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In alternate universe of St. Pete Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Pier would already be gone

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Imagine a world where Bob Buckhorn is the mayor of St. Pete, not Tampa.

According to his version of that parallel universe, the Pier as it exists today would not be there.

If that were the case, the rampant bickering among inverted-pyramid-loving activists and city leaders trying to figure out what in the bejesus to do about this longstanding dilemma wouldn’t really be a thing.

Sure there’d be a bunch of pissed off activists complaining they didn’t have a say in blowing up the ’70s style waterfront icon, but it’d be gone, making room for something new.

Saving it would no longer be an option. Done.

Meanwhile, in the real world, Rick Kriseman is still the mayor of St. Pete and the Pier still exists. And Kriseman is still stomping his feet, crossing his arms and in a full-on pout about it.

The people are whining about his “process” laid out to “build a damn Pier” and City Council won’t accept his damn Rays agreement. So he and the rest of the city aren’t really sure what’s going to happen with the Pier or the Rays or Tropicana Field and the poor guy just can’t catch a break.

The thing is, he’s trying really, really hard. He’s lobbied City Council on the Rays deal. He’s looped in as many people as he can to try to make sure no one feels left out in the decision to build a new Pier.

Kriseman has failed in many of the same ways his predecessor did and some new ones, too.

For starters, he’s hopped back and forth between the inclusive mayor who wants to create a Pier process heavy with community support and the mayor-in-chief who just wants to beat everyone into submission.

For every, “we allowed plenty of public input,” there’s a “build the damn Pier” or “respect the process.”

For every “I’m trying to work with City Council,” there’s a “City Council is ensuring the Rays leave Tampa Bay.”

Which is it mayor?

Do you want to be an iron-fisted bully or a passive liberal? You can’t be both. You’re going to make one side mad no matter what. But if you keep lingering in limbo-land, you’re just pissing off everyone.

Look at what’s happened with the Pier. The folks who so desperately want to keep the inverted pyramid viable with the Destination St. Pete Pier design are really riled up. They want Pier Selection Committee chair Mike Connors’ head and you won’t give it to them. They want you to listen to the public and, in their opinion, you most certainly are not.

But, on the other hand, you have the Tampa Bay Times. In Dan Ruth’s latest column on the Pier, he compares Kriseman to Buckhorn. He suggests blowing the Pier up secretly with some fighter jets from MacDill.

He writes, “In St. Petersburg, the more recent trend has been to treat the job like a T-ball league for 7-year-olds where everyone gets a trophy.”

See, mayor. On one side, you’re not accommodating enough. On the other, you’re a pushover.

Again, Kriseman can’t catch a break.

Or maybe he could, if he’d just pick a side and go with it.

That’s what’s happening in the parallel universe, where Buckhorn implodes the Pier and steals the Rays.

It’s about time Kriseman get tough and heed his own words, “we’re never going to please everyone.”

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 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

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