Mitch Perry Report for 3.10.15 — Pier politics

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

In my duties with SaintPetersBlog/Florida Politics, I don’t get the opportunity to cover the political scene in St. Petersburg as much as I used to. Therefore yesterday’s announcement regarding the results of the public survey of the seven proposals to replace the Pier landmark was the first time I had a chance to look at the new designs.

For the past couple of weeks, the public (or those who are actually St. Pete residents) has been weighing in on their favorite designs of the seven that made the cut.

The top vote getter was Destination St.Pete Pier, which, as SPB’s Janelle Irwin reports, redesigns the current inverted pyramid. The next two selections, Pier Park and Blue Pier, do not.

Why am I not surprised?

First things first: This survey is completely nonbinding, and the pier selection committee will rank no fewer than three of the teams. Everyone can be satisfied by the committee going ahead and choosing those top three designs and moving forward.

But the hard choice would be to eliminate  Destination St. Pete Pier, which is said to incorporate and revitalize the iconic pyramid with double-deck walking platforms, fishing areas and shaded and open-air activities.

Having covered this story for years, what I’ve learned is that despite the fact that nobody was really ever going to the Pier before it was closed, the inverted pyramid structure built in 1973 has a powerful hold on a number of St. Pete citizens, and they aren’t giving up the dream of maintaining it in some fashion.

Think about Kathleen Ford, who really had very little to run on other than the fact that she represented those inverted Pier supporters. She never made it pass the primary in 2013, but what was she even doing in the race at all? It was because of the support she generated among people who loathed the Lens and wanted to maintain the Pier. As does Tom Lambdon, founder of, who has fought for years for the city to add on to the current structure with amusement rides a la the Santa Monica Pier.

The closer we get to a final selection, the more pressure builds on Mayor Kriseman. Though one would think more people would have voted considering all the intensity on the issue two years ago, it would be a mistake to believe that those strong emotions don’t still exist.

In other news..

We’re two weeks out from the Jackie Toledo vs. Guido Maniscalco runoff election in Tampa.

A Hardee County grand jury report stings former Tampa GOP state Rep. Jamie Grant.

Last week Rick Scott visited Jagged Peak, a growing ecommerce company located in Tampa and St. Petersburg. One of its leaders, Michael Mercier, tells Florida Politics why the Sunshine State is so much better than his (and my) home state of California when it comes to being better for businesses to flourish.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at