Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

John Romano: City Council's handling of Pier vote is why we're here today

The lawsuit to save the Pier began Wednesday with a disclaimer, of sorts.

Circuit Judge Jack Day made it clear he was not there to listen to policy arguments. He wasn't grading politicians or ruling on the proper way to run a city government.

It was his job to view it merely as a legal argument.

This announcement was entirely appropriate, if not a little disheartening.

For, really, the entire matter feels like a pseudo-referendum on how the City Council handled the call to raze the Pier nearly three years ago.

And just for clarification's sake, I've never been emotionally attached to this debate. I think tearing down the Pier is definitely the correct decision but, at the same time, the proposed Lens project doesn't leave me humming Jimmy Buffett tunes.

I also understand that no design will ever enjoy universal acceptance. If we could acquire the Statue of Liberty in a trade for the Pier and a landmark to be named later, there would still be people squawking about Lady Liberty's bad paint job.

So, yes, there were going to be sore losers no matter how this shook out.

To me, the larger issue is whether St. Pete residents were given enough of a voice in a fairly historic decision.

And I'm just not sure they were.

To say residents had plenty of time to offer input has some revisionist history to it. It's true the task force to study the future of the Pier was formed in the spring of 2009, and the decision to demolish it didn't come until late the following summer.

But there are a couple of details that get left out of that sequence.

Almost a year into the process, the chairman of the task force acknowledged that 70 percent of the residents they heard from wanted to keep some form of the inverted pyramid. That's a pretty substantial number to ignore.

And while the process dragged on for a long time, the actual decision was made abruptly and virtually without notice.

The first real indication the Pier was actually coming down was a 5-3 straw vote during a council workshop. In the aftermath of that informal poll, nearly 80 percent of the people who contacted City Hall were opposed to the decision.

Eight days later — with a published agenda that merely suggested a "Pier update" would be discussed — the council suddenly voted to tear it down. Several council members argued to delay the vote until a public hearing could be held, but they were blown off.

It logically left the impression that some people on the council were rushing to pull the trigger before opposition could be mobilized.

And that's why we're still arguing today.

To be honest, I'm not at all comfortable supporting the Stop the Lens crowd. Too much of their shtick feels politically motivated. And their arguments to save the Pier completely ignore how the structure has become unstable, expensive and increasingly irrelevant as an attraction.

But for some reason, the City Council did not want to have that debate in public in 2010. So, here we are in 2013, waiting to hear a judge's decision on arcane legal precedents.

At this point, it's silly, wasteful and counterproductive to still be having this argument.

And yet it is exactly what the City Council deserves.

Power outage halts flights at Atlanta international airport

Power outage halts flights at Atlanta international airport

ATLANTA — Authorities say a power outage at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has disrupted ingoing and outgoing flights.Airport spokesman Reese McCraine says the outage occurred early Sunday afternoon. He says all airport operatio...
Updated: 12 minutes ago

Wesley Chapel woman, 28, dies after crashing motorcycle

LUTZ — A 28-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday after she crashed near Lutz Lake Fern Road and Apian Way, Hillsborough deputies reported.Erica Kristen Rodriguez of Wesley Chapel was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with a small group of motorcyclists eastb...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Why Jon Gruden was the best mistake the Bucs ever made

Why Jon Gruden was the best mistake the Bucs ever made

Warren Sapp pointed to the sky. And then he dropped Kurt Warner to the ground.The Bucs had just intercepted Warner for the fourth time. Sapp’s block cleared the way for Derrick Brooks to cross the goal line and clinch the win.Before Tampa Bay p...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Florida mayor resigns after arrest for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits

Florida mayor resigns after arrest for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits

DAVENPORT, Fla. (AP) — The mayor of a small Florida town arrested for using dead peoples’ disabled parking permits to park at city hall has resigned.The Bradenton Herald reports that Teresa Bradley resigned and was given six-months of probation as pa...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Woman, 24, hit by Land Rover, in critical condition

LARGO — A 24-year-old woman is in critical condition after she was struck by a vehicle Saturday night, police said.Khadijah Wood was walking through the parking lot of the Sandy Lane Apartment Homes on Belcher Road about 7:30 p.m.At the same time, Ju...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Warm, sunny Sunday in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — It’s another bright, sunny day in Tampa Bay. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaHigh temperatures should reach about 80 d...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Murder suspect is on the run after fatally shooting a father, cops say

Murder suspect is on the run after fatally shooting a father, cops say

A first-degree murder suspect remains at large almost a week after the fatal shooting of a Winter Haven father.The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says Johnny Ray Owsley’s murder of 35-year-old Adam Thrower, called "Cook" by friends, involved Owsley’s e...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

Lightning wins at Avalanche with four-goal second period

DENVER — The Lightning left for Las Vegas Saturday for the first of four nights in Sin City.But Tampa Bay’s first regret came before it boarded the charter flight; the Lighting lamented making Saturday’s 6-5 win over the Avalanche much more thrilling...
Published: 12/16/17
Updated: 12/17/17

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy, Lavonte David out for Monday’s game vs. Falcons

TAMPA — As if containing All-Pro Julio Jones and the Falcons offense isn’t challenging enough, the Bucs will try to do so Monday night without perhaps their top defensive players, tackle Gerald McCoy and linebacker Lavonte David.On Saturday, Bucs coa...
Published: 12/16/17
Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

Trump defends tax plan, proclaims economy set ‘to rock’

WASHINGTON — Closing in on the first major legislative achievement of his term, President Donald Trump on Saturday defended the Republican tax cut as a good deal for the middle class while boldly suggesting it could lead to explosive economic growth....
Published: 12/16/17