Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg councilman Jeff Danner wants to educate voters on Lens

ST. PETERSBURG — Council member Jeff Danner wants to spend tax dollars to educate residents about the proposed Lens even as support for the project appears to be dwindling.

Danner will ask the council Thursday to discuss ways to educate voters before they head to the polls Aug. 27 to decide the fate of the $50 million project.

"There's a lot of misinformation out there," Danner said. "I think we've done a less than stellar job of educating people. We have over $3 million invested in this project."

The discussion will come the same day the council finalizes the title for the citizen initiative, which, if approved by voters, would kill the city's contract with Lens designer Michael Maltzan Architecture.

Danner, a Lens supporter, said he didn't know how much an educational campaign would cost but said it could be minimal if handled by city staffers at neighborhood and business meetings.

Council chairman Karl Nurse, a Lens opponent, said an education campaign will not help. "I think the public is educated," he said. "That's the problem."

As the referendum heads to the ballot, the anticipated political battle between Lens supporters and critics might be more bark than bite.

On May 31, TV pitchman Anthony Sullivan, leader of the WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete group, vowed to battle the anti-Lens group Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg.

On Monday, the WOW group's website was down for maintenance.

Speculation swirled that the Sullivan group hasn't raised money to mount a campaign. The group, Nurse said, conducted a poll last week and found it didn't have much support among residents.

Sullivan declined to comment at length Monday, saying: "We're strategizing."

Other winds have shifted in the past two weeks.

Mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman announced his opposition to the project last week, a stance shared by fellow candidate Kathleen Ford. Mayor Bill Foster even divulged that he is forming a new committee to develop a replacement in case voters reject the Lens.

Hal Freedman, who supports WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete, said Lens critics might have an advantage with yard signs strewn around the city. Still, the outcome will not come until residents vote, he added.

"I don't know how to call anything at the moment," Freedman said Monday. "It's bizarre."

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at

St. Petersburg councilman Jeff Danner wants to educate voters on Lens 06/17/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 9:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. State Attorney announces expansion of Hillsborough juvenile civil citation program


    TAMPA — Kids who, for the first time, commit certain minor crimes in Hillsborough County may now avoid a criminal conviction by completing a civil citation program.

    Thursday's announcement of civil citations for first-time juvenile offenders in Hillsborough County marked the fulfillment of a campaign promise by State Attorney Andrew Warren.
  2. Pinellas County approves settlement with Suncoast fire district

    Public Safety

    SEMINOLE — County commissioners on Tuesday approved a settlement with the Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District, closing out a lawsuit filed last year by the district over millions of dollars of emergency medical services funding.

  3. Attorney general has no plans to resign despite Trump rebuke


    WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he has no immediate plans to resign a day after President Donald Trump excoriated the nation's top prosecutor for recusing himself from the probe of suspected Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign.

    In this July 12 file photo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in Las Vegas. President Donald Trump says he never would have appointed Sessions as attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation. Trump makes the extraordinary statement about Sessions in an interview with the New York Times Wednesday. [AP Photo/John Locher, File]
  4. HomeTeam 100: Players 61-70


    Jefferson wide receiver Dontavius Smith during the game between Jefferson High School and Jesuit High School at Jesuit on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, in Tampa, Fla.
  5. Artist exchange creates Tampa-Havana friendships

    Visual Arts

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Bad weather rocked the Southwest Airlines flight from Havana to Tampa.

    Marian Valdes of Havana, Cuba, who is a resident artist through the Tempus Projects artist exchange program, stands for a portrait at the non-profit art space in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 17, 2017. Valdes has an upcoming exhibit titled “Addicted Involution.”