Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Florida Politics
  4. /
  5. The Buzz

Rick Kriseman, Jimmy Patronis have a war of tweets over a city firefighter with cancer

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Jason Francis, diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January, says he’s entitled to certain benefits under a new law. The city says it’s seeking clarity about his eligibility.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman. [Times staff]
Published Aug. 21

ST. PETERSBURG — Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Mayor Rick Kriseman got into a Twitter spat that spanned the weekend over a city firefighter with cancer.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Lt. Jason Francis was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January, according to a lawsuit he filed last week against the city. Francis says he is entitled to certain benefits from the city under a new law that passed during the 2019 legislative session for firefighters with certain types of cancer, and that the city won’t grant them to him.

One of the benefits in question is a $25,000 payout.

RELATED STORY: Firefighter cancer coverage gets approved in Florida Senate

The problem is the law went into effect after Francis’ diagnosis, on July 1. That’s the date Francis went to the city to claim his benefits, according to the lawsuit.

When word of Francis’ story got out last week, Patronis took to Twitter to warn Kriseman that if St. Petersburg “wants to wage war over the cancer benefits debate – I’m ready.”

That prompted Kriseman to clap back, offering to school Patronis with “the facts.”

City officials say they are seeking guidance on whether the benefits apply to a firefighter with a diagnosis before July 1.

“As has been reported and as is stated in his complaint, Lt. Francis received his diagnosis prior to the new state law going into effect, making him ineligible,” Kriseman’s office said in a statement. “The city, as well as Lt. Francis’s own lawsuit, seeks clarity from a court or from the Florida Legislature to clarify this benefit for all Florida cities and firefighters who have been placed into yet another predicament by the state of Florida.”

Kriseman’s office also said Francis told the city’s human resources department he was not seeking the $25,000 payout.

Patronis persisted on Twitter, imploring Kriseman and the City Council to “step up" for Francis. He ended with the hashtag #DoTheRightThing. Kriseman responded that it’s not within the council’s purview, and that “we’re doing the right thing.”

Patronis responded, sharing with Kriseman, a former state legislator, his view on the “legislative intent” of the law — to cover firefighters with cancer.

That led Kriseman, a Democrat, to play the President Trump card on Patronis, a Republican: “Classic Trump playbook from my GOP friends,” the mayor tweeted, “tweet first, facts never.”

Patronis threw the last barb on Tuesday, saying Kriseman should “just LEAD" and posing the question, “Why does he need to add attorney’s fees for his cancer fight?” He ended with the hashtags #cancersucks and #leadershipfailure.

Kriseman did not respond on Twitter.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa City Council member Orlando Gudes has another $500,000 for an East Tampa cultural center, courtesy of the Hillsborough County Commission. OCTAVIO JONES  |  Octavio Jones
    The Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously to give the money for the planned facility at Al Barnes Park.
  2. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla.
    Scott renews his talking point in the wake of an investigative story.
  3. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at the Polk County Democrats Steak Fry, Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) CHARLIE NEIBERGALL  |  AP
    All the candidates are here, hoping to pass the Hawkeye test. So far, Elizabeth Warren is surging.
  4. Tallahassee Mayor and Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum talks with reporters before addressing a group of gay and lesbian Democrats in Tallahassee on Aug. 19. (AP Photo/Brendan Farrington)
    Gillum accused Florida’s Republican governor of “routine” voter suppression.
  5. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talks to reporters in Tampa on Aug. 21. Delays in his filling vacancies on the state's five water management district boards have twice led to those agencies canceling meetings to levy taxes and set budgets, which one expert said was unprecedented. OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES  |  Times
    Vacancies lead to canceling two agencies’ budget meetings.
  6. Vice President Mike Pence reacts during an immigration and naturalization ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House grounds, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    Katie Waldman, a former University of Florida student senator, was accused of helping discard independent student newspapers with a front-page endorsement of a rival party’s candidate. | Analysis
  7. Richard Swearingen, Florida's Commissioner of the Department of Law Enforcement, testifies before state lawmakers on Monday. Florida Channel
    But law enforcement officials are getting behind a “threat assessment system.”
  8. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, urges the Florida Board of Education to hold schools accountable for teaching the Holocaust and African-American history, as required by lawmakers in 1994. The board was considering a rule on the matter at its Sept. 20, 2019, meeting in Jacksonville. The Florida Channel
    School districts will have to report how they are providing the instruction required in Florida law.
  9. The Mar-a-Lago Resort in Palm Beach. JOE RAEDLE  |  Getty Images
    It wasn’t immediately clear how much Mar-a-Lago would charge to host the Marine Corps Birthday Ball — or even if it might do so for free.
  10. In this March 24, 2018, file photo, crowds of people participate in the March for Our Lives rally in support of gun control in San Francisco. JOSH EDELSON  |  AP
    ‘Guns are always a volatile topic in the halls of the legislature,’ one Republican said.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement