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St. Pete’s Gene Webb slams Rick Kriseman Trump tweet as waste of time

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Rick Kriseman’s viral tweet Monday night “banning” Donald Trump from St. Pete for his inflammatory comments toward Muslims has gotten a lot of attention. It’s been shared thousands of times. National media networks have picked up the story.

But one of St. Pete’s local bloggers (whom I quite like, actually) isn’t particularly amused. This reporter’s initial write-up of the tweet Monday night was headlined, “Rick Kriseman unofficially ‘bans’ Donald Trump from St. Pete and it’s exactly as awesome as you’d think.”

Dr. Gene Webb, author of Bay Post Internet called that “the read from the left.” Fair enough Dr. Webb, fair enough. I didn’t make too much of an effort hiding the fact that any claim banning an entire people from the U.S. is an over-the-top and ill-advised “plan.”

But Webb’s problem with Kriseman’s statement has some holes.

“You would think that the Mayor of a City whose administration dumps raw sewage into Tampa Bay and Clam Bayou, can’t seem to get the $40 million Pier Park project name right, has five failing schools in his jurisdiction and a continuing poverty and crime problem on the south side of his City could put his time to a bit better use,” Webb wrote Tuesday.

Indeed, those are very real issues facing the city the Mayor has no doubt devoted tons of time to. But seriously, how long do you think it takes to type out a tweet that is less than 160 characters? Even if Kriseman is president of the hunt and peck typing club, it’d still only take him less than a minute.

Then there’s Webb’s worry that Kriseman’s tweet may be causing those of “a more conservative bent” plan vacations elsewhere.

“Sarasota is nice this time of year,” Webb wrote. Of course, Trump was welcomed readily there.

Again, there’s a problem with this logic. A quick glance at Twitter’s response to Kriseman’s satirical tweet shows loads of people are actually saying quite the opposite. Take a gander at the Tampa Bay Times analysis of responses highlighting several folks from all over the country claiming they are now marking St. Pete as a must-see destination and even some others going so far as to claim they may move to the Sunshine City permanently.

Will some Trump supporters be put off and steer clear of St. Pete in favor of Sarasota or Naples? Probably, but they’ll likely be joined by a vacationing Glenn Beck and, as Kriseman has already insinuated, he’s totally cool with that.

Webb concludes “now is time for leadership from public official’s (sic) not late night cute tweets. Grow up Rick … you have a serious job to do.”

Again, fair enough. But Dr. Webb, consider the publicity Kriseman’s “late night, cute tweets” are getting for the city. It’s been retweeted 15,000 times. Another 17,000 people have “liked” it.

Minnie Driver, the famous actor, retweeted it saying, “I love you Mr. Mayor.”

There’s even a thanks from Scotland.

Somehow I think Kriseman’s tweet made a lot more people happy than it did angry and he probably only wasted about 30-seconds and zero dollars to make that happen.

And as for the take from the left bit — I remind you that Trump’s own party has condemned his bombastic and out-of-touch statements.

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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