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Wengay Newton resigns from Tiger Bay Club after sending disparaging email

The tension swirling over the fate of the Lens has cracked the leadership at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.

As a result, St. Petersburg City Council member Wengay Newton resigned from the club Friday in a terse statement sent to Anne Drake McMullen, president of the nonpartisan political club.

During Thursday’s City Council meeting, Newton snapped a picture of McMullen chatting with Chris Steinocher, head of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.

Newton, a staunch opponent of the Lens, then sent the picture to many Tiger Bay board members.

“Birds of a Feather,” Newton wrote, “Our fearless leader joined at the hip with the Pro-Lens Chamber. City Council played “Kick the Can” and didn’t vote to spend $1.5 Million more tax dollars on the lens but deferred it for 2 weeks.”

Board members lambasted Newton in emails.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he never uses the “reply all button,” but he needed to in this case because “this sarcastic remark bothers me as it is uncalled for and I am going to respond.”

Gualtieri said McMullen has the right to her own opinion and is not an elected official like both men.

“For an elected official to criticize a citizen publicly for even tacitly supporting or opposing a public issue is wrong,” Gualtieri wrote. “...As you seemed to feel it was okay for you to share your opinion about Anne with everyone, I will share mine and that is you need to apologize to her or resign from the Tiger Bay board.”

Newton called himself an “imperfect leader” Friday morning and said “God is not through with me yet. He then asked McMullen for forgiveness.

“What I did was thoughtless and should have never happened,” he said. “I meant you or Chris no disrespect. It was you Anne whom brought me to the Tiger Bay Board with hopes of creating more diversity among the membership.

It is my prayer that you would find it in your heart to forgive me. Please accept my resignation from the Tiger Bay Board.”

Newton and McMullen could not be reached for comment.

[Last modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 12:48pm]


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