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Chicken suit mystery; holiday for Foster supporters; Safe Harbor vs. Safety Harbor

Foster takes campaign break?

While fighting for his future as St. Petersburg mayor, Bill Foster gave a nearly weeklong hiatus to his army of backers. Foster told them to rest since he needs their "time, talents and support" to win the election. The break ends after Labor Day.

"I'll be getting back to you soon," Foster wrote to his supporters. "The general election will be a hard-fought battle so enjoy this much-deserved week off."

He added: "Thank you once again with all of my heart."

Foster faces former City Council member Rick Kriseman in the Nov. 5 general election. Both men emerged victorious in Tuesday's primary race.

Kriseman's camp seized the opportunity to jab.

"We are working hard to communicate Rick's vision of a St. Petersburg with more jobs, better schools and stronger neighborhoods," said campaign manager Cesar Fernandez. "We welcome Mr. Foster to take some time off. He's going to need some time to figure out where he now stands on the big issues that face the city."

After that, Foster's campaign team stressed that the mayor was only asking his volunteers to take time off. Campaign staffers will be working on strategies, said Foster's campaign manager, Neil Allen.

Supporters have been canvassing the city every weekend since June. Foster wants them to enjoy the holiday weekend before the campaign intensifies this week, Allen said, adding: "We want them well-rested. We're taking this seriously."

Chickens and lies

Surprising no one, St. Petersburg politics blogger Peter Schorsch announced early on the morning of the city's primary election that he was behind the repeated appearances of someone in a chicken suit at political events that St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford didn't attend.

The chicken, or whoever was inside of it, always held the same sign: "Kathleen Ford: Too chicken to debate Foster + Kriseman."

Schorsch posed in a chicken suit in the announcement on Facebook and confessed: "You're damn right I was behind the chicken! Bye-bye Kathleen."

His confession came after weeks of denying involvement and lying to Tampa Bay Times reporters, despite comments he wrote on the newspaper's own website in which he took credit for the stunt. In a July 12 story, Schorsch told the paper that the political consultant who had accused him of being the chicken was "absolutely lying" because he didn't like Schorsch's writing about his candidate. He feigned surprise that the chicken had shown up to a mayoral debate hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, where he is an officer.

A few days before that story ran, when another reporter asked Schorsch if he was the man in the chicken suit, he emailed back: "I haven't lied to you and I've tried to rebuild my reputation over the last seven years by not lying. I am absolutely not behind the chicken."

Safety Harbor or Safe Harbor?

On this one, former Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold was right.

He went to battle in 2011 with Public Defender Bob Dillinger and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster over the name of Pinellas Safe Harbor homeless shelter in an unincorporated area near Largo.

The names Safe Harbor and Safety Harbor are too similar, Steingold said. People will be confused.

Dillinger and Foster responded with something like: Thanks but don't worry. It's not that confusing.

Tell that to ABC 7 (Sarasota) television news, which reported at least twice Wednesday that local leaders were touring a Safety Harbor homeless facility.

The TV station posted online that "Dr. Robert Marbut, who was hired by Sarasota to study the homeless issue and offer solutions, helped create a facility in Safety Harbor addressing the needs of homeless."

Later, the station's broadcast told viewers to join reporter Max Winitz for his live report at the homeless shelter in Safety Harbor.

The problem, of course, was that Winitz was not in Safety Harbor at all. But on 49th Street N, near Largo.

Contact Mark Puente at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @markpuente. Contact Anna M. Phillips at aphillips@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8779, Follow her on Twitter at @annamphillips.

Chicken suit mystery; holiday for Foster supporters; Safe Harbor vs. Safety Harbor 08/30/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 30, 2013 5:22pm]
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