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Mitch Perry Report for 5.6.15 –St. Pete Pier politics, part 23

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

According to a story by Waveney Ann Moore in today’s Times, it’s looking good for advocates of Pier Park to be the chosen design to finally replace the aging iconic inverted Pier in downtown St. Petersburg.

“I’ve had more calls in support of Pier Park than anything,” City Council member Darden Rice says. “It was overwhelmingly Pier supporters,” says Council member Charlie Gerdes.

“I think it’s time to build the pier and I think Pier Park is the one,” agrees Steve Kornell.

So tomorrow’s vote should be a no-drama affair in the Council?

Come on, man. This is the pier we’re talking about.

A St. Pete Polls survey released last night shows that the public wants to have their say in the matter, their elected representatives be damned. Sixty-three percent of those St. Pete residents say they want a referendum on the subject, 32 percent don’t. Wengay Newton is once again leading this charge, as he did back in 2011-2013. He won last time, remember, on getting that vote?

And then there’s this from Bud Risser, a leading critic of 2013’s Lens design. He complains in a letter to the Times editor that the volunteer selection committee was being “quietly led by City Hall,” and lists a host of “significant issues that must be vetted before proceeding” when it comes to Pier Park.

Best of luck to all those involved in covering this story tomorrow. Hey, at least it starts early enough to still get some things done before the end of the evening.

In other news…

There’s been a lot of excitement in Tampa about President Obama’s moves to engage with Cuba, but nothing will change that significantly until the economic embargo ends. A new group called Emerge Cuba is hiring lobbyists to persuade Congress to make that change. We spoke yesterday with one of its founders.

Marco Rubio is extremely critical of the president on Cuba, as he is on a number of other foreign policy initiatives. But is he always correct in his criticisms? As he gains in the polls, the Florida senator’s foreign policy is getting closer scrutiny.

On Cinco de Mayo, Jeb Bush showed off his Spanish language skills in a video to the Hispanic community.

And the Florida Democratic Party is featuring two national figures to speak at their big fundraising dinner next month in South Florida — Virginia U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Hawaii U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard will give the keynote addresses.

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

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