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Mayor's fee hike ruffles council feathers

Mayor David Fischer's decision to increase parking fees at The Pier from $1 to $2 without consulting the City Council wasn't a smart move, some council members said at a workshop Tuesday. "I think it would have been better for us to participate in the decision rather than us reacting," said council Chairman Robert Stewart. Council member Leslie Curran agreed, saying she found out about the new fees at the city's largest tourist attraction from the newspaper. Fischer said after the meeting that it was within his authority to set the fees, but he said he didn't blame council members for getting upset about the late notice. The increase takes effect March 14.

Arson suspected in fire

ST. PETERSBURG _ A three-story apartment building was gutted Tuesday by an early morning fire that investigators say was set on purpose. The fire began in a second-floor apartment used as a storage area and spread next door, causing extensive smoke and heat damage to the building at 860 Fifth Avenue S. A half-dozen residents were evacuated, fire officials said. Most residents had moved because building owner John Parentplanned renovations. Florida Power Corp. had disconnected meters to the apartments, but police Detective Randy Bratton said residents had illegally reconnected power to two apartments. Bratton said he was waiting for laboratory results to determine the cause of the fire. He said late Tuesday that he planned to interview a suspect in the arson as investigators continued looking for a possible motive. The American Red Cross was finding temporary homes for the displaced residents, Bratton said.

1 shot, 2 beaten in invasion

ST. PETERSBURG _ One man was shot and two others were beaten early Tuesday when their apartment was invaded by two men. Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said two men kicked in the door of Apt. 46 at the Tanglewood complex, 53rd Avenue N near St. Petersburg, about 12:30 a.m. One used a revolver to shoot resident David Polynone, 26, while the other man ran into the apartment and beat two of Polynone's guests with a baseball bat. "Polynone was shot through the left arm between the shoulder and the elbow, but his injuries were not life-threatening," Pasha said. The other victims weren't seriously injured. None of the six people in the apartment was able to describe the two attackers and Pasha said detectives were trying Tuesday afternoon to determine a motive for the shooting and beating. Polynone was released Tuesday afternoon from Bayfront Medical Center.

Late request may doom festival

ST. PETERSBURG _ They have the dates. They have the bands. All K/A Promotions said it needed was the official okay from the city to proceed with the 1994 Forever Veterans Freedom Festival at Spa Beach Park and The Pier in May. Unfortunately, organizers were several months too late with their request. Tuesday, the City Council denied the group a co-sponsorship. Ed Blythe, owner and president of K/A Promotions, said his group wanted to charge admission and sell beer to make a profit at the festival. Without the city's approval, there is only a slim chance that the festival will go on. Blythe said the group is pondering what to do.

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