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St. Petersburg mayor laments his chattiness; council candidates get unusual query

Chatty Cathy

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster rarely calls news conferences and only calls reporters back after knowing what they want to discuss. But with a straight face, he told the Tampa Bay Times editorial board last week that he thinks he talks too much. Here's his take on that and other topics:

Biggest mistake: I think the biggest mistake, and it's continual, is that I talk too much. I try to be accessible, transparent, open and honest. But I tend to input a lot of my thoughts. And yes, it's like some ideas might sound like a good idea but haven't fully matured into something I'm willing to share publicly, and it's already out there. I'm saying I talk too much. I would rather keep things a little closer to my chest until I know that it's matured.

Biggest source of pride: The biggest success has to be the look of our city. We don't have panhandlers on every corner. While we still have chronic homelessness, we have found a passionate way to care for the homeless with the advent of the Safe Harbor. This goes back to leadership and my role in that.

The perception that he doesn't lead like former Mayor Rick Baker: My style of leadership is a lot different than my predecessor. I don't travel with an entourage. I don't have camera crews, and quite honestly, I don't care who gets the credit. I don't have to do a press conference for everything. I just want to see results.

Donutgate: An explanation

During a televised debate Tuesday, mayoral hopeful Kathleen Ford asked challenger Rick Kriseman what he and Mayor Bill Foster learned from an incident years ago involving a Krispy Kreme calendar featuring obese women that was circulated around City Council chambers.

The incident forced council members to attend one-on-one lectures on appropriate workplace behavior. On Thursday, Ford was asked by the Times editorial board to explain the importance of her question.

"It's character. It's character. Look at the San Diego mayor (Bob Filner). Look at Anthony Weiner. It's character," Ford said.

"Are you likening Foster and Kriseman to Weiner and Filner?" Ford was asked.

"It's an issue of character," she responded.

Times' editorial writers then asked if Ford was aware of Kriseman or Foster engaging in behavior similar to that of Weiner or Filner.

"No," Ford replied.

An unusual question

Nine candidates for City Council gathered in council chambers on Wednesday for a debate over the usual issues: the Pier, Midtown and taxes.

But one question, aimed at the District 8 candidates, caught them totally off-guard. If you could pick one book for the entire city to read, the moderator asked, what would it be?

"The works of Shakespeare," said Alex Duensing, 39. "Because Shakespeare shows a lot of the drama of warring parties, how reason can often prevail."

Steve Galvin, 55, picked former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker's book, The Seamless City: A Conservative Mayor's Approach to Urban Revitalization That Can Work Anywhere.

"It gives a tremendous amount of insight into what's happened in our city over the last decade," Galvin said.

Amy Foster, 35, chose Brene Brown's, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

City Council occasionally has "some issues with everybody being able to bring their voice to the table in a respectful and civil way," Foster said, "and that's something I'd like us to do."

Contact Mark Puente at or (727) 893-8459. Follow on Twitter @markpuente. Contact Anna M. Phillips at or (727) 893-8779, Follow her on Twitter at @annamphillips.

St. Petersburg mayor laments his chattiness; council candidates get unusual query 08/09/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 3:03pm]
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