Across the state, newspapers today are offering their Monday morning quarterbacking of the just concluded 2014 Legislative Session. If you enjoy reading about politics, today is the day to grab your Kindle, sit poolside and soak up the sun and the smart analysis.
That said, the silliest post-session epilogue is offered by the Tampa Bay Times‘ Kameel Stanley who, while explaining how the City of St. Petersburg fares well in next year’s budget, credits Mayor Rick Kriseman for the Sunshine City’s banner session.
I know, it’s hard to not laugh at that suggestion, especially if you’ve spent more than one hour on Adams Street.
It’s not that St. Pete did not have a good year. It did. Or at least it is, depending on how much Governor Rick Scott line-item vetoes from the proposed budget.
Among the St. Petersburg projects slated to get money: Marine science labs and classrooms at St. Petersburg College ($2.5 million); renovations to the historic Ponder House ($100,000); kitchen upgrades and other improvements at the Mahaffey Theater ($500,000); and $2 million for the All Children’s Hospital/Johns Hopkins Pediatric Research Zone.
It’s just not clear how much Hizzoner, a former backbench, liberal member of the Florida House, had to do with having money inserted into a budget written by a Republican-led Legislature.
But that doesn’t stop Stanley from, um, reporting that “some attribute St. Petersburg’s windfall to new Mayor Rick Kriseman…”
It’s not clear who “some” are, but it’s no one working in or with the Florida Legislature.
Of course, Kriseman’s EMPLOYEE — the very nice and capable Sally Everett — told Stanley that, “The city of St. Petersburg was well served by the mayor’s past experience in the Legislature … and the relationships he built during his time.”
C’mon, Sally, who you fooling?
The biggest line-item for a St. Pete-oriented project is the $10 million for a new business college building at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Kriseman says he visited Tallahassee twice to lobby for the project.
Good for Kriseman. Good for doing what Bill Foster didn’t do. Good for Kriseman for reestablishing the city lobbying position. But, Mayor Kriseman, don’t hurt your elbow trying to pat yourself on the back.
The people who work in Tallahassee know who really deserves credit for most of the money headed to the ‘burg.
Start with the lawmakers Stanley all but forgets. Namely, Sens. Jeff Brandes and Jack Latvala. They’re the two legislators directly responsible for most of that money inserted in the budget. They’re the reason why USF is getting that money for the business school. And why the Rowdies soccer club stands to benefit from the stadium financing package approved by the Legislature.
Them and some guy named Rick Baker, who, along with his boss Bill Edwards, is why $500,000 is headed toward the Mahaffey.
Edwards and Baker also made the smart decision to retain Capitol Insight — former House Speaker Dean Cannon’s lobbying firm. Hiring them brought in the political firepower to get the projects financed.
Speaking of lobbyists, let’s not forget that USF St. Pete has the inimitable Helen Levine advocating on its behalf. Or that Art O’Hara, who runs one of the organizations who will benefiting from an appropriation, has Laura Boehmer of Southern Strategy Group on his side.
Trust me when I write – as someone who covers the government affairs business — these folks have more juice in Tallahassee than anyone working at City Hall.
Rep. Darryl Rouson deserves the lion’s share of the credit for the antipoverty 2020 Plan receiving money. That’s because Rouson has a standing arrangement with Republican leadership that he’ll support their budget so long as it includes a targeted project in his district.
Notice how none of these folks are substantially mentioned in Stanley’s reporting. Instead tries to convince readers that a former lawmaker who was universally considered one of the least effective members of the state House is now some how responsible for the windfall possibly headed St. Pete’s way.
Stanley might as well piss on her readers’ legs and tell them it’s raining.