05/02/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — It's budget season in a booming city. That means politicians and city budget officials have stepped up on the fiscal balance beam.
Pulling them to one side is a laundry list of ideas of how to spend money — including on recession-delayed projects — and a growing chorus of residents who want to make sure the good times don't pass them by.
On the other side is the caution born of that same recession and the desire to stash enough in the municipal cookie jar for the inevitable unexpected expenses....
On the steps of City Hall Friday, Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin hula-hooped like a pro. Mayor Rick Kriseman twirled a hoop around one arm. Council member Wengay Newton briefly did a neck twirl.
They might have had different skill levels with the hula hoop, but all three politicians were on the same page: getting St. Pete healthy.
Tomalin is leading the effort which seeks to encourage exercise, healthy eating and wellness for city's residents. A recent survey put Pinellas County 33rd out 67 Florida counties in health outcomes....
A downtown noise ordinance that appeared headed toward enactment a few weeks ago has run into some blowback at City Council.
Council member Karl Nurse had pushed a tightening of an existing ordinance that would require downtown venues to bring speakers inside and shut doors by 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. Fines would quickly jump to $500 a pop for violators.
Downtown condo residents were the driving force behind the proposal as many had tired of music blaring from the downtown nightlife scene. ...
Anticipating another massively-long meeting involving the city's Pier project on May 7, City Council chairman Charlie Gerdes has moved back a planned workshop on the Tampa Bay Rays stadium deal until later in the month.
The Rays workshop will now be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday May 28, said City Clerk Chan Srinivasa.
The City Council meeting on May 7 starts at 8:30 a.m. but is expected to last 10 to 12 hours, Srinivasa said. The City Council will consider authorizing contract negotations with the designers of Pier Park....
04/29/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city's curbside recycling program is nearly operational, but not everyone is thrilled about the plan.
At an informational meeting at the Gladden Recreation Center this week, Historic Kenwood residents questioned why recycling trucks can't pick up the 95-gallon containers from their alleys instead of the curb. Many homes in the neighborhood don't have paved walkways that allow for easy rolls to the curb....
St. Petersburg's curbside recycling program is nearly operational, but not everyone is thrilled about the plan.
At an informational meeting at the Gladden Recreation Center Tuesday, Historic Kenwood residents questioned why recycling trucks can't pick up the 95-gallon containers from their alleys instead of the curb. Many of the homes in the neighborhood don't have paved walkways that allow for easy rolls to the curb. ...
A packed house at 400 Beach Seafood cheered District 3 candidate Ed Montanari's official entrance into the race Tuesday.
Montanari, whose powerful backers include former mayor Rick Baker and state Sen. Jack Latvala, was introduced by another former mayor, Bill Foster, who said the airline pilot and civic leader would be a great addition to City Council.
It's the second run for Montanari, who lost to term-limited council member Bill Dudley in 2007. He's kept busy in city business, though, serving as vice chair of the Pier Advisory Committee and as a commissioner on the Community Planning and Preservation Commission....
David Fischer, who served as St. Petersburg's mayor from 1991 to 2000, will be named the city's tree czar by Mayor Rick Kriseman on Saturday.
Fischer led efforts to plant more than 10,000 trees during his time in office, according to a news release.
As tree czar, Fischer will promote "awareness and appreciation" of trees. It's an honorary position that will be officially minted at the city's Green Thumb Festival at Walter Fuller Park at 1 p.m. ...
The city's transportation and parking director had a suggestion during Thursday's discussion of amending regulations on pedalpubs.
Why doesn't the council go on a fact-finding tour on the mobile pubs that ply the downtown streets?
"I know you'll laugh at this," said Evan Mory before he made his pitch at the Public Services and Infrastructure Committee meeting.
Newly-nominated City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch quickly quashed the idea. Eight council members sipping brews and pedaling through the streets would be a violation of the Sunshine Law, she said....
Downtown bars that don't pull their speakers off the street and close their doors at a decent hour will face increasingly hefty fines if a measure approved a City Council committee Thursday becomes law.
A revamped noise ordinance requires bars and venues that have music blaring from speakers to quiet the noise by 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends.
The proposal is a modest request, said council member Karl Nurse....
04/22/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city is polishing its rules on two-hour parking in its downtown core with an eye toward warding off legal challenges.
Last year, a lawsuit seeking to declare the city's parking policy unconstitutional earned the initial support of a Pinellas County judge. That prompted city officials to rewrite the law to make it simpler to understand and less vulnerable in court....
04/20/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The Yankees are coming, the Yankees are coming!
In past seasons, that usually meant big crowds — many in pinstripes — at Tropicana Field to see the likes of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and C.C. Sabathia take on the Tampa Bay Rays.
But over the weekend, the crowds were scant for a Yankees visit, drawing between 15,752 and 21,791 for the Friday-Sunday series....
04/19/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Cactus Charlie's is darkly lit, with faded decor and scarce parking, hidden away in the recesses of the drab New Plaza Motel at 400 34th St. N.
You can't enter the bar from the street, but instead have to walk down a dank corridor by motel reception and open a windowless door.
That made it a perfect location for a drug den, St. Petersburg police said. They sent undercover confidential informants inside the bar last spring who bought crack cocaine inside the bar, police said. One informant reported being accosted at the door by drug dealers eager to unload their wares....
ST. PETERSBURG — The solar-powered charging stand at Crescent Lake Dog Park was getting plenty of energy Friday morning under a sun already hot enough that Mayor Rick Kriseman's brief remarks were accompanied by thirsty dogs slurping at a nearby water fountain.
Five stations, capable of charging cellphones and tablets even on cloudy days, thanks to a battery, are now available, including at Vinoy Park (which has two) as well as Lake Vista and Walter Fuller dog parks. ...
The old guard is changing in St. Petersburg.
On Friday, news broke that City Attorney John Wolfe was preparing to retire after forty years of working for the city. Two weeks ago, Dave Metz, another four decade veteran retired, but news of his career's end was a quiet affair.
City Administrator Gary Cornwell said that Metz's last day on April 3 was uneventful for a reason---he wanted it that way....