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Mitch Perry Report for 4.1.15 — The Tampa Bay Times has had enough with some City Council members

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The St. Petersburg City Council won’t be voting on that newly revised agreement that Mayor Rick Kriseman worked out with the Tampa Bay Rays last week that seemingly resolved the main conflict in why the Council didn’t approve the deal last December — the redevelopment rights to Tropicana Field. The new deal the mayor negotiated would ensure that all proceeds from those rights would (rightly) go to the city, and not the departing baseball franchise.

But that’s not sufficient enough for several council members, and thus Council Chair Charlie Gerdes hasn’t put the Rays on the agenda for tomorrow morning’s meeting.

A lot of the Establishment in the Tampa Bay area feels let down by this, since if past is prologue, there won’t be any further discussions for another six months, as the Rays kick off the 2015 season next Monday afternoon. That means another year wasted in this years-long saga that never seems to change.

In this morning’s Times, the lead editorial slams those recalcitrant council members, calling out Steve Kornell in particular. The paper says that Kornell “has failed to connect how resolving the stadium issue could create more tax revenue to pay for the programs he champions.” Essentially they’re saying they think he deserves to not be re-elected this November. That’s the assumption one has to gather when they write with disappointment that two other council members who oppose the agreement — Jim Kennedy and Amy Foster — aren’t on the ballot.

I think I get where the council members who are still obstinate are coming from — they’re hearing from they’re constituents that they hate the deal that Kriseman worked out. It took a full year for the mayor to come to terms with the Rays, and for some (many?), the financial return for allowing the Rays to get out of their lease and look at options on Tampa is just too small.

The attitude I’ve encountered with a number of St. Pete residents is basically, “screw the Rays.” The attitude is that the baseball team is  ungrateful for all that the city’s taxpayers have done for them in paying for Tropicana Field, and if they don’t want to play in St. Pete, well, we’ll enjoy watching them (or not, considering how lousy attendance has been for years) until they leave in 2027, or maybe a few years before that.

I think that’s why Kornell and the others aren’t going to be concerned about what the Times editorial page is telling them to do. They’re listening to their constituents.

Is it the right thing to do? The Establishment in Tampa Bay says no. The Establishment says that if you want Major League Baseball to remain in the Tampa Bay area, you must let the Rays talk to Tampa officials. Nobody will ever truly know for sure if MLB will do better financially in Tampa than it is in St. Pete, until it actually happens. Those advocates insist that they already know that to be true.

So we’re at this impasse. If anything, one may be forced to admit that maybe they were too critical toward Bill Foster, who was accused of not doing anything sufficient to move the discussion forward. Kriseman came in saying he’d do something — and he has. However, what people forgot to include in the equation was that a number of City Council members would prove to be reluctant to go forward.

But hey, enough of that. Opening Day is five days, away, baby! Right?

In other news…

Watching yesterday’s discussion of rejuvenating a tax incentive program to lure Hollywood productions to film in Florida presented some rare drama in a legislative committee meeting on Tuesday. Whether that means that the program will actually get funded is completely uncertain at this time, making it a story to watch over the next month of the session.

Sorry to depress the Hillary Clinton supporters, but while you may find the email controversy an inflated story, it’s taken a bit of a toll, according to a new Quinnipiac poll released on Tuesday.

While the DCCC took a shot at David Jolly on Monday for voting against adding to the Pell Grant program, the Pinellas County-based congressman says he’s actually poised to expand the program.

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 mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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