Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

Ford offers petitioners waiver to St. Petersburg Pier lawsuit

ST. PETERSBURG — Former City Council member Kathleen Ford has shifted tactics in her suit against the city that has enveloped more than 15,000 petitioners seeking a vote on the fate of the city's Pier.

The suit distressed numerous signers who learned of the legal entanglement after the fact, some from a postcard stating that they must be a part of the lawsuit either as a plaintiff or a defendant.

After an article ran in the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday, several people called to say the only reason they signed the petition was to have a say on the Pier, not to be involved in a lawsuit.

Ford, who did not return a telephone call or email seeking comment, is now offering at least some petitioners "a waiver of interest in lawsuit and agreement to be bound by final court decision."

But Michael P. Allen, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, does not think the new document, dated Jan. 5, will automatically solve the problem.

"Ms. Ford seems to, through the waiver, be trying to say, if you sign this, then you don't need to be a party. I don't think that can be squared with the judge's order," he said, referring to a December ruling by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Amy Williams that said each of the more than 15,000 petitioners is a necessary party to the case.

Ford's suit is just one snarl in an escalating quarrel about the city's decision to demolish the inverted pyramid, built in 1973, that serves as the city's Pier and replace it with a controversial $50 million project called the Lens.

This week, City Council member Wengay Newton, a staunch opponent of the project, accused city attorneys of kicking him out of a closed attorney-client session with other council members about the lawsuit. He also accused the city of targeting city employees who signed the petition. The mayor and city attorneys deny the accusations.

Ford filed her lawsuit last August, seeking to force the city to hold a referendum to amend its charter so as to "preserve and refurbish" the current Pier. The suit also seeks a temporary injunction to halt demolition of the structure pending the court's ruling and outcome of a vote.

She filed the suit days after City Council members declined to put the issue on the November ballot, despite an effort by the group voteonthepier.com that drew 15,652 certified petitioners.

In December, Williams ordered the case to mediation. The city, which has since said the suit was brought on behalf of people not seeking to be part of the legal action, wants it dismissed. It also is asking that the Jan. 18 mediation be postponed. That motion is scheduled to be heard Monday before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Day.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
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...
Updated: 3 hours ago

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...
Updated: 5 hours ago
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....
Updated: 8 hours ago
Aquarium reopens to divers

Aquarium reopens to divers

Florida Keys News BureauVisitors to Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters dive with among indigenous Keys fish Friday in Marathon. The attraction reopened Friday after closing just before Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys on Sept. 10. Although tourism f...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

Florida moves to control booming, invasive iguanas

MIAMI — With burrowing iguanas showing up in people’s toilets and damaging expensive sewer lines, Florida wildlife managers are stepping up efforts to control the state’s booming population of the wild, invasive reptiles. The Florida Fish and Wildlif...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Fan helps fund Miami Stadium’s historic marker

MIAMI — For thousands of kids who grew up in Miami, going to the old Miami Stadium in the Allapattah neighborhood was a part of coming of age. Opened on Aug. 31, 1949, with a game between the Miami Sun Sox and Havana Cubans, two Class B Florida Inter...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

Florida man sues for $2.8 million fishing tournament prize money

OCEAN CITY, Md. — Phil Heasley of Naples caught the fish of his life, but the $2.8 million in tournament prize money got away. Heasley reeled in a 6-foot white marlin last year off Maryland’s coast. But in a sign of how concerned some big money tour...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Romano: Some bullies survive beyond the schoolyard

Sometime soon, members of the Florida House will be asked to consider a solution for bullying in public schools. It’s a dubious idea based on the premise that students should flee their tormenters, and use voucher funds to attend a private school of ...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Two die in head-on crash on Gunn Highway in Odessa

ODESSA — Hillsborough County deputies are investigating a head-on crash on Gunn Highway that killed two and sent a child to the hospital Saturday afternoon.About 12: 45 p.m., Terry Lee Bronschidle, 70, of Tampa was driving his Chevy Traverse south on...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

Q&A with Syracuse coach Benoit Groulx about the Lightning’s next generation

DENVER — There might be one team in hockey hotter than the Lightning.It is Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, Syracuse.The Crunch has won 10 straight after Friday’s victory over Providence. Why is this important? While the AHL is a developmental league, the ...
Updated: 9 hours ago