In a review of Rick Baker’s “bold” new book, The Daily Beast’s John Avlonmakes the case that St. Petersburg’s former Mayor should be considered “America? best mayor of the past decade”:
The Seamless City is essential reading for any American mayor or active urban citizen. It offers insight into why I believe Rick Baker deserves to be known as America? best mayor of the past decade.
Other mayors may be better known. After all, St. Petersburg is only the 68th largest city in the U.S. and the fourth-largest in Florida. But Baker did not inherit a city that was already turning around, like many mayors who entered office after the urban renaissance of the 1990s. He did not have billion-dollar budgets or national attention. He did the hard work himself, inspiring a city government and its citizens to aim higher and believe that together they could achieve excellence.
The Seamless City: A Conservative Mayor’s Approach to Urban Revitalization that Can Work Anywhere By Rick Baker 350 pages. Regnery Publishing. $27.95.The combination of stories and statistics is compelling. When Baker took office, it took 2?years to fill a pothole in St. Petersburg. When he left, it was down to just a few days. At the outset of his administration, the mayor only received two regular reports?rime statistics and rainfall averages. When Baker left office, a “City Scorecard” was placed online so that every citizen could view the vital statistics of their neighborhood. The city? 34 agencies and 3,000 employees had defined goals and a sense of mission they measured progress against. Crime dropped dramatically, new businesses invested in the city, museums opened and a major league ball-team settled in. The quality of life improved for all its citizens?ost notably the core African-American community that had long been ghettoized, who found themselves in a revived community re-christened ?idtown.?
Rick Baker accomplished all of this while being a conservative in an urban environment. ?s a Republican who is conservative both fiscally and socially,?he writes, ? governed during my first term as a mayor with these philosophies, although I did it without stressing a partisan approach.?He did not polarize to prove a point?e was inclusive without compromising his integrity, driven by results instead of divisive ideological rhetoric.
Like I said, after Mayor Baker reads this, it could be tough keeping him down on the farm.