Nurse wants to talk tighter gun control after fatal shootings
In the aftermath of the shootings that left two St. Petersburg police officers dead on Monday, most City Council members did not want to second-guess the department's tactics, procedures or policies.
"It's time to mourn now," said council Chairman Jim Kennedy. "We will have time to evaluate later."
But one council member, Karl Nurse, said now would be a good time to discuss what to do about all the guns being used in a spate of high-profile shootings lately.
"It's remarkable that our system is so dysfunctional that we can't have a discussion about limiting the access that criminals and the mentally ill have to guns," Nurse said.
He e-mailed the Buzz a news release by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of 550 mayors co-founded by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, which calls for tightening U.S. gun control laws.
The release points out that the Columbine killers used weapons bought at a gun show from an unlicensed seller; the Virginia Tech shooter got a gun he wouldn't have had if his records had been reported to the FBI gun background check system; and the suspect in Tucson, Ariz., got a gun because of lax federal regulations.
The group, which lists Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio as a coalition member, seeks a list of those prohibited from buying guns and a new requirement that every gun sale be accompanied by a background check, including those at gun shows.
"While I realize that any time someone mentions 'gun-control' people freak out, it seems very clear that closing the gun show loophole and getting the names of the felons and mentally ill on the may-not-purchase list is a desperate need," Nurse said.
He said he sent St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who is not a member of the coalition, the list and discussed it with him.
"I got what I would call a moderately positive response," Nurse said. "He agreed with the content, like closing the gun show loophole. But I didn't get a commitment from him that he would sign on or not."
Another Latvala enters Pinellas political fray
Chris Latvala, a former legislative aide and son of Sen. Jack Latvala, started work this month as political director of the Pinellas County Republican Party.
That makes three Latvalas pulling the levers of power locally, when you count Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, the senator's ex-wife.
Chris Latvala has also worked on political campaigns and with his father's political consulting and printing business.
Changes in mail ballot rules affect requests
Thanks to a change in state law, the number of Pinellas County voters with standing requests for mail ballots has fallen, Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark says.
The change by lawmakers means mail ballot requests now only last one election cycle, which has become a factor recently as Tampa elections loom. But in Pinellas, where Clark has made mail ballots a mainstay over lots of early voting sites, the change has added meaning.
There were 250,000 mail ballots sent for the 2010 election. Clark says there are 210,000 requests now.
During a nine-hour budget discussion Monday, Clark told other county officials that she stands by the mail ballot. But she also will send them out domestically 35 days before the March city elections, instead of 45 days, answering criticism that ballots went out too early. If it works, Clark said she'll do the same in the fall St. Petersburg elections.
She dismissed counties that use more costly early voting sites, despite criticism that the relative scarcity in Pinellas can limit access. Pinellas provides ballot drop-off sites and runs three early voting locations.
"I still don't understand why other counties continue to do it. It does not increase turnout here or anywhere else," Clark said.
Reporters David DeCamp and Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.