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The Buzz: Political news of St. Petersburg, Pinellas

Charlie Justice might sink (fluoridated) teeth into challenge

Former state Sen. Charlie Justice, a St. Petersburg Democrat, is hinting at running for local office.

County Commission maybe?

"We're looking seriously at it,'' Justice said in an interview. "I'd kind of rounded up the people I would need, workers and financial supporters. And they have been very encouraging."

Justice said he expects to discuss a decision over the holidays. He has said he was considering a commission run after the 4-3 vote to stop adding fluoride to county drinking water. Justice could challenge incumbent Republican Nancy Bostock, who voted to stop fluoridation.

Council stops short on Progress Energy stance

Despite the pleas of half a dozen Occupy St. Petersburg members, the St. Petersburg City Council backed off a resolution urging the state to reject Progress Energy's request for customers to help pay for a $2.5 billion repair of its Crystal River nuclear plant.

Instead, a committee will study the resolution and hear from both sides.

Despite knowing that an upgrade posed significant risks, Progress Energy went ahead with the repairs that led to cracks in a containment building at the Crystal River plant. Utility officials are asking the Florida Public Service Commission for permission to get customers to pay at least $670 million.

Karl Nurse said he wanted the St. Petersburg City Council to deliver a message to Progress Energy that it was looking out for the community.

"This is crony capitalism," Nurse said. "It's offensive they can rig the system like this."

Curran to return to council helm next year

Leslie Curran missed the last third of her 2010 term as City Council chairwoman after she got into a bicycle accident that left her in an induced coma. On Thursday, a razor-thin majority of her colleagues returned her to the post for 2012.

"This lets her finish what she started," said Jeff Danner, who nominated Curran.

Karl Nurse was next in line because he was the council's vice chairman. But a late switch by Charlie Gerdes left Nurse, current chairman Jim Kennedy and Steve Kornell in the minority, allowing Curran to leapfrog back into the position.

The post could help Curran if she runs for mayor. She ran in 1997 and is the council's most persistent critic of Mayor Bill Foster. She said Thursday that she hasn't made a decision.

"A day doesn't go by without someone asking me if I will run," Curran said.

Will County Commission revisit pale male past?

Pinellas County Commissioner John Morroni wants to celebrate the county's centennial with a Jan. 10 re-enactment of the commission's first meeting in 1912.

One problem: The commission had five members in 1912, not the seven of today. And there were no women (sorry, Nancy Bostock, Susan Latvala and Karen Seel) or blacks (goodbye, Ken Welch).

"I'm not feeling this," Welch said.

"My idea is, I'll be in my office until you're ready to have a business meeting," Bostock said.

So now the three white males — Morroni, Neil Brickfield and Norm Roche — could begin the re-enactment, and the rest would step forward later and speak to the county's progress. Morroni said he would still dress in period garb.

Staff writers David DeCamp and Michael Van Sickler contributed to this report.

The Buzz: Political news of St. Petersburg, Pinellas 12/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 17, 2011 3:31am]
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