcing the existing ordinance now?
  • The Police Chief replied to the Mayor, “Will do, sir.” Did the Police Chief follow Mayor Kriseman’s orders? Did the Police Chief Officers disobey the Chief’s order? 
  • How was the enforcement measured?  
  • Mayor Kriseman wants the police to engage in an intense operation? How does this work? Were the bars asked to turn down the music? Will warnings be issued and tracked? Will bars be cited? Will the police use the Wolf pack methodology similar to DUIs, and speed traps I have seen at the Pinellas Bayway?
  • Enforcing for two weeks would not go a long was to make the public feel like the City engaged in the noise issue. The Police have targeted residents and been openly hostile. Many of us stopped calling the police. Would they let us know about the Wolf pack? Will residents be told, so those who stopped calling may resume calling the Police?
  • Why enforce the noise ordinance for two weeks? What happens after that? 
  • The bars are a high-profile target. Why ignore the rest of the City residents who are distributed by noise from homes and apartments? Selective enforcement will not “go a long way to making the public feel like the City was engaged in this issue.”


Examining Mayor's April 11,  2017 email — Paragraph 2

Some of the locations where we are receiving the greatest number of complaints are Tryst, Caddy’s, the Landings at Janis, and the Flamingo on 34th Street.
Mayor Kriseman needs to provide, What metric is the City using to measure the enforcement’s impact?

Mayor Kriseman acknowledges some bars had more complaints. In 2016 and 2017, I obtained City call logs and conducted data trend analysis on the noise calls, police reporting, and citations, and learned how the City and police operated. The results were provided to the Mayor, City Council, and discussed with the noise ordinance revision team. The City was unaware how many calls there were, the issue was citywide, and citations to bar were minute.

The Mayor does not seem to understand the noise issue. This issue is citywide, not just downtown! Residents call the police more times on homes and apartments than bars. The number of repeat calls to apartments, condominiums, and homes is nearly double bars. Yet, the Mayor wants to target four bars? The Mayor and Police Chief do not have a grasp on the City’s noise issue.


Examining Mayor's April 11,  2017 email — Paragraph 3

If you can get your officers to buy into the fact that their actions in enforcing this ordinance (just like the vehicles parking in the street or on lawns) impacts quality of life and fits in with the broken window theory, they’ll do a better job with enforcement and not give you the same amount of pushback. 
I agree with the Mayor's use of the broken window theory. My analysis of the city call logs corroborates that there is a higher crime rate when there are noise calls at bars.

This shows the ratio of non-noise calls to noise calls.
  • As a resident who has been labeled a reoccurring complainant, I want to assure Mayor Kriseman that I do not share his statement correlating noise to a vehicles parking in the street or on lawns.
  • Why are Officers pushing back from enforcing the noise? The noise ordinance states, 
  • 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.
  • Plainly audible is subjective to the police officer’s hearing. Police do not understand the medical impact of audible noise and bass on adult and kids health. The officers have received no training. Even when I stood with officers to listen to the noise, the officers have heard the noise or bass. Other officers have stood with other residents, and heard the walls shaking but did not issue a citation. 
  • When senior citizens have stood with me and heard the audible noise and bass, the responding officer did not.
  • Why will the police ask the bar to turn down the noise, but  immediately cite an individual booming loud music from a car? 

Mayor and Police Chief fear office pushback

Mayor Kriseman and Police Chief Holloway fear pushback from the officers? I interpret this to be, the Mayor and Police Chief are not providing officers with the tools and training to enforce the noise ordinance. Who is in charge of the City?

There is no doubt the City has created a hostile environment for residents. Both the Mayor and City Council are more worried about businesses, and the downtown vibe, than resident’s quality of life. Residents have worked with the police but the noise continues. Police have targeted residents for calling the police.

Bar noise has caused medical issues and has caused residents battling cancer or other medical conditions to suffer. I have recommended the City provide a nationally recognized medical expert on noise to present and educate the City, Council and police officers. To date, have been told that will not have. What are they afraid to hear from an expert?

City Council has a dilemma on its hands

To revise the noise ordinance, the City presented three options to City Council . Option 3 includes a decibel stand, and looked like this was going to be selected. But something changed. The City Council did not select Option 3 and went with Option 1, which maintains the “plainly audible” standard. Where the City Council was in a position to help residents and offer police a means to measure noise other than the ear, the council has punted.

City Council wants to warn the bar before police issue a fine, but the police have no warning and tracking system in place to support Option 1. There is no tracking and reporting process in place to track how many repeat calls a bar has, a heat map to show problem areas, and how many different officers have asked the bar to turn down the noise, or issued warnings and citations.

In addition, the noise ordinance's distances are not changed in the Option 1. So a person who lives too close to the bar cannot file a complaint. Such is the case for a person who called five times on the the Landing at Jannus' noise because the walls were vibrating. 

The police confirmed this, but after several calls, police reviewed the noise ordinance, and found there was no citation. The residence did not meet the minimum distance away from the source. Option 3's decibel standard has no minimum standard. If the noise made the walls shake, there is a very high probability this would exceed the noise ordinance's decibel standard and be cause for a citation. 

Both residents and police need a decibel standard to scientifically measure the noise and bass.

Last Two and Four Years

I first contacted the Mayor Kriseman and city Council in 2014 to report the issue with the Flamingo Resort’s noise. Mayor never responded. I had  called the police to report noise and was working with our Community Service Officer and then Acting Assistant Police Chief Kovacsev. There was no relief.

In March 2016, the Edge Partners d/b/a filed a lawsuit, which the Judge dismissed almost seven months later dismissed. Then Flamingo Resort amended the complaint twice. The lawsuit lasted approximately one year and eight months. The cost was significant. I spent my night and day, researching the noise data, being targeted by the community, trolled online, fearful for safety, labeled a re-occurring complainant, dealing with openly hostile police, and defending myself in court and in the City. The Mayor’s email to the Police Chief would have been a very strong part of my defense.

Seriously, who knew Mayor Kriseman was not enforcing the City Noise Ordinance. He knew I had been sued and did nothing. Yet, his police officers injected themselves into the lawsuit on multiple occasions.

When I emailed him Mayor Kriseman to do something about the noise in our neighborhood, I was not the only caller. Mayor Kriseman created this climate; yet, he threw residents to bars!


Several residents reach out to Sheriff Gualteiri

On March 17, 2017, I had reached out to Sheriff Gualtieri’s email asking him to help residents, because St. Petersburg Police was not enforcing repeat calls in the City.  The subject was, "Request investigation into St. Petersburg Mayor Kriseman and Police's failure to enforce Noise Ordinance." Sheriff Gualtieri declined, "The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is not getting involved in this." 

I am not the only frustrated resident who reached out to Sheriff Gualtieri. On March 24, 2017, another resident had reached out to the Sheriff for help with a boom car problem. The resident stated, 
I have contacted the SPPD numerous times about these two issues because it is a city ordinance violation, but it doesn't seem like they have put any effort into it. I even saw Chief Holloway at the supermarket one day and talked to him about it, but he didn't seem to take it too seriously.

Mayor Kriseman was correct in his concern that the police officers would push back.

In the the Sheriff's reply, Sheriff Gualtieri copied Chief Holloway. I had included a May 30, 2014 email from Jack Dougherty, Flamingo Resort owner and Board President Skyway Marina District, to City Council Member Steve Kornell. 

While Sheriff Gualtieri sent the email at 6:35 PM, at 7:10 PM, Chief Holloway sent the email to Police Legal Advisor, Sasha Lohn-McDermott. 

Chief Holloway now knew Council Member Kornell, one of his Community Service Officers, Officer Kelly, and Jack Dougherty, Flamingo Resort owner and President of the Skyway Marina District, had developed a strategy to deal with me in 2014?  



Is this the example that crossed his Mayor Krisemen, when he told Police Chief Holloway in the email, that he was worried about police officers  pushing back? If was not this example, I have more examples from my experiences, other resident's negative experiences, emails to the Police Chief where residents are worried about his officer's behavior, and more.

The new City Council has old credibility problem

In May 2014, when City Council Member Kornell's constituent contact him about the noise at the Flamingo Resort, Kornell worked with the Police and Flamingo Resort owner/Board President Skyway Marina District to to develop a strategy to deal with him. During Kornell's reelection, Kornell accepted $1250 in campaign donations from the Flamingo Resort. 

Fast forward to 2019, Kornell is the Council Vice Chair and Public Services and Infrastructure Committee (PS&I) Chair. PS&I is responsible for the recommending the noise ordinance revision to City Council. 

Kornell has joked about the noise. In one meeting, he stated that the music industry was worth millions. In another meeting he stated this was worth billions and billions of dollars. 


Kornell has allowed two attorneys representing the Jannus block and another representing downtown residents to speak. The attorneys represent clients but they have not lived in the noise and suffered. I emailed a request to Kornell to speak, but Kornell denied all requests at the last meeting. 

Now City Council has a credibility problem. This is compounded by the fact they some how moved away from the Option 3's decibel standard, which would have helped residents, to Option 1, which helps the bars. 

Another Twist? Neff's March 16, 2017 Public Presentation on Noise Data

On March 16, 2017, I spoke at City Council Open Forum on the noise issue. I presented my data and trend analysis and the City noise issue. 

That morning, I sent this to the Clerk of Courts to load onto the overhead projector. The Clerk sent the email to City Administrator Cornwall, who circulated the presentation to Chief Holloway, Assistant Chief Williams, City Attorney Kovilaritch, City Advisor Winn, City's Goodwin, and Mayor's Chief of Policy & Public Engagement Kevin King with the the comment, 
As an FYI, Mr. Neff intends to speak at Open Forum today wity an extensive slide show involving PD stats on calls for service, and the noise ordinance.  
The emails show Chief Holloway sharing Cornwall's presentation with his Assistant Chiefs. He asked for Assistant Chief Williams to call him and Assistant Chief Kovacsev to attend the presentation.  

Transparency and more questions

It’s time for Mayor Kriseman to try a little transparency. Why did the Mayor hide the fact that the City was not enforcing the noise ordinance?  

Mayor Kriseman should have been proactive and seized the moment. Instead, he was reactive and zipped his lips, buried his head in the sand. 

Here is another question, Why did Mayor Kriseman suddenly decided to ask Police Chief Holloway to enforce the noise ordinance? Did anyone on City Council know?

Mayor Kriseman's April 11, 2017 email   

In the email, Alan DeLisle is copied. He is the City Development Administrator.
From: Chief Holloway
Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017
To: Richard Kriseman 
Cc: Alan DeLisle

Subject: Re: Noise
Will do, sir


Sent from my iPhone

On Apr 11, 2017, at 11:32 AM, Richard Kriseman wrote:
Chief, just to follow up on our conversation this morning, while there is a revised noise ordinance in the works, I need your officers to begin enforcing the existing ordinance now.  Specifically, if they were to engage in an intense operation over the period of a few weeks, and announce that this operation would be forthcoming, it could have a deterrent effect going forward and would go a long way to making the public feel like the City was engaged in this issue.

Some of the locations where we are receiving the greatest number of complaints are Tryst, Caddy’s, the Landings at Janis, and the Flamingo on 34th Street.

If you can get your officers to buy into the fact that their actions in enforcing this ordinance (just like the vehicles parking in the street or on lawns) impacts quality of life and fits in with the broken window theory, they’ll do a better job with enforcement and not give you the same amount of pushback.

Thanks

Rick Kriseman, Mayor
City of St. Petersburg
P.O. Box 2842
St. Petersburg, FL 33731
(o) (727) 893-7201, (fax) (727) 892-5365
mayor@stpete.org
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.

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