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If Rick Kriseman loses today, this was the moment it all went bad …

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This should not be happening to Rick Kriseman.

He should not be on the verge of finishing second, if not losing, today’s mayoral primary in St. Petersburg.

This is not how Kriseman envisioned it four years ago after he unseated incumbent Bill Foster, beating him by 12 points

Yet, by the end of today, it’s likely at least 55 percent of the city will vote for someone else for mayor. It will be a stunning rebuke.

Keep in mind, Kriseman is a relatively popular incumbent with a decent record of hitting singles and doubles. And his re-election campaign had three-quarters of a million dollars at its disposal.

This should not be happening to Rick Kriseman.

But it is.

Were Rick Kriseman to lose today, there’s one moment he can all look back at and say, ‘That’s when it all turned to shit.’

In this case, literally.

On June 8, 2016, WTSP Channel 10’s Mike Deeson reported about raw sewage flowing into Clam Bayou in Gulfport.

This was after Kriseman promised such dumping would never happen again.

Deeson drove to Clam Bayou where Kriseman and his senior staff were investigating the incident. The reporter asked Public Works Director Claude Tankersley, “Is there any raw sewage going into Clam Bayou?”

Tankersley said, “There appears to be some sewage that went in right over there.”

Deeson then proceeded to ask Kriseman about the sewage.

“My understanding that’s not an issue this go round,” Kriseman said.

Before Deeson could ask another question, Kriseman’s chief of staff, Kevin King, and his Director of Communications, Ben Kirby, stepped in saying Tankersley never said there was raw sewage going into the bayou. The tried to block Deeson from asking Kriseman another question.

Deeson asked one more time if raw sewage was going in the bayou.

Kriseman replied, “I think Claude answered the question.”

Of course, not every voter in the city watched this exchange, which was about a sewage spill in Gulfport, not the larger ones into Tampa Bay. So, policy-wise, the incident can’t be blamed for Kriseman’s woes.

But if there’s any single moment which best symbolizes all of the worst of the Kriseman administration, it’s this report from Deeson.

There on tape, we see Rick Kriseman shucking-and-jiving, if not outright lying.

There on tape, we see a secretive Kevin King insulating his boss.

There on tape, we see an antagonistic Ben Kirby attacking a reporter for asking necessary questions.

There on tape, we see the Kriseman administration not taking responsibility.

It didn’t have to be this way for Kriseman.

Instead of a mealy-mouthed response to Deeson, he should have rolled-up sleeves and barked at every public works employee in the city until the entire truth was out in the open.

Instead of dodging questions, as he would so many others, he should have looked straight into the camera and said, “Damnit, Mike, I’m as upset as anyone that this keeps happening in our beautiful community. And I’m not going to stop today until we get to the bottom of what happened.”

Instead of walling Krisman off, King and Kirby should have invited transparency.

What the Kriseman administration should have said was “sorry.” It should have taken immediate responsibility.

But it didn’t, and that’s why Rick Kriseman won’t win today.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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