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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg City Council moves forward on charter amendment




ST. PETERSBURG -- The City Council's fire in the belly to change the city's charter so that council members can opine on high-level mayoral appointments may be cooling, but supporters of the change appear to have the votes to get the proposal on the November ballot. 

At Thursday's meeting, Council member Charlie Gerdes said he was reluctant to alter a "foundational document" 

"It just gives me pause," he said.  

Gerdes ended up voting to advance the proposal by Council member Karl Nurse in spite of his reservations. As did Council member Jim Kennedy who said he was cautious about the change, feeling it might "whittling away at the strong mayor concept." 

Council chairman Bill Dudley wasn't conflicted. He voted no, saying he thought council was overstepping its bounds in putting the issue before voters on Nov. 4.  

Currently, the charter prohibits council members from voicing an opinion on mayoral appointments. If they do, they could be removed from office.  

Even if Gerdes and Kennedy peel off, though, only five votes are needed to pass the amendment.   

Council members Amy Foster, Steve Kornell and Wengay Newton are firmly in the yes camp. 

"We're the only eight citizens in the city who are not allowed to express our opinions," Foster said. 

Nurse and Council member Darden Rice weren't at the meeting.  Both were out-of-state on government-related business. Nurse is an obvious yes and Rice has supported the idea. 

The council advanced the charter amendment to a public hearing on Aug. 7.  

[Last modified: Friday, July 25, 2014 5:51pm]


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