Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Mayor Kriseman pledges $1 million to fight violence and poverty in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman visits with Daniel Sanha, a vendor at the Deuces Market, on Sunday.
Published Jan. 11, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — After a recent string of gun violence that killed eight young men and teenagers in as many weeks, the mayor said he took a walk through the city's Midtown area.

What he found, he said, represents the disenfranchisement and despair plaguing poor neighborhoods: young men on their stoops in the middle of the school day, young men at home instead of at work.

On Sunday, at the midpoint of his first term, Mayor Rick Kriseman pledged to find $1 million in the city's budget to invest in St. Petersburg's young black males, an effort to "answer this crisis" by getting at its root causes — quickly.

"While we have many plans in place to make generational change, our young men don't have that time," he said to an audience at the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. "We need to make a difference for them today."

The source of the $1 million remains undetermined, but Kriseman said he's confident Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin and City Administrator Gary Cornwell will find the money.

The city plans to create a task force to determine the priorities, such as job training and support for businesses, among other ideas.

"If we want to break the cycle of poverty and really lift up south St. Petersburg, it has to be a long-term approach," the mayor said. "It is the right thing to do."

More than 350 people attended the city's ''Sunday Best Supper'' under the oaks in front of the Woodson Museum, where city leaders spoke about their efforts in south St. Petersburg.

"We find that so many of our ideas are limited by resources," Tomalin said. "So the thought was, at one time, to make an investment that allows these great ideas to be scalable."

In the audience, 44-year-old Kamara Cooper, a former Gibbs High School teacher, said she hopes to join the task force to emphasize a focus on education.

"Our African-American males need some redirection and hope," she said. "We are not preparing these students to be able to go out into the world, and that's where the hopelessness lies."

City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Brown, whose son was murdered in 2008, said she teared up at Kriseman's pledge.

"Nobody has ever done that, and for him to dedicate something like that to our community shows he cares," she said. "To get some of these resources to help, I was just overwhelmed."

Several in the audience said the city's optimism is promising, but said they will withhold judgment until they see results. Their ideas for investment spanned education, the arts, public safety, small business and more.

In all, the investment represents a small step in a longer journey, said Ashley Green, 26, an organizer with Florida Public Services Union. She said she'd like to see job prospects that rise above the minimum wage.

"It's no secret that both men and women in south St. Pete really need access to quality jobs," she said. "I think a lot of young folks are going around without dreams right now."

Kriseman said recent crimes — gun deaths, car thefts, robberies — were in part a catalyst for Sunday's announcement. Victims and their killers, he said, both represent broken promises.

"Those are the lives we read about, the stories that stir our souls," he said to the crowd. "But there are many other stories that never make the paper, many other lives that may not end in violent death, but languish in a harsh reality all the same. These stories are the key to change."

Contact Claire McNeill at cmcneill@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8321.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., left, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., right, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN/New York Times at Otterbein University, Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, in Westerville, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    A frenzied news cycle leads up to the most crowded Democratic presidential debate stage yet.
  2. This combination of Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, photos provided by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office shows booking photos of Lev Parnas, left, and Igor Fruman. The associates of Rudy Giuliani, were arrested on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records. The men had key roles in Giuliani's efforts to launch a Ukrainian corruption investigation against Biden and his son, Hunter. (Alexandria Sheriff's Office via AP) AP
    One takeaway: there are still unanswered questions.
  3. Debris from homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael litters the ground in Mexico Beach. A year after Hurricane Michael, Bay County, Florida, is still in crisis. Thousands are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, and domestic violence is increasing. Michael was among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Senators for the first time seriously addressed the complaints of people in the Panhandle on Tuesday.
  4. Marijuana plants grow in a greenhouse environment in this room at the Curaleaf Homestead Cultivation Facility. This environment controls the amount of natural sunlight and artificial light the plants are exposed to, as well as the temperature. EMILY MICHOT  |  Miami Herald
    An Atlanta broker is listing one license for $40 million and the other for $55 million.
  5. Screenshot from Facebook. Facebook
    The claim comes from a widely shared Facebook post.
  6. The 12 Democratic presidential candidates in the next debate are, from top left, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, and, from lower left, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang. Los Angeles Times
    The field is still thick with 12 candidates set to debate Tuesday night. Here’s what to watch for.
  7. FILE- In this Oct. 11, 2018 file photo, rescue personnel perform a search in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla. A year after Hurricane Michael, Bay County, Florida, is still in crisis. Thousands are homeless, medical care and housing are at a premium, and domestic violence is increasing. Michael was among the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States. This summer, county officials unveiled a blueprint to rebuild. Among their ideas: Use shipping containers and 3-D technology to build new houses and offer signing bonuses to lure new doctors.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) GERALD HERBERT  |  AP
    Lawmakers today are discussing why nearly 12 percent of claims are still open.
  8. Rain from Tropical Storm Hermine and high tides flooded streets around Tampa last September. A new analysis projects that sea level in Tampa Bay could rise 5 to 19 inches by 2040. That is prompting local officials to look at plans to anticipate and cope with the changes. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times (2016)
    “We lost a decade,’’ said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa.
  9. Florida Governor elect Ron DeSantis, right, thanks Lev Parnas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 in Orlando at the watch party for DeSantis. DeSantis defeated Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    A Tampa Bay Times photograph and a video posted by a Reuters reporter shows Parnas smiling with DeSantis amid the chaos of the watch party.
  10. Andrew Gillum.
    Sharon Lettman-Hicks, one of Andrew Gillum’s closest advisers, helped the Florida Democratic Party register new voters.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement