Rec center name change will honor recreation manager
The St. Petersburg city code bars naming public buildings after a living person, but the City Council recently waived that rule, unanimously giving its approval to rename the Wildwood Recreation Center after Thomas "Jet" Jackson.
Jackson, 70, has mentored countless young people and was a pioneer in organizing youth sports during segregation, said state Rep. Darryl Rouson, the St. Petersburg Democrat who spoke in favor of the name change.
"If not Jet, who ? If not now, when?" he said at the July 10 council meeting.
Council member Jim Kennedy said Jackson proved an exception to the rule. "I'm comfortable if you use Jet as a measuring stick. That'll be an awfully long measuring stick."
Jackson was a pillar of the community and deserved the honor now, said council member Wengay Newton, who sponsored the item. "I truly am a believer of giving people flowers while they can still smell them."
Jackson, the city's recreation manager, has worked for St. Petersburg since 1960, starting as a lifeguard, much of that time at the Wildwood center, 1000 28th St. S. He was shocked by the news. "It really took me by surprise. It's an honor," Jackson said.
Council moves to speak out
Mayor Rick Kriseman's search for a new police chief yielded an unforeseen result: a council attempt to change the city charter.
Irked by what they called "heavy-handed" rhetoric by City Attorney John Wolfe, the City Council is moving forward with plans to eliminate language in the city charter that would allow council members to be removed for weighing in on mayoral appointments.
Last month, Wolfe warned the council not to be too specific in its comments regarding the search. Currently, the charter reads that council members can be removed for trying to influence the process.
Council member Karl Nurse's proposed charter amendment calls for protection for members who voice an opinion.
"Voters expect us to have an opinion on who we have for police chief. It really has been a bit of an issue," Nurse said at a recent council meeting.
The "heavy-handed rhetoric" about removal went too far, said council member Steve Kornell. "You may want to lighten up a little bit ... and let's work together."
The hope is to deliver ballot language to the elections supervisor for it to appear on the November ballot, Nurse said.