Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg leaders delay approval of rules for RNC Event Zone

ST. PETERSBURG — Lingering questions about rules for an Event Zone for the Republican National Convention prompted city leaders to delay approval Thursday.

For example, the council spent 30 minutes debating whether the ordinance — which bans liquid containers in a large area of downtown — meant people could be arrested for carrying pickles or laundry detergent from Publix.

"There are some tweaks that need to be made," council member Charlie Gerdes said of the ordinance.

St. Petersburg police Maj. Melanie Bevan, who is coordinating the RNC security details, said officers will use their discretion when applying the rules.

"Our goal is not to respond to someone throwing a jar of pickles," she said. "The goal is to have an orderly event."

The council voted 5-3 to delay a vote until Aug. 9 or 16 despite Chief Assistant Attorney Mark Winn urging them to approve the rules Thursday.

"We have reached a point where we can go as far as we can go" in terms of clarity, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida disagreed.

The group wants stricter language included that makes it clear that protesters can gather as long as they don't block streets or sidewalks.

"It's not ready for prime time or passage," said group president Michael Pheneger, a retired Army colonel.

The delay comes a week after the council expressed concerns about passing the ordinance until Tampa agrees to reimburse the city for police expenses surrounding the Aug. 26 kickoff party at Tropicana Field.

The rules will help police control areas around the stadium and other parts of downtown from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1.

Some council members had suggested delaying passage of the rules until they got assurance from Tampa that they would be reimbursed for security costs.

Tampa is getting a $50 million federal grant to pay for extra police personnel and convention-related security purchases, such as police gear, vehicles and communications equipment.

With 20,000 delegates, dignitaries and journalists expected to attend the welcome party, hundreds of officers will be needed to secure an Event Zone encompassing about 7.4 miles of downtown.

City lawyers from Tampa and St. Petersburg have been negotiating a reimbursement agreement. Tampa police Chief Jane Castor met with St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and police officials Monday. Foster expects to have that agreement signed by next week.

If Tampa doesn't contribute money from the federal grant, St. Petersburg could request reimbursement from the Tampa Bay Host Committee, which organized the welcome party.

Foster reiterated Thursday that no general fund money would be used: "I will not do anything that causes the city of St. Petersburg taxpayers to bear the costs of a private party."

St. Petersburg leaders delay approval of rules for RNC Event Zone 08/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 11:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Amid FBI probe of Tallahassee, Gillum says GOP trying to 'put as much dirt on me as they can'

    Blogs

    Tallahassee mayor and candidate for governor Andrew Gillum might like his supporters to think a federal investigation into development deals in his city is political – but …

    Andrew Gillum
  2. Tampa pedestrian struck, killed near Temple Terrace

    Accidents

    A Tampa woman was killed Saturday night after she was hit by a car while walking near Temple Terrace.

  3. Snell to rejoin rotation Wednesday

    Blogs

     

  4. Illegal sign patrol on a mission to clean up Hillsborough streets

    Human Interest

    BRANDON --Jim Reed, rifling through the back of his Nissan Pathfinder, picks out a sign.

     Citizen volunteers, Reed and Bill Staley take down illegal roadside signs for county code enforcement.  CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  5. Video: Crowd catches teen falling from Six Flags ride

    Nation

    QUEENSBURY, N.Y. — A teenager fell about 25 feet (about 8 meters) from a stopped gondola ride at an upstate New York amusement park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below to catch her before she hit the ground.

    A teenager fell from a stopped gondola ride at Six Flags in upstate New York. [FACEBOOK VIA LOREN LENT]