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Mayor Bill Foster, group of pastors meet behind closed doors

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster was tight-lipped about a closed-door meeting he had with a group of pastors Thursday.

Foster met with the pastors, many of whom lead primarily African-American congregations, at the Allstate Center at St. Petersburg College a couple of hours before hosting a Mayor's Night Out event at the Willis S. Johns Center, 6635 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. N.

"It was very productive," said Foster.

Some have criticized Foster for firing longtime city administrator Goliath Davis III last week. Foster terminated Davis after he didn't attend the funeral of a police officer killed in the line of duty — the third city officer killed on the job this year.

Former City Council member Rene Flowers said she organized Thursday's meeting to allow the pastors to share their thoughts on how the city should move forward without Davis. Foster would not say who was at the meeting or what was discussed. Reporters were not allowed to attend.

Meanwhile, a coalition of community organizations said it has invited the mayor to discuss his vision, strategy and plans for Midtown after Davis' firing. Local magazine publisher Gypsy Gallardo, organizer of a civic group called Agenda 2010, said she sent the mayor an e-mail Thursday about meeting with representatives of more than 30 organizations across the city.

The Rev. Manuel Sykes, a spokesman for the coalition, had organized a similar meeting that was to take place today, but canceled it after hearing about the black pastors' meeting.

Sykes, contacted late Thursday, said he still feels it's important for the coalition to meet with Foster. He said it will allow the mayor to get the input of many organizations at once.

"We feel that we all want the same thing," said Sykes, who is president of the local NAACP. "We want some concrete effort to turn things around."

Mayor Bill Foster, group of pastors meet behind closed doors 03/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 11:14pm]
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