Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

They're just not getting Issue No. 1

My friends on the St. Petersburg City Council are being deliberately dumb about this secret Jabil Circuit deal.

At least, let's hope it's deliberate.

They keep defending what they did by saying, over and over, that it was a good deal.

But that's the second issue.

Here is the first issue:

They. Sneaked. It. Through.

(1) They met privately, in one-on-one sessions with the mayor's staff, to discuss it in advance.

(2) It was not on the public version of the council's June 19 meeting agenda (and is not there on the city's Web site to this day).

(3) They added it to the agenda in the final hours before the meeting.

(4) They put it on the "consent" agenda, intended for routine matters that are not discussed separately, under a code name.

(5) They approved it without discussion.

So the existence and approval of this deal, code-named "Project Extreme," were invisible, at least until it came out in the paper.

Yes, the law allows the terms of these deals to be negotiated in secret. The law even protects the name of the company getting the deal.

But the deal itself …

No.

The City Council is not the CIA. It does not have a "black" budget. The city cannot hand out millions of dollars of the public's money while hiding the fact it is doing it.

Contrast this with the Pinellas County Commission's hand­ling of the county's share of the Jabil deal.

The commission, having learned from the Jim Smith scandal, discussed the deal in public and at least debated it before approving it.

The other day, I was part of a conversation with Jamie Bennett, the council chairman. I like him. The main subject of the conversation was the homeless, an important cause to him.

When the talk turned to Jabil, Bennett started in with the same defense used by several council members — the council's hands were tied, the deal was confidential, the council must rely on Mayor Rick Baker's staff, Jabil is an important employer.

No.

The council's hands are not tied when it comes to running its own meeting. It is long past time that the council, not the mayor, decides what the council is going to do.

The council does not have to accept secret, one-on-one briefings from Rick Baker or his staff. The council controls its own agenda. The council is just as free as the County Commission to discuss the public's business — in public.

Bennett thought about this. "Does our process need fixing? You're probably right," he said.

When told of the County Commission's open discussion of the same Jabil deal, he said, "It's refreshing to know that's out there."

One lone council member, Karl Nurse, has raised questions about how the Jabil deal was handled. The council is scheduled to discuss it.

"I believe that when we do hear this," Bennett said, "I'll bring this up."

Good.

The public is entitled to know what the agenda of its City Council really says.

The public is entitled to watch its City Council learn about, discuss and debate the public's business — in public.

No more private briefings.

No more secret agendas.

No more midnight changes.

No more multimillion-dollar deals sneaked through the consent agenda.

That's the first issue.

They're just not getting Issue No. 1 07/12/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 5:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]