In a stunning turn of events within St. Petersburg’s City Hall, Mayor Bill Foster is expected to announce Todd Yost as the next city lobbyist, a move that is already raising questions about Foster’s ability to manage a cacophony of divergent voices troubled by the omnipresence of Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis.
Going into the final stages of the interview process, Yost was not said to be a finalist for the position. But Yost emerged as the final choice for several reasons, according to two sources familiar with the deliberations. First of all, consensus could not be reached on leading candidate. Finalists Rene Flowers and Joe Triolo were viewed as too partisan, while questions emerged about Tallahassee lobbyist John McBride’s work history.
But none of that had much to do with the decision to appoint Yost to one of the most visible positions in city government. No, the final factor was the ongoing crisis at City Hall involving Goliath Davis. Apparently, Yost, who works under Davis, could no longer effectively interact with his superior, who is said to be a “wrecking ball” in his new, revised position. One source says that Yost threatened to resign (the third such threat in recent weeks) if a resolution did not come about.
Foster said even though Yost doesn’t have experience in Tallahassee or lobbying other governments, he does have the intangibles for the job.
“He’s smart,” Foster said. “He’s innovative and a good communicator — those are the raw qualities I was looking for.”
Yost, who couldn’t be reached, started as director of codes compliance in October 2007. A University of South Florida political science graduate in 1993, he’s held several jobs with the city since starting in 1994. They include administrative assistant in community services/sanitation; recreation supervisor; facilities operations supervisor at Bayfront Center; capital and special projects coordinator of downtown facilities; contracts coordinator for internal audit; and systems analyst for the Oracle computer support team.