Friday, May 25, 2018
Politics

Defending a city's honor, parsing a loaded gun term

A parochial divide

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster never hesitates to say his city is not a suburb of Tampa. When he was on WFLA-AM 970 last week, the radio hosts asked about a recent Tampa Bay Times story detailing the uptick in homeless people in downtown St. Petersburg.

Foster became parochial, saying: "I'm sure the numbers are the same in Tampa if the Times wanted to actually write an article about Tampa."

That attitude has apparently saturated City Hall.

Robert Danielson, St. Petersburg's marketing manager and a Tampa resident, thinks the media is more critical of the Sunshine City than the place where he hangs his toothbrush.

After Tampa went under a boil alert last weekend for 48 hours, Danielson vented to pals on Facebook.

"Apparently, a buck-toothed rodent chewed through a power line causing a major power outage at the water plant and compromising the water quality for an entire weekend," he wrote. "Something tells me that if this occurred in St. Pete, our local beat reporters would be waving public records requests and screaming 'malfeasance'!"

In Tampa, however, there's general "ho-hum — no toothbrushing for two days, a couple of closed restaurants, and grocery stores barren of bottled water. Does this bother anyone besides me?"

Buzz hopes he didn't break a sweat — unless he had a bottle of water — while ranting on social media.

Parsing a loaded phrase

Guns, unlike roads or parks, are not something Pinellas County has much control over. So Sheriff Bob Gualtieri tried to apply a light touch to the subject last week, proposing to a room full of the county's elected officials that the phrase "background check" was a little deceptive. When someone buys a gun, the only check that's done looks at whether the person is a felon, has had a domestic injunction taken out against them, or meets a few other criteria.

"There is no background check," Gualtieri, a Republican, said, suggesting that maybe a new name was in order.

Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala, right, ignited.

"Maybe something has happened since I wrote all that literature for your campaign where we talked about the crime rates, but have we had an explosion of gun violence in Pinellas County?" he said.

Gualtieri responded: "No, the only reason I raise it is it's about what the citizens believe is being done … people are lulled into this sense that there's an actual vetting."

Dipping his toe into an already boiling discussion, Commissioner Ken Welch said he thought the commission should have the right to regulate guns in its own parks and facilities.

Latvala went off again.

"I think some of this is political, and we're not used to having that in these meetings, you know," he chided.

"I thought maybe the fluoride thing taught us something about that. We need to be concentrating on building roads and maintaining roads and parks instead of getting into collateral issues."

Contact Mark Puente at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter @markpuente. Contact Anna M. Phillips at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779.

Comments
North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

North Korea demolishes nuclear test site as journalists watch

PUNGGYE-RI, North Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made good on his promise to demolish his country’s nuclear test site, which was formally closed in a series of huge explosions Thursday as a group of foreign journalists looked on. The explosi...
Published: 05/24/18
Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Donald Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible under the U.S. Con...
Published: 05/23/18
All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

All those city services that fuel Lightning fever? Team, not taxpayers, foot the bill

TAMPA — All those public watch parties during the Tampa Bay Lightning’s postseason run? And how about the rally at Joe Chillura Courthouse Square Park with the big white Lightning logo spray-painted on the grass? You need police to prote...
Published: 05/23/18
Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Romano: A pathetic legacy for Florida’s all-or-nothing Democrats

Explain this to me: In the world of partisan politics, how is being an independent thinker a bad thing? When it comes to general elections, we seem to like rogues and mavericks. We want outsiders and swamp scrubbers. Folks appreciate a good finger-...
Published: 05/22/18
‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

‘World’s most expensive Witch Hunt’: Trump lashes out at New York Times, Democrats

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at "the World’s most expensive Witch Hunt," trashing a new report in the New York Times that said an emissary representing the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates offered help...
Published: 05/20/18
Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Obama’s education secretary: Let’s boycott school until gun laws change

Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan pushed a radical idea on Twitter: Parents should pull their children out of school until elected officials pass stricter gun control laws.His tweet came hours after a shooting rampage at a Houston-area high scho...
Published: 05/20/18
China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

China offers to buy more US products to reduce trade imbalance

WASHINGTON - China offered to boost its annual purchases of U.S. products by "at least $200 billion" Friday as two days of talks aimed at averting an open breach between the two countries ended in Washington, a top White House adviser said.Larry Kudl...
Published: 05/19/18
Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

Hillsborough candidate falsified contract for fund-raising gospel concert, lawsuit says

TAMPA — A concert organizer is accusing Hillsborough County Commission candidate Elvis Piggott of falsifying a contract and prompting the headline act to pull out of a gospel show.In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court, Corey Curry claims h...
Published: 05/18/18
Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

Gina Haspel confirmed as CIA chief despite scrutiny of her role in interrogation program

WASHINGTON - The Senate voted Thursday to confirm Gina Haspel as the next CIA director after several Democrats were persuaded to support her despite lingering concerns about her role in the brutal interrogation of suspected terrorists captured after ...
Published: 05/17/18
GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

GOP pushes for speedy confirmation vote for CIA nominee

WASHINGTON — Republicans are pushing for a speedy confirmation vote as early as Thursday after the Senate intelligence committee endorsed President Donald Trump’s CIA nominee Gina Haspel to lead the spy agency. But opponents concerned about Haspel’s ...
Published: 05/16/18