Thursday, June 21, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg council moves forward with charter change to allow members a say in high-level hires

ST. PETERSBURG — Saying it was a small step to protect their free speech rights, the City Council unanimously approved a proposal Thursday to change the city charter to allow members to weigh in on high-level mayoral appointments without fear of being removed from office.

The issue now goes to voters on Nov. 4.

"You can't be the voice of the people if you can't talk," said council member Steve Kornell.

Before the vote, City Administrator Gary Cornwell and City Attorney John Wolfe tried to convince council members that the change was unnecessary.

Wolfe said his legal opinion had changed since June, when he told council members not to comment on Mayor Rick Kriseman's appointment of a new police chief.

Wolfe told the council Thursday he could write a legal opinion to protect members from removal. And he said he didn't think offering opinions to family members or other members of the public was a charter violation.

Cornwell also pointed out that a member's removal would require a council vote. "It doesn't sound like you all would be real inclined to do that," he said.

But the council opted to go ahead with the charter change.

"This is a modest proposal," said council member Karl Nurse. "This is not a slippery slope."

Wolfe's about-face was not lost on council members. Nurse called it a "dramatic evolution."

In a later interview, Wolfe said the opinion he gave in June was a "conservative" one. As he thought about it, he came to believe the existing charter language offered "some leeway."

The proposed charter change would clarify that council members had a right to voice their thoughts on the mayor's hiring of a police or fire chief, city administrator or "higher management-level employee," which Nurse, who authored the ordinance, has defined as a department head.

Several council members said they had no desire to meddle with mayoral powers under the city's "strong mayor" form of government.

"It preserves mayoral power," said council member Darden Rice.

The special election, which will coincide with the general election, will cost the city $20,500.

Kriseman didn't have any comment on the council's action, said spokesman Ben Kirby.

Comments
Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Rick Stroud weighs in on report about possible Jameis Winston suspension

Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Rick Stroud isn't buying an ESPN radio report that any suspension levied against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston by the NFL would stem from Winston's failure to report an alleged incident between him and a female Ub...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Hundreds flock New York City’s LaGuardia to greet migrant children flown in from the border

Hundreds flock New York City’s LaGuardia to greet migrant children flown in from the border

As Air Force One shuttled President Donald Trump back to Washington following a boisterous heartland rally, hundreds of people filled the terminals at the president’s hometown airport.The spontaneous demonstration at New York City’s LaGuardia was spa...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Investigation finds three St. Petersburg police lieutenants lied about work records

Investigation finds three St. Petersburg police lieutenants lied about work records

ST. PETERSBURG — Three police lieutenants falsified records about where they were during work hours, according to the St. Petersburg Police Department — a severe violation of ethics for three leaders on the agency’s day shift.The lieutenants claimed ...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Reports: Man, 22, arrested in connection with death of rapper XXXTentacion

Reports: Man, 22, arrested in connection with death of rapper XXXTentacion

A suspect was arrested Wednesday evening in connection to the fatal shooting of Broward County rapper XXXTentacion, according to broadcast reports.According to Miami TV station WSVN, 22-year-old Dedrick Williams was arrested around 7 p.m.RELATED:XXXT...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Thirteen bald eagles were found dead in a field. This is what killed them.

Thirteen bald eagles were found dead in a field. This is what killed them.

The 13 bald eagles were found lifeless on a Maryland farm more than two years ago, many with wings splayed, bodies intact, and talons clenched. Several were too young to have their species’ distinctive white heads. And at least six, according t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

Tampa Bay Times’ all-North Suncoast girls basketball team

North Suncoast Player of the Year: India Lewis, Sr., FivayFirst teamG Jayde Doucette, Sr., River RidgeG Reagan Huden, Sr., SpringsteadF Andrea Wallace, Sr., SunlakeG/F Ices Utegg, So., River RidgeF/C Seytia Hill, Jr., Weeki WacheeSecond teamG Lyndsey...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

Brandon man held on $750,000 bail, accused of 100 counts of child pornography

A Brandon man has been charged with 100 counts of possession of child pornography after deputies discovered more than 100 images of child pornography on his computer, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.Troi Amacher, 29, was arreste...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: When will we know about possible Jameis Winston suspension?

Rick Stroud talks about when we will know about a possible Jameis Winston suspension and why DeSean Jackson hasn't been more productive with the Bucs on today's podcast.Plus, who might the Rays trade next? Will the Lightning make any b...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

Orlando airport first to scan faces of U.S. citizens on international flights

ORLANDO — Florida’s busiest airport is becoming the first in the nation to require a face scan of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights, including U.S. citizens, according to officials there. The expected announcement Thursda...
Updated: 2 hours ago