Thursday, January 18, 2018
Politics

Bay Buzz: St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster faces small field in primary

Is two a lonely number?

One month into the year and not a single major challenger has filed to take on St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster in the August primary. Only Foster and perennial candidate Paul Congemi are in the race.

Cut the check

St. Petersburg council member Wengay Newton has a solution for the Tampa Bay Rays, who want to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County.

"I would propose paying off the lease until 2027," Newton said last week on a radio show. "If (team owner Stuart) Sternberg is serious about looking elsewhere, then do that . . . Let them step up and pay off the lease."

With Mayor Bill Foster refusing to let the Rays look outside of mid Pinellas, other council members could soon echo Newton's sentiments as the stalemate lingers.

On the same radio show a few days earlier, Foster showed a rare sign of emotion when talking about how much criticism he's faced over the stadium issue: "I've been beaten down so much, I'm almost to a point of just go already."

About 18 hours earlier, Foster told the Buzz he's tired of going on radio shows.

Showdown at the commission

Still getting accustomed to her new role as a Pinellas County commissioner, Janet Long decided last week was the right time to throw a political grenade onto the board's legislative agenda. She decided to bring up gun control — and it didn't go over so well.

By the time the afternoon meeting started, commissioners already had received 25 emails blasting them for even discussing the subject. And by the time the sun had set, roughly a dozen die-hard gun fans were still waiting their turn to speak.

It didn't matter that what Long was proposing was not a new county law, but a vote of support for state action to ban military-type assault weapons.

"If you want a ban on sporting rifles move to a communist state like NY," wrote one of many angry and confused residents.

Behaving as nervously as if there was actually a loaded gun in the room, the commissioners voted to move on, and quickly.

Commissioner Susan Latvala: "You know what goes on in Tallahassee regarding any discussion of guns. It goes nowhere."

An error in the St. Petersburg Downtown Newsletter caused a stir among race fans last week.

It listed the wrong dates for next month's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which is March 22-24. Besides the wrong dates, the newsletter printed pictures of drivers who no longer race in the Indy Car series. The newsletter publishes every three months.

Construction of the track will start this month.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him at Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

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