Hands across our beaches to protest oil, and a moseying mayor: Just another Saturday in Tampa Bay

On a Saturday four months and what seems a lifetime ago, hundreds gathered across our beaches — friends, strangers and anyone who cared enough to say no to expanding oil drilling.

It was chilly that day, if you can imagine that in this June swelter. People wore black coats and scarves and hats and held hands across the sand to symbolize what disaster might look like.

Tree huggers, people called them. Eco-extremists. Drill, baby, drill, because what could happen?

Fast-forward to our daily environmental horror show, miles of black slop washing ashore in Pensacola Beach, oil spewing, no end in sight.

Today at noon, more than two months after the Deep­water Horizon blew, people will again take each other's hands on our beaches. In the thick of the worst such crisis in U.S. history, they have plenty to protest.

This week, a federal judge in Louisiana said no, this disaster is not enough to warrant the government's six-month pause on deep-water drilling, not enough to say stop while we figure out how this happened. Eleven dead workers apparently are not enough. Knowing we could not handle one more crisis out there is not enough.

More to protest? Last week I was riding through a beach town when I saw a house with a handwritten sign out front. Things have gotten so bad, it said, BP had to lay off 25 Congressmen. Which was pretty funny if it weren't so … not.

Rep. Joe Barton, a Texas Republican, apologized to BP for what he called a $20 billion "shakedown" for damages. Can we get an extra special protest on that one, even if he later apologized for apologizing?

And maybe a little something for the BP chief executive spotted taking some me-time to watch his yacht race, where the waters no doubt were much more clear.

For more information on the protest, go to handsacross thesand.com.

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On a lighter note (we could use one): Progress in St. Petersburg. Sometimes, it comes in baby steps. In this case, moseying ones.

At today's St. Pete Pride, the annual event to celebrate the gay community and one of the city's most successful festivals, you might see something you hadn't seen before.

The mayor.

The previous one, Rick Baker, did not exactly embrace the event, refusing to sign a proclamation and saying he didn't support its "general agenda."

Enter new mayor Bill Foster, also a Christian conservative, but one who said in his campaign, "I want every citizen to know that I intend to listen and I intend to represent their interests whether we agree or disagree." No, he did not sign a proclamation but wished organizers well and was spotted at a Pride museum reception. Baby steps.

Foster told the Times' Michael Van Sickler he attended in 2006 and did not like the adult themes he saw. Fair enough. He plans to "mosey on down" today to check out some events. Baby steps.

Makes you wonder what our world is coming to, doesn't it? I mean, out of nowhere, we have an openly gay St. Petersburg City Council member and Hillsborough County commissioner. So naturally, the first thing everyone will demand to know from them is:

Exactly where do you think the Rays should play?

Baby steps.

Hands across our beaches to protest oil, and a moseying mayor: Just another Saturday in Tampa Bay 06/25/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 12:27pm]

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