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FOSTER ON TRAGEDY: 'I FELT LIKE I LOST TWO OF MY OWN'

ST. PETERSBURG

The loss of Tampa police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab, who were killed in a Tuesday shooting, has resonated in St. Petersburg.

Mayor Bill Foster ordered city flags to be flown at half-staff. St. Petersburg police officers are also wearing black armbands to memorialize the officers.

"Yesterday was a bad day," Foster said Wednesday. "I took it hard. You could see the pain on (Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's) face, the pain on (Tampa police Chief Jane Castor's) face. It puts all these issues into perspective. Makes baseball, this Tampa vs. St. Petersburg (situation), seem trivial."

Foster said he and his wife, Wendy, would be attending the memorial services.

"I always look at Tampa and St. Petersburg as having this close relationship," Foster said. "I felt like I lost two of my own."

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St. Pete Pride doesn't draw raves from mayor

There was much hullabaloo recentlywhen Mayor Bill Foster said he would check out last weekend'sSt. Pete Pride celebration to determine whether it was family friendly.

Foster attended the gay rights event in 2006 and disapproved of what he said was an adult-themed atmosphere. It was the open display of sexuality, not the sexual orientation, that was the reason Foster gave for not signing this year's proclamation honoring the event.

This year, Foster said he had checked it out again to see if it, in his eyes at least, had become more tame. Alas, he said he saw much of the same adult-themed behavior.

"Nothing was really different," Foster said. "The organizers can't control the revelers, who are along the parade route, but they can control the parade participants and the vendors. I'm not going to go into specifics, but it was tailored to an adult audience."

Asked what he saw that was targeted for mature viewers, Foster said he wouldn't discuss the details.

Organizers, who said the parade and festival drew about 80,000, said they were puzzled about what Foster saw.

"I'm kind of surprised by this response," said Chris Rudisill, executive director for St. Pete Pride. "We worked hard to make sure that people behaved appropriately and made sure that everyone felt welcome. Overall, we had a lot of people who enjoyed the festival with their families."

Dave Schauer, a former St. Pete Pride chairman, said he believes Foster still isn't comfortable with gay culture.

"I still give him credit for taking baby steps," Schauer said. "But I think the mayor has a discomfort level with same-sex couples. What happened out there was nothing worse than any large celebration in St. Pete, like Blues Fest or RibFest. It was significantly more family friendly than Gasparilla will ever hope to be."

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