Make us your home page

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 …


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.


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."


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

  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'


    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day


    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event


    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking


    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.