Thursday, December 14, 2017
News Roundup

More city and community leaders weigh in on MLK celebration debate

ST. PETERSBURG — The stalemate between state Rep. Darryl Rouson and community leader Sevell Brown over how to best honor the legacy of one of the country's most celebrated civil rights icons continues.

Other city leaders have started to weigh in on whether they think the city's annual Martin Luther King Jr. parade should be moved to Saturday on Rouson's suggestion, replaced by a day of service. But most were loath to step into the middle of the dispute, saying they hoped the two men would work it out soon.

"I remain optimistic that the two can come together for the common good, knowing that this day is to remember, honor and celebrate the life of Dr. King," Mayor Bill Foster said Wednesday.

Foster said he told Rouson he thought the idea of a day of service is "appealing," but that he also will support whatever decision the parade planners make. Brown is against a Saturday move.

"I told them, 'Work it out,' " Foster said.

That hasn't happened yet.

Rouson, who's already secured $500,000 from the Legislature for his idea, said Brown hasn't answered calls or messages. Brown said Rouson should have come to him and the parade planners before floating the idea to city officials like Foster and City Council members months ago.

Council members Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse said they see a tremendous opportunity in Rouson's idea, and there's plenty of public service projects that could be done.

They also said it's no secret that activities that happen after the parade have long drawn complaints from residents. Large groups of crowds often gather along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street and hang out, drinking and partying.

"The parade's a very positive thing," Nurse said. "I get complaints every year from folks in Bartlett Park about the parties afterward."

But moving the parade to another day might not solve that, officials said.

"It's not going to change people from congregating after the parade," Foster said. "That is a tradition, and we're not attempting to stop it. People celebrate in their own ways. … I don't have any issues with people gathering to have a good time as long as they don't break the law."

Officials said police services for this year's parade cost about $32,000. The aftermath costs another $50,000.

Rouson said he thinks moving the parade to the Saturday before might reduce those costs because there wouldn't be any holiday pay.

Ultimately, he said, he's just trying to honor King's legacy by getting the after-parties, which he described as "debauchery," off the icon's birthday.

Not everyone agrees.

"We are satisfied with what we have now. We are happy with the parade on MLK Day," said St. Petersburg resident Ada Davis, a Brown supporter. "I'm in agreement in doing things for the community, but you can do that the whole month."

Business leaders said they haven't heard strong opinions for or against having the parade or day of service on a particular day.

"I know merchants love it anytime there's activity downtown," said Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. "There's probably a way to do a little bit of both events."

Newton said even if both events end up on the same day, that might not be a bad thing. He said perhaps part of the service day could include a festival for those who would normally attend the after-parties. He envisions something that would offer health and career information.

"When the parade is over, the people just mill around for hours on end," he said. "It's a captive audience, so there's an opportunity there. That's where they need the services."

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643.

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pinellas judge: U.S. Army major found incompetent to stand trial can leave Florida

LARGO — A Pinellas circuit judge ruled this week that Roman Izzo, a U.S. Army major charged with murder but found incompetent to stand trial after he was injured in a motorcycle crash, can move to Kansas with his family.Izzo was released on $1.5 mill...
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Lawsuit attempts to end conversion therapy ban in Tampa

Lawsuit attempts to end conversion therapy ban in Tampa

TAMPA — A conservative advocacy group is asking a federal court to overturn Tampa’s ban on conversion therapy for minors.The City Council approved an ordinance in March that bars the controversial practice, which tries to change a person’s sexual ori...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

Jabil’s fiscal results top Wall Street expectations

ST. PETERSBURG — Jabil Circuit Inc. beat Wall Street expectations for both profits and revenue Thursday.The St. Petersburg-based contract electronics manufacturer — one of Tampa Bay’s biggest public companies — posted fiscal first-quarter earnings of...
Updated: 20 minutes ago

Deputies: Fleeing suspect shoots, injures dog as he runs through yards

DOVER — While fleeing from deputies, a man shot a dog inside a fenced yard Thursday, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Deputies said they were attempting to pull over a vehicle that might have been stolen near Milagro Court and Bl...
Updated: 24 minutes ago

Amtrak train strikes, kills 60-year-old woman in Lakeland

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the death of a 60-year-old woman who was hit by an Amtrak train on Thursday.The woman was struck at 12:30 p.m. in the railroad intersection of Highway 92 East and Fairway Avenue in Lakeland, deputies ...
Updated: 30 minutes ago

Palm Harbor woman, 23, killed while crossing Seminole Boulevard

SEMINOLE — A 23-year-old Palm Harbor woman was fatally injured when she was struck by a sport-utility vehicle while crossing Seminole Boulevard on Wednesday night, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.The incident took place at about 8:4...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

Dade City man turns himself in on warrants for Polk armed robbery

DADE CITY — A 25-year-old man wanted in connection with the attempted robbery of a taxi driver in Lakeland turned himself in late Wednesday night after being prompted by his mother, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.Edner Dely, was wante...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Soccer store opens on Gunn Highway, just in time for the World Cup

Even though the United States Men’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, that hasn’t diminished local fans’ excitement about the upcoming international event.Ariel Martinez, owner of Best Buy Soccer and Lacrosse, has already receiv...
Updated: 1 hour ago