Thursday, January 31, 2013

SweetBay 1 Foster 0 - Real Loser - Midtown.


It was a long shot from the start. everyone in the Baker administration new the Grocery store anchor in the Tangerine Plaza would be a struggle.
Just getting the shopping center constructed had been a major task. It took a special developer, a lot of support and a lot of courage to go forward.
The City did all it could. There were special police patrols, city promotion, and lot of praise for SweetBay. But in the end it simply did not work.
The community never really rallied around the store. Wal-Mart opened a Super Center  within driving distance and that left only those with limited transportation options to support the SweetBay.
It was a challenging location, moderately safe in the daytime, a serious challenge at night.
Early last year the SweetBay people met with Mayor Foster about the performance of the store, and for some reason he either just blew them off or forgot the meeting. Regardless, the City did not take any proactive action to help, and that probably added to the decision to close the store.
Foster has not really paid that much attention to Midtown or the South side since the election. Odd given the fact that it was the South side vote that put him in the Mayor's seat.
What all of this really shows along with the Thursday Council meeting melt down is Foster's lack of a grasp on how the City should be run.
It would be tempting to say the Foster administration has performed badly in the first three years, but when you look at the facts pretty much the same people are in the Foster Administration that were in the Baker administration.
With the notable exception of Goliath Davis, the faces are pretty much the same.
So why is it that this same crowd of people lead by Rick Baker accomplished so much and under Foster they have been significantly less effective?
You could blame the economy, the City Council or a host of other things, but what it boils down to is even really good people without leadership have a difficult time getting things done.
Since the day Bill Foster took office there has been no clear direction. Baker had the Baker plan, four simple points. Foster has the Foster Forty, reconfigured but never really applied to the organization.
Under Baker you knew what your job was, under Foster everyone is sort of doing their own thing.
Foster has been called "the chicken soup of  St. Petersburg Politics", but it looks like the chickens may be coming home to roost.
SweetBay is a notable loss, especially in light of the Mayor's failure to act when he knew there was a problem, the Rays and Baseball get messier every day, and while the Pier/LENS issue is still up in the air the chances are getting better and better there will be a vote.
The South side of town is still in a mess, the neighborhood associations have all but been killed off and City Council is in near revolt.
Not a great story for three years of effort.
The City of St. Petersburg has gone from a shining light to a flickering flame.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Foster Melt Down

Last week was a bad week to be Bill Foster.
Sweet Bay is packing their wagons and heading out of town,. Everyone from the County Commission down is up in arms and his honor's memory apparently took leave of him forgetting the meeting where SweetBay apparently told him the store was a loser.
The lord of baseball, Bud of Selig, called St. Pete a loser, (not the first time), the band of radical Hillsborough commissioners continues to pursue his honors first love, even as  Stu Sternberg encouraged the courtship in the face of the impending doom speculated about by the Mayor and his legal team.
The threats about suing baseball are becoming less important every day as both Major League Baseball and the Rays ratchet up the pressure.
The Pinellas County Commission is also talking to the Rays. Hinting the Mayor's parochial stand may be leading to the total departure of the Rays from the area.
The Mayor had become a bit unhinged on a local radio show in a discussion about the Rays. when he said "if it was up to him the Rays just go already" Not his finest hour.
This whole baseball thing was going down the crapper faster than a $5.00 pint of suds at the Trop, oops make that a $12 pint. And that just reminded him of the whole LENs mess.
Wengay of Newton had lobbed a few SweetBay cannon balls the his honor's way, and Leslie Curran had gotten in few shots also.
To top it all off,  he had just had a tongue lashing from the  Theresa Lassiter (Mama Tee) long time advocate for her south side community. Who summed it up better than any of us writers or bloggers.
I love Mamma Tee.....
All in all not a good week for the campaign to retain his position.
If you happen to catch the video of the City Council Meltdown video in Mark Puente Times article,  watch  in the upper right of the screen as Kennedy and Gerdes as they grab their coats and think about heading for the exits. Now there are a couple of leaders for you. Run, run as fast as you can.....
The antics of last week are more what we expect from the mayor of St. Pete Beach, or Madera Beach not St. Petersburg.
As the Mayor continues to implode, more and more people are starting to pull away and take him less seriously. And that includes the staff.
The problem is Bill Foster is just not very good at running the City.  He never has been and he likely will never be very good at it. He seems to lack the maturity, temperament and leadership capacity for the job.
Have your say.  Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information and schedule of events at Stop The Lens.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Dastardly Excuse

I could not believe it! I reread it three times.

There in Mark Puente's excellent Times article: Sweetbay officials say they met with St. Petersburg mayor about struggling Midtown Store, the Mayor is quoted as saying "That time period, Foster said, was just after the city buried three police officers killed in the line of duty. Foster said it is not possible for him to remember details from the thousands of meetings he holds each year."

The Mayor of one of Florida's largest Cities, invoking what has to be the darkest moment in the City's history as an excuse for not doing his job. A meeting about the very part of the City central to officer shootings and he can't remember it.
I was there. I was at the Police Department and I know that all of the people around me, those that worked with me and for me, those on the entire City staff doubled down on detail after those horrific events.
These tragic events were not an excuse to do less, they were a loud call to do more, to do better, to do all we could regardless of  our job to improve the quality of life north and south of Central Avenue.
How can it be that the Mayor cares so little for the south side and Midtown that he would forget a meeting about a key pivotal part of helping this community improve itself, let alone not take  immediate action. How can that be?
The African American community supported Bill Foster in the election because, thanks to some help from the PBA and others, they were convinced that Kathleen Ford would fire Goliath Davis and turn a blind eye toward the south side.
They were half right. Davis would have been fired, and much more quickly, but Midtown, Childs Park and the rest of South St. Pete would not have been put on ignore.
Bill Foster fired Goliath Davis and even worse did not replace him with a trustworthy competent African American voice in the administration, and has not spent much time looking South since.
It seems unimaginable that when the ownership of the center piece of  almost 10 years of effort to improve Midtown  meets with the Mayor and asks for help to keep the effort going, the Mayor would simply forget.
There was a saying that went around the organization about that time. It went like this: "If you want to get something done in this administration make it look like a baseball"
Maybe if the SweetBay folks had of changed the name to "SweetBall" and bought a banner at the Trop the Mayor would have remembered.
There is an election coming up. Let's hope you don't forget this little incident when you mark your ballot.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.