St. Pete's Codes Enforcement Department adrift under Bill Foster

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In last week’s Tampa Bay Times, Curtis Krueger has a story about Maher Chevrolet and its American flags.  Seems Maher has a few too many American flags on display for the Codes Enforcement Department.

On the surface, this may seem like another one of those bureaucratic screw ups which just seem to happen every now and then. But the Codes Enforcement Department was a constant source of problems for the City the entire time I was there (almost 28 years!)

There was a brief moment of light when Todd Yost was running Codes Enforcement and the rules and common sense prevailed. Todd was rooting out the long term problems, dealing effectively with citizens and applying technology to gain efficiency. He reduced the staff, increased inspection activity and lowered the budget while the city’s neighborhoods started looking better and its leaders were generally satisfied.

Mayor Foster, during the campaign, promised increased emphasis on codes enforcement to continue these improvements. Following the election, and in the face of ever mounting pressure on Goliath Davis, the Mayor reorganized City Hall staff and Codes Enforcement was placed under Davis.

It didn’t take long for Davis to create an intolerable work environment, run Yost off  and replace him with a long time Codes Enforcement staffer, and Davis and company man, Gary Bush.

They were so anxious to get Bush into the job, they did no search, interviewed no other candidates that were made public. In fact the Codes Director Job description says:

Graduation from an accredited four year college or university with major course work in public administration, municipal planning, business administration or related field.

Considerable supervisory experience in the areas of planning and zoning, housing, building or codes inspection, or related experience in enforcement, urban redevelopment, planning, zoning, or permitting setting.

Note that graduation from a four year accredited college or university with a bachelor’s  degree was required for previous Directors. The results of a public records request indicate that Mr. Bush had no applicable educational background  or significant administrative experience at the time he was appointed to the position. the public records request also indicated no formal waiver of the requirements was ever completed or signed off  by Human Resources, Davis or the Mayor.

Listening to the neighborhood leaders, it would appear that Codes Enforcement has deteriorated since his appointment.

You might have a tendency to look at this and say so what?  Well, the fact is, it happened on Foster’s watch, he knew Yost was suffering under the Davis regime, he let it happen and he knows what’s going on in Codes Enforcement now and he should do something about it.

To use a favorite Foster analogy, Bill likes to pitch but he hates to bat. It’s time to step up to the plate and start swinging.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.