Friday, December 30, 2016

The Pier – who got us here

Along with the Pier problems, the uplands development is starting to raise a few eyebrows.


Originally Posted May 15, 2016


St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin

I thought it was time to remind everyone about who got us into the slowly unfolding Pier and uplands debacle.

The well-orchestrated effort of the Kriseman administration to tear down the inverted pyramid and build a new millennial playground on St. Pete's waterfront is starting to come back and haunt them.

Things continue to move a bit slowly at the Pier construction site. It appears the demolition contractor, Sonny Glasbrenner, is having a few problems of their own.


Apparently, the old Pier approach may have been a bit tougher than City Council was led to believe. Demolition originally scheduled for early spring is  estimated to be finished in September.

You can check out the administration's spin on the pier at Current Progress and what's next.

Along with the Pier problems, the uplands development is starting to raise a few eyebrows. Local restaurateurs on the Beach Drive have suddenly figured out that those nice new water front restaurants proposed by the administration may be a problem.

Here is a comment from a reader:

Hi Doc.  Did you know that people are getting stirred up about the uplands development that is planned by hizzoner, the mayor?  The pier issue aside, virtually nobody wants those restaurants on the uplands of the pier.  The City is planning on removing parking for the public for the most part, unless you are a restaurant customer and they definitely want to remove the parking along the shoreline, on both Straub Parks.  I have heard that the Museum of Fine Arts is not happy about this and that Beach Drive establishments aren't either.  

The owner or manager of the Birchwood was quoted a few months ago saying that St Pete has reached a saturation point of restaurants.  Now, the City is using public money to increase their competition.  Everyone knows that restaurants with a closer view of the water will surpass Beach Drive.  Look what happened to Baywalk/Sundial when Beach Drive was enhanced?  

All in all, the City and the wanna be greenies think that people will abandon their cars and rely on those looper trolleys that really belong at the beaches, not as a legitimate form of transit.  Keep hearing that the residents aren't all that happy with the over abundance of activity on the waterfront and the mayor just doesn't listen to their concerns.  

There is a petition about to happen to address waterfront development.  It is being started by Tom Lamdon of Vote on the Pier.  He thinks that nobody cares anymore and I keep telling him that people are just not aware that there IS something that can be done with this over development.  

They are separating the pier issue from the development issues.  If you recall, it was overwhelming at the Pier Envisioning sessions that people didn't want development on the uplands.  Overwhelming, even more than the support of the inverted pyramid.  I bet that none of the council and certainly not the mayor were at the envisioning sessions.  They are wolves in sheeps' clothing thinking that we elected them to make all our decisions for us.  They don't listen even though they meet with people. –JC

As you watch all of this unfold and the price starts rising, the features disappear and the Kriseman spin machine keeps telling you it will be another iconic destination just remember: these are the same people who promised they would heed your input and totally ignored your wishes.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook. See Doc's Photo Gallery at Bay Post Photos.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Did Rick Kriseman make a strategic political error?

Kriseman was looking to spread the blame as far and as thin as he could while totally excusing himself.


Originally Posted June 17, 2016

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin  

As the level of concern about St. Pete's sewage problem rose along with the untreated wastewater and raw sewage, the Kriseman administration struggled to deal with the fall out.

Kriseman reverted to the old political ploy of deflect and divert as reported in a Tampa Bay From the Times piece by Charlie Frago: As sewage dumping ends, Kriseman reverses course on BP money.

After the meeting, Kriseman excused his predecessor, Bill Foster, saying the severe recession tied that mayor's hands. But he stood his ground regarding the culpability of Rick Baker, who served from 2001 to 2010 and is rumored to be considering a run against Kriseman next year.

Hard to tell if this less than brilliant ploy was the brainchild of Kriseman himself, his political pocket mouse Kevin King or Ben Kirby Kriseman's personal blogger who first declared the effluent highly diluted only to retract that inappropriate statement.

Kriseman was looking to spread the blame as far and as thin as he could while totally excusing himself.

His decision to take a shot at former Mayor Rick Baker may not have been Kriseman's brightest political move.

Baker responded, "My recollection is that council and I spent $200-$300 million on water and sewer capital projects," Baker texted the Times late Thursday. "And I know that we replaced sewer pipes throughout the city. That is a substantial investment."

I had a good friend in the City administration that used to say, "Be careful when you poke the bear."

Baker would like to return to public service and a lot of us; me included, would like to see him replace a lackluster Mayor, who operates an administration staffed with inexperienced political cronies powered by doling out city money.

There is no strong indication that Baker is seriously considering another run at being St. Pete's Mayor.

Baker needs motivation to make that decision and Kriseman may have just poured a little gasoline on a smoldering fire.

I don't think anyone was particularly impressed by the Mayor's attempt to pass the blame for the crap in Clam Bayou, or the untreated waste water in the Bay. At times like these if you're the Mayor you're the guy responsible and supposedly the person who can get the fix started.

Kriseman had a 10-month head's up alert on the wastewater problem but then there were   brighter and shiner things to focus on.

Will this "poke" be enough to catapult Baker into a run for St. Pete Mayor? Probably not, but I have been around Baker after he has been "poked" and quite frequently the reaction was surprising.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to share on Facebook.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Kriseman Administration a Crisis of incompetency

City Council must set up independent reporting and monitoring for all major City projects.

St. Petersburg, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: 
In Search of Robin

This is Part 3 of a three-part series focusing on the competency of St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and his Office of the Mayor.

I was an assistant director and manager of IT with the City of St. Petersburg for 28 years. During that period, I worked for City Managers and strong mayors. This experience gives me a unique perspective on how the top leadership of the City of St. Petersburg affects the staff, its openness and effectiveness.

As the sewage crisis grew Kriseman cast desperately about to find someone to hang the blame on.

Kriseman was quick to sack Tom Gibson Director of Engineering and Steve Leavitt Public Works administrator, who were neither smart enough nor quick enough to jump on the whistle blower band wagon, but the real place he needs to cut heads is in his own office.

As a side note since Representative Jolly is making some sort of whistle blower protection available for City employees, my suggestion for City employees would be to take advantage of it.

Kriseman is always looking for a scapegoat, and you could be next.

It is time for Kevin King and Ben Kirby to go and Rick Kriseman to step up and be a really strong Mayor.

Let's get the spin merchant and political operative out of the Mayor's office and the decision-making process and work to improve the trust and confidence of the City employees.

I know many of these people.

They are good people proud of their City, and the vast majority of them want to serve the public and do the best job they can.

The problem is simply Kriseman/King/Kirby's "shoot the messenger,'" pass the buck and spin the " news" management style has the lid on all upward information flow.

Since there is a serious trust issue with the Mayor's office, just saying, "Everything will be OK" will not work and the reality is as long as Kriseman holds on to his crony security blanket not much will change. In fact, I would expect things to get worse - much worse.

Kriseman needs to hire or promote a chief of staff with some serious political and managerial experience and let Deputy Mayor Tomalin, and City Administrator Gary Cornwell do their jobs.

Once Kriseman has his own shop in order, which I seriously doubt he will do, he should hold a meeting with all management personnel and give them his guarantee that no one will lose their job for doing their job.

All of this puts a significant burden on City Council.

City Council must set up independent reporting and monitoring for all these major projects, especially as long as the current office of the Mayor stays intact.

Anyone on the St. Pete City Council that takes anything that comes from Kriseman's office or the City senior staff at face value without full vetting, and backup is not performing his or her elected duty.

Although it is something we avoided during my time at the City, it is time for City Council to consider creating a backdoor for City employees to the City Council either directly or through an advocate who works directly for City Council.

This comes with a significant amount of risk, but it may be the only way City Council can be sure the public's best interests, health and safety are being properly managed.

Kriseman through his office of the Mayor has created a managerial problem that is a least as big projects the City has in the works. Losing the trust and confidence of a nearly 3000-employee organization and trying to regain that confidence and trust is a daunting task.

I seriously doubt Rick Kriseman can fix the problem.

IF YOU WORK FOR THE CITY OF ST. PETERSBURG OR KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES PLEASE BE SURE TO E-MAIL A LINK TO THIS ARTICLE TO THEM AND LIKE IT ON FACEBOOK.

E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb) Friend request. Please comment below, and be sure to Like or share on Facebook.

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