Monday, December 18, 2017
Opinion

St. Petersburg council and mayor an example of dysfunction junction

Hey, kids, we have a special treat for today's government class.

We're going to watch actual politicians and civil servants in action. An honest-to-goodness video of a recent City Council meeting involving St. Petersburg's brightest lights.

We're going to hear sarcasm and whining. We'll look for vague accusations and occasional misrepresentations. If there's time, we may even watch them pout.

And, yes, I know, it sounds just like last week's episode of Glee.

But this is even better. Instead of adult actors pretending to be high school students on TV, this is like a bunch of juveniles trying to act like adults in real life.

So take your seats and wait for the education to begin.

That first unhappy man is council member Jeff Danner. He wants to know why the city is expanding its red-light camera program so quickly. He was under the impression that the city was going to spend a year studying the data before continuing the program.

This is what is known as a legitimate line of inquiry.

He's going to hear that city workers did not yet have all of the data to provide a comprehensive report to the council. And he's also going to hear that the program was being expanded because of all the great data the city already had.

This is what is known as a load of …

Ooooh, hold on.

Leslie Curran is talking now. She's the council chair. This means she's in charge of these meetings. It also means she has her eye on the mayor's job.

So in this complicated dual role, she does her best to run these meetings as efficiently as possible while also trying to make the current mayor look like a doofus. A lot of times, she seems happy to settle for one out of two.

Right now, she's complaining about how Mayor Bill Foster routinely keeps council members in the dark about city business. This would include baseball stadium matters. And Republican National Convention costs. And red-light cameras.

She's feigning indignation just long enough to get council members Wengay Newton and Steve Kornell stirred up. Now Kornell is threatening the mayor with retaliation. Except he doesn't sound convincing, almost like the whole idea makes him nervous.

Meanwhile, council member Jim Kennedy is saying he agrees with the mayor. This is the council's version of comic relief. No matter what the issue is, Kennedy will agree with the mayor. The Pier? Kennedy agrees. Fire fees? Kennedy agrees.

The mayor sneezes? Kennedy agrees.

I know you guys are getting restless, but this is the best part. The mayor is finally responding. And the amazing thing is you don't even see City Attorney John Wolfe's lips move while Foster is talking.

The mayor is doing the hurt routine. He says he only keeps secrets because certain council members are so mean. And then he throws in a jab about council members being kept in the dark only because they don't do their homework.

Okay, that's all we have time for now.

Hopefully, you learned a little more about good government. About putting personal differences aside to do the work you were elected to do. About thinking of the public's best interests instead of your own agenda.

Hopefully, after watching this City Council, you learned what to avoid.

Comments

Editorial: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17