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BAY BUZZ: POLITICAL NEWS OF TAMPA BAY

Pinellas County administrator rearranges top brass roles

CLEARWATER -- Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala has shifted his top lieutenants' duties because of Assistant County administrator Liz Warren's impending layoff on Sept. 30.

"I recognize that we have many challenges and adjustments ahead of us, not the least of which is a change in reporting relationships," LaSala said in an email Wednesday afternoon to top elected officials and department heads.

The added responsibilities include:

Animal Services -- assistant county administrator James Dates

Building and Development Services -- director of public works and transportation Pete Yauch

Convention and Visitors Bureau -- assistant county administrator Elithia Stanfield

Communications -- Tom Crandall, utilities director

Environmental Management; Culture, Education & Leisure -- chief assistant county administrator Mark Woodard

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 11:22:03 AM

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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker on WMNF's Florida Folk show this morning

I'm settling in today by listening to Mayor Rick Baker on WMNF. He's launching a "St. Petersburg" song contest. New York has New York, New York, what will St. Petersburg have?

From an accompanying press release:

St. Petersburg, Fla. (Sept. 4, 2009) - Calling all Florida singers, songwriters, musicians and creative types É entries are now being accepted for a song that captures the essence of the Sunshine City. The winning submission will become the official song of St. Petersburg and will be unveiled during Ribfest in November.

"Music is a universal language that everyone can relate to. This contest is a great way to bring our community, and others across the state, together and will strengthen St. Petersburg's identity as a positive, upbeat place to live, work and play," stated Mayor Rick Baker.

The song competition is open to residents of the state of Florida with the exception of city of St. Petersburg administrative management personnel and elected officials. Contestants younger than 18 must include a parent or guardian signature with their entry. Songs should be approximately three minutes in length, suitable for groups as well as soloists, and be submitted on a lead sheet that includes lyrics, melodic line and chords. Two entries per person are allowed; each entry must be submitted separately for consideration.

During the interview, he also picks up the guitar and plays Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. You can listen here. (http://www.wmnf.org/programs/play_archive/27?archive_type=music&format=m3u&program_id=247) (The song picks up at about the 30 minute mark).

Aaron Sharockman, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 11:42:25 AM

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Kevin White challenger says his legal troubles aren't an issue

Political newcomer Valerie Goddard said the legal troubles facing Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White didn't figure into her plans to challenge him for his District 3 seat.

She says she won't make them part of her campaign.

Les Miller, the third Democrat seeking the post in 2010, says he'll only go on the attack if White throws the first punch.

Read more about it here. (http://www.tampabay.com/news/localgovernment/a-challenger-to-kevin-white-says-she-wont-make-him-the-issue/1034998)

Posted by tampabaycom at 12:54:16 PM

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Two Sept. 23 St. Petersburg candidate debates to merge

Two St. Petersburg groups organizing debates for Sept. 23 apparently double-booked Lakewood High School. The campaigns RSVP'd to both, thinking there was only one event, when there were actually two. The solution: the groups will merge the debates.

We'll let one of the events' organizers, Chris Kelly, explain:

Lakewood High School has two auditoriums, a larger 700+ seat facility and a smaller one in the Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) portion of the campus. Social studies teacher Sean O'Flannery booked the CAT auditorium for Sept. 23, to hold his program's election year student-led forum. After the primary election earlier this month, he started inviting candidates to participate, from each of the five council and the mayoral races.

In March of this year, the coalition of neighborhood associations known as SPAN decided to put together a single forum focused on the mayoral and District 5 and 6 races, deliberately excluding the other three races to focus on issues of interest to the part of the city south of Lake Maggiore. Lakewood Estates NA president Judy Ellis booked the Lakewood High School auditorium and notified all the respective candidates of the event. Which was scheduled for ... Sept. 23.

As O'Flannery began notifying candidates and campaigns, respondents affirmed that they were, indeed, scheduled for the forum at Lakewood for that date.

It was only when the Corsetti campaign posted on Bay Buzz that they weren't mentioned in SPAN's press release that the potential conflict was noticed. Judy Ellis knew Corsetti wasn't invited to her event, his campaign manager knew that they were invited to Lakewood High School for that evening - by O'Flannery.

O'Flannery's students were planning to moderate their event and had RSVPs from several of the candidates; Ray Arsenault agreed to host SPAN's event which had commitments from six candidates.

After an hour-long session with Lakewood High School administrators, O'Flannery, Ellis and Chris Kelly from the Greater Pinellas Point neighborhood association, details of a resolution emerged this morning.

The events will now be combined, with students and professor Arsenault working together as moderators. Mayoral, Council 5 and 6 candidates will participate in directed questioning during the forum; all campaigns are invited to outreach during the social time and to set up a literature table in the courtyard entrance to the auditorium.

Kelly said, "Faced with a chance to work alongside our high school and the students, we realized that the scheduling issue wasn't a problem but an opportunity." O'Flannery said he will share the details of the model with a colleague at Northeast High School, encouraging her to work with the neighborhoods around that school to mount a similar forum for Districts 2, 4 and 8. Students will videotape the event, posting pertinent exchanges on YouTube and attendance will be larger than if the respective organizations held separate events.

Posted by Times Editor at 02:05:49 PM

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Gov. Charlie Crist visits Clearwater's Tech Data, cheers new Sen. George LeMieux

CLEARWATER -- Gov. Charlie Crist visited Tech Data Corp. in Clearwater today, glad-handing sales and marketing employees and speaking at a management meeting outside the eye of two local reporters.

It was the first visit by a governor to the distribution company, which has 1,500 employees in Clearwater and 8,000 worldwide, Tech Data spokesman Jarred LeFebvre said.

At the same time, his former top aide, George LeMieux, was preparing to become Florida's next U.S. senator. Crist said he has no regrets about picking his ex-chief of staff, despite the criticism he picked a crony.

"Not in the least - I'm enormously proud of soon to be, very soon to be, Senator LeMieux and the great work he'll do for the people of Florida," Crist said after noon of the man he expects to hold the seat while Crist seeks it in the 2010 election.

Crist also had stops in Tampa today.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 04:49:13 PM

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