ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman is two weeks from taking office, but he's stoked controversy by holding a private conference call with City Council members.
City Hall watchers question whether the call violates Florida's Sunshine Law and whether Kriseman plans to keep his campaign promise to be transparent.
Kriseman invited council members to the call by sending a message to their private email accounts instead of their city accounts, which are subject to open records law. He said he did that because two incoming council members, Darden Rice and Amy Foster, don't have city accounts yet.
"There was no city business discussed," Kriseman said. "There was nothing nefarious here."
Council members Charlie Gerdes and Jim Kennedy declined to participate in the call because of Sunshine concerns.
"I didn't think it was a good idea," said Kennedy, a lawyer.
Kriseman, who takes office Jan. 2, said he apologized to council members for not yet meeting with each of them before his term starts.
He compared the call to three council members having lunch.
"I didn't screw up here," Kriseman said. "You have to trust us. That's what voters did when they elected us."
Council Chairman Karl Nurse said Kriseman stressed how he wanted to work as a team to move the city forward.
"It was more about congratulations," Nurse said. "Nothing of what I heard violates the Sunshine Law."
On Tuesday, Kriseman also announced that Michael Dove would serve as his director of neighborhood affairs. Dove, 60, a former St. Petersburg deputy mayor for neighborhood services, retired in 2007 to start his own consulting business.
Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter @markpuente.