ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster met with Goliath Davis on Wednesday to discuss "communication issues" after the former police chief did not attend the funeral of slain Officer David S. Crawford, said City Administrator Tish Elston.
Davis, who makes $152,735 as the city's senior administrator of community enrichment, met with Foster for about an hour, Elston said. The meeting hadn't been previously scheduled, but came one day after Crawford's funeral.
Although he had been invited to attend, Davis wasn't spotted at the service or at a VIP reception before the funeral. As the city's police chief from 1997 to 2001, some have questioned why Davis wouldn't attend a funeral for an officer who once worked for him, especially after he was criticized a month ago for apparently skipping the funerals for Sgt. Thomas J. Baitinger and Officer Jeffrey A. Yaslowitz. Those officers were also killed in the line of duty.
Meanwhile, Davis did attend the funeral for Hydra Lacy Jr, who killed Baitinger and Yaslowitz during a shoot-out that started as police tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. Police union representatives and Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem called his attendance at the Lacy funeral disrespectful.
Foster ultimately issued a statement defending Davis in the wake of that criticism, but it supported only his decision to attend the Lacy funeral. It did not address Davis' absence at the memorial for Baitinger and Yaslowitz.
Elston said the subject of Crawford's funeral came up at Wednesday's meeting, which she attended. She said Davis gave a personal reason for missing the funeral, but she wouldn't disclose what that was. Davis did attend both visitations for the officers the day before the funerals.
"I would have preferred him to be there (at the funeral)," she said.
Neither Foster nor Davis would comment about the meeting.
The meeting touched on how Foster and Davis were communicating, Elston said. Upon becoming mayor in January 2010, Foster retained Davis as a top administrator. Under the previous mayor, Rick Baker, Davis had been deputy mayor. His status was the subject of much speculation in the 2009 mayor's race, especially considering his support of candidate Deveron Gibbons in the race until the primary.
Gibbons came in third and dropped out, throwing his support to Foster. Only then did Davis support Foster.
Among Foster's top directors, Davis has the most distant relationship to the mayor. The two meet infrequently, Elston said. They spoke Wednesday about "respecting each other's viewpoints," said Elston, who wouldn't provide more details.
"It was a personal discussion."
Michael Van Sickler can be reached at (727) 893-8037 or [email protected]