Activist Lorraine Margeson's bid to challenge St. Petersburg council member Jim Kennedy raises residency issues for other candidates06/18/13 Blog
The problem: A few months ago a city commission redrew council maps and moved her home out of District 3 and into District 2. The city's charter requires candidates to live in a district for 12 months before an election. The primary is Aug. 27.
Margeson, one leader of the Stop the Lens movement, has lived in the same house in the Mangrove Bay neighborhood for the past 12 years.
"It's a total mess, not of my making," Margeson said Tuesday....
06/18/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Even though she says city officials tried to stop her, city activist Lorraine Margeson will challenge Jim Kennedy for his District 2 City Council seat.
Chief Assistant Attorney Mark Winn warned her Monday that she could face a criminal perjury charge if she declared District 2 as her residence for the past year, Margeson says.
The problem: A city redistricting commission redrew council maps in March and moved her home out of District 3 and into District 2....
06/17/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Council member Jeff Danner wants to spend tax dollars to educate residents about the proposed Lens even as support for the project appears to be dwindling.
Danner will ask the council Thursday to discuss ways to educate voters before they head to the polls Aug. 27 to decide the fate of the $50 million project.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there," Danner said. "I think we've done a less than stellar job of educating people. We have over $3 million invested in this project."...
St. Petersburg City Council members must need to rest their eyes when they can — even when being paid to represent residents.
A camera caught Jim Kennedy rocking in his chair with his eyes closed for one minute during a recent council meeting. Someone posted the video on YouTube, titled "Jim Kennedy Pondering Difficult Topics."
It's common for residents to blast the council for not paying attention during meetings. ...
06/14/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After months of study and criticism, city officials have developed an ordinance that will help Pinellas County residents land jobs on public construction projects.
The proposed construction incentive program would call for the city to pay contractors more quickly if they hire local unemployed, underemployed or disadvantaged workers on big-ticket public projects priced above $2 million....
06/13/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Taxpayers will get back $11 million in bad investments made with Lehman Brothers, the Wall Street firm that went bankrupt in 2008.
The City Council unanimously agreed to a settlement with Wells Fargo on Thursday after suing the financial giant to try to recoup $15 million in risky investments made by Wachovia Securities. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia in 2009.
While all the money hasn't hit city coffers, the "money should change hands in the next couple of weeks," said Jacqueline Kovilaritch, an assistant city attorney. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — Five months after entering the mayor's race, Rick Kriseman announced Thursday that he is opposed to the Lens, the $50 million project slated to replace the Pier.
"I'm encouraging people to vote yes to stop the Lens," Kriseman said at the Museum of History in downtown St. Petersburg. "The citizens have spoken loudly."
Triggered by a citizen initiative, residents will cast ballots Aug. 27 to decide whether to end the contract with Lens designer Michael Maltzan Architecture, effectively killing the project....
ST. PETERSBURG — A month ago, campaign signs for the mayor's race were a rare sight in the city's predominantly African-American neighborhoods.
Now a sea of red, white and blue "Kathleen Ford for Mayor" placards dominate intersections and side streets in pivotal neighborhoods south of Central Avenue.
The surge came immediately after Goliath Davis, one of the community's most influential leaders as well as a former police chief and city administrator, proclaimed that Ford is a viable candidate to lead the city....
GOP speaker strife
Pinellas County's Republican Party is facing criticism from some of its own members for inviting a University of Central Florida academic to give an anti-Islam speech at its next meeting.
In its June newsletter, the group advertised a 45-minute speech called "The Islamic Threat to America," by Dr. Jonathan Matusitz, an associate professor. The speech is supposed to take place roughly an hour before the organization's executive committee meets and hears from Blaise Ingoglia, vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. ...
06/06/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Only one question on the Aug. 27 ballot will determine the fate of the city's proposed $50 million pier.
Residents will be asked if they want to cancel the contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture, designers of the new pier known as the Lens. There will be no reference to additional questions suggested by Mayor Bill Foster to quiz residents about what kind of pier they want if they don't want the Lens....
It seemed like a Brady Bunch rerun at Thursday’s City Council meeting.
We know the plot. We know the characters. And we know the ending.
The opening act starts when council member Wengay Newton makes a motion to axe the red-light cameras. Council member Steve Kornell helps him by approving the motion.
The plot thickens. Will the cameras survive?The cameras, Newton says, extorts money from drivers....
06/06/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — While discussing possible changes to the red-light camera program, the City Council again debated whether to ax the controversial cameras.
Camera supporters won — again.
Wengay Newton, the council's biggest camera critic, asked his colleagues to end the contract with the private vendor who snaps pictures of cars running red lights.
Newton said there have been too many problems with the cameras, adding, "Where there's smoke, there's fire."...
St. Petersburg City Council chairman Karl Nurse wants people to know he didn’t forget his pledge to crack down on talkative colleagues.Bay Buzz pointed out Sunday that council member Wengay Newton has recently taken over meetings and workshops by bombarding Mayor Bill Foster and staffers with questions. Agenda review took two hours last week because of his questions.
It's common for council members to roll their eyes, shake their heads or talk to one another when Newton speaks.
Meetings are shorter, but Newton found a loophole, Nurse says.
“You may have noticed that council meetings are hours shorter this year than last,” Nurse said.
“What has happened is that Wengay figured out that time limits apply to council meetings. Now, he is filibustering agenda review, workshops, etc. City Council will have to adopt a resolution changing our rules to close this loophole."...
Bob Buckhorn opines on mayor's race
The Tampa mayor refuses to intercede in the debate over a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, but Bob Buckhorn said the St. Petersburg primary election is crucial in the yearslong saga.
Buckhorn said residents will be "increasing pressure on all of the candidates to stake out a position" on two of the city's most controversial issues: the stadium and the future of the Lens, the Pier replacement. ...
05/31/13 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The summer months could turn one of the city's most controversial issues into a three-month, political sprint.
The finish line comes Aug. 27 when voters cast ballots on whether to move forward with building the $50 million Lens to replace the 1973 Pier.
The anti-Lens group Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg announced Friday that the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office has verified that they turned in enough signatures to force a public vote on the project....