Rick Kriseman Archives - Page 5 of 41 - SaintPetersBlog

David Jolly casts himself as beleaguered outsider in forum with Charlie Crist

U.S. Rep. David Jolly and former Gov. Charlie Crist had two sharply different approaches to the audience at a candidates’ forum Thursday sponsored by the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jolly, a Republican, pictured himself as a man abandoned by his political party and attacked by the other party when all he wants to do is create a “third way” of crossing the aisle and creating consensus between differing views.

Jolly warned the audience that in the waning days of the campaign, they could expect to see $3 million to $4 million of false advertising criticizing him for his stance on Planned Parenthood and ties to Duke Energy and Donald Trump. He urged the audience not to believe those ads.

“It’s all lies,” Jolly said.

His party has abandoned him, in part, he said, because of his sponsorship of the “Stop Act” to prohibit members of Congress from asking people for campaign contributions. Elected officials, Jolly said, spend too much time asking people for money and not enough time doing the job they were elected to do.

But Jolly said he wants to continue fighting.

“I’m willing to take the headwinds in Washington,” Jolly said.

The problems in Washington won’t be solved, Jolly said, until there is campaign finance reform, open primaries, and fair redistricting.

An example of his willingness to work with others, Jolly said, was reaching out to St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to offer help with that city’s sewer issues. Jolly said he made that effort despite “what I believe to be Mayor Kriseman’s failed leadership on the sewers.” But, he said, Kriseman has yet to respond.

On the other hand, Jolly said, when whistleblowers approached him about problems in the St. Petersburg sewer system, he acted. The result is a federal investigation.

Crist talked briefly about the situation in Washington, saying people are tired of the bickering and arguing. That’s why a change is needed, he said.

He also spoke of devoting his entire adult life to service and said he would continue serving the people if elected. The people would be his boss, he said.

If elected, Crist said he would support Social Security and raise the salary cap on contributions to the fund.

“It’s not a privilege, it’s something you earned,” Crist said.

Crist also professed support for veterans, saying he did not believe enough could be done for them.

Asked to name specific accomplishments during his tenure as governor, Crist listed automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent offenders, the appointment of the first African-American to the state Supreme Court, raising teachers’ salaries, and doubling the homestead exemption.

Congressional District 13 covers a portion of Pinellas County. Early voting ends Nov. 6. The general election is Nov. 8.

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St. Pete Council agrees to spend an additional $3 million to continue sewer repairs, replacements

St. Petersburg City Council members agreed Thursday to renew a contract for the repair and replacement of the sanitary sewer system.

The $3.3 million the council agreed to spend in 2017 brings the total to about $9.5 million the city has spent on renewal and repair of the system since 2013. The contract with All American Concrete is part of the city’s plan for the renewal and restoration of the wastewater collection system.

The vote came on the heels of the council’s hearing a consultant’s report earlier in the day that the major problem contributing to the city’s recent sewer problems is leaking pipes that allow groundwater to enter the system. The city has earmarked an additional $8 million for the lining of the pipes in the coming year.

St. Petersburg’s sewer system has been under heavy scrutiny since Tropical Storm Colin hit in June. The heavy rains overloaded the system and St. Petersburg dumped untreated and partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay.

That was repeated in September when Hurricane Hermine bypassed St. Pete on its way to northern Florida. The heavy rains that lasted for days leaked into the sewer pipes and again overloaded the system.

The outcry after the second overflow prompted the Pinellas Legislative Delegation to call a meeting to hear from St. Petersburg, the county, and other cities about the reasons for the overflows. A second delegation workshop is scheduled next month.

The widespread nature of the sewer problems also prompted the formation of a countywide stormwater/wastewater task force in an attempt to find a regional solution to the problems. That group held its first meeting Monday.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman told the group the city has pledged to spend $230 million over the next five years to solve its sewer woes. And, he said, he looked forward to possible countywide collaboration on a solution.

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Jack Latvala calls for delegation to meet again to discuss Pinellas sewer woes

State Sen. Jack Latvala has called for a follow-up workshop meeting of the Pinellas legislative delegation to hear and discuss the effects of the recent discharge of untreated sewage into Tampa Bay waters by cities in Pinellas County during Hurricane Hermine.

The meeting will be Nov. 16, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Education and Conference Center, 701 4th St. S. in St. Petersburg.

Part of the event will be a presentation by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This meeting will be in a workshop format, and while the public is invited to attend, it must end promptly at 11:30 a.m., so there may be limited time for public input.

It will be the second time the Clearwater Republican called a delegation meeting to discuss the county’s sewer woes.

The first meeting, in September, came after St. Petersburg discharged untreated and partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay as Hurricane Hermine passed in the Gulf.

That discharge was the second time this year St. Petersburg had to pump wastewater into Tampa Bay. When Tropical Storm Colin hit in June, water made its way into leaky pipes and overloaded the system.

Part of the problem arose from the closure of the Albert Whitted sewer plant, which reduced capacity in the city’s sewer system.

Although St. Petersburg has been the main focus for sewer problems, other Pinellas municipalities — including Gulfport, St. Pete Beach, and Tarpon Springs — also experienced sewer overflows.

The delegation is only one group focusing on the county’s sewer issues, which local officials blame on an aging system and long-term failure to maintain the overall system.

Gov. Rick Scott called for a DEP investigation into St. Petersburg’s sewer discharges, which his office said amount to more than 150 million gallons.

A few days before, St. Petersburg had signed a consent order with the DEP after the agency found environmental violations to have occurred at three specific times. The first was Aug. 2-10, 2015, when more than 31.5 million gallons of raw sewage dumped into Clam Bayou and surrounding neighborhoods.

Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. Petersburg City Council have authorized an investigation into the city’s water resources department to find out why information concerning the closure of the Albert Whitted plant was not given to higher ups.

And on Monday, a task force met for the first time to discuss possible countywide solutions to the issues. The panel, convened by Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, is made up of elected and technical representatives from the county, cities, and community and privately owned sewer systems.

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Charlie Crist is needed in the U.S. House, congresswomen say

Crist Kriseman Lee FrankelFormer Gov. Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman gave two members of the U.S. Congress an up close look at some of the challenges the city is facing with its outdated sewer system.

In turn, they urged support for Charlie Crist in the upcoming election. Crist is running for the Congressional District 13 seat held by Republican David Jolly.

Crist said he asked U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee and Lois Frankel to tour the Southwest Water Treatment Plant, 3800 54th Ave. S to educate them and make them aware of the problem. The federal government, he said, could provide St. Pete with funding to help offset the multi-million dollar cost of replacing and repairing the system.

Like Crist and Kriseman, both Lee and Frankel are Democrats. Frankel represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, which stretches from Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County to Ft. Lauderdale and Plantation in Broward County. Lee represents California’s 13th CD. She is a member of the Budget Committee and the powerful Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending.

After they toured the sewer plant, Crist, Lee and Frankel joined U.S. Rep Kathy Castor at Chief’s Creole Café restaurant in south St. Petersburg where they met with a group of women to discuss issues important to them. Castor, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Tampa, part of St. Petersburg and parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Crist Kriseman Lee Frankel CastorAmong the women at the roundtable discussion were Pinellas School Board member Rene Flowers, Gulfport Council member Yolanda Roman, and Susan Glickman, Florida Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund.

Among the issues: equal pay, more equitable access to funding for small businesses run by women and minorities, reproductive choice, women’s health, energy, global warming and climate change, solar power, Social Security, jobs, anti-minority bias in policing, and education.

Castor, Frankel and Lee agreed: None of those things would get done while Congress is controlled by Republicans.

The priorities of the Republican-led Congress are completely divorced from the issues that are important to everyday people, Castor said.

They urged the women at the table to help elect Crist to add his voice to those of other Democrats in Congress and as a step to gaining a majority of seats in the U.S. House.

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St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce names first president of the Economic Development Corp.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce announced today the hiring of J.P. DuBuque as the first president of the new St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corp.

“We set out this year to formalize our efforts in economic development and I’m pleased to announce today our excitement for achieving this very important milestone,” said Greg Holden, chairman of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

He added, “Our Chamber’s mission is economic growth and community vitality for St. Petersburg, and the EDC will play a major role in ensuring our success.”

DuBuque is the current vice president of finance/administration at the Hillsborough EDC and recently served as its interim president/CEO during that organization’s recent reorganization. DuBuque led the group during one of the most impressive periods in its history marked by increased financial stability, a near-record number of projects, and the recruiting of several corporate headquarter companies to Tampa, including North American Roofing and Bertram Yachts.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be selected for this position,” DuBuque said. “St. Petersburg is building an enviable brand as an inclusive, forward-thinking community that can stack up quite favorably against any other market when it comes to opportunity for success and quality of life. This business community is invigorated and deep with talent. I can’t wait to work with all the partners in this city to show the world what we have become.”

The idea for creating the St. Petersburg EDC came from the “Grow Smarter” strategic plan adopted by the Chamber, city, and community partners more than two years ago. The strategy outlines six major themes of focus to ensure the city has a sustainable and inclusive economic strategy moving forward. The plan identifies key business sectors that the EDC will help retain, grow, and attract.

“Creating and attracting more and better jobs for our citizens has been and will always be a key effort of my administration,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

The city has worked with the Chamber on the formation of this EDC and will be recognized as a Cornerstone Founding investor in this effort.

“I’m pleased we’ll now have a strong private/public partnership with a 24/7 focus on retaining and expanding those businesses currently growing here while attracting new companies who can create more jobs for our city,” Kriseman said.

Chris Steinocher, president and CEO of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber, said, “The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is on pace to reach our initial fundraising campaign goal to launch the EDC. I’m so proud of those who’ve stepped forward as Founders for this effort — it’s a great mix of companies and organizations with a shared vision and aspiration for an even greater St. Petersburg.”

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce will announce and convene the Founding Board members and Founding Investors later this month.

The Chamber has tapped Michael Vivio, president and CEO of Valpak, to become the new organization’s first chairman. Vivio currently serves as vice chair of economic development on the Chamber’s executive committee.

“When we started on this journey over two years ago, we knew we could do more to capture the momentum of this market,” Vivio said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that our city is well positioned to compete for any business wanting the creative, smart talent needed to succeed — and that same talent will push us to ensure our housing, education, and transportation solutions reach their expectations. It’s the reason why great cities invest in economic development.”

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David Jolly’s call for expanded early voting sites not shared by Pinellas GOP

The Charlie CristDavid Jolly matchup is one of the most keenly observed congressional races in the country. And while the two continue to engage in strong partisan rhetoric against each other, they did come together in common cause this week in calling on Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark to expand the number of early voting sites.

However, Clark still isn’t interested.

“She feels as though that our election plan provides equal ballot access to all Pinellas County voters,” said Jason Latimer, a spokesperson for the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections office.

Early voting begins in Pinellas County Oct. 24, and Clark has maintained she will open only five early voting locations in the county, a smaller amount than is happening in similarly sized counties around the state. While voting by mail has become more popular each election cycle, nowhere has that style of voting been employed more than in Pinellas, thanks in part to Clark’s efforts to encourage voters to do so.

Of the five previously announced early voting sites in Pinellas, none are located further south than Fifth Avenue North in downtown St. Petersburg. That’s prompted Democratic Party activists and elected officials like Crist and St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman to call for another site to be opened in South St. Pete. And on Wednesday they were joined by Jolly, who wrote to Clark asking, “that your office ensure that all communities throughout Pinellas County have equal access to early voting locations.”

Not all Republicans agree with Jolly on requesting Clark to expand early voting access, however.

“I think Deb Clark is doing an outstanding job as supervisor of elections and her plan for this election is incredibly fair and non-partisan,” says Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Nick DiCeglie. “The outreach her office has done in all communities over the last 16 years is a testament to her professionalism and non-partisanship.  I encourage all voters who may have difficulties getting to an early vote location or to their neighborhood poll on election day to request an absentee ballot. It has never been easier for ALL voters to exercise their right to vote.”

Although Jolly and DiCeglie appear not to be on the same page regarding early voting, that’s not the worst thing in the world for the GOP incumbent. In a district that has been redrawn to make it much more Democratic friendly, Jolly has been campaigning as a representative who listens to the public, and not party leadership. That’s the same independent ethic that has created a fissure between himself and his party’s leadership in Washington D.C.

More than 2.6 million ballots were sent out to Florida voters this week, a record amount.

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Pinellas schedules first meeting of sewer task force

As Hurricane Hermine churned its way northward in the Gulf of Mexico, it dumped as much as 22 inches of rain on portions of Pinellas.

Heavy rains and flooding caused sewage overflows across the county and the dumping of millions of gallons of raw and partly treated sewage into the Gulf.

Within days, Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice called for a countywide task force comprised of representatives from cities and private companies that own sewer systems in the county.

“We all saw how Hurricane Hermine exposed the weaknesses within the multiple systems,” Justice said. “This task force will identify solutions that can be implemented on both a short-term and long-term basis, as well as ways to mitigate emergency situations.”

He added, “By creating this task force, we seek to form a collaborative team of policymakers and technical leaders to address the challenge of managing wastewater infrastructure within the complex network of city, county and private sewer systems.”

Now the county has scheduled the first meeting of the group for 9 a.m. Oct. 17 at the Digitorium on the Seminole Campus of St. Petersburg College, 9200 113th St. N.

Justice, who proposed the task force, has asked 19 mayors and council members (or their designees) to be members. Those include St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and council member Amy Foster, Largo Mayor Woody Brown, Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos, Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis, Dunedin Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski, Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters, and North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen.

He’s also asked community activists to take part. Among them, Tim Lima of the Council of North County Neighborhoods, Corey Givens of the NAACP, Linda Umberger of the Lealman Community Association, and Marlene Murray of CONA.

He’s also asked for a technical working group from Pinellas County, St. Petersburg and other cities’ public works departments to take part.

In a memo inviting members to the group, Justice outlined three key goals:

— Avoid and/or mitigate spills, overflows, and releases of sewage into the environment, particularly water bodies.

— Increase the capacity and resiliency of the collective sewer system and wastewater treatment infrastructure.

— Seek opportunities to address drainage and stormwater issues that impact the sewer system.

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Charlie Crist again calls for an early polling site in South St. Petersburg

Wednesday afternoon in South St. Petersburg, Democratic congressional candidate Charlie Crist was joined by other members of the community in calling on Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark to add an early voting polling site in South St. Petersburg.

“Voting is a precious right. Having an opportunity to cast that ballot is something that people have fought and died for,” Crist said at a press conference held at the Lake Vista Recreation Center on 62nd Avenue South. “As Governor, the request to me was to expand the early hours of voting [in 2008]. And I signed an Executive Order to do just that. Supervisor Clark, we’re asking you — pleading with you, frankly — to put a site for early voting in South St. Petersburg. The community here deserves it, and you have the authority to do so.”

Pinellas County Democrats over the past couple of weeks have continued to call for Clark to expand the number of early voting sites that she intends to open when early voting commences in a few weeks. As it stands now, there are only five, with the closest one to South St. Pete appearing on Fifth Avenue North.

Clark has pushed for years to get Pinellas voters to vote by mail, and in each election cycle, more Pinellas voters are doing so. But with more people expected to vote on Election Day, Democrats have contended that it’s unfair not to open at least one more site.

“Establishing a site here at Lake Vista is exactly what should happen, to make it convenient, to encourage participation,” said House District 68 Democrat Dwight Dudley. “There are segments of the population that are certainly paid their dues, and for many years didn’t have a fair chance to vote. We can do better today.”

This community has made it clear: they want in-person voting opportunities in South St. Petersburg,” said Leah McRae, representing Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office. She said that the city of St. Petersburg had “repeatedly” pledged to offer any support necessary to open an early voting site on the Southside.

“I want to reiterate: this offer still stands today,” McRae said. “We are willing to bend over backwards to work with Supervisor Clark to make in-person early voting an accessible and easy option for this community.”

 “Too many have sacrificed in order for us to have this right, simply to have this request be virtually ignored,” said Corey Givens, President of Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus. “So today Supervisor Clark, we come pleading to you that we as voters, we as your constituents, deserve better. We deserve early voting locations here, close to home.”

Shortly after news conference, Crist’s GOP opponent in the race for Congressional District 13 seat in Pinellas, David Jolly, wrote his own letter to Clark, calling on “your office ensure that all communities throughout Pinellas County have equal access to early voting locations.”

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David Jolly calls on Pinellas elections office to ensure ‘all communities’ have early voting access

Charlie Crist, Rick Kriseman and Pinellas Democrats gained a new ally on Wednesday in their request for an additional early voting station in the southern part of the county — Republican Congressman David Jolly.

In a letter penned to Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark, the GOP incumbent in Congressional District 13 says he is writing to ask that “your office ensure that all communities throughout Pinellas County have equal access to early voting locations.”

Clark had steadfastly denied requests in recent weeks by Pinellas Democrats to add an early voting polling station in South St. Petersburg. As it stands now, there will be only five early voting locations set up when early voting begins later this month, much fewer than most other nearby counties of similar size. Hillsborough County, for example, will have 16 such sites.

For years, Clark has pushed for more and more voters to vote by mail, and more and more people are doing so in Pinellas County. However, there certainly are some voters who will only vote at the polls.

“Too often we hear of instances around the country where vulnerable communities encounter obstacles to the free and fair exercise of their lawful right to participate in elections,” Jolly writes to Clark, a fellow Republican. “As a foundational premise, we must strive to make voting as accessible as possible for all who wish to partake in our free elections. I believe this should include expanded early voting, expanded vote-by-mail, and expanded polling locations — insisting in each instance on simple, yet legitimate, identification requirements to protect the integrity of every vote.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Crist held a news conference with Pastor Manuel Sykes and Pinellas County Democratic Black Caucus president Corey Givens at the Lake Vista Recreation Center on 62nd Avenue South, where they once again called on Clark to provide at least one additional early voting site in the Southside.

Jolly and Crist are competing in the CD 13 race in what is expected to be an extremely close contest. The two will debate Thursday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.

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Charlie Crist, St. Pete City Councilmembers stand against gun violence

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and four council members took a stand against gun violence Thursday when the Vocal Majority bus tour stopped in the city.

The bus tour is the inspiration of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly. Neither Giffords nor Kelly was there.

But those who were there carried the anti-gun violence message forward.

Kriseman referred to the candlelit ceremony held on the steps of City Hall after the shootings at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Wax dripped onto the hands of mourners, he said. But, look at the hands of the gun lobby and “you will see blood,” the mayor said.

He referred to the nine people who have been killed this year by guns in St. Petersburg and the 276 guns stolen from cars. Not securing a gun is irresponsible gun ownership, he said. The goal is to get bad guns out of the hands of bad people.

The solution, Kriseman said, is to elect representatives who are not afraid of the gun lobby.

“People just need to vote,” Kriseman said, adding that elections are truly about life and death.

St. Petersburg Councilwoman Lisa Wheeler-Bowman began her remarks by listing the names of some of those who have been killed with guns. She concluded with the name of her son, Cabretti Wheeler, 21, who was killed in 2008.

“I have had enough,” Wheeler-Bowman said.

Council chairwoman Amy Foster agreed, saying, “Enough is enough and not one more.”

Council members Darden Rice and Jim Kennedy did not speak.

Crist, a Democrat who is running against Republican David Jolly for the Congressional District 13 seat, said he is a gun owner who also hunts and believes in the Second Amendment.

But, he said, more stringent background checks are needed, and assault weapons should be banned.

The message did not play well with at least one audience member, who wheeled her baby away while talking on her phone: “Yeah, let’s ban all the guns so we can’t protect ourselves. Yeah.”

St. Pete was the fourth stop in the Vocal Majority bus tour. It will run for six weeks and visit 50 cities in  14 states to urge people to vote for those who oppose gun violence.

Sponsoring the tour is Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC, which works to elect candidates at every level of public office who show the political courage to stand up to the gun lobby, are passionate about reducing gun violence in our communities, and who commit to taking action once elected.

The group, like the tour, is the creation of Giffords and Kelly.

Giffords suffered a severe brain injury in 2011 when a would-be assassin shot her in the head. Since resigning from Congress in 2012, Giffords and Kelly have worked to reduce gun violence and to elect candidates who see that as a priority.

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