Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bay Buzz | Political news of Pinellas

St. Petersburg leader not stimulated to send wish list to pork-phobic feds

ST. PETERSBURG — Unlike hundreds of U.S. cities, this one did not submit a stimulus wish list to federal officials because officials said they worried that the information would be used as ammunition as Congress debated the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Internal services administrator Mike Connors said he had a list prepared but that when some members of the U.S. Senate began to paint local projects as unnecessary pork, he decided it would do more harm than good to send it.

"As soon as it started to get debated on the Senate floor, it was evident that the Senate did not have interest in spending on projects that were shovel ready," he said. "It didn't seem appropriate to submit a list of St. Pete projects when the lists they had already received were cause for them to change what ultimately came out of the Senate."

Connors said he did not think the policy debate would shift back in favor of local governments.

"We didn't see any benefit of submitting the list," he said.

But Mayor Rick Baker, who heralded the stimulus bill alongside Gov. Charlie Crist in a news conference this month, said that decision wasn't run by him.

"I would have submitted it," Baker said.

Congress and federal officials didn't ask cities to submit wish lists, but many communities did just that in hopes they might influence Congress to support the bill.

St. Petersburg has sent its wish list to the state Department of Transportation and the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization. These groups will administer or weigh in on how Florida's stimulus dollars are allocated.

The city's priorities are repairing the Pinellas Bayway Bridge and building the proposed 118th Avenue N connector, according to the list.

The connector is one of Baker's pet projects. It would link U.S. 19 to Interstate 275 and create an uninterrupted flow of traffic from the Sunshine Skyway to State Road 580 in the Dunedin-Safety Harbor area.

Election laws unclear

ST. PETERSBURG — Kathleen Ford and Jamie Bennett might have already violated state election laws.

Both mayoral candidates held press conferences complete with campaign signs in recent weeks to announce their intent to run. Ford and Bennett both filed within minutes of their press events.

State statute states, "No person shall accept any contribution or make any expenditure with a view to bringing about his or her nomination, election or retention in public office, or authorize another to accept such contributions or make such expenditure on the person's behalf, unless such person has appointed a campaign treasurer and designated a primary campaign depository."

What's unclear is whether Ford and Bennett can claim they had met those requirements before they filed or if the act of appointing a campaign treasurer is only valid once the proper documents have been filed, said Jennifer Krell Davis, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Elections.

"Someone would have to file a complaint with the Florida elections commission. They would determine whether there was a violation," she said.

Bennett's supporters carried a large campaign sign at his press conference at City Hall in January. At the time, his wife said his family had purchased the sign.

Bennett said he doesn't think he did anything illegal, "unless someone tells me otherwise."

Campaign signs were attached to the cars of several Ford supporters who rallied at City Hall during her press conference this month.

Ford said the signs were from her 2001 mayoral bid. She added that her campaign hasn't spent any money on signs. "Those lovely supporters recycled their signs," Ford said. "I've seen some in yards."

But even if the signs were purchased during Ford's 2001 mayoral campaign, Krell Davis said state statute is vague about whether old signs can be recycled.

Cristina Silva contributed to this week's Bay Buzz. She can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8846. You can visit us at blogs.tampabay.com/baybuzz.

St. Petersburg leader not stimulated to send wish list to pork-phobic feds 02/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 2009 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest

    BY AMY SCHERZER

    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other

    News

    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.