Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster says he will approve domestic benefits for all city employees

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Bill Foster announced Thursday he is extending same-sex benefits for all 2,600 city employees, a move that further defies expectations many had of a man with conservative religious beliefs.

"It's the right thing to do," Foster said. "All of our employees should have it."

Coming a day after President Barack Obama endorsed same-sex marriage, Foster hardly looks like a gay rights pioneer. But when coupled with his support for a domestic registry ordinance, the domestic benefits decision clearly sets Foster apart from his predecessor Rick Baker, another religious conservative.

"Baker didn't separate the religion from his job," said Brian Longstreth, a Realtor who was one of the founders of St. Pete Pride. "I appreciate Mayor Foster for doing that. This and a domestic registry are what he promised us when he ran, and I'm pleasantly surprised he followed through on it."

Foster downplayed any higher purpose behind his decision.

"My religious beliefs and my faith in God and my belief in the Bible, that's my moral compass," Foster said. "But as mayor of the city sworn to uphold the constitution and the laws, I oversee the day-to-day operations of the city."

Foster said it was merely a case in which he needed to treat all employees the same.

The city's rank-and-file police officers already had the benefit, which was negotiated into their 2010 contract. A year later, fire department administrators got it.

Foster has said he always intended to extend that benefit to all employees. But 1,551 employees belong to two unions who have hit an impasse in contract negotiations, so that benefit was held back by the city and used as a bargaining chip.

That meant 285 firefighters and 1,266 public service employees weren't getting the benefit.

On Thursday, Foster said he could no longer see an advantage in using domestic benefits as a bargaining chip after agreeing last week to offer the benefit to the city's 630 non-union employees.

"Hooray for the mayor," said Rick Smith, who heads the Florida Public Services Union. "I might have some disagreements with him, but you've got to give him some credit. People don't think he's politically astute, but he has his eye on what's happening."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at mvansickler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8037.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster says he will approve domestic benefits for all city employees 05/10/12 [Last modified: Friday, May 11, 2012 12:20am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and estranged wife Carole put Beach Drive condo on the market

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their Beach Drive condo on the market for $1.5 million.

    Former Florida Gov. and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and his estranged wife, Carole, have put their condo in downtown St. Petersburg on the market for $1.5 million. [Courtesy of Rhonda Sanderford]
  2. Florida man sits in jail 90 days when drywall power is mistaken for cocaine (w/video)

    Crime

    OVIEDO — A Florida man spent 90 days in jail after police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine.

    Karlos Cashe spent 90 days in jail after Oviedo police officers who stopped him for driving without headlights said white powder found in his car was cocaine. But he walked out of jail last week after lab results determined the powder in the handyman's car was actually drywall. [Photo from video] 

  3. Coming to Netflix in July: 'Rogue One,' 'E.T.,' 'Castlevania' and more

    Blogs

    Just when I think Netflix has outdone itself with new releases and originals, it surprises me with another month of superb offerings coming to the streaming site.

    Felicity Jones in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  4. Jones: Serena Williams, and all women, deserved better from John McEnroe

    Tennis

    John McEnroe might be the best sports analyst in broadcasting.

    Serena Williams makes a backhand return to her sister Venus during the women's singles final at the Australian Open tennis championships in January in  Melbourne, Australia. [AP photo]
  5. Watch: Provocateur targets CNN producer with hidden camera video

    National

    NEW YORK —A conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network's coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.

    Anthony Scaramucci, a senior adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York. [Associated Press]