After being attacked by their Republican counterparts, the Pinellas Democratic Executive committee announced on Thursday that it will not accept the $531 grant they received to install native plants around its headquarters on 2250 1st Avenue North in St. Petersburg. The grant came via a $338,000 appropriation that the St. Pete City Council made to organizations inside the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to improve and enhance their buildings.
“Donald Trump isn’t the only bully within the Republican Party and certainly isn’t the only one pushing crazy ideas, but we believe that it is important to address these neighborhoods – that have been so neglected by previous Mayors – so, we are withdrawing our grant application in order to show our support for this very important program,” said Susan McGrath, the chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee.
Her decision came a day after Nick DiCeglie, the chairman of the Pinellas County Republican Party, blasting his Democratic counterpart for requesting taxpayer funds to beautify its local headquarters in St. Petersburg in the first place.
“For the Pinellas Country Democratic Party to even request tax-payer dollars to improve their office is so outside the bounds of propriety I am frankly disgusted,” DiCeglie said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “The fact that the grant was approved by the city and then City Council is downright horrifying, whether the city attorneys say it is legal or not,” he wrote. “The Pinellas Democratic party should return the grant money and apologize to the City of St. Petersburg and its taxpayers.”
The only council member to oppose the funding was Ed Montanari, the only Republican on the seven-member board. McGrath lashed out at him in her statement.
“The Pinellas Democratic Party pays thousands of dollars in local property taxes each year to the city of St. Petersburg and simply applied for a grant; getting back a few hundred of our tax dollars to pay for this neighborhood betterment program,” she said.
“Republican Ed Montanari has no objections with giving these grants to religious organizations and other community groups but believe that we should not be eligible. That seems like a double standard. He never bothered to reach out to myself or anyone associated with the Pinellas Democratic Party to express his concerns but instead staged a political stunt to try to score political points. We were simply asking to be treated the same as any other taxpayer – but Ed Montanari believes that we should be treated differently.”
Montanari was not immediately available for comment.
McGrath had said that the party was going to match the city’s contribution with at least $500 of their own money on the landscaping project.