Thursday, January 18, 2018

Manhattan Casino deal seems less enticing

Watching the debate play out at last week's City Council meeting was like watching a really good deal slowly falter.

When the city announced Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food restaurant would be coming to the Manhattan Casino, it was believed this would be a partnership.

Urban Development Solutions, led by Larry Newsome, is in talks with bringing the restaurant to town.

But during Tuesday's meeting, which included late changes to the lease that technically redefines the agreement, it became clear that what the city is getting is a simple franchise that could fade in a matter of a few years.

It begs the question: How does a document get before council without the city's attorneys at least giving it a careful glance?

Is this the same good deal that was laid out in July when the city first announced that Sylvia's was coming to town?

At least one council member appeared to have reservations about changes in the 11th hour.

"John (Wolfe), are you comfortable with approving a license agreement that you haven't read?" asked council member Jim Kennedy, who seemed to be a voice of reason at the meeting.

The agreement was modified because rather than a 50-year agreement, it is now an eight-year agreement with several renewals.

What happened with the initial 50-year lease that was originally approved? A bigger question is why did the majority of council appear to be slaphappy in its decision to move forward?

The city spent about $2.8 million on the Manhattan Casino's renovation in 2005. Since then, the building has sat empty.

The council is charged with acting on behalf of the taxpayers. Time will tell if they acted wisely.

• • •

Is it just me or does it seem like no matter what changes are made to the Lens, the naysayers will pooh pooh it?

Last week Michael Maltzan Architecture submitted a host of changes that should be applauded.

Hey, the outfit is offering shade. For anyone who has spent a summer or two in the Sunshine City, that's worth applauding. Far more interesting were the two restaurants, the floating dock and sitting areas.

But what has become clear is that opponents are dead set on keeping the iconic Pier, no matter what. Most alarming are the naysayers who complain that the designer is from out of town.

Let's face it, there are a host of structures in the region that are worthy of saving because of their architectural significance. The crumbling, inverted pyramid isn't one of them.

• • •

The arts community mourns the loss of one of its rising stars and the city lost a friend. Bill Correira was a sought-after artist, but to so many people, he was teacher, student, mentor and all-around good guy.

The last time I visited his gallery, he told me every piece of art that hung on the walls that October evening had been sold. That's quite impressive and speaks to the popularity of his work. There are a host of artists in this town who would like to be as fortunate. Especially in this economy.

But Woo just shrugged it off and continued painting. It's what he loved to do.

I had a bird's-eye view as Woo was being mentored about the business side of the arts on most Friday evenings alongside Lance Rodgers, Michael Conway and a smattering of other artists.

He had a quiet confidence that made him approachable and a sense of humor that made him endearing. He will be missed by a cadre of family and friends.

But the city lost a gem.


Another voice: Self-dealing by nursing home owners threatens patient care

The outsourcing of logistical support services, which became commonplace in the U.S. military in the 1990s and later was adopted by state prison systems, has now come to dominate the nursing home industry. And while nursing homes, unlike the military...
Published: 01/17/18
Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Editorial: Making illegal sewage discharges legal is wrong answer

Three years into a crisis with its sewer system, St. Petersburg has a dandy new idea for dealing with the environmental fallout of dumping dirty water into the aquifer. Instead of committing to banning the outlawed practice, a consultant suggested th...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Published: 01/14/18
Updated: 01/16/18
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18