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St. Petersburg City Hall's 'greatest hits' since the last election

Selected greatest hits since the last city election in St. Petersburg:

Spring 2007: City officials sign a secret deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to pursue a $450 million baseball stadium on the city's waterfront. The deal is kept quiet for seven months while the city holds fake "public hearings" on how that waterfront should be used, and until after the fall City Council elections.

January 2008: The City Council holds exactly one meeting without allowing public comment to decide to consider the stadium, saying it has "no choice" but to obey the Rays' timetable.

February 2008: The City Council breaks its 2007 promise to designate the waterfront site of Al Lang Field as a park at the earliest opportunity.

July 2008: City Council members are briefed individually by Mayor Rick Baker's staff on a $12.7 million deal for Jabil Circuit. The item is then added just a few hours in advance to the "consent" portion of the City Council's agenda, where it is passed without public discussion.

October 2008: The Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Office delivers to the U.S. Department of Justice complaints from Tierra Verde marina residents. Residents say they were pressured into changing their legal addresses by their landlords, so that the city could annex the property without an election.

November 2008: Despite the pleading of hundreds of Tierra Verde residents, the City Council votes to annex the northern tip of that island to benefit two developers.

December 2008: The city proposes to shut down a bill collection site and have the money collected by Amscot, employer of future mayoral candidate Deveron Gibbons — for a fee. This is too much even for the City Council.

February 2009: Police Chief Chuck Harmon responds to five convenience store shootings by quoting favorable crime statistics.

February 2009: The city sues 39 residents between the Big and Little Bayous because they are fighting the city's claim that they do not really own the docks that they thought they have owned for the past 80 years.

May 2009: The City Council approves denser development rules for the newly annexed Tierra Verde property. The city's staff declares that this extra growth will have no negative effect.

June 2009: After months of negotiations, the City Council allows community gardens in the city, as long as they are regulated. An annual permit and an annual application fee will be required, although the city backs down from its original proposal that the annual fee be $1,500.

June 2009: Controversy erupts in the St. Petersburg Fire Department when a district chief protests cutbacks that result in only two firefighters per ladder truck.

October 2009: The City Council rejects, then approves the mayor's plan for shutting down a public sidewalk at BayWalk to eliminate citizen protests.

October 2009: Ending a raging and momentous issue that began in July, the City Council agrees to allow the sale of hot dogs by street vendors after 9 p.m.

Anyway, happy election week.

• • •

It took extra effort, but I managed to misspell the name of nature photographer Greg Colvin in my Thursday column. To make it up to him I promised to mention his Web site, www.gregorycolvinphotography.com.

St. Petersburg City Hall's 'greatest hits' since the last election 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 6:33pm]
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