Oldsmar mayor pokes fun at Rays beef with St. Petersburg (w/video)
It's been a tense back and forth lately between St. Petersburg and North Pinellas officials over where the Tampa Bay Rays should resettle, but Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis on Wednesday tried to sweeten the talks.
The beef started after news broke that Bevis met with Rays executives last month to give a “nickel tour” of the town as the team continues its hunt for a new ballpark site.
At a legislative breakfast, three bay area lawmakers - state Reps. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, Larry Ahern, R-Seminole and Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater - even publicly supported the idea of an Oldsmar stadium for its central location in the region.
But as St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce push to keep the Rays in their city, it got scrappy.
"If the Rays want to alienate St. Petersburg and Tampa, it may be ideal," Kriseman's chief of staff Kevin King told the Times last month. "To me, Oldsmar's like Georgia."
Oldsmar council member Jerry Beverland fired back at a later city council meeting, saying “I don't give a rat's rear end about St. Petersburg, because it is like a rat's rear end, and you can tell him that because I don't really care. That man can go to Hades.”
So when the Pinellas County leaders went around the table introducing themselves at the monthly Mayors' Council luncheon Wednesday, Bevis poked fun and said he was the mayor of “Oldsmar, Georgia.”
At the end of the meeting, when each mayor gave closing remarks, Bevis stepped up the shade game.
To show his city “had a sense of humor,” Bevis got up from his seat and presented Kriseman with a gift bag.
Kriseman, visibly surprised, poked through the tissue paper and pulled out … a jar of Georgia peach jam.
A seated Kriseman reached back to shake Bevis' hand but didn't say a word. He just shook his head.