10/21/17 Local Government
A brief timeline of presidential politics in St. Petersburg:
In 2007, Mayor Rick Baker was named co-chairman of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in Florida. Later, in 2008, he made appearances on behalf of the McCain-Palin ticket.
In 2011, Baker was one of four state chairmen for Herman Cain's presidential campaign in Florida. When that fizzled, in 2012, Baker was named a senior adviser on urban policy for the Romney campaign....
10/18/17 Human Interest
A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.
Just another silly troll with a smattering of online followers.
He published obscure Internet magazines and was a one-man boardroom for the white-identity think tank known as the National Policy Institute.
And then came Richard Spencer's big career break:
He was discovered by liberals.
Oh, they howled. They dithered and they stewed. They showed up in Charlottesville, Va., and turned what should have been a creepy spectacle into Spencer's Nazi-festooned coming-out party....
10/17/17 Local Government
Say this about St. Petersburg's City Council members:
Their hearts are in the right place.
It's their math that's askew.
The council's budget, finance and taxation committee voted unanimously last week to move forward with a mandatory minimum wage increase for contractors doing business with the city.
Now, in principle, this is a fine idea. Florida's minimum wage of $8.10 an hour ranks in the bottom half of the nation, and the current cost-of-living accelerator is comically inadequate....
Sometimes, the truth is in the silence.
You can learn more by what a person does not say than when they are shouting from a mountaintop. Or so it seems when it comes to Florida politicians.
Take, for instance, the question of the U.S. Constitution. Pretty important document, right? Candidates and office-holders fall all over themselves when it comes to quoting, praising and honoring the words of the Founding Fathers....
10/07/17 Local Government
Good day to you, Justice Ginsburg.
You too, Chief Justice Roberts.
And particularly you, Justice Kennedy.
I realize getting an audience with the U.S. Supreme Court is rare, but I thought you should know the St. Petersburg City Council has put in a request for some indefinite date in the future.
Basically, the council has circumvented one of your landmark decisions. Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, to be exact. The council recently passed a campaign finance ordinance that stifles some of the unintended consequences of your 2010 decision in Citizens United....
One of the more intriguing potential candidates for governor has an unapologetic love affair with booze.
He's filthy rich, and not ashamed to remind you of that. On his best days he can be a charming SOB, and on his worst he can be an annoying one. He would be reckless as a candidate, and unpredictable as a governor.
So how, you ask, can Democrats possibly support John Morgan?
If they're smart, with open arms....
09/26/17 Local Government
So, if you've been following the bureaucratic carnage:
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board operated as a rogue operation, homeowners were given lip service and their complaints were ignored, and the paper trail was so fouled up that it's impossible to track down a truckload of missing money.
And yet some members of the county's legislative delegation think you should still trust the board to operate independently....
09/23/17 Local Government
The memories must be protected. The music and the lore, too.
On the other hand, the rent is due and jobs are scarce.
And that, in a nutshell, is the conundrum of the Manhattan Casino and the proposed Commerce Park project along 22nd Street S in St. Petersburg's Midtown neighborhood.
Is it gentrification to bring a Floribbean-style restaurant into a historic African-American nightclub as well as a high-end motorcycle shop across the street, or is it a way to create much-needed jobs in a neighborhood that has seen more plans than progress in recent decades?...
Your mail-in ballot for the St. Petersburg mayoral election has just arrived. According to the fine print, if you live on the west side of the city, your ballot will count as one vote. Meanwhile, a ballot in St. Pete's northeast section counts for three votes.
Crazy, right? You wouldn't put up with that.
And yet, when it comes to the presidential election, we sort of do. All 12 million of us voters in Florida....
As too many people figured out last week, it can take a long time to restore power after a hurricane.
It doesn't matter how often you call to complain, or how sad and droopy you try to appear as the power trucks drive past you on the street. Somewhere along the line you discover you are at the mercy of others. That goes for cable, Internet and gas, too. Not to mention trash collection or roof repair....
09/11/17 Human Interest
Twelve hours later, the sky was blue and the line to get into Waffle House stretched from the front entrance around two walls and past the loading door in the back of the building.
This is how we cope with hurricanes in Tampa Bay. Every decade or so we get ourselves worked into a frenzy, and then we exhale with a plate of hash browns, preferably scattered, smothered and covered.
"When Waffle House opens up, the world is right again," said Pete Burkes, who waited outside the Safety Harbor location for two hours to bring hot food to his disabled mother. "That's the truth."...
09/09/17 Human Interest
At least this time, we've had plenty of notice. That may not sound like much consolation when hunkered behind plywood and sandbags, but it is an improvement from the last major hurricane around here.
Now, to be fair, technology wasn't quite the same in 1921. Spaghetti models and cones of uncertainty were still a few tweaks away. Even so, the St. Petersburg Times may have underplayed the coming storm in its Oct. 25 edition....
Her little brother is a U.S. citizen, born and raised right outside of Plant City. One of her sisters might be safe too, by virtue of a marriage and the legal protections it could provide.
All of which might soon make Nanci Palacios an outsider in her own family.
And, if White House reports are accurate, in her country, too.
Today is the deadline given by a handful of attorneys general, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, for the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Like marshals in some bad cowboy movie, they have demanded the so-called Dreamers be out of town by some future sundown....
When the rains came to Baton Rouge, La., in the summer of 2016, they called it a 1-in-a-1,000 storm. Streets were flooded, houses were destroyed and the average insurance payout was $89,325.
Except only about 15 percent of homeowners actually had flood insurance.
The tales of misery from 2012's Hurricane Sandy stretched from the Carolinas to New York. More than a dozen states were affected, with property damage estimated at $50 billion....
08/29/17 Local Government
Well, that was fun. Let's do it again.
So, does Nov. 7 work for you?
Because, make no mistake, the mayoral runoff St. Petersburg staged on the last Tuesday of August has the potential to be exactly like the general election the city will have on the first Tuesday of November.
To put it in football terms, we're going to overtime.
Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker did not just finish in a virtual tie on Tuesday, they also smoked the rest of the field. And that suggests the exact same voters will soon be back to cast the exact same votes....