Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Romano: Move carefully on any potential Pier straw poll

Bill Cosby used to do a routine about coin flips before historical conflicts.

He would imagine the choices given to George Custer and Sitting Bull, for instance. Another was the colonists and the British army during the Revolutionary War.

Cosby, as referee, would narrate the coin flip:

"The British call heads; it is tails. You lose the toss, British. What will you do, settlers?

"All right, the settlers say they will wear any color clothes they want to, shoot from behind the rocks and trees, and say that your team must wear red and march in a straight line."

It's been years since I've heard Cosby do the bit, but I thought about it this week when reading the choices St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster was suggesting for a Pier straw poll.

Forgive me if I have missed some of the nuance, but the proposal sounded something like this:

Heads: Approve the Lens.

Tails: Get one of those do-it-yourself Pier kits at Ikea.

Now it's possible that I've exaggerated the options, but you get the idea. A straw poll is not going to be terribly reliable if the choices are not realistic.

To be honest, I'm not even sure a straw poll can accurately reflect the complexities involved in this decision. But, if the City Council decides to move forward with the idea this afternoon, I would hope they take great care in framing the questions.

Since the current Pier's imminent closure has removed renovation from the equation, this is more a philosophical debate over what type of attraction makes the most sense.

If residents want to invest most of the funds on building above the water, then the result will be a largely ornamental structure. The Lens is a pretty nice example of this.

The point is that building above the water is extremely expensive, and so the old concept of restaurants, nightclubs and stores hundreds of feet from shore is not feasible.

On the other hand, if residents do not want the focus on aesthetics or walkways, they can choose to invest in attractions on the land near the Pier's approach with a smaller, less expensive structure over the water.

This idea hasn't been given much attention in recent years, so the city would need to explain what an upland project might look like.

The key is that residents need to understand there are ramifications with every decision. The City Council has already said no to renovating the Pier. Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg is urging residents to say no to the Lens.

At some point, St. Pete has to say yes to something.

• • •

Earlier this month, I asked for your help in deciding which manatee to adopt from the Save the Manatee Club. I appreciate everyone who called and wrote with their choices, and I've finally come to a decision.

Thanks in large part to dozens of heartfelt and handwritten letters from Katie Rief's fourth-grade students at St. Mary's Episcopal Day School in Tampa, the winner is Ariel at Homosassa Springs. Ariel was rescued with her mother, Amanda, when she was just 2 weeks old. The adoption was made in the name of Ms. Rief's fourth-grade class.

For more information on adopting and donating, please visit

Romano: Move carefully on any potential Pier straw poll 05/29/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 10:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun


    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.