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CITY COUNCIL AND MAYOR FOSTER SEE INCREASE IN APPROVAL RATINGS

ST. PETERSBURG

Mayor Bill Foster and the City Council continue to improve in the eyes of St. Petersburg voters.

Weeks after rejecting the Tampa Bay Rays' request to explore stadium sites outside the city, Foster's approval ratings increased.

Foster's approval rose from 52.5 percent in September to 55.6 in November, according to St.PetePolls.org.

The local pollster took the pulse of 1,424 residents on Nov. 12. Among the findings, ratings for the City Council rose from 43.8 to 50.3 in the same period.

STADIUM: With the stalemate over a new stadium for the Rays poised to drag on, residents overwhelming - 70 percent - said they oppose taking out loans to build a stadium.

CAMERAS: As for red-light cameras, their popularity is waning - perhaps as more people get violations. Fifty-two percent of voters don't think the "city installing red-light cameras was a good thing."

FORECLOSURE REGISTRY: Residents also weighed in on the recently created foreclosure registry and the ordinance affecting human billboards. The results:

Do you support the creation of a registry of foreclosed homes by the city?

Yes: 44.4 percent

No: 22.5 percent

Undecided: 33.1 percent

Would you support the city banning people from waving business signs along busy streets?

Yes: 32 percent

No: 56.7 percent

Undecided: 11.3 percent

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PINELLAS COUNTY

The county's last fluoride holdout: 'I need to revisit' that decision

Voters kicked out of office two of the four Pinellas County commissioners who voted to stop adding fluoride to the drinking water. Soon after, Commissioner Norm Roche decided to change his vote. And now the last one has flipped.

Commissioner John Morroni said that when the issue comes up for debate again, he will vote to put the mineral back in the water. "I made a mistake and, you know, I listen to the public," he said.

Morroni said his vote more than a year ago to end fluoridation was a response to a deluge of emails from residents who opposed the practice.

"But that was not the position of obviously the majority of the people in this county," he said. "I need to revisit that and support putting it back into the water."

With Morroni voting in favor of fluoride, and two new profluoride commissioners, a measure to restore the practice is likely to pass unanimously. A discussion of the issue is on the Tuesday agenda, but the commission will not vote on it until Nov. 27.

Technically, this means that commissioners-elect Janet Long and Charlie Justice will not be able to fulfill a campaign promise of restoring fluoride on their first day in office.

"The campaign is over and the reality is you don't bring up an issue that day, discuss it that day, vote on it that day, without the public knowing about it," he said. "That's not the proper way."

* * *

Latvala pushes for Eckerd stoplight

State Sen. Jack Latvala wants a stoplight in front of Eckerd College.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Latvala urged the Florida Department of Transportation to install a light in the spot on 54th Avenue S where Robert Shepherd died in a crash this month.

"Eckerd College, Mr. Shepherd and others in the community have been trying to get a traffic light on 54th Avenue S for years," Latvala wrote to Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad.

The Clearwater Republican pointed out that a state traffic study may not have calculated heavy traffic from the beaches or on holidays.

The entrance to Eckerd had a stoplight, but state officials removed it in 1992 after determining the area's traffic volume was too low to justify it.

While urging state officials to install another light, Shepherd at the time told them: "It's a tragedy waiting to happen."

Two weeks ago, Shepherd pulled off campus and into the path of a Chevrolet pickup. The impact crushed the driver's side of his 2002 Buick LeSabre and pitched it over the median.

He died at the age of 85.

A traffic study conducted by St. Petersburg recommended a light in the intersection, Latvala said.

He also pointed out that the college must hire police for traffic control during large events. And owners in a nearby condominium complex have also sold their units because of traffic problems during rush hour.

"I'm sure that Mr. Shepherd would never have imagined that he would have been a part of the 'tragedy waiting to happen,'" Latvala wrote.

Mark Puente and Anna M. Phillips contributed to this report.

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