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BAY BUZZ: POLITICAL NEWS OF TAMPA BAY

Why Deveron Gibbons lost - Republicans

The Weekly Challenger newspaper and The Power Broker magazine are co-publishing an 8-week series on the 2009 St Petersburg elections. The first installment: Attached is the first installment - "How Midtown Voted in 2009: Why Deveron Gibbons lost the race & what it means for those who won." (Download here) (http://blogs.tampabay.com/files/how-midtown-voted-and-why-gibbons-lost-the-2009-primary.pdf)

...But the reality is that black voters carried their weight for the Gibbons camp. Republicans did not. The 30 precincts Gibbons won were almost synonymous with South St. Petersburg, which houses over 80% of the City's total African-American population.

Where he lost - and lost big - was among Republicans. Despite the fact that Gibbons is a high-profile figure and a prolific fundraiser for the Republican Party, he didn't win a single one of the City's 20 majority-Republican precincts. Not even close. Bill Foster - who is also Republican - won 19 of the 20, with over six times more votes than Gibbons.

Adam Smith, Times Political Editor

Posted by Times Editor at 01:11:16 PM

* * *

Ford, Foster tangle in first debate before the runoff

And then there were two. Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford square off tonight in their first debate of the runoff, this one hosted by the St. Petersburg College Student Government Association and state Rep. Rick Kriseman. If you're not in the hall starting at 6:30 p.m. tonight, check back here for updates.

6:27 We're up and running from the St. Petersburg College Gibbs campus.

6:27 We're sitting in the recital hall of the Music Center listening to a man warming up the crowd on a piano.

6:28 The hall is about half full tonight.

6:28 If you're just tuning into the mayor's race, we're down to two... former City Council members Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster.

6:29 The stage is set up with two lecterns. Candidates will be standing for the entire debate.

6:29 This forum is being sponsored by state Rep. Rick Kriseman and the student government association here at SPC.

6:29 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Is a government public access channel covering this?

6:30 No TV tonight. You just have me.

6:30 The format should be interesting. Candidates will have the opportunity to ask each other questions.

6:31 Also, now that we're down to two --- don't be surprised to see Bill Foster to be questioned about social issues and expect a question about what Kathleen Ford has been doing between 2001 (when she lost to Rick Baker) and she decided to speak out against the Rays stadium proposal.

6:32 I believe Kriseman and a student government representative will be moderating the event, which also will allow for questions from the audience.

6:32 [Comment From Deanne]

In regards to the homeless population is there going to be any weight given to the mental capacity of some of the homeless population and what should or could be done to help them.

6:33 Deanne, I believe both candidates have in general talked about trying to specifically target those types of folks for help. Foster, I know, wants to put someone in the city in charge of specifically trying to help homeless veterans.

6:34 I'm also trying to put together a story for tomorrow's paper. So If I disappear for a minute or two tonight, that's why.

6:34 State Rep. Bill Heller and City Council member Herb Polson (we're in his district tonight) are both here.

6:35 In other news, Bill Foster has scheduled a 10:30 a.m. press conference on the steps of City Hall tomorrow. Is this the Rick Baker endorsement?

6:35 [Comment From Bill]

Aaron, double duty, huh?

6:35 Hey Bill, It's good to be needed, right?!?

6:36 The candidates have yet to take the stage.

6:36 [Comment From Bill]

Everyone knows Rick Baker will not endorse Kathleen Ford...

6:37 The pianist was Bruce Flowers...He was good! And he has a CD coming out, we hear.

6:37 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Might questions asked here be presented to the candidates?

6:38 Sorry. Doesn't work that way. But if you have a good one, maybe I can see if we can squeeze it into the St. Pete Times/Bay News 9 debate coming up next month.

6:38 [Comment From Sheri]

A Baker endorsement is the kiss of death.

6:39 Introductions underway.

6:39 A technical note: You only have to submit your comment or question once. It doesn't appear right away in the chat because I have to approve, or publish the comment.

6:40 I'll publish most every comment, as long as we stay on track.

6:40 Those are my only debate rules.

6:41 Ford and Foster waiting off stage. Ford is all in black. Foster is wearing a brownish suit. Don't ask for a critique!

6:41 [Comment From sean]

Foster needs to bate Kathleen, so she takes off the mask and shows us the Kathleen we all know from the 90's

6:42 The candidates are positioned probably 20 feet apart. So much room, it's such a contrast from the primary.

6:42 We're probably up to two-thirds full here. More introductions.

6:43 [Comment From bill]

Hey Aaron, for those of us not there, give us a quick run down of the movers and shakers in town who are there?

6:44 Other than Heller and Polson, I see a mainly average Joe type of crowd.

6:44 [Comment From Deanne]

The City of St. Pete recently sent notices on increasing our utility bills (water) this comes after the City Workers Union demanded pay raises for those workers.. HHHMMMM what can be done about that? As it stand the Pinellas County School Board is wanting more money and now the City of St. Pete Utilities...some of us are out of job?! Where are we suppose to find the money?!

6:44 [Comment From Bill]

I wouldn't want to debate her at any distance!

6:45 [Comment From bill]

How bout political consultants? or any other political hacks?

6:45 Not seeing them...

6:46 The Times' Adam Smith is here. Does that count? First question is about the west side of the city.

6:48 Foster goes first, and uses his time to talk about the success of building the new city library at the SPC campus. "This library here would be accessible. The circulation would be greater. The technology would be greater. I personally believe the city made the right choice. It was the right choice. This facility here is absolutely what we were looking for and what you deserve."

6:48 [Comment From bill]

Adam is a mover, not sure about a shaker tho.. lol

6:49 On the west side, Kathleen Ford: "This part of town continually has to sue to be heard. That is wrong. You deserve the services everybody else gets here."

6:51 Ford specifically attacks the rezoning of the old Catholic Dioceses property, which was approved by City Council (Foster supported it, I'm 99 percent sure). Rezoning allowed for greater density and was pushed by the developer, Sembler Co. (As an aside, there's been no activity on that site since the approval)

6:51 [Comment From Bill]

Keeping the content light and safe so far...how about their specific opinions about improving public safety in the city?

6:51 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

No Peter S., barry E., or others, I wonder if they are at the Disston Heights event?

6:51 Next question is to Foster: Why should a college student vote for you?

6:53 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Hmmm... Water bills Deanne? I'm wondering about what they are going to do with Chief Harmon, increased crime in my area with drug dealers and prostitutes... Bill Proffitt's comment the other day about no calls about prostitution on 9th St. N., is totally wrong.

6:53 [Comment From Sheri]

softball time

6:54 Foster, in his answer, praises SPC and then turns the question into a question about crime. He talks about, as he often has, that the city will be safer under his administration.

6:54 [Comment From bill]

because they enjoy going to rays game, and if kathleen gets elected by by rays

6:56 Kathleen Ford, in a one-minute rebuttal, talks about creating more green jobs and growing the city's health care industry.

6:56 [Comment From Bill]

Kathleen should pounce on that one!

6:56 [Comment From Sheri]

She supports the team staying, as per the contract. She does not support a unilateral decision to use taxpayer money a half bill to do it.

6:58 It's early, but Ford seems clearly more comfortable and at ease in this enviroment. Foster is fidgety. He is unsure how to stand, and has often happened with him, he has trouble with a time clock.

6:58 [Comment From John]

How is Rick Baker "Light" going to make the city safer? Kathleen is the only candidate with the cajones to reform SPPD.

6:59 [Comment From Sheri]

Foster wants to reinstate the high speed police chase.

6:59 [Comment From Paul]

too much coffee for Foster?

6:59 [Comment From Sheri]

liars can't stand still or focus

6:59 Again, you only have to submit a comment once. I'm seeing all those double submissions!

6:59 [Comment From bill]

maybe is foster toned down the diet he wouldnt be so figidity

7:01 Here's a whopper. Is Foster willing to give domestic partner benefits to city employees, both heterosexual and homosexual?

7:01 [Comment From Paul]

how full is it now in the audience there, Aaron?

7:01 Maybe 150 folks

7:02 [Comment From Sheri]

I can feel him pee himself from here

7:02 [Comment From Paul]

haha! curve ball!!! at least he likes baseball... see how he handles that one

7:04 [Comment From Bill]

Now we will see Foster's cajones!

7:04 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

Foster can't wiggle out of that one...

7:05 [Comment From tom]

oh man---Bloomberg in NYC gives domestic partners benefits

7:05 [Comment From Sheri]

did he faint?

7:06 Foster said he has seen no evidence that domestic benefit partnerships are needed. Said he will consider if it's required.

7:06 Ford said she would support providing domestic parnter benefits.

7:06 More on this exchange in tomorrow's paper. Sorry. The next question is also interesting. Paraphrasing. Kathleen Ford, where ya been from 2001-2008?

7:07 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Foster doesn't need to "wiggle out" of anything. He has always said that he could support partner benefits for city employees if they were needed to keep the city's benefits competitive.

7:07 [Comment From Paul]

let me tell him a story about my sister who passed away... and her partner was left with nothing...

7:07 [Comment From Bill]

A swing and a miss - c'mon Foster, man up!

7:07 Ford answers that she was working for the city, you just didn't notice her.

7:07 [Comment From Sheri]

He did man up, for him.

7:07 [Comment From John]

Foster just sealed the gay/lesbian vote in favor of Ford

7:08 Not actually for the city, of course. For the good of the city.

7:08 [Comment From Paul]

i'm not gay, and no way i'll vote for a close minded person

7:08 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

i think she has been getting anger mgt. therapy!

7:10 [Comment From Bill]

At least Kathleen gives direct answers!

7:10 And soon as you say that, Kathleen sidesteps a question about if the city is better today than it was in 2001. She says in some ways yes, in some ways no. Foster jumps in saying the city is better today ....

7:12 First direct attack: Foster: You were nowhere to be seen from the time you left City COuncil in 2001 to the time I left in 2008. Now you have an opinion over certain things, but you didn't help me out when I was on the city council."

7:12 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Do they, or anyone in the community think that the PD needs a spokespoerson? I think the Chief, maybe, should be the face of the PD? No, instead we pay $83,385.89 per year for a "Police Community Awareness Manager"... Is Bill Proffitt necessary??? I want to hear from the leader of our PD.....

7:12 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Besides trying to chase the Rays out of town, What has Mrs. Ford been doing for the city?

7:12 [Comment From Sheri]

One day its gays next its Jews another he may hate blacks. Hate is fluid to the likes of Baker light.

7:14 [Comment From Bill]

Go Bill Go!!!

7:14 [Comment From Paul]

foster has gotten well crafted public relations responses to the tough questions... is it obvious which answers are 'canned'?

7:14 [Comment From Foster Supporter]

I guess only close minded people vote for the good of the City

7:14 [Comment From Paul]

what a vague question.. 'better' meaning exactly what?

7:14 [Comment From Sheri]

It's better here with homeless on Central? Aand abandoned Baywalk rampant corruption in the PD and City Hall?

7:14 [Comment From rick]

go foster

7:15 [Comment From West Side Voter]

If Mrs. Ford is such a fiscal conservative why did she promise to let the Firefighter's union president receive full pay and benefits, without having to fight fires? or why does she think it is fine to tap reserve funds for recurring expenses?

7:15 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Aaron, sorry to link to that other paper across the bay, but everyone needs to take a look at this... Public Employee Salaries.... http://www2.tbo.com/static/news-special-reports-data-bay/tbo-special-reports-database-hillsborough-salaries/

7:15 [Comment From Paul]

so just where is the 700 million going to come from for the 'new' stadium.... ? i can't afford another nickel. i want taxes, fees, etc. lowered... you want baseball, fine, but don't ask me to pay for it

7:16 Candidates are now allowed to ask each other questions. Ford attacks Foster on the Rays. Foster says any stadium only will be built if voters approve it.

7:17 Foster asks Ford to name to things she pushed through in her four years on City Council. Ford starts her answer by stalling.

7:18 [Comment From Tyrone]

Would either of you support the building of a pool in South St. Pete so that blacks would have something to do?

7:18 [Comment From rick]

if ford is elected it will be the Las Vegas Rays

7:18 [Comment From Paul]

which voters won't approve... as everyone knows all the red signs last year literally alllll over st pete

7:18 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Paul, You vote right?

7:18 [Comment From John]

he also said it has to be built where it is, which the ABC joke has said is not feasable...so his position is meaningless.

7:18 [Comment From Tyrone]

I'm afraid to go to the Rays games for fear I'll be stabbed when I leave. The Rays should move.

7:18 [Comment From Sheri]

stalling or processing?

7:19 Two answers: Obtaining an outside opinion related to securities lending, and pushing for increasing broadband technologies in the city.

7:19 Ford turns the same question on Foster.

7:20 Foster responds, "Wow, I'm glad you asked that." First issue is saving Sunken Gardens.

7:20 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

Well the gloves are coming off!!!

7:20 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Really, Not Even two?

7:20 [Comment From Paul]

yes, I vote

7:20 [Comment From Tyrone]

The Uhurus make Bay Walk kinda scary, any plan here?

7:20 [Comment From Sheri]

True, meaningless. The current site is NOT feasible. Two groups of engineers have made that determination.

7:20 [Comment From rick]

be to many games no problem at all

7:20 [Comment From Sheri]

Good for her.

7:20 [Comment From Sheri]

Thanks to Fosters yes vote the city made risky investments that ended in 15 million in losses.

7:21 [Comment From Sheri]

Foster Saves Sunken Gardens? Whoooohoo (eyeroll)

7:21 [Comment From rick]

Foster is taking the lead

7:21 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Paul, then when Foster is Mayor, Vote against a new stadium.

7:22 His other issue is conving the administration to purchase tasers for the police department.

7:22 [Comment From Tyrone]

Do either of you support bringing hydroplane racing back to South St. Pete? Move the bodies off the lake first, of course.

7:22 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Ford voted to allow the securities lending policy that she now says it too risky!

7:24 Foster Q: If securities lending was such a gamble, then why did you vote to include that as part of the city's investment strategy in 1997?

7:24 Ford said that vote was miscontrued.

7:25 [Comment From Paul]

I dislike Foster for other reasons as well.. namely the 'god this' 'jesus that' lines... and his stance on not signing the City's single day biggest event

7:25 [Comment From Paul]

that's my point West Side... the majority of St Pete does not want to spend 700 million on a new stadium

7:25 [Comment From Sheri]

The police have zero presence in the city. Who will they taze? each other?

7:25 [Comment From John]

Will we have to say Grace before every Rays game if Foster is elected?

7:25 [Comment From rick]

let's aske ourselves why are we voting for lawyers?

7:26 [Comment From Tyrone]

St. Pete isn't the same since the death of Mr. Green Devil. The city needs a new human mascot.

7:26 [Comment From Paul]

good point Rick, but that's what its down to

7:26 [Comment From Miss Construed]

So she didn't understand what she was voting on?

7:27 [Comment From Foster Supporter]

Maybe saying a prayer before the game wouldn't be such a bad idea?

7:27 [Comment From Sheri]

Its not a good point. Constitutionality is a good thing to have a grasp of when leading a city. IE the sidewalks at Baywalk and free speach.

7:28 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

I agree, Paul. If "god" is going to scribe his agenda, I'm moving.

7:28 [Comment From rick]

as city employee I have worked with Ford and Foster one is sane the other is not. period

7:29 [Comment From Paul]

which is sane Rick?

7:29 [Comment From Sheri]

chatroom

7:30 The candidates were just asked to describe St. Pete in one word. Ford chose marvelous; Foster picked paradise.

7:30 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

and one is a bigot!

7:30 [Comment From rick]

asked any long term city employee who have to deal with city hall it is not difficult

7:30 [Comment From Sheri]

omg, Paradise? Like the garden of Eden. lololol

7:30 [Comment From John]

anyone who hates people of different beliefs and/or lifestyles would be the insane one....that's not leadership I want.

7:31 The next question is about improving safety on the Pinellas Trail.

7:31 Foster says there are people securing the trail. THe city needs a steady presence there, he says.

7:32 [Comment From Foster Supporter]

Sort of like those that hate people who believe in God?

7:32 Ford takes the question as an opportunity to talk about community policing. Both candidates want to ramp up community policing.

7:33 Ford also says she wants to change the city's cop computer system. Says the current system makes it more difficult to talk to each other.

7:33 [Comment From Paul]

people don't hate people who believe in god... we just think you're crazy

7:33 [Comment From West side voter]

What's with all of the religious intolorence? Aren't we all entitled to believe as we wish?

7:33 [Comment From Sheri]

people deserve equal rights. Dont like it? Dont expect my tax money, commerce or have a "straight" divorce. Period.

7:33 [Comment From Paul]

we think you're crazy because you never stop trying to include it in everyone's life

7:33 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Marvelous? Paradise? Garden of Eden? Is that how you classify being solicited for prostitution and watching drug deals from your front porch?

7:34 [Comment From Miss Construed]

Isn't Foster endorsed by the PBA & FOP?

7:35 He is. Ford is endorsed by the firefighters and the city blue collar union.

7:36 Who are you voting for?

Ford

( 29% )Foster

( 71% )

7:37 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Who does each council person endorse?

7:37 Most haven't endorsed Jim.

7:37 [Comment From John]

Why isn't Foster a member of POWW?.

7:37 Don't know. But Kathleen's no longer of a member of POWW, either.

7:38 [Comment From Sheri]

Firefighters are first reponders and the "city" didn't want to honor their contracts. Not until the pressure of Fords candidacy.

7:38 [Comment From tom]

not a member b/c he isnt broder line skitzo

7:38 [Comment From Paul]

look at that, a tie. this is going to be a good election

7:38 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Paul, I'll bet Foster is just as supportive of your right to not believe as he is of my right TO believe. But we all have to be tollerent of the other's views. Sorry it seems you aren't

7:39 Ford and Foster are now talking about the Raytheon pollution incident out here on the west side. Ford wants to know what the city knew and when it knew it. Foster wants to hold the polluters responsible.

7:40 [Comment From Brown]

Ford got Fire endorsement because she promised the President Newton a full release - meaning tax payers will pay his salary while he does only union work. Not all firefighters are supporting Ford - there were quite a few out on election day for Foster.

7:41 [Comment From Sheri]

Billy the BatBoy must have his entire congregation online right now ;)

7:41 [Comment From Sheri]

Not all police are backing Foster, by any means

7:41 [Comment From West Side Voter]

What is most important is that the plume is cleaned and that the residents are safe. Raytheon will pay the cost to make it right!

7:42 None candidate specific, which is the most important quality in a mayor?

Leadership

( 57% )Connections

( 0% )Experience

( 29% )Smarts

( 14% )

7:43 [Comment From West Side Voter]

Sheri, Nor are all Firefighters supporting Ford!

7:44 [Comment From Sheri]

20% of the people here think brains are important? Thats frightening

7:44 Foster and Ford are now talking about tourism marketing. Foster is talking thinking "globally."

7:45 [Comment From rick]

no sheri we just see leadership as important Baker was a leader

7:45 Ford is starting her answer by saying the city needs a better online marketing presence.

7:45 [Comment From Paul]

globally, unless you're gay... then don't come here, right?

7:48 [Comment From John]

the current vote reminds me of the city council meetings a while back where the Rays (and/or Baker) were bussing people in to disrupt the meeting about the waterfront sailboat err ballpark when they discovered the voters were not interested.

7:48 [Comment From Paul]

onine marketing? hey, that's global and its very cost effective.. rather obvious marketing medium to me, but glad its recognized

7:52 We just had a good back and forth about the baseball stadium.

7:53 Both candidates pretty much distorted the other's position.

7:53 Ford tried to suggest a vote for Foster is a vote for a new stadium (though he says any new stadium would only be built if voters agree by referendum).

7:54 And the Foster said Ford would try to block any referendum on a new ballpark to force the Rays to either stay at the Trop or try to leave.

7:54 Ford has said she would require a referendum as well (though she is much less supportive of the idea of a new ballpark than Foster).

7:54 [Comment From Paul]

but there is no mechanism in place to ensure that, is there? only if its on park land or waterfront property is a vote required now

7:55 We're going to close these polls, which are for fun and not scientific...

7:56 [Comment From Paul]

(Aaron, thanks for the coverage tonight!)

7:56 [Comment From rick]

the ball park is 5 years away what are they going to do now to attact jobs

7:58 We're gonna rap this up a few minutes early so I can turn to the story for tomorrow's paper. The highlights: Things got testy over securities lending and baseball. Read more tomorrow. And thank you very much for participating.

7:58 And if a fight breaks out while we're offline, you'll be able to read about it tomorrow in the a.m.

7:58 Good night.

7:58 [Comment From Jim - Euclid/St. Pauls]

Thanks, Aaron. I'd rather see the Rays in Vegas than in Tampa.

7:58 [Comment From rick]

this was fun and I watch Dr.Phil at the same time

7:59 [Comment From st. peteVoter]

thanx!!!

7:59

Aaron Sharockman, Times Staff Writer

Posted by Times Editor at 02:29:53 PM

* * *

State Rep. Janet Long Gives Homeowners a Chance to Grill Citizens

Property owners who have had trouble with Citizens, the alternative insurer created by the Florida Legislature, will have a chance to get their questions answered - in person. State Rep. Janet Long, D-Seminole, will have senior representatives from Citizens in her office on Tuesday (Sept. 15), to field questions from owners who've had trouble with their policies. Call Long's office at (727) 545-6421 to schedule an appointment. The Citizens representatives will be at Long's office, 5511 Park St., Suite 101, in the Colonial Bank building from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anne Lindberg, Times Staff Writer

Posted by Times Editor at 05:29:16 PM

* * *

Police union endorses Kornell in District 5 race

ST. PETERSBURG -- Before last week's primary vote for city council, St. Petersburg's police union had one of their own in the District 5 race -- former officer Joe Smith. But with Smith finishing last in the three-person field, the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association needed a new candidate to back.

So now the word is out. Steve Kornell, a social worker for Pinellas County schools, announced today that the union has endorsed him. "I am honored," he said in a press release. "We share a strong commitment to making St. Petersburg a better, safer city by giving our law enforcement officers the respect they deserve and the tools they need to keep us safe.''

Stephen Nohlgren, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 05:46:10 PM

* * *

Pinellas decides to keep firms seeking incentives secret

CLEARWATER -- Not knowing the names of companies seeking public tax incentives is fine with a majority of the Pinellas County Commission.

Commissioners Calvin Harris, Susan Latvala, John Morroni and Ken Welch decided to keep that current policy in place. The policy allows companies to elect to keep their identities secret from commission members when the board votes whether to provide tax incentives for relocations or expansions. Only economic development staffers know.

"I think we're just asking for trouble. Why, why would we need to know?" Latvala asked.

But this spring, Commissioner Karen Seel voted against approving incentives to a company without knowing its name, prompting this afternoon's debate (and this Times editorial). (http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1003552.ece) The company ended up (http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/workinglife/article1031905.ece) in St. Petersburg.

"I think we are the overseers of taxpayer's money," Seel said, noting a commissioner might hear more information than county staffers receive about a company seeking the incentives.

But other commissioners worried over facing lawsuits or prosecution for disclosing secrets protected by state law. The protections happen to provide another benefit, economic development chief Mike Meidel said:

"It takes the pressure off you from the press. You can't disclose what you don't know," Meidel said.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 06:00:48 PM

* * *

Kathleen Ford takes on Rays, St Pete Times

The night that Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster won the St. Pete mayoral primary I wrote (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/which-kathleen-ford-will-move-forward-in-st-petersburg-mayors-race/1033010) that Kathleen Ford won't win the election unless she demonstrates she's less combative and divisive than she was as a city council member. Tonight I saw the old Ford pop up at a West St. Petersburg debate at St. Pete College, and, well, she looked very much like someone poised to be elected the in-your-face, combative mayor of Florida's fourth largest city.

The most dramatic moment of the evening came when former city council member and state Rep. Rick Kriseman, the moderator, asked about a St. Petersburg Times editorial that negatively suggested Ford would dismantle city hall and fire top staffers. Krisman asked Ford if that's true.

Ford: "...Now is not the time for fun and games and quite frankly we cannot afford half a billion for a new baseball stadium. We cannot afford to waste any more time renegotiating for a new baseball stadium. Folks, that's what this race is about - it's the money. Follow the money. The Rays give the Times a heck of a lot of ad revenue, and so the Times really wants that ad revenue. It's follow the money. So obviously you know where I stand on the stadium: I like the Trop, I like baseball, ten-year baseball ticket holders and we have suite interests. So we have supported our local baseball team. But in this day and age and at this time, particularly at this time with the financial issues we face, now is not the time to even talk about a new stadium."

Foster, whose campaign passes out baseball cards about keeping the team, was pretty flummoxed: "The difference between Mrs. Ford and I is that I want to ask you ultimately whether or not it's something you want to invest in. ... I want to give you, all of you - Rays fans, Rays haters, in between - a right to vote. I want you to vision to have a seat at the table. And I'm not going to make the decision, yea or nea, solely because I like our team. Ultimately I think the decision has to be yours and I'm willing to give you that dialog and that right to vote. Mrs. Ford isn't."

Adam Smith, Times Political Editor

Posted by Times Editor at 10:13:24 PM

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