Rick Kriseman Archives - Page 6 of 43 - SaintPetersBlog

Mitch Perry Report for 11.15.16 — The non-voters speak out

Mike Evans is feeling the heat today — and so is his employer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Evans decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium versus the Chicago Bears to protest the election of Donald Trump as president is predictably receiving negative reviews in Tampa — the home of MacDill Air Force Base — and the country.

Among those critics is Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who says he’s “tired of it.”

Since this was the first time Evans has done this, I’m assuming the legislator is referring to other incidents of NFL players sitting or kneeling down for the anthem this season, beginning with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Their motivations are different, of course; Kaepernick wanted to shine attention on protest brutality and racial injustices. Evans’ issue is with Trump, whose appeal to black voters during the campaign was “what the hell do you have to lose?” in comparison to backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

One thing both men didn’t do last week was take the time to vote, which has angered some folks who are sympathetic to their flexing of their First Amendment rights. In that respect, they’re not a minority, as roughly 100 million eligible Americans also chose not to exercise their franchise last week.

Although some folks disturbed by that number have made suggestions that could improve that figure — like holding elections on a Sunday (like many other nations do and Louisiana does with their primary) or automatically restoring voters. The fact is that shy of making it mandatory, some Americans — even those who say they care about the process — often choose to blow it off, for whatever reason.

Kaepernick makes $19 million this year; Evans a little less than $4 million, which might make it a little easier to think that whomever is elected, it’s not really going to affect their livelihood. Kaepernick said Sunday it would have been hypocritical for him to vote.

“I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression,” he said. “I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”

When it was revealed last week that Kaepernick hadn’t voted, noted ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith went off and said Kaepernick was a hypocrite.

“After all this noise that you made, even though you didn’t intended to do so, by offending our military service men and women, and pointing out about how you wanted to bring attention to racial injustices and beyond in this country, to turn around and not even take your behind to the polls to vote for a particular candidate, it is shameful! Absolutely shameful!”

In other news …

The Progressive Democratic Caucus of Florida wants Florida Republicans to denounce the appointment of former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon to Donald Trump’s administration.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is calling on her Democratic colleagues to wear a safety pin on their clothes to demonstrate solidarity with those fearful of Trump being in power.

A spokesman for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman says the door is open for Trump to visit his city, a year after he (jokingly) tweeted he wasn’t welcome.

Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans’ decision to sit down during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday to protest Donald Trump’s election isn’t going down in some quarters, including with state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Vern Buchanan has contacted Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, pushing for serious tax reform under the Trump administration

Former State House District 59 Rep. Ed Narain is the latest name being bandied as the possible next chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

Cyril Spiro is endorsing Jim Davison over Luis Viera in that special Tampa City Council District 7 seat runoff.

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Six firms vie for City of St. Pete’s lobbying contract

Six firms are in the running to be St. Petersburg’s lobbyist in Tallahassee.

The contract, worth $50,000 last year, belonged to Peebles and Smith from Tallahassee. Its contract with the city expired Sept. 30 and the group has submitted a proposal to continue representing St. Pete.

The five other firms who have responded to the city’s request for proposal are:

Ballard Partners of Tallahassee — Amazon.com, American Traffic Solutions, and the cities of Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and Jacksonville are among the firm’s many clients. According to LobbyTools, the firm earned more than $2.19 million in the second quarter, making it one of the top-earning firms in the state. In Tampa Bay, the firm is represented by Ana Cruz and Todd Josko.

Ron Book of Aventura — Book’s extensive client list includes the cities of Tallahassee, Pinellas Park, North Miami, and North Miami Beach; Miami-Dade, Brevard, and Broward counties; the Broward County Clerk of Court; and the Miami-Dade Public School System. According to LobbyTools, Book earned more than $1.55 million in the second quarter of 2016.

Capitol Alliance Group of Tallahassee — The firm boasts a wide range of clients across the state, including the City of Key West and Leon County. Other clients include the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, the PGA Tour, and Tesla Motors. The Capitol Alliance Group’s team includes Dr. Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl.

Dean, Mead, Egerton, Bloodwork, Capouano & Bozarth of Tallahassee — Lobbyist Pete Dunbar’s clients include the Pinellas and Manatee county commissions, Charlotte County, and the City of Clearwater. The client list also includes the Florida Ambulance Association, The Florida Bar, the Pinellas Education Foundation, and Tampa Bay Water.

Southern Strategy Group of Tampa Bay — Its clients include the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Walton County Sheriff’s Office. In Tampa Bay, the firm is represented by Laura Boehmer, Seth McKeel, and David Shepp. According to LobbyTools, Southern Strategy Group earned more than $2.13 million in the second quarter of 2016, making it one of the Top 3 earners in the state.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has not seen the proposals yet nor has a timeline for choosing a candidate.

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Rick Kriseman says the door IS open for President-elect Donald Trump to visit St. Petersburg

Although he undoubtedly has other issues to contend with at the moment, the welcome mat IS out for Donald Trump to visit St. Petersburg whenever he likes, Mayor Rick Kriseman’s spokesman says.

Last December, Kriseman made national news when he tweeted that, “I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps,” shortly after the now president-elect had called for a “total and complete shutdown” of all Muslims from entering the United States “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Kriseman immediately said that the tweet was delivered tongue-in-cheek, saying, “There are some people who thought I was seriously going to ban Donald Trump from St. Petersburg, and that’s obviously not something I would try to do. But his statement was kind of ridiculous, so I thought that it deserved an equal response.”

With Trump now about to become the 45th president of the United States last week, the Kriseman administration says it would welcome the commander in chief to visit the Sunshine City.

“As we said last year, it was in jest to highlight Mr. Trump’s discriminatory policy proposal of banning Muslims,” Ben Kirby, Kriseman’s press spokesman, told SPB on Monday. “Haven’t spoken to the mayor about it, but confident our POTUS is welcome in St. Pete. As our vision says, it is a city where all are welcome to live, work, and play.”

Speaking of tweets, the Pinellas County Republican Party took issue with Kriseman’s tweet Sunday night regarding a protest against Trump held in downtown St. Pete.

“Thank you to this evening’s peaceful protesters for being engaged in nat’l affairs and to @StPetePD for keeping everyone safe,” the mayor wrote.

Shortly thereafter, the Pinellas County Republican Party re-tweeted Kriseman’s tweet and commented, “Mayor Kriseman praises those protesting representative government. Let that sink in.” ‪#flapol ‪#sayfie ‪#dumpkriseman

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Arts and crafts museum in St. Pete signs $70 million construction contract

Art collector Rudy Ciccarello has signed a contract with Gilbane Construction to begin construction on the $70-million Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement.

The MAACM, designed by Alfonso Architects, will serve as a repository for founder Ciccarello’s world-class art collection. The signing of the contract between the MAACM and Gilbane Construction marks the culmination of more than three years of intensive design collaboration between Ciccarello, of the Two Red Roses Foundation, and award-winning architect Alberto Alfonso.

“The engagement of Gilbane Construction is a very important development. But in many ways it is just the beginning of a two-year process,” Ciccarello said.

“There is much work yet to be done and challenges to overcome. But I am confident in the team that I have assembled and that, at the end of the day, the City of St. Petersburg will be proud of what has been accomplished.”

Alfonso said, “As an architect, opportunities like the MAACM are rare and truly come along once in a lifetime. So, it was with great pride and excitement that my firm was selected to design this major museum and cultural center to showcase a world-class collection of the decorative arts — the only one of its kind in America.”

Alfonso added, “We were given the challenge and freedom to create something truly unique, without caveats. Rudy supported and encouraged me in every way possible and was truly a leader and working partner in what has been an incredible collaboration.”

The museum, originally planned as a four-story, 90,000-square-foot building with a cost of $35 million, will instead occupy five floors, covering 137,000 square feet. The building is now estimated to cost $70 million, not including the $16 million cost of land acquisition, parking garage construction, and architectural and consulting fees.

The expansion in both square feet and budget was necessary to increase gallery and exhibition spaces, and to include a 100-seat auditorium, a resource library, children’s education center and gallery, and a graphic studio and darkroom facilities for teaching purposes.

Plans also include an upscale destination restaurant, museum café, retail store, and event spaces for weddings, corporate events, and private parties.

“I am excited for the next phase of the Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said.

“This museum represents years of effort and investment, and the City of St. Petersburg is ready to do what we can to welcome it to our already thriving arts scene. St. Petersburg is a city of the arts, and this museum is already an important part of that. I look forward to working with Rudy Ciccarello and everyone on the team at the museum, and cannot wait to cut the ribbon.”

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Cross Bay Ferry sees strong ridership on first weekend

cross-bay-ferry-logoTicket sales for the first weekend of service of the Cross Bay Ferry were strong, with more than 70 percent of the seats sold from Friday night through Sunday evening.

Nearly half the one-way trips sold at least 90 percent of the available inventory. The Cross-Bay Ferry ran seven roundtrips over the weekend.

“The results are beyond our expectations, and the excitement we’re seeing for the ferry across Tampa Bay is translating into real ticket sales,” St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman said. “Still, this is just the first weekend, and our team expects that ridership will go up and down over the next few months. We don’t expect that it will stabilize until the third month.”

Project advisor Ed Turanchik with Akerman LLP put the weekend ridership into perspective.

“The weekend ridership was comparable to the number of passengers carried on a weekday basis on all HART express, limited express, and Flex service,” Turanchik said.  “This shows the capacity of passenger ferry service to make a significant contribution to mobility in our region.”

In other major marketing developments, the Tampa Bay Lightning bought out the Cross-Bay Ferry’s round-trip tickets Saturday evening for a group of fans in St. Petersburg to come watch the Lightning game. The Lightning will have the Thunder Bug and Lightning cheerleaders on board and will film a special promotional video to encourage Pinellas residents to use the ferry to get to games and events at Amalie Arena.

Strategic Property Partners also will start providing discounted parking at the surface parking lot immediately north of the Marriott Waterside on dates when there is not an event at Amalie. Ferry passengers will be able to park just a block from the ferry terminal for just $5 on the day they use the ferry. Passengers can pick up a voucher when they board the ferry.

Tickets are on sales for Cross-Bay Ferry service on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through April, with the third Sunday a free ride day sponsored by Frontier Communications, which is also sponsoring free daily service on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day. Tickets for this service only are available on a walk-up basis. Full seven-day-a-week service begins Nov. 28 and runs through the end of April. Passengers can purchase tickets at the docks near the St. Petersburg Museum of History in St. Petersburg and the Convention Center in Tampa, or at CrossBayFerry.com.

The launch of the Cross Bay Ferry became possible through a unique collaboration between the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa and Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Other community supporters and partners include the Tampa Bay Times, Frontier Communications, iHeartMedia, Clear Channel Outdoor, the Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Downtown Partnership, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Visit Tampa Bay, Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater, and the Pirate Water Taxi.

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Incumbents rule in Pinellas House District 65, 67, 69 races

Republican incumbents retained their seats in State House Districts 65, 67 and 69.

Chris Sprowls defeated Democrat Bernard “Bernie” Fensterwald to earn a second term in the HD 65 seat.

Sprowls, from Palm Harbor, served as a prosecutor in the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office until this past summer when he left to go into private practice. Sprowls is expected to serve as Speaker of the House for 2021-2022.

Chris Latvala, the son of Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, decisively defeated Democrat David S. Vogel to retain his HD 67 seat. This will be Latvala’s second term in the House.

During his campaign, Latvala said that he had delivered on a 2014 promise that, if elected, “No one will work harder to serve House District 67.” His record, Latvala said, proved that. Among his accomplishments were laws designed to bolster resiliency and self-motivation in the classroom by teaching resume writing and job interview strategies, and another that makes it easier for non-violent, non-habitual juvenile offenders to overcome past mistakes and find work.

Kathleen Peters, a Treasure Island Republican, won a third term in the HD 69 seat by defeating Democratic challenger Jennifer Webb.

Peters campaigned on her record, claiming she had reformed the entire mental health system in Florida. Peters also severely criticized St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, blaming him for massive spills of raw and partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay during two tropical storms last summer.

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Charlie Crist, Rick Kriseman, Alex Sink get out the vote

With less than a day to go before the polls open for the last time, former Gov. Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spent some time Monday urging people to vote if they had not already done so.

Kriseman and Crist, who is running for the Congressional District 13 seat held by Republican David Jolly, started out in the Tyrone area. Later, they visited businesses on Central Avenue in St. Pete where Alex Sink joined them. Sink is a former Florida chief financial officer.

“This is in the hands of the people,” Crist said of Tuesday’s election. Still, he said, “we don’t stop. You’ve got to run through the finish line.”

Sink said she came out to walk with Crist because they’re friends. But, she said, she also believes in him.

“I’m always available to help my favorite candidates, and I’m a big Charlie Crist fan,” Sink said. To Crist, she said, “You were the peoples’ governor. You’re going to be the peoples’ congressman.”

Kriseman agreed that Crist was the best candidate: “We need people up there who will fight for us here.”

While the three Democrats want Crist elected, they said the overall election is incredibly important. Kriseman paraphrased Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis in saying that Tuesday’s election is important not just for the state and nation but also for the world.

“The whole world’s at stake with this election,” Kriseman said.

The polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Rick Kriseman unveils wastewater improvement plan

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Thursday unveiled a $304-million, five-year plan to solve the city’s wastewater woes.

“Our residents and our environment have been failed by an outdated and compromised wastewater system,” Kriseman said. “It is time to execute this plan so that we are well-prepared for a future of extreme rain events.”

The plan calls for an estimated investment of $304 million on projects through 2021. Some of this money has already been budgeted; the plan will require an additional $142 million to complete the work. Short-term projects will take approximately two years, and the plan should be completed in five years.

A healthy economy makes this important investment feasible, without any immediate need to reprioritize other unrelated city advances, Kriseman said.

The plan would increase the capacity of existing plants, line and seal targeted pipes and manholes, engineer enough redundancy in the city’s wastewater system to sustain operations for two weeks should one of the three sewage treatment plants go offline or be otherwise rendered inoperable in a crisis situation.

If a crisis should happen, the city’s wastewater plant would be able to operate totally within the rules and guidelines of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the mayor said.

Both the Southwest and Northwest plants would be expanded, with work expected to be completed in 2017. The lining and repair of pipes also is expected to be complete next year. Master planning would be completed in 2019. Those short-term projects are expected to cost $45 million.

Longer term projects costing a total of $259 million would  be completed by 2021. Those include further expansion of the Southwest and Northwest plants and further master planning.

Kriseman said officials are still considering whether to reopen the Albert Whitted wastewater facility to add even more capacity to the system.

Kriseman said residents can expect to see construction zones and possible discharges in case of heavy rains until the work is complete. But, once it is complete, residents will see an updated and improved wastewater system.

St. Petersburg’s wastewater system came under fire this past summer when the city was forced to dump millions of gallons of untreated and partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay during two tropical storms. The heavy rains that accompanied the storms overwhelmed the system in part because of leaky pipes that allowed rainwater into the system.

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St. Pete creates training initiative aimed at young African-American males

Last summer, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman launched a grassroots program designed to take back the city’s neighborhoods from violence.

That program, Not My Son, was part of a larger city program, My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper, that was designed to help bring opportunity to residents of South St. Petersburg. Now, the city has created a second program designed to provide educational, entrepreneurial, and enrichment opportunities for African-American boys and young men. Applications are being accepted now for the program, which is scheduled to begin in January.

The Cohort of Champions youth training initiative will be the signature program under the My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper umbrella.

“Earlier this year, I articulated the city’s full commitment to changing the trajectory for our at-risk youth,” Kriseman said. “I promised to invest up to one million dollars in our youth and their families. This cohort makes good on that promise.”

The Cohort of Champions is a comprehensive, multi-faceted one-year training initiative for 100 of St. Petersburg African-American boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 24. The goal of the cohort is to develop character, support education, provide hands-on experience and workforce readiness training, as well as wrap-around support services.

The Cohort of Champions consists of seven programs within three areas of training and enrichment:

Educational training, including a combination of after-school employment training and/or second chance programs with post-secondary education opportunities;

Entrepreneurial training involving career readiness training and entrepreneurship training;

Enrichment initiatives/second chance programs offering wrap-around services and workshops for the families of all members of the inaugural cohort, as well as sports team building, a focus on healthy eating and cooking, role modeling, and mentoring round-up activities.

My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper or MBSK, is the city’s version of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, a national program for communities to create and adopt their own programs to advance opportunities for minority male youth. St. Petersburg put its own twist on the program by including girls and young women under the overall umbrella program.

“Inspired by the White House MBK national model, local officials adapted and implemented our own programs specific to the needs of St. Petersburg,” said the Rev. Kenny Irby, director of the Cohort of Champions Training Initiative. “My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper and all of its components demonstrate the collective action of a cohesive community — families, government, nonprofits, social service agencies, education, schools, media, and the business community to improve life and opportunities to all.”

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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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