Another day, another lie spread by the ‘Stop the Lens’ crowd

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On the same day I posted an entry dismantling the argument by the ‘Stop the Lens’ crowd about the number of voters who have signed petitions related to the future of the New St. Petersburg Pier, one of StL’s leaders, Gene Smith, posted an outright lie on my Facebook page — a lie the ‘Stop the Lens’ crowd wants voters to believe because it makes its efforts appear more important than they are.

At issue is Smith’s claim that, in 2003, the Citizens for a New Waterfront Park “never did reach the required number of petitions to force a referendum on the airport. ALL the ballot questions on the airport were straw poll questions. NONE were a mandatory citizens initiative petition.”

Actually, all three of the assertions Smith offers in his statement are factually incorrect.

#1 – CNWP did reach the required number of petitions and did force a referendum on the airport. This article – the first item that comes up on a Google, so Smith could have easily checked his facts — in the then-St. Petersburg Times refers to the losing referendum sponsored by CNWP: “The park proposal, created by a coalition of activists called Citizens for a New Waterfront Park, failed to connect with residents, winning only about 22 percent of the vote.”

#2 and #3 – The truth of point #1 invalidates Smith’s second and third points: Not all of the questions were straw poll questions; in fact, I believe there were five binding questions on the 2003 ballot, one of which was, in Smith’s terms, “a mandatory citizens initiative petition.”

Why is Smith, as well as the other “Stoppers” who often refer to their effort as “unprecedented” spreading this misinformation? Because it makes the ‘Stop the Lens’ drive appear more important than it is. It allows the ‘Stop the Lens’ crowd say things like, “This has never done before.”

As Harry Truman once said, the only thing new under the sun is the history you don’t know.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.