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In the wake of the police raid on the Bottoms to the Top club, one thing is clear: Bill Foster sure is a sanctimonious SOB

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

What a sanctimonious son-of-a-bitch!

Damn right I am talking about Bill Foster, who has so little to show for his five months on the job that he found it necessary to stand outside the Bottom to the Top club on Friday, as it was being raided by the police.

With arms crossed in righteous indignation, Foster is reported to have said: “That is a nasty place inside. Nothing good happens inside those walls. Quite frankly, these places aren’t welcome in St. Petersburg.”

So, Bill, you’ve actually been inside B2T?  When was that, because I’m there pretty often and I don’t remember seeing you, unless you were face-down in some chocolate love and I missed you.

“Nothing good happens inside those walls.” It’s a bikini bar, not a Boys & Girls Club, so what can you expect?  Yeah, the girls are gonna flash some tits.  A little reefer is gonna be smoked out back.  Hell, there are a few restaurants on Beach Drive that will remain nameless where I have seen a lot worse happen.

So, quite frankly, places like the Bottoms to the Top club ARE welcomed in St. Petersburg.  Do I expect to see Bill Foster in there?  No, but St. Pete is growing up.  Last call for alcohol is now 3 a.m.  Derby Lane will soon be offering near round-the-clock gamblin’.  College kids going to school at USF Bayboro live all over downtown.  There’s — gasp — a vibrant gay-friendly district.

You know what all of these developments are a sign of?  Of  St. Petersburg being a big city.  Alright, maybe not a big city, but a city that has grown up.

The only aspect of city life that has yet to mature is City Hall’s response to these developments.  Over the last eight months, the City of St. Petersburg has all but declared war on the First Amendment; first, by ceding the public sidewalk outside of BayWalk to private interests in order to curtail the peaceful efforts of activists and protesters; second, by passing a ban on solicitations in or near public thoroughfares and, third, by targeting establishments like the Bottom to the Top club, the activities of which are protected by the First Amendment.

Listen, I was the first person in the city to raise the alarm bells about the new bikini bars operating downtown.  I wrote about Club SINN long before anyone at City Hall or the St. Petersburg Times took notice.  And I wrote about the opening of the B2T, again, long before the city’s fathers decided to go all Footloose on it.

See, that’s where the owners of the B2T messed up.  You don’t open up a bikini bar a block away from the gallery of one of the city fathers, in this case, city mothers, i.e. Leslie Curran, whose Interior Motives gallery is located a block south of the B2T.

Maybe the owners of the B2t should move to the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street, right outside of Bill Foster’s law office.  He’s let that corner look like a scene out of a David Simon novel for years, so adding a strip club, err, bikini bar would probably be an improvement.

And a hell of a lot easier for Foster to show up to cross his arms.

Oh yeah, one last thing, don’t tell me this raid wasn’t racially motivated: Club SINN has been pullin’ the same shit the B2T has been for a helluva lot longer, but the skin they show there is lily white compared to the darker variety offered at the B2T.

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.

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