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  1. Opinion

Ruth: 'Get Smart' act not working for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman

Do you have the impression that gaining access to the inner sanctum of St. Petersburg Rick "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mayor" Kriseman's office looks like the opening sequences of Get Smart meets Raiders of the Lost Ark, with all manner of clanking doors, gates, poison darts, trap doors and a massive rolling boulder?

Sigh. Once again we have a hizzoner with a le Carré complex.

A few days ago, the mayor who came in from the cold asked the St. Petersburg City Council to table a discussion on arts funding because, fresh from fending off an attempt by SPECTRE to take over the Pier, he had a secret plan up his tux to solve the problem that he suggested could raise as much as $200,000 annually.

Council member Charlie Gerdes, better known about City Hall as Number Three, agreed to Kriseman's request and everyone anxiously awaited the mayor's For Your Eyes Only rescue of the arts community.

The Reilly, Ace of Surrealism, said he wasn't quite ready to divulge his "If I told you, I would have to kill you," plot to fund the arts. If he talked, the details might be published in the newspaper. No good would come from this, because if the secret plan leaked everyone would know the secret plan and what's the fun in having a secret plan if it isn't secret?

Kriseman, the Felix Leiter of Fifth Street N, isn't the first chief executive of the city to treat the office as if it was Moscow Centre. Kriseman's predecessor, Bill Foster, cryptically dropped hints that he had a super duper secret, secret, secret plan to ensure the Tampa Bay Rays would forever remain in St. Petersburg. In fact, Foster's "Longoria Identity" secret master plan to keep the Rays was so secret that to this day the details remain cloaked in mystery.

Think of it as the Manhattan Project of 1 Tropicana Drive.

Kriseman said he would meet with individual members of the council within the cone of silence of his mayoral office to discuss his clandestine DEFCON 1 plan to support the arts. But first council members will be required to utter the proper code phrase to gain entry past the moat, barbed wire, land mines, surface-to air missiles, weaponized drones and retired mercenaries: "The Rutabaga dances the coo-coo-ca-choo."

In betraying his security clearance and risking a Jason Bourne-like lam, Gerdes indicated Kriseman's covert arts funding plot involves some sort of voluntary contribution to support the arts.

As secret plots go, hitting up the citizenry for arts money hardly rises to the level of The Russia House.

It's rather doubtful the mayor's idea for funding the arts would have imploded if Kriseman had simply asked the council to postpone its deliberations because he was putting the final touches on a public contribution concept and would publicly discuss his proposal.

How hard would this have been? The public has every right to be dubious whenever any mayor of St. Petersburg starts talking about secret plans to do this and that. The job is to be the mayor of St. Petersburg, not Langley, Va., the home of the CIA.

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