5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

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SaintPetersBlog had a direct impact on the reporting of this story by Michael Van Sickler about Bill Foster’s pledges to crack down on crime faltering; there’s even a back-handed mention of the post Gene Webb authored here about how Foster’s plan to use surveillance cameras has been scrapped.

Of course, Van Sickler and his editors can’t or won’t actually mention the name of this blog.  Tsk, tsk.

Van Sickler appears to have received a lot of inspiration from SaintPetersBlog yesterday.  I write an extended post about the first poll conducted for the 2013 mayor’s race and then, boom, Van Sickler takes to the Bay Buzz to write about the first poll conducted for the 2013 mayor’s race.

Glad I could be so helpful to you yesterday, Mike.

Nowhere in the Times’ coverage of the big story of the day – the shootings outside the club Scene in downtown St. Pete – is the race of the two victims discussed.

Well, both victims were black.  Why does that matter? Because Tuesday night at Scene is billed as “Top Shelf Tuesday” and Tampa Bay’s largest “hip hop party.” Meaning it’s a night that Scene attracts a crowd more black than white. I also know this firsthand because I live at the Madison Condominiums, which is located about a block South of the club.  I know, as well as anyone, what really goes on at Scene.

And what’s not being discussed in the Times story, but is being discussed throughout downtown St. Pete is that this is another situation like what happened at BayWalk, where black crowds, with few places to enjoy themselves in Midtown, converge on downtown St. Pete and end up scaring the white folk.  Again, that’s not in the newspaper, but that’s the real story about what’s going on.

What I fear is that the incident at Scene will be used as a hammer against the ordinance I helped pass which allows bars to stay open until 3 a.m., which is what sounds like is about to happen:

Downtown has thrived since the city pushed closing time back to 3 a.m. in May 2010, but keeping all those new bars safe has been a challenge. Officials say the bar corridor absorbs too much officer overtime, saps police resources and exhausts the cops who keep the alcohol-soaked crowds safe — often from each other.

But St. Petersburg’s popularity also depends on it being known as a safe nightspot. Wednesday’s shooting threatens that status.

“I am not going to sit idly by while there is a risk of the reputation to the safety of downtown St. Petersburg,” said Mayor Bill Foster. “Once you get a bad reputation, it’s hard to recover.”

Like I said, there’s a lot more to this story than what is being reported in the newspaper.

More racial politics: Eric Deggans weighs in on CNN’s decision to suspend his friend Rowland Martin days after he posted two messages on Twitter that some felt displayed anti-gay sentiments.

Deggans writes: ” For me, the entire controversy unfolded like a series of missed opportunities and power plays, resulting in a suspension which raises more questions than it answers.”

I don’t know if Deggans is harsh enough with his criticism of Martin, “I have no doubt he was not advocating violence against gay people in his tweets — but I also know as a person of color how easy it is for others to miss words which may echo classic issues.”

Martin says he was being critical of soccer and not referring to the sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that because, I’m an American heterosexual male and I can imagine the kind of crack Martin made being made in bars and living rooms throughout the country.  I’m not saying that right, and as someone who works for pro-gay rights organizations, I understand the sensitivity of the gay community, I’m just saying Martin’s apology doesn’t pass the smell test.

But what Martin said is really no different from the sequence of jokes that played out in the movie The 40 Year Old Virgin about ‘You know how I know you’re gay…?’ That scene was and still is such a funny scene, but looking back, it really isn’t, is it?

Deggans had his own similar revelation, writing: “I remember when I was just starting in the business, I was hanging with a friend and cracked a joke about him being effeminate, ribbing him in a way that he found funny. But later, I thought about a few gay friends I had in the newsroom, and realized that, even though I meant no harm in the joke, it might not be taken that way by everyone and it was time to find a new avenue for humor.”

Martin would have done well to find a similar avenue, although he should still feel free to make fun of soccer anytime he wants.

Today, you can get a subscription to the Tampa Bay Times for 72% off the regular price via Groupon. At that price, why not just give it away for free?

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.