“Who is Sandra Gadsden?” was the invariable response I received last evening from each person I asked if they knew who Sandra Gadsden is.
I was at a fundraising reception chock full of political operatives and their handsome wives. Each of these people recognized the names of Adam Smith or Aaron Sharockman or David DeCamp. Some even recognized John Frank’s name. But not one person — and this is a room full of people who make St. Petersburg move – knew Sandra Gadsden, the St. Petersburg Times assistant metro editor for community news. Gadsden also writes a weekly column for the Neighborhood Times section of the paper. It’s not DeCamp or Sharockman or Frank who make the decisions about what story runs in the newspaper, it’s editors like Gadsden and Heather Uriquedes — two people who were completely unknown to a reception’s worth of political candidates, donors and activists, elected officials, city and county employees, new media experts and businessmen and women — that make the newspaper run.
The renaissance on the north side of Central could portend good things for the south side, which includes the Daddy Kool music store. Consider the possibilities. The block is a few good restaurants and bars short of a scaled-down version of Lincoln Road in South Beach, but that would require street closures. Shhhhhh. Or perhaps Ybor City — you remember — the version of the entertainment district that existed before the artists were forced (priced) out.
Ms. Gadsden, it’s a pleasure to meet you, but you are out of your mind if you think a few thousand dollars in new paint along one block of Central Avenue is going to transform that section of the city into Ybor, much less South Beach. I like what’s going on along Central Avenue as much as the next guy, but it’s barely on par with similar efforts in Gulfport and Dunedin, much less Tampa and Miami.
Easy, Sandra, easy. And get out and talk to someone other than Rene Flowers. There’s a whole world north of downtown!
That room of political operatives and elected officials I referred to was, when serious topics were discussed, abuzz with chatter about the Pinellas County Commission’s decision to charge $5 or $8 for entrance to Fort DeSoto park. I taunted one member of the Commission who was in the audience by suggesting that we pass the hat to collect money for the county. But things are only going to get worse, yet the public still doesn’t understand the severity of the budget crisis facing local government. Just read about how St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster had to back away from his (ridiculous) plan to close several of the city’s pools or about how much money could be saved if Clearwater turned over its law enforcement services to the Sheriff.
Politically, I think the chances of the latter happening are about the same as the Tampa Bay Rays leaving St. Petersburg for Tampa, but as this article details the planning of the Tampa Sports Authority for that possibility, it’s always better to be prepared.
Off-topic: what a tragic waste of talent it is every time Eric Deggans has to write about frekin’ American Idol — even if one of the finalists is from St. Petersburg.
Oh, and finally, please don’t miss the Letters-to-the-Editor today. There is a four-sentence zinger directed at political, um, consultant Mitch Kates: “…we would like to say that Eric Forcade has more courage in his little finger than Kates has in his entire body.”