Imagine if your City Hall starting doling out money to political parties
Well, that's precisesly what St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and members of the St Pete City Council decided to do this week. In one of the most bone-headed moves we've heard from Tampa Bay governments in a while, city leaders voted to give the Pinellas Democratic Party $531 for native landscaping outside its seedy little headquarters building.
No, it's not much money and Lord knows Democrats locally and statewide have far deeper problems than lack of sea grapes and beach sunflowers. But one can only imagine the howls of outrage from local Democrats if former Republican Mayors Bill Foster or Rick Baker wanted to spend public money to pretty up the Pinellas GOP's curb appeal.
Critics have grumbled about Kriseman making the mayor's office more overtly partisan than his predecessors, and this move makes that charge virtually impossible to deny.
“For the Pinellas Country Democratic Party to even request taxpayer dollars to improve their office is so outside the bounds of propriety I am frankly disgusted. The fact that the grant was approved by the city, and then City Council, is downright horrifying, whether the city attorneys say it is legal or not”, said Pinellas Republican Chairman Nick DiCeglie. “The Pinellas Democratic party should return the grant money and apologize to the City of St. Petersburg andtts taxpayers.”
“I do thank (St. Petersburg City) Councilman Ed Montanari for being the lone voice of reason in this process. Mayor Kriseman should be ashamed of himself and his staff for approving the grant but the greater fault lies with Susan McGrath and the Democratic Party for attempting to gain access to taxpayer dollars through loopholes”, continued DiCeglie. “I am sure the local Democrats are struggling to raise money with their anemic slate of local candidates, led by back-to-back loser, Charlie Crist.”
The Pinellas County Republican Party near St. Pete-Clearwater Airport. The party released a statement noting it has raised over $200,000 in the last 12 months "and does not need taxpayer dollars to survive."
UPDATE: Pinellas Democratic Chairwoman Susan McGrath announced this afternoon the party is withdrawing its application for city money and attacked the city council member Ed Montanari, a Republican, for criticizing the funding.
Donald Trump isn’t the only bully within the Republican Party and certainly isn’t the only one pushing crazy ideas, but we believe that it is important to address these neighborhoods - that have been so neglected by previous Mayors - so, we are withdrawing our grant application in order to show our support for this very important program.
We continue to pay our local property taxes and continue to be a good community partner in St. Petersburg. And most importantly, we will continue to fight for the people of St. Petersburg and throughout Pinellas County.
More on that here