Sunday, February 18, 2018
News Roundup

John Romano: Is all this energy spent on Lens just a little too much?

By now, we know lots of people are fanatically opposed to the Lens. They hate the look, the cost, the delusion of an underwater garden.

And we also know a fair number of people think the Lens is just what St. Petersburg needs. They consider it a visionary replacement for the now-shuttered Pier.

On the other hand, here's what we do not know:

Just how many people don't give a #@*%?

And I mean that in the most sincere sense of the phrase.

My guess is a lot more folks would rather tune in to a repeat of The View than a debate on the Lens. It's not that they don't care; it's that they don't care to this degree.

And yet this tiny parcel of coastline is threatening to swallow the rest of the city.

Council members are sniping at each other. The city's upper crust are waving checkbooks in the air. The mayor has gone through more contortions than a carnival act.

And the remarkable thing is we're not arguing about public safety or poverty. We're not posting signs in support of education reform or human rights issues.

We're talking about a man-made structure that will warrant a few paragraphs in the AAA guidebook while it conceivably decides the upcoming mayoral election.

Forgive me, but doesn't that seem a little warped?

It's not that the future of the waterfront lacks importance; it's that the scope of the argument has become wildly disproportionate.

I suspect this realization has arrived gradually for many of us. One minute we were arguing whether this thing could be rescued with a tiki hut and a hamburger stand, and the next we were hearing about lawsuits and referendums.

And what makes the issue difficult to navigate is that both sides — the anti-Lens crowd and the City Council — have legitimate points.

It's true the public was given plenty of opportunities to attend brainstorming sessions and workshops long before the Lens was ever conceived. ("Help shape the Pier's $50 million future," Times headline on Sept. 7, 2008.)

It's also true a majority of people whom the advisory task force heard from seemed to be in favor of the status quo. ("Public: Stand pat on Pier," Feb. 7, 2010.)

The City Council ultimately came to the reasonable and logical conclusion that renovating the Pier was not worth the cost and that St. Petersburg was better off looking to the future rather than clinging to the past.

The problem is some council members, at this point, got too cute. Instead of arguing the merits of their decision, they quickly and deceptively rushed through a vote that caught most people by surprise.

That little maneuver probably cost them a chance at widespread support, and it allowed a small band of angry residents to put together an impressive groundswell of opposition.

It's also left us where we are today:

With the strong possibility the city will have wasted years and millions of dollars on a project that will soon be rejected by voters and leave St. Pete starting all over again.

If that decision is inevitable, then so be it. Honestly, I don't give a rip.

Just as long as everyone understands that this waterfront amenity should not shape every other decision that needs to be made in St. Petersburg.

Comments
ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

ROTC leader shocked that accused school shooter 1 of his own

PARKLAND, Fla. — The sound of gunfire still ringing in his ears after his mad half-mile sprint, Jack Ciaramello was standing with friends in a grocery store parking lot when a sheriff’s deputy approached. He asked the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High se...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Updated: 3 hours ago
From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

From meek to militant: The Florida teachers strike that unsettled a nation and fueled a movement

Some teachers left goodbye messages to their students on classroom blackboards. Others cleared their desks.It was Feb. 16, 1968, a Friday, and a sign of what was coming that Monday in Florida: the nation’s first statewide teachers strike.When schools...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Pinellas Park man tries to stop people breaking into his car, is shot in arm

PINELLAS PARK — A man saw people trying to break into his vehicle and chased them away, before one of the attempted burglars shot him in the arm, police said.Alexander Weaver, 28, was at his home on the 6200 block of 106th Avenue N early Sunday morni...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Daytona 500: Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoying different perspective

Daytona 500: Dale Earnhardt Jr. enjoying different perspective

DAYTONA BEACH – Dale Earnhardt Jr. seems to be enjoying his retirement from racing.NASCAR's most popular driver is back at Daytona International Speedway for today's Daytona 500, but without the pressure of trying to win his sport's biggest rac...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Principal of a pained Stoneman Douglas High just sent a message to his students

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High principal Ty Thompson exuded deep emotion and a positive view forward in his first public comments since Wednesday’s mass shooting that killed 17 people.In the two-minute video posted on the school’s website and YouTube,...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — What winter? 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaIt may still be mid February, but this week will already see plenty of sun...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Deputies: Woman charged with DUI manslaughter hit St. Pete Beach pedestrian

ST. PETE BEACH — Deputies say a driver killed a man walking on a sidewalk and fled the scene before causing a second crash Saturday night.Carolyn Yovan, 51 of St. Pete Beach, now faces felony charges of driving under the influence manslaughter and le...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Here’s how to separate the fund raisers from frauds among gofundme pages

Gofundme.com pages proliferated almost as soon as cops took Nikolas Cruz into custody after Wednesday’s 17-death massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Donors must parse the funding pages from the fraudulent.Read More: 17 dead,...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

Pinellas Sheriff’s Office accuses 14-year-old of copycat Snapchat school threat

PINELLAS PARK — The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office late Saturday said detectives arrested a 14-year-old boy and accused him of posting a threat to a school on his Snapchat account.Edward Charles Osgood, who attends Lealman Innovation Academy, was a...
Updated: 6 hours ago