“Lens” and “Pier” not likely to be in Aug. 27 ballot question or title, city attorney says

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The recommend title for the pier ballot question on the Aug. 27 primary will not include the words “Lens” or “new pier” if approved as it is written today, reports William Mansell of Patch.

City Attorney John Wolfe told city council members Thursday that he has two recommended titles for the Stop the Lens ballot question and neither mentions “Lens” or the “new pier.” Should council want to include one or both those words, he also has recommendations. (See below)

City council will vote on the pier ballot language at its June 20 meeting. 

The question itself, which if approved by voters would cancel the city’s contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture to build the new pier, will not mention the “Lens” because the ordinance from the signed Stop the Lens petitions does not mention the name of the Maltzan pier design. 

Mayor Bill Foster and council members Karl Nurse and Charlie Gerdes argued Thursday for the inclusion of the word(s) “Lens” or “new pier” on the ballot title because that is what the ballot question is about, they said. 

“To me we should not try to play games with this,” Nurse said. “We ought to call it what it’s referred to. People call it the lens and we ought to call it the Lens. I don’t think it serves our purpose to try to find some clever way to avoid calling it what it is.”

Any ballot title is limited to 15 words by state statute and has to describe what the voters on voting on. Foster said one of those 15 words needs to be the “Lens” because that is what the petition was all about.

“All the red signs, all the red shirts,” Foster said. “All of it has been about stopping the Lens.

“I don’t get to vote (on the ballot title) but it would be my personal recommendation that one of those 15 words be the lens because that’s the word that has been used throughout the entire process.”

Council member Jim Kennedy said the city should be careful not to put words into the mouths of the petitioners. Since Stop the Lens’ proposed ordinance to cancel the city’s contract with Maltzan does not mention the “Lens”, he said it should not be in the title. 

“It gets us the point,” Kennedy said of Wolfe’s proposed ballot title. “We know what the ordinance says. Anything outside the ordinance stars to be us speculating what they meant.”

Be sure to read Patch for the latest on this issue, as well as columns from myself and Gene Webb.

Wolfe’s Proposed Pier Ballot Titles:

1. Recommended

  • (A) An ordinance providing for termination of the Michael Maltzan architect/engineering agreement with the city. 
  • (B) An ordinance directing the termination of the Michael Maltzan architect/engineering agreement with the city

2. Possible Titles with the Words “New Pier”

  • (A) An ordinance directing termination of city’s design agreement with Michael Maltzan for the new pier. 
  • (B) An ordinance directing termination of the Michael Maltzan architect/engineering agreement for the new pier. 
  • (C) An ordinance directing termination of city’s agreement with Michael Maltzan for the new pier.

3. Possible Titles with the Word  “Lens” Included

  • (A) An ordinance directing termination of Michal Maltzan pier design agreement based on the Lens concept. 
  • (B) An ordinance directing termination of Michal Maltzan new pier design agreement based on Lens concept.

4. Title Suggested by the Petitioner’s Attorney (a) and My Suggested Alternative (b) if you Wish to Use a Form of Petitioner’s Suggestion

  • (A) An ordinance terminating the Michael Maltzan agreement with the city for the new pier (Lens). 
  • (B) An ordinance directing termination of city’s Michael Maltzan Architectural agreement for the new pier (Lens).

Via William Mansell of Patch.

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.