Monday, December 11, 2017
Opinion

Enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts, Mr. Mayor

Memo to St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman:

Well, Thursday is your big moment in the spotlight when you are sworn into office. Congratulations. Enjoy all the applause, all the back-slapping, all the expressions of goodwill. Soak it all in. Because it's all downhill from here, Bunky.

Since you are going to get all manner of advice anyway, here's some more.

Despite heartfelt pledges to work in harmony with you, you might as well know the City Council probably already thinks that not only are you an idiot, but any one of them is uniquely better suited to do the mayor's job than you are.

And yes, you're not mistaken, that was newbie council member Darden Rice who was humming Hail to the Mayor during your swearing-in ceremony.

You know the truth of this Mr. Kriseman, because you once served on the St. Petersburg City Council and don't deny you, too, didn't see yourself as Fiorello LaGuardia/Richard M. Daley/Tom Menino — only with a better tan.

Unfortunately you are getting off to just a bit of a stumbling start.

You should have known better than to organize a conference call with City Council members before you even assumed office. It's against Florida's open meetings/open records laws for public officials serving on the same body to have ex parte communications with one another. Did you have an anvil dropped on your head? What law school did you go to? The University of Larry?

And please, your argument this was merely an informal chitchat that had nothing to do with city business was complete twaddle. Really now, would anyone want to have an idle conversation with City Council if they didn't have to?

In the resulting fallout over the unnoticed conference call, it was not all that savvy to ask people to trust you, especially after you just violated Florida's Sunshine Law before you even had a chance to get into office to start sneaking around in earnest.

You are going to have many things on your plate from day one, not to the least of which is what to do about St. Petersburg's answer to a dreidel with a gland problem forlornly sitting at the end of the Pier.

Whatever you do, do not attempt to be creative, innovative, visionary or even remotely artsy-smartsy. It's clear the city's potentates, big shots and hotsy tots want something as bland, inoffensive and blah to replace the existing monument to the mundane. One suggestion. Have you thought of simply sticking a giant packing box from Ikea out there at the end of the Pier? It's the sort of thing that seems to keep children happy. Just make sure it's air-conditioned, which seems to be all anyone cares about.

You need to replace the police chief and if you can find him maybe the fire chief, too, if he hasn't swapped a work shift with the entire cast of Backdraft.

Naturally, you need to figure out what to do about the Tampa Bay Rays, whose live attendance lately has been somewhere between an Afghan stoning and the World Series of Bowling. Perhaps your predecessor, Bill Foster, can show where he hid his "secret plan" to keep the Rays here since he never seemed to have much use for it.

Transit will be a big issue for you going forward. You will have plenty of opponents who regard any form of light rail as a United Nations Agenda 21 plot to take over the city. Here's what you do — force these cluckers to commute at the height of rush hour back and forth from Tampa and Clearwater to St. Petersburg for a month. YOU WILL NEVER HEAR FROM THEM AGAIN! Problem solved. Next issue.

Unlike the Foster administration, it appears you are beefing up your inner circle with a chief of staff, a resident flack and several liaisons to one group or another. Since it's your honeymoon period (which ends Friday) we'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you need all these pricey folks.

But can we please draw the line at a national security adviser, ambassador to Tampa and a chancellor of the exchequer?

Oh, and don't be alarmed when you discover new council member Amy Foster in your office Friday morning. She's just measuring the drapes for future considerations.

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