Just fix the damn sewers, Rick

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Last week, Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin revealed details of a new short story set in his Westeros universe, focused on the bloody and incestuous Targaryen family history.

To fans of Martin’s work, this latest announcement is both welcome and dreaded news. Any time Martin writes about the characters from the rich universe of A Song Of Ice And Fire, it’s good news. However, if the time it takes to write about these characters takes away from him finishing the next book in the ASOIAF series, it drives his fans nuts.

Over 22 years, Martin has now published five books and has struggled openly with writers block; the last book A Dance with Dragons was published in 2011.

The author says he missed a Dec. 31 deadline to finish “The Winds of Winter,” the sixth book in his popular fantasy series.

“Finish the (damn) book,” is a popular refrain among Game of Thrones fans who have grown tired with Martin’s slow writing pace — and his willingness to be distracted by side projects, like, say a short story about the events that happened 250 years before what takes place on Game of Thrones.

The impatience with Martin came to mind last week when Rick Kriseman took to Medium to “declare” St. Petersburg a sanctuary city.

“While our county sheriff’s office is ultimately responsible for notifying the federal government about individuals who are here illegally, I have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws,” Kriseman wrote on Medium on Saturday.

As much as I sympathize with Kriseman on this issue, or at least oppose President Donald Trump‘s travel ban on those entering the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries, what I (and apparently many others) want to say to Kriseman is…

Fix the damn sewers, Rick.

Stop writing blogs about declaring St. Pete a sanctuary city, when you don’t even have the power to do so (it’s the Sheriff’s decision how to enforce immigration laws)

Stop thinking of spending millions of dollars on public art for a pier that is increasingly not wanted by city residents.

Just fix the damn sewers, Rick.

Heavy rain last year during Hurricane Hermine overloaded the city’s sewer systems, sending millions of gallons of sewage to flow into streets and waterways. Since then, it’s been one headline after another about how City Hall underestimated the possible issues with the sewage system. Perhaps worse, the sewage system crisis has exposed serious faultlines in the Kriseman administration’s ability to manage the city bureaucracy.

It was not clear whether the problems with the sewage system would impact Kriseman politically. After all, the sewage dumped in the Bay was difficult to see. Residents and voters typically react to issues they can wrap their arms around, like failing schools or rising crime.

Certainly, a politician of Kriseman’s caliber should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Meaning, he can spend part of his day working on the sewage system crisis, then spend other parts of the day on his many other responsibilities.

But when residents see tweets like the one the mayor posted last week in which he trolled President Trump during a working visit to New York City, many wonder why he’s not singularly focused on the city’s problems.

Kriseman says he’ll continue to tweet at Trump and that we can expect to see his next tweet when the issue hits close to home.

“If I ever stop saying what I believe in, then I probably shouldn’t be in office,” Kriseman told News Channel 8.

Residents, however, want Kriseman to focus on issues close to home.

Polling indicates the sewage system crisis has damaged Kriseman’s brand. And while Kriseman’s administration has laid out a plan for accelerating improvements and repairs to the system, that does not seem good enough to many residents.

Of the 59 comments posted under Kriseman’s blog post declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary city, only four are positive. Not that online commenting is a scientific barometer of public sentiment, but, in this case, it’s eye-opening that so many commenters are critical of Kriseman.

On Facebook, Kriseman is facing a wave of criticism.

“Kriseman should be figuring out how to keep sewage out of the streets, working on the Pier and consolidating garbage services with the county so the resident aren’t getting shafted with the stupid blue bins instead of grandstanding with a standoff that will simply cost residents more when the Feds withhold money for his boneheadedness,” resident Dorine McKinnon posted as one of more than 60 comments, mostly critical, about Kriseman’s priorities.

Almost all of the commenters on the Facebook page of FloridaPolitics.com and the Tampa Bay Times have a similar theme:

Fix the damn sewers, Rick.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.