Friday, February 5, 2021

Resident’s COVID-19 health and safety: Who is the Victim?

St. Petersburg Fl

By author: Robert Neff

Shame the Tampa Bay bars, clubs and restaurants are less concerned about COVID-19 pandemic’s public health and safety and are more concerned about their bottom line. Other businesses and residents are sacrificing, but the bars, clubs and restaurants are being selfish prima donnas with the backing of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. Bars, clubs, and restaurants had missed the perfect opportunity to be leaders in the fight against COVID-19, instead by not enforcing masks, they are helping to spread the COVID-19 and its variants. 

According to the Florida Politics article,  In lawsuit, prominent St. Pete bar owner says county cannot enforce city’s mask mandate, Knight Global, a company with multiple entertainment venues in downtown St. Pete including the Jannus Live concert venue, the Landing at Jannus bar, Ringside Cafe, Pelican Pub, MacDinton’s Irish Pub and Detroit Liquors  is taking the city to court over pandemic-related citations that he says cannot be enforced by the municipality. 

According to the BayNews9 article, As Tampa cracks Down, St. Petersburg Stays the Course on COVID-19. To date, the City of St. Petersburg has handed out more than 200 citations for noncompliance, and at some point, the city had to confront the idea that noncompliant businesses had begun to accept the fines as a sort of coronavirus tax. 

On July 31, 2020, Tampa Bay Times published a list of complaints filed about bars and restaurants in the time of coronavirus.

In St. Petersburg, Florida this is not the first-time a bar, club or restaurant has fought back. The bar, club and restaurant strategy is to energize their patrons, donate to politicians, hire top Public Relations companies, and lobby City Hall. Elected officials and the media are too scared to stand up to them. As with the noise ordinance, the bars failure to self-enforce puts resident’s health at risk.   

During the last noise ordinance revision, the city conducted acoustic studies, the City spent over $10,000 on acoustic studies which showed how bad the noise was. Police officers were in residents’ homes and heard the bass thumping from Knight’s bars but did not issue citations because the noise ordinance is written such that if you live too close to a bar, there is no violation. With COVID-19, the science identified community spread and stated masks are the best defense.

Previously, Former St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster sought Jannus exception to proposed noise ordinance. Foster and his client were against the new noise ordinance that would have used decibel meters to measure both audio and bass. The meters are accurate and would remove the audible requirement which was subjective to officer’s hearing. The City rejected my request to conduct a medical study on the impact noise has on adult and children’s health and ignored science. Mayor Kriseman and City Council ignored science.

Foster was allowed to speak at the closed Public Services and Infrastructure  committee meeting. Two City Council members supported Foster. Council Member Montanari made the recommendation to allow Foster to speak. Former Council Member Kornell, who was pro bar noise and Public Services and Infrastructure Chair, approved Foster to speak and no one else. 

However, the PSI was in hot water for allowing Foster to speak and eventually relented and allowed the Downtown Residents Civic Association to provide another former Mayor to speak at the next meeting. Neither spoke to the noise issue’s city-wide impact nor did they speak the medical impact on resident’s health. Prior to my research, the City was not aware the noise issue existed outside downtown. The City till maintained their focus only on downtown. My request to speak fell on deaf ears. 

Unlike the City’s noise ordinance, Florida Governor DeSantis has signed an Executive Order that does not allow Cities to issue citations for mask violations.

The difference between the COVID-19 pandemic and the City noise issues is Mayor Kriseman at least had made a feeble attempt to enforce the City mask mandate. During Mayor Kriseman’s tenure he was very much aware of the resident’s noise complaints. But, in stark contrast, Mayor Kriseman did not enforce the noise ordinance and had coordinated with Police Chief Holloway to enforce it for couple weeks to make it look like the City was doing something during the noise ordinance revision. 

In 2014, Flamingo Resort owner Jack Dougherty and then Skyway Marina District Board President, now former City Council Member Kornell and Community Police Officer Kelly worked to develop a strategy to deal with a resident who had complained to Mayor Kriseman and City Council about the noise in his residence emanating from the now closed Flamingo Resort.

Mayor Kriseman and City Council Members has proven to be ineffective protecting resident’s public health and safety and the bars, clubs and restaurants will continue to run roughshod over residents. The City’s Mayor and elected officials are afraid to take on the bar, club, and restaurants, who owners and supporters are embedded in the Chamber of Commerce and business districts and have an active and vocal patron list who will shout to keep their bar open. 

Whether it’s COVID-19, noise or other issues, the City’s Mayor Kriseman and City Council Members must publicly shame the bars, clubs and restaurants by changing the messaging and driving public support. The bars, clubs and restaurants have taken the position "to hell with resident’s health and safety" and are not looking out for the City. It's way past time for Mayor Kriseman and City Council Members to stop sucking up to them.

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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