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St. Petersburg council wants to speak up on mayoral appointments



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

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

"It just gives me pause," he said.

But Gerdes voted to advance the proposal by Council member Karl Nurse. As did Council member Jim Kennedy, who said he was cautious about the change, feeling it might be "whittling away at the strong mayor concept."

Council chairman Bill Dudley voted no, saying he thought council was overstepping its bounds.

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 get the amendment on the ballot.

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 member Darden Rice weren't at the meeting. Rice has supported the idea.

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


Neighborhood grants available

The city has launched a minigrants program for neighborhoods.

The city will give neighborhoods up to $500 to help pay for block parties, community gardens or activities that encourage residents to be, well, neighborly.

Mayor Rick Kriseman told the City Council recently that $30,000 is set aside, about half from Duke Energy. He thinks it's important for neighborhoods to celebrate together, not just gather in a crisis or after a tragedy.

Susan Ajoc, the city's community services director, said the grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis beginning as early as today.


Market on Fourth St. N

A farmers market in northeastern St. Petersburg will be allowed to operate on Saturdays — at least for the next six months, the city decided this week.

Dr. David McKalip, a frequent critic of city government, allowed the struggling operators to set up shop on property he owns on Fourth Street and 62nd Avenue N.

The Founders Corner Fresh Market has operated on the site since fall, but city planners cited the operators for violating a temporary use permit. The city, concerned with possible conflicts with neighbors over street parking, limited the market to one day a week.

McKalip complained, saying "the Deuces" market on 22nd Street S was allowed to operate on Tuesdays and Sundays.

Mayor Rick Kriseman met with McKalip. On Monday, the city notified McKalip that the market could operate two days a week, citing 14 spaces on McKalip's nearby clinic as an alternative to street parking.


Unusual bell graces Vinoy

A large antique-looking bell now graces the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club's gardens at the corner of Beach Drive and Fifth Avenue NE. It may look as if it was saved from an old bell tower, but it is new and installed with brides in mind, Vinoy spokeswoman Vibeke Sansone said.

Rather than working like a normal bell, the electric bell has lots of smaller bells inside. Brides can choose a tune to play before, during or after their wedding, Sansone said.


Flower shop on 16th St. N

Braun's Fine Flowers just opened at 2820 16th St. N in a former Murphy bed store.

"We are prepared to do anything from a dozen roses to a wedding or other major event," said John Braun, who opened the shop with his wife, Tiffany. She has been a designer at other flower shops in the Tampa Bay area

The couple has completely renovated the building including staining the concrete floor and creating a "European garden" feel inside

"This building just really spoke to us. This area is up and coming with a lot of people renovating homes," John Braun said.

Times staff writers Charlie Frago and Katherine Snow Smith contributed.

St. Petersburg council wants to speak up on mayoral appointments 07/31/14 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2014 1:36pm]
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