1. Florida Politics

Bay Buzz: St. Petersburg mayor, council see approval ratings drop

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Published Feb. 9, 2013

Falling numbers

St. Petersburg voters have declining opinions of Mayor Bill Foster and the City Council, according to one poll.

Foster's approval rating fell to 49.1 percent from 54.3 in December, according to That's the lowest rating since November 2011.

The pollster took the pulse of 1,729 voters on Feb. 6. Among its findings, ratings for the City Council also dropped, from 44.5 to 38.3, in the same period.

The poll also asked voters if they supported City Council member Charlie Gerdes' plan to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to examine stadium sites outside the city if the team paid the yearly operating costs at Tropicana Field.

The answer: 57.2 percent said yes; 36.4 said no; and 6.4 were unsure.


The St. Petersburg Police Department is collaring social media.

Last week, Chief Chuck Harmon urged the City Council members to join the Twitter universe. He told the members they can check for updates when events happen in their districts.

After Harmon proclaimed he is on Twitter, City Attorney John Wolfe had a message for the council: "Only receive messages. Please do not communicate with other council members or the public. You'll be looking at a violation of the Sunshine laws."

The department's Twitter handle is @StPetePD. As of Friday, an examination of its tweets reveal not many updates shared with its 226 followers.

The department sent only 70 tweets since creating the account in August. Weeks, even 20 days, have passed between tweets.

Lets hope the tweeters in the cop shop share information much faster since the top tweeter encouraged the public to follow along.

North Pinellas pile-on

Former state Rep. Peter Nehr was a three-term incumbent when longtime foe Democrat Carl Zimmerman knocked him out of his northern Pinellas seat in November. So it's no surprise that Nehr wants to get back into politics. What's interesting is the seat he's after isn't his old one.

On Feb. 7, Nehr filed to run in the 2014 Republican primary against Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who is seeking re-election.

Nehr might think he has a shot against Latvala. But more likely, he might be counting on her losing the term limits lawsuit that threatens to boot her and three other commissioners out of office.

If Commissioner Norm Roche sells his home in Clearwater and moves into Latvala's district, the August 2014 primary could get even more competitive. Roche has said he plans to run again; it's just a question of where.

Airport make-over

The number of passengers using the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport is up, and most of the growth is from international flights, which may be why the airport is about to announce a rebranding campaign.

On Tuesday, county commissioners have been invited to witness the unveiling of a new logo and new entrance signs. That means saying goodbye to the current logo — a slash of beach between green land and blue water — that has been in place since the 1970s.

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