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St. Pete City Council passes resolution supporting normalized relations with Cuba

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete City Council wants the U.S. to normalize relations with Cuba. The board unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for a congressional measure that would completely restore normalized relations with the island nation.

The move supports U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor’s Cuba Trade Act of 2015, which would remove presidential authority to impose sanctions on Cuba, restrictions on transactions, limitations on direct shipping and restrictions on remittances. It would also lift enforcement of an economic embargo and end the prohibition on indirect financing of Cuba.

“They use the embargo to paint the U.S. as the bad guy, so we need to delete that,” said council chair Charlie Gerdes who traveled to Cuba with Mayor Rick Kriseman last month.

The board also unanimously approved, with the exception of Steve Kornell, who was absent at the vote, a resolution supporting a Cuban consulate in St. Pete.

Part of Kriseman’s trip to Cuba included expressing interest to top Cuban officials that St. Pete would be an ideal spot. Kriseman is planning another trip soon.

“If we stop knocking on that door, they’ll forget about it so it’s good you’re going back,” Gerdes said.

Kriseman’s first trip was cut short as a hurricane barreled toward the island with the Tampa Bay area in its path as well. That storm ultimately missed both locations.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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