Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

Darden Rice wants registry of St. Petersburg slumlords

A shortlist for shady landlords?

Like most cities, St. Petersburg has its share of slumlords. Council member Darden Rice thinks the city needs another tool to deal with them. She's proposing the city develop a registry of so-called bad apple property owners.

"These slumlords deliberately elude accountability, hide behind corporate veils, defy city ordinances, run up fines, and create unsafe nuisance properties," she wrote to her colleagues.

As St. Petersburg amps up efforts to revitalize neighborhoods via housing, Rice said, the city should develop a better policy to deal with them.

Rice's idea will be discussed at a future committee meeting.

Back to business

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has tapped a familiar face to fill a spot on the St. Petersburg Housing Authority Board: former council member Jamie Bennett.

Bennett was welcomed back to City Hall last month with plenty of handshakes and smiles as his appointment was discussed in a housing committee meeting. Kriseman also appointed local activist Ayele Hunt to the board.

"The mayor has great faith in both of them and is excited about what they can bring to the housing authority," chief of staff Kevin King said during the meeting.

Bennett said he was honored to take the post, and that he would be reading "volumes" to get up to speed.

"Housing is critical," he said. "I look forward to learning all the intricacies of this board."

From dairy worker to House candidate

There are now two Democrats in the race for House District 67, which includes much of Clearwater and Largo and is up for grabs in November when Republican state Rep. Ed Hooper is term-limited out. The latest to file is Thomas Ryan, 61, of Clearwater, who works at an ice cream mix plant in St. Petersburg and has never run for office before.

In a brief interview, Ryan said his campaign might benefit from what he called "a backlash against Republicans."

The GOP, he said, treats state government "like a fraternity." His Republican opponent, Chris Latvala, son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, seems to Ryan like the clearest example of this. His opponent "is legacy, the party feels it's his turn." Ryan, obviously, feels differently.

The other Democrat in the race is Stephen Sarnoff, 61, president of the local branch of the Communications Workers of America union, who filed last October.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8643. Follow @cornandpotatoes on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

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