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St. Petersburg city staffers plan hurricane preparedness drill

Batten down the hatches

With hurricane season approaching, St. Petersburg city staffers plan to hold a drill this week to make sure the city is prepared in case a storm strikes.

During a Public Safety & Infrastructure Committee meeting, council member Jim Kennedy talked about a New Jersey town devastated last year by Hurricane Sandy. He said 80 percent of the town still isn't cleaned up.

Council member Bill Dudley blurted out the reason why the town is still a shambles: "It's 'cause they're union."

The response drew no reaction.

Ready to rumble

TV pitchman Anthony Sullivan, who leads the pro-Lens effort WowStPete, says he is ready to battle Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group working to stop the project.

Sullivan says opponents called a maker of a product he pitches on TV to ask that he be fired. Sullivan says the call crossed the line.

"They picked a fight with the wrong guy," Sullivan said. "Bring it on. I'm ready."

Money wars

St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman raised more money in the first quarter than Mayor Bill Foster.

The former City Council member and state legislator, right, collected $51,381; Foster said he raised about $25,000. Foster mailed his financial reports by Wednesday's deadline, but they were not yet available Friday morning with the city clerk. Nominal candidate Paul Congemi reported a $20 loan to his campaign.

Darden Rice, seeking the District 4 council seat, topped all council candidates with $25,375. Her opponent, Dr. David McKalip, raised $7,793.

District 2 council member Jim Kennedy collected $1,500. In District 8, Alex Duensing outraised William Hurley $1,967 to $590.

Injunction denied

A judge refused a request for an injunction on Wednesday that would have stopped four Pinellas County commissioners from voting on any future issues that come before the board.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge John Schaefer rejected arguments from a group of seven plaintiffs, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the commissioners had violated term limits, and therefore were serving illegally and should be barred from voting.

This should sound familiar. Another term limits case, brought by the same attorney, is also making its way through the courts. The suits target the same four commissioners: Karen Seel, Ken Welch, Susan Latvala and John Morroni.

Brought by a group of light-rail opponents, the lawsuit was filed days before the County Commission tentatively approved putting a sales tax increase to pay for rail and expanded bus service on the 2014 ballot.

The group also asked for an injunction to prevent the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority from spending public money on an educational campaign for the referendum. Rail opponents say the campaign, called Greenlight Pinellas, is biased in favor of light rail.

Schaefer said he would rule on the injunction request, and the county's petition to dismiss the suit, by the end of the month.

Quote of the week

County Commissioner John Morroni: "It's great to be here on the Norm Roche show!"

The commission held a budget forum on Wednesday night and, needless to say, some commissioners felt one of their colleagues did most of the talking.

Mark Puente can be reached at mpuente@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at aphillips@tampabay.com. Follow @annmphillips on Twitter.

St. Petersburg city staffers plan hurricane preparedness drill 04/13/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 3:49pm]
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