Saturday, February 24, 2018
Politics

Newton's tardiness, St. Petersburg budget hearings, a little fact checking

Number of the week

58

Days until St. Petersburg residents find out who will be the next mayor.

Running late

Wengay Newton's favorite shtick is about doing the people's work. But the St. Petersburg City Council member must not have a watch. He is routinely late to council meetings and is often mocked by his colleagues for tardiness.

Now a resident is calling out Newton for arriving late to Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority meetings — where he represents the city, not a council district. It's not Newton's first tardy at PSTA.

Vince Cocks, who serves on the Civic Committee for the Greenlight Pinellas campaign, chastised Newton in an email for being 20 minutes late to a recent PSTA meeting. He urged Newton to realize how important public transportation is for his constituents.

"You were selected by your colleagues to represent the interests of the city of St. Petersburg and its citizens," Cocks wrote. "Please let me and the citizens of St. Petersburg (know) how this situation will be remedied."

Newton never responded to Cocks.

Who, me?

City Council meetings never have a shortage of political jabs and wisecracks. During Thursday's meeting, Leslie Curran couldn't make this statement with a straight face: "Well, I'm not sarcastic."

Fact checking

During Thursday's meeting over how to move forward to build a new pier, Newton said residents issued a mandate when "63 percent of voters in St. Petersburg" rejected the Lens. Not quite true. The defeat garnered 63 percent of the votes in the primary, but only 31 percent of the city's 161,000 voters participated.

Budget hearings

With budget hearings set for Sept. 12 and 26, the People's Budget Review is asking Mayor Bill Foster and the City Council to fund three programs.

The coalition of neighborhood groups, civic groups and union members wants $100,000 to reduce youth unemployment by expanding Public Works Academy and another $100,000 directed at the 2020 plan, which aims to reduce poverty south of Central Avenue.

The last request of $250,000 is to "directly enhance the economy, environment, and equality of their neighborhoods."

The People's Budget Review is nonpartisan and isn't endorsing a mayoral candidate.

But Rick Smith, chief of staff for the Florida Public Services Union, which represents 1,200 city workers, said the group plans to bring 300 people to the budget hearings. The council will vote on next year's budget on Sept. 26.

"Ultimately, the budget process is political," Smith said. "The biggest political day is Sept. 26, not Nov. 5. We hope the council respects those voices."

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at [email protected] Follow @annamphillips on Twitter.

Comments
Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

Top Justice official alerted White House 2 weeks ago to ongoing issues in Kushnerís security clearance

WASHINGTON ó A top Justice Department official alerted the White House two weeks ago that significant information requiring additional investigation would further delay the security clearance process of senior adviser Jared Kushner, three people fami...
Published: 02/23/18
Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

Former Florida congressmen say gun control measures need to go much further

TAMPA ó A bipartisan pair of former congressmen spoke Friday about gun safety measures that are more drastic than those being considered following the Parkland school shootings, and about hopes for a national youth movement comparable to the 1960s an...
Published: 02/23/18

Gulfport candidates draw stark contrasts

GULFPORT ó One candidate is a plain-spoken, straightforward technology consultant who preaches "conservative fiscal responsibility" and votes Republican in national elections.The other is a self-proclaimed "progressive liberal" who practices law, pro...
Published: 02/23/18
William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

William March: Gun issues playing bigger role now in local races

In the aftermath of the Broward County high school shooting, gun rights issues have jumped to the forefront of local legislative races.Democratic challengers are calling out incumbents in Tampa legislative seats on their past stances on gun control."...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the presidentís call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Published: 02/22/18
Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

Sen. Marco Rubio faces tough audience at riveting CNN forum on gun violence

After an emotionally draining day that captured national attention ó the massive rally in Tallahassee and a small, tearful gathering of survivors at the White House ó CNNís Wednesday night town hall on the Parkland shooting could have easily been ove...
Published: 02/22/18
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens indicted on felony invasion of privacy charge

A St. Louis grand jury has indicted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on a felony invasion of privacy charge related to the Republicanís affair with a woman in 2015. St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner announced the indictment Thursday. She launched an ...
Published: 02/22/18
Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after Trump chose him for ambassador, nominee pledged money for a gala at Trumpís club

Two weeks after President Donald Trump nominated Florida businessman Leandro Rizzuto Jr. to be ambassador to Barbados, Rizzuto pledged thousands of dollars to fund a gala at Trumpís Mar-a-Lago Club, the galaís organizer said.Rizzuto and his wife, Den...
Published: 02/22/18
Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

Mueller files new charges in Manafort, Gates case

New charges were filed Thursday against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner, ratcheting up the legal pressure on them as they prepare for a trial later this year.A new indictment has long been expected in special cou...
Published: 02/22/18
Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Romano: Welcome to Florida, a state more afraid of conversation than guns

Gun advocates are absolutely right about this:A ban on assault weapons will not end school shootings.How do we know?Because there was a federal ban on assault weapons for 10 years, and mass killings persisted. Thatís because a ban deals only with fut...
Published: 02/22/18