Saturday, July 21, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg leaders buy another two weeks to decide on Pier

ST. PETERSBURG — After procrastinating Thursday, City Council members have two weeks to make up their minds about what to do about the proposed $50 million replacement for the city's Pier.

The 5-3 decision to postpone a decision on whether to spend another $1.5 million and move on to the next phase came amid confusion and maneuvering over legalities and time constraints involved in scheduling an almost certain referendum about the project.

The delay is a victory for Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, a group that is opposed to the project known as the Lens and that says it has enough petitions to force a referendum to halt the project.

Bud Risser, a prominent St. Petersburg resident and leader of the group, lobbied council members this week to dissuade them from spending additional money before a public vote.

Risser said he didn't want to take credit for Thursday's developments.

Still, perhaps he had persuaded the council to consider the Lens "carefully and thoroughly," he said.

Hal Freedman, a Realtor and financial services consultant who wore a turquoise "Make Lens not War" T-shirt symbolizing the pro-Lens group WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete, was disappointed.

"I think we'll win the vote," he said of a referendum.

Despite Thursday's action, Mayor Bill Foster remained optimistic.

"I currently believe we're moving forward," he said, adding that he will make sure council members get the information they want before they meet in two weeks.

By then, he expects Concerned Citizens to have deposited its signatures with the city clerk.

"The signatures need to be turned in,'' he said. "That removes any uncertainty"

But Risser said his group will not turn in the petitions until the end of the month. Concerned Citizens wants to make sure the Pier vote coincides with the Aug. 27 mayoral and council primary, he said, because the group wants to spare the city the $250,000 it would cost for a special mail-in ballot election.

"I think spending $250,000 for a mail-in ballot is a bad use of money," Foster agreed.

Turning in the petitions would start a clock that would require an election no more than 90 days after they have been verified by the city clerk, city attorney John Wolfe said.

An email from Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark to Foster warns of a complicated situation.

"There are very real concerns about scheduling a special referendum election prior to your primary election if it results in overlapping time lines," she wrote.

"The most important concern is the confusion it could create for your voters," she said.

Mail-in ballot elections also require voters to take extra steps, Clark said, adding that her office would work with the city if it decided to move in that direction.

The discussion apparently began in early April, when city clerk Eva Andujar called the supervisor's office to say that the council might want to schedule a mail-in election. The deadline for providing the final ballot language for the primary is June 28.

Council member Jim Kennedy made the motion Thursday to postpone the Pier vote. He said it was based on receiving the latest report about the project, all 400 pages, too late to ask staff questions about maintenance of the Lens' iconic canopy.

Other council members also wanted additional information.

Council members Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner and Wengay Newton voted against the delay.

Danner and Curran said they did not understand how a delay and more information will move the project forward. Newton, a staunch opponent of the Lens, wanted the council members to decide Thursday.

The council's decision was preceded by speakers for and against the project. Howard Taylor, who recently moved to St. Petersburg, arrived with a PowerPoint presentation to convince the council the Lens is unworkable and even unsafe.

Anthony Sullivan, founder of WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete and a TV pitchman, made a video appearance.

If the council decides to go forward two week from now, it will have another decision to make in August or September, when another $1.5 million to $1.6 million will be due.

In the meantime, Michael Maltzan Architecture, the designer of the Lens, has pledged to continue its work.

"Regardless of the decisions pending, we will continue to move forward through the summer," the design team wrote in a letter to Foster and council members on Wednesday.

Wolfe, the city attorney, urged caution.

"We need to make clear" that what they do is "at their risk, not ours," he said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente..

     
Comments
Hillsborough fire rescue engine hit while responding to another accident

Hillsborough fire rescue engine hit while responding to another accident

HILLSBOROUGH — A car slammed into the back of Hillsborough County fire rescue truck as it was responding to a separate single vehicle accident Saturday morning.The driver of the black Toyota Corolla became trapped inside the vehicle. Firefighters fro...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Pinellas deputies: Drunk men disturb peace at candy store, kid’s birthday party on same night

Pinellas deputies: Drunk men disturb peace at candy store, kid’s birthday party on same night

Within about 20 minutes and only 15 miles apart this week, Pinellas deputies responded to complaints of drunk men disturbing the peace outside a candy store and near a children’s birthday party.The incidents occurred Tuesday evening.In the first, dep...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Hillsborough detention deputy charged with DUI

Hillsborough detention deputy charged with DUI

HILLSBOROUGH — A Hillsborough County detention deputy was arrested for driving under the influence early Saturday morning. Jose Cruz, 31, was driving his 2011 Ford Ranger in the McDonald’s parking lot at 9870 301 Highway South. Deputies were alerted ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police arrest Dunedin man for shooting pregnant girlfriend, lying about home invasion

Police arrest Dunedin man for shooting pregnant girlfriend, lying about home invasion

DUNEDIN — Authorities on Friday arrested a 19-year-old for shooting his pregnant girlfriend and then lying about a home invasion. Charles Tenpenny was distraught over accidentally shooting his girlfriend 18-year-old Naomi Rosado who was 20 weeks preg...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs training camp questions: How to split the QB reps, position battles and more

Bucs training camp questions: How to split the QB reps, position battles and more

TAMPA — Jameis Winston would like to move forward with his career now that he has accepted the NFL's decision to suspend him three games and apologized — for something — to the Uber driver that the league says he touched in an "inap...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Carlton: Victorious Ybor chickens make Tampa Tampa

Carlton: Victorious Ybor chickens make Tampa Tampa

A city can be judged on its progress by, say, having sleek rail that gets people where they need to go. Or by being home to big-name corporations or impressive sports venues. Or by the sheer number of tall buildings it boasts.At least for today, you ...
Published: 07/21/18
Open office plans are as bad as you thought

Open office plans are as bad as you thought

A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. To have them talk more face-to-face. To get them off instant messenger and spontaneously brainstroming about new ideas.But a recent study by two researche...
Published: 07/21/18
Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

Rays journal: Replacement catcher Adam Moore ready to play

ST. PETERSBURG — The newest Rays player is also nearly the oldest.With All-Star C Wilson Ramos on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, Tampa Bay turned to veteran Adam Moore, 34, as the new backup catcher behind Jesus Sucre. Only reliever...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Police identify man killed in shooting at South Tampa McDonald’s

Police identify man killed in shooting at South Tampa McDonald’s

TAMPA — A man died early Saturday after he was shot Friday night in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant in South Tampa.Nicholas A. Mortazavi, 20, was pronounced dead about 3:30 a.m., police said.Police responded to the restaurant at 3515 S Dal...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

Martin Fennelly: Rays and Marlins at different stages of same mission

ST. PETERSBURG — New York Yankees god and former Tampa resident Derek Jeter, who was once going to save the Rays (or so we thought), was at Tropicana Field on Friday night. The Captain had the gall to show up as Miami Marlins chief executive of...
Published: 07/20/18