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 csilva@sptimes.com 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. Les Miller on Charlottesville: 'This is not what we should about'

    Blogs

    TAMPA -- In the aftermath of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., and ahead of today's continued conversation on Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller on Wednesday looked to inspire unity in an invocation that a colleague called "inspirational."

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller prayed for unity during Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting, following the violent protests in Charlottesville that left 19 injured and one dead.
  2. Here's what Florida's gubernatorial contenders say about removing Confederate monuments from public lands

    Blogs

    Gwen Graham: "Our state's role in the Civil War and the deplorable promotion of slavery still cause deep pain today. We all have a responsibility to combat racism and hate wherever it …

    Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute.
  3. Here's what Florida's gubernatorial contenders say about removing Confederate monuments from public lands

    Blogs

    Gwen Graham: "Our state's role in the Civil War and the deplorable promotion of slavery still cause deep pain today. We all have a responsibility to combat racism and hate wherever it …

    Protesters climb the Confederate Memorial in Tampa on Sunday night after more than 200 people marched down the streets of downtown Tampa to protest white supremacy. Members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and Hillsborough Flaggers plan are standing guard now to protect the statute.
  4. U.S. teen drug overdose deaths inch up after years of decline

    Health

    NEW YORK — After years of decline, teen deaths from drug overdoses have inched up, a new U.S. government report shows.

    OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. A report found drug overdose deaths among U.S. teens inched up in 2015 after years of decline. The report was released on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [AP (2013)]
  5. UF denies white supremacist Richard Spencer's request to speak on campus

    College

    Citing "serious concerns for campus safety," University of Florida leaders have denied white nationalist Richard Spencer's application to speak on campus next month.

    White nationalist Richard Spencer (C) and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police in Lee Park after the "Unite the Right" rally was declared an unlawful gathering Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]