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City Council member Karl Nurse says police are overwhelmed



ST. PETERSBURG-- Police officers are having a hard time shutting down drug houses, City Council member Karl Nurse told the St. Petersburg Times' editorial board in a recent interview.

"I think they are overwhelmed, particularly by the kind of intensive work that involves a shut down case," he said.

Nurse was appointed to the council in 2008. He faces former city manager Vel Thompson and student Derrick Frohne in the September primary.

During his one hour interview, Nurse called the longstanding tension between Pinellas County and St. Petersburg leaders, "one of the most dysfunctional parts of local government."

"The logic of, 'well, let's just sue each other' is where we start," he said.

He called for a new design for the struggling Pier, which loses nearly $2 million a year.

"It's a terrible building to actual use and it's the reason why we can't break even," he said.

He dismissed the Tampa Bay Rays' proposed retractable roof stadium as, "the stupidest idea."

The Florida Marlins' new stadium calls for a similar design. He said he hoped their stadium is built first.

"We will see that they can never open that roof," he said.

Adding the roof to Tropicana Field could cost roughly $220 million. A retractable roof would add at least $100 million to the cost of a new stadium. The Rays hope the roof will allow the team to grow a grass field.  

Nurse said the city should find nearly $4 million to launch a proposed bus rapid transit system along Central Avenue. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority has enough money to cover the system's initial costs, but not enough to cover annual operating expenses, he said.

If reelected, he said he would spend his term helping residents save money through energy efficiency and money management programs.

He said the City Council was mostly a collegial body, but public service has its downsides.

"It's a job where bragging is part of the job description, which is creepy," he said. "If you do something and you get credit for it, there is tension."

Cristina Silva, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:01pm]


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