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BAY BUZZ: POLITICAL NEWS OF TAMPA BAY

BayWalk public hearing will be Oct. 1

ST. PETERSBURG -- The City Council will take a first vote on the BayWalk sidewalk vacation at its 3 p.m. meeting today.

The item is on the agenda for a first reading and to set a public hearing on the matter for Oct. 1. A final vote is tentatively scheduled for October.

Posted by Times Editor at 08:39:54 AM

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St. Pete presses county over Pinellas Hope funding

Add another minor fissure to the list of city-county differences.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker's office wants Pinellas County to promise to pony up money for Pinellas Hope, the temporary housing site for homeless people. The county hasn't -- yet.

The city has committed $250,000 for next year. But county officials declined to allot money for the nonprofit program. Instead, the Catholic Charities-sponsored operation's request for $600,000 will compete with other nonprofits for money from a $1 million pool. The county gave $770,000 to help run Pinellas Hope this year without making it compete.

With Pinellas Hope breaking ground Friday on an 80-unit housing site, Deputy Mayor David Metz urged the county to approve money for the program. But stressed he wasn't directly criticizing the county.

County Commission Chairman Calvin Harris said budget cuts have limited the county's ability to provide money, and this year's funding was always considered "one-time." But he said Pinellas Hope shouldn't worry, the county can cobble together money after seeing what's left from this budget year, which ends Sept. 30.

"It's going to get some money," he said.

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 10:53:49 AM

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Tampa council wants TV time

With 2010 and 2011 elections on the horizon, Tampa City Council members who are professed or rumored candidates on Thursday got excited about the idea of face time on a city-run television station.

After mayoral hopeful Tom Scott questioned how much it costs to air Tampa Sports Authority meetings, a program Mayor Pam Iorio launched several months ago, he asked why it is the mayor, police chief Steve Hogue and economic development administrator Mark Huey all have TV shows and the council has none. "I find that very interesting," he said. "For you not to be able to highlight some of things you're doing in the community is absurd."

Linda Saul-Sena (who is weighing a run for mayor) suggested the council might get time on Huey's show, because it's about the community redevelopment areas they oversee. John Dingfelder (already a Hillsborough County Commission candidate) pointed out that the council -- which also serves as the CRA board -- pays part of his salary.

Charlie Miranda called the conversation this way: "I'm not going to go on city TV to say I got elected and please reelect me," he said. "If you do it don't come to District 6 because I'm not going to be a part of it."

Stay tuned for the next episode.

Janet Zink, Times Staff Writer

Posted by tampabaycom at 01:04:47 PM

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Pinellas' Commissioner Harris blasts White, Hillsborough, voters

FEATHER SOUND -- During today's Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon, Pinellas County Commission Chairman Calvin Harris was asked about the legal mess over Hillsborough Commissioner Kevin White and the sexual harassment suit (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/hillsborough-county-will-drop-appeal-settle-legal-case-involving/1036803) White and Hillsborough recently lost.

What's being done to make sure big legal liabilities don't hit taxpayers elsewhere?

He paused.

"Well, part of it is just electing moral people," Harris said.

"I mean, the guy that's in trouble, if you will recall, during the campaign, he took his campaign fund and he was buying $1,500 suits ... because he said the voters wanted him to look good. And people still voted for him. And it's regrettable what has happened."

But Harris said Hillsborough officials also have a role to play (echoing the judge in the case, by the way).

"I think that if you elected the wrong people, then these things do happen. But the person was an employee of the county, and so in that regard the county is responsible," Harris said, noting Pinellas officials have county attorneys' numbers programmed into their cell phones for quick advice.

"There has to be somebody in that county government to say, 'Now wait a minute,' or 'We're not doing this' ... I'm not sure he would have asked if he should take his secretary on the trip. But somebody should have known that and prevented that."

David DeCamp, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 02:57:55 PM

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Pedophilia now an issue in St Pete mayor's race

ST. PETERSBURG - Forget that talk about Kathleen Ford and Bill Foster running a respectful, amiable campaign for mayor of St. Petersburg.

That prospect ended when Ford, during a meeting this week with members of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, suggested out of the blue that Foster might have known more than he let on about late City Council member John Bryan allegedly being a pedophile.

"The fact that she wants to spread malicious rumors and gossip to the detriment of another family for her own gain, I just think it's sick," a livid Foster said, referring to Bryan's family. "That is absolutely crazy stuff. É It says a lot about her character."

(Story here) (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/st-petersburg-mayors-race-gets-ugly/1037152)

Posted by Times Editor at 10:46:43 PM

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