Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg mayor unveils vision before crowd of 800 at Mahaffey Theater

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman rolled out his vision for St. Petersburg at the Mahaffey Theater on Wednesday to a crowd of at least 800, most of them city employees.

It was not your average government team meeting.

As people streamed into the theater, they heard rock and R&B classics and were greeted by cheerful, bead-bearing volunteers. Confetti rained over the crowd as the mayor was introduced.

"Wow! This is impressive," Kriseman said before he and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin laid out their goals, which focused on fiscal responsibility, innovation, community engagement and accountability. It was a plan focused on how the two intend to lead, rather than specific actions or issues.

It was a city event unlike any other in St. Petersburg — a fact lost on no one.

"I feel like there should be an Apple announcement," joked City Council Chairman Bill Dudley, who took to the stage and thanked employees for their service.

He was preceded by Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, who talked about teamwork.

Trust and relationships are critical to teamwork and fostering ideas, Maddon said. He encouraged city staffers not to let pressure or anxiety get in the way of enjoying their jobs.

He also advocated risk taking. "To always live in your comfort zone is really boring," he said. "Anxiety lives in the future."

When it was City Administrator Gary Cornwell's turn to talk, he told those in the crowd that they shouldn't take the messages Wednesday as just "a rah-rah thing."

"Things are very different at City Hall," he said. "This is not an act."

The event cost roughly $4,000, according to city spokesman Ben Kirby. The bulk of that — $3,600 — was used to pay for projection screen rental to show a promotional video about the city and staging at the Mahaffey. Another $483 was spent on 200 T-shirts featuring a new "Sun Shines Here" logo.

Kirby said the expenses will come out of funds earmarked for training. A former Kriseman campaign volunteer produced the video for free.

Kriseman's effort seemed to impress.

As employees streamed out of the theater, many bobbed their heads along with the song blasting from the speakers — the pop hit Happy by Pharrell Williams.

Kameel Stanley can be reached at [email protected], (727) 893-8643 or @cornandpotatoes on Twitter.

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