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St. Petersburg poised to approve budget amid questions about reserves

ST. PETERSBURG - The City Council is poised to approve a 2010 budget Thursday that doesn't include money for summer jobs for teens, a domestic violence coordinator or an arts director.

The budget calls for slimmed-down police, fire and parks departments. Low-income residents at the city's Jamestown Apartments would have to pay more rent. Most nonunion workers would not get raises.

Union leaders, some city candidates and a handful of City Council candidates argue that St. Petersburg can avoid some of these service cuts by using some of the nearly $300 million in the city's various reserve funds.

Read story here. (

Posted by Times Editor at 08:44:09 AM

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Kathleen Ford to speak at Stonewall Democrats meeting Thursday

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Pinellas Stonewall Democrats are pushing hard for mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford.

From an e-mail sent out to supporters:

Meeting Reminder: Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 pm

Come early! Our pre-meeting social with snacks and soft drinks starts at 6:30.

Pinellas Democratic Party Headquarters -- 2250 First Avenue North in St. Petersburg.

Special Guest

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford has accepted our invitation to speak at Thursday's meeting.

Her visit will be an opportunity for Stonewall members and friends to hear from Kathleen about her vision for St. Petersburg and her commitment to equality and fairness for all -- including the LGBT community. We have asked her to also let us know what we can do, as an organization and as individuals, to support her campaign and help her win.

For the September 1 primary, we were fortunate to have three exceptional candidates for mayor who exemplified the inclusive policies we should expect from all candidates and elected officials. Although we backed another candidate in the primary, the day after the election we congratulated Kathleen and offered our full support in her bid to become mayor of St. Petersburg.

It is very important for St. Petersburg to finally have a fair-minded mayor who genuinely understands and appreciates the LGBT community as a valuable part of the city. That is why the Stonewall Democrats support Kathleen and will be doing all we can to help voters understand the basic and fundamental differences between the two mayoral candidates.

Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer

Posted by Times Editor at 10:28:55 AM

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Bill Foster picks up endorsement from Deveron Gibbons

ST. PETERSBURG -- Former mayoral hopeful Deveron Gibbons endorsed mayoral candidate Bill Foster Tuesday, a move that could help Foster win the city's highly coveted black vote.

"I believe, after talking to both candidates, Bill Foster is the one who can lead us forward," said Gibbons, who finished third in the September primary election, at a thank-you party for supporters at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum.

The majority of black voters supported Gibbons, the only black mayoral candidate, in the primary. Gibbons urged his supporters to rally behind Foster.

"This is not over," he said.

Gibbons and Foster, however, were fierce rivals in the primary campaign. When a Newberry-based political organization sent out a mailer claiming Foster voted to raise property taxes eight times while on the City Council, Foster suspected Gibbons. To be fair, Gibbons often bashed Foster during candidate forums for not accomplishing more while on the City Council. Also, the political organization, Committee for Responsible Representation, had business ties to the Victory Group of Tampa, which worked on Gibbons' campaign.

Gibbons alluded to the primary tension during his endorsement speech.

"Three weeks ago, I wanted to win this race. I wanted to beat this guy," he said. "We left it on the field."

Foster brushed aside a question about Gibbons' alleged tactics during the primary.

"Doesn't matter," he said. "You put that all behind you."

Foster said he meet with Gibbons "a few times" before Gibbons decided to endorse him. Both men are Republicans. Foster's rival in the November general election, fellow former City Council member Kathleen Ford, is a Democrat.

Meanwhile, Goliath Davis, the city's first black police chief, stood next to Gibbons and offered this confusing statement: "If you want to know where I am, I'm with my candidate."

Davis supported Gibbons in the primary.

UPDATE: Foster said he has not asked Davis to endorse him, and he doesn't think Davis was signaling he would endorse Foster because Gibbons had endorsed him.

We will follow up with Davis on Wednesday.

Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer

Posted by Times Editor at 10:44:10 AM

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Starkey picks up endorsement in House 45 race

Pasco School Board member Kathryn Starkey announced today she'd picked up an endorsement from the Pinellas Farm Bureau in her bid for the District 45 seat, which includes parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties.

W. Fred Petty, legislative committee chairman, announced the bureau's endorsement and added his personal endorsement. Petty was the Pinellas County Tax Collector from 1993 to 2001.

Starkey, a Republican who married into a well-known ranching family, said in a statement that both endorsements carried personal significance.

"The Pinellas Farm Bureau means a lot to me and to our family for the role they play in the agricultural community. Mr. Petty's endorsement is extremely significant to me because Jay B. Starkey, our family patriarch, served as the Pinellas County Tax Collector from 1937 to 1949. I know this support will be a benefit as our campaign continues to build momentum and move forward," she said.

Starkey is running in a heated race for the 2010 primary for the seat being vacated by Rep. Tom Anderson, who is stepping down due to term limits. Three other Republicans are Richard Corcoran, Fabian Calvo and Carl Folkman.

Starkey and Corcoran, a lawyer for Pasco Sheriff Bob White and a close friend of Sen. Mike Fasano, have been leading the pack in fundraising.

Jodie Tillman, Times Staff Writer

Posted by tampabaycom at 02:31:55 PM

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Sink raising money in St. Pete

Supporters of Alex Sink, the state's CFO and Democratic governor candidate, were drumming up support for people to attend her cocktail reception fund-raiser at Bella Brava in St. Pete today. Read on for the host committee for the 5:30 p.m. event.

From the email invitation, the hosts:

Stacy Ames, Alan Bomstein, Stephen Bragin, Tony Collins, Steven Crane, Dr. Frank and Sandy Diamond o Margaret and Homer Duvall, Dr. Bill Heller, Rene Hernandez, Gwen and Gordon Johnson, Senator Charlie Justice, Representative Rick Kriseman, Stu Krug, Amy Mandel, Stuart Mellish, Katie Pemble, Gregory Perry, Paula Popovich, Bob Sanderson, Midge Seltze, Craig Sher, Helen and Peter Wallace, Jean Wittner

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 05:52:12 PM