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PSTA board approves Greenlight plan

An emerging picture

Greenlight Pinellas — the name of the public awareness campaign for PSTA's transit sales tax proposal — is already on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (where it has mostly posted selfies). It's got tote bags and buttons. But what it didn't have until last week was official approval to exist.

Considering the general enthusiasm among elected officials when Tucker Hall first presented the Greenlight proposal, it was safe for opponents to assume it would be sanctioned and stay home. It was and they did.

On Wednesday night, the full PSTA board met and approved the Greenlight plan with a 13-1 vote — Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche opposed the plan. The vote followed a presentation that included a clip from Anderson Live in which a man was given a minute and a half to paint something. For the full minute and a half, his work seemed in league with Jackson Pollock or Mark Rothko. Deeply afraid of anything abstract, the TV audience became tense and skeptical. But at the last second, he flipped the painting 180 degrees to reveal a detailed picture of Anderson Cooper's profile.

This, the consultants from Tucker Hall suggested, was a metaphor for the months of work between now and when voters go to the polls in November of 2014.

"We want people to understand that this doesn't always look clear," said Tucker Hall senior vice president Tony Collins. "There's a certain amount of trust we have to put in each other and the process."

"All will be revealed," he assured.

Quote of the week:

"Campaign against them if they don't."

Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala

Beseeched by a handful of St. Petersburg residents to insert themselves into the debate over the city's Pier proposal, the Pinellas County Commission asked its attorney if it might be able to stop the structure's demolition. They were told a flat "no."

Could they name the structure a historic landmark and possibly preserve it? The answer, again, "no."

Unable to satisfy the group that came to speak against the city's proposal, Commissioner Latvala suggested another, more political, route. Not only is a referendum against the new pier, called the Lens, likely, there also will be a mayoral and council election.

"That may be the avenue to use," she told them.

Pier today, gone tomorrow

The city's Pier is already shaping up to be a central issue in the upcoming mayoral and City Council elections, and next month the inverted pyramid will be an actual backdrop for a candidate fundraiser.

But the structure is about to be closed and demolished, so timing is important. The fundraiser, planned by City Council candidate Dr. David McKalip, is scheduled for May 15 — two weeks before the area is scheduled to be sealed off.

The fashionable advocate

Longtime animal advocate Andrea Wells knows how to make a public appearance. Speaking before the County Commission last week, she came outfitted in a green dress with a matching green necklace and a black broad-brimmed hat topped with a green flower.

Her cause: the overwhelming number of stray dogs and cats in the county and the need for mandatory spay and neuter programs.

Her line: "If you can require a permit for doggy dining, you can assuredly do so to prevent doggies from dying."

Mark Puente can be reached at or (727) 893-8459. Follow @markpuente on Twitter. Anna M. Phillips can be reached at or (727) 893-8779. Follow @annamphillips on Twitter.