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Yolanda Roman says Sam Henderson took her words out of context

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Gulfport Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman is setting the record straight on an altercation that occurred last month on the dais between her and Mayor Sam Henderson. Roman released a written statement explaining her side.

In it she includes text posted on Henderson’s Facebook page the day after the contentious meeting occurred. The lengthy post includes accusations that Roman was as a bully, has a political agenda and that that agenda undermines Gulfport City Council.

Roman lists a number of requests to Henderson to further explain those statements. She also writes that she refuses to “dignify with a response the Mayor’s calling me a bully and his labeling my work as ‘self-serving baloney’ and a ‘dog and pony show.’”

But Roman is also refuting another claim – that she accused Henderson of having never met with St. Pete officials to address the August sewage dump into Clam Bayou. That issue was at the center of debate in the February meeting in which Roman suggested a resolution requiring the cities, among other things, to meet in order to reach consensus.

In Henderson’s post following that meeting he wrote that he “was accused of not meeting with St. Petersburg to resolve the problem” but that he had “kept this dialogue with Mayor Kriseman alive” and “conferred with him and members of the St. Petersburg City Council on numerous occasions.”

Later, Henderson released specific dates and locations of meetings he’s had with Kriseman and other officials in regards to the Clam Bayou issue.

But Roman contends he took away the wrong meaning from that conversation.

“I won’t sit here and try to predict when my comments will be taken out of context and internalized as a personal attack,” Roman wrote.

She said she never said Henderson had not met with Kriseman.

And archived video of that meeting proves Roman’s point. During the reading of her resolution she said on multiple occasions “both cities.” She did not mention Henderson specifically. She also said “we” need to meet referring to the whole body, not Henderson specifically. After Henderson called her statements a “bald faced lie” Roman countered by saying, “I didn’t say you did not.”

The entire issue is a heated on in Gulfport. The city seems split on one of two sides – Gulfport needs to do more on Clam Bayou and the city has done and is doing enough. Those on the first side tend to support Barbara Banno in her bid to replace Henderson. Those who are supportive of the handling so far, tend to support Henderson.

So depending on which side of that coin voters fall, the explanation offered by Roman could either be heralded or taken with a grain of salt as a battle of semantics.

While Roman plainly claims to have nothing to do with Banno’s campaign and certainly no allegiance to her, the issue nevertheless could have a huge impact on the mayoral race.

Henderson faces Banno at the ballot box March 15.

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Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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