Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

Steve Corsetti, you have my apologies, but I have to endorse you — but first, another rant about Kathleen Ford

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by

In case any of you are wondering what political life would be like under a Kathleen Ford administration, this past week offered a glimpse of things to come.

The debate over whether to vacate the sidewalk in front of BayWalk has nothing to do with Kathleen Ford. Not in the least. But an already fractious debate became more decisive the moment Ford announced she opposed the plan. Suddenly, lines were drawn and positions hardened. And this was an issue to which Ford was peripheral. Imagine if she really had a dog in this fight.

Actually, it’s Kathleen Ford who is the dog here. She’s a dog chasing a car. She’s running for Mayor and still no one can definitively say who is the real Kathleen Ford. Is she a racist? Will her management style be an issue? Is she, as one of her own supporters is quoted, a bitch?

I don’t think it’s fair to call a woman a bitch (but I can call a newspaper the c-word) just because she’s tough on a few city staffers. But take a closer look at how Kathleen has conducted herself over the course of her campaign and it’s apparent something is off-kilter.

First of all, Kathleen is running for Mayor without a campaign manager, a political consultant or any paid staff. That’s not only insulting to the political community, it’s insulting to the community at large. It says: “I know better. And not only do I know better about city government, I know better about running for office. I know so much better about running for office that I am not going to listen to anyone else about how to run for office. And not only am I not going to listen, I am not going to show the community how serious I am about running by enlisting professional help. I KNOW BETTER.”

If there was a theme to, not only Kathleen Ford’s campaign, but her entire curriculum vitae, it would be I KNOW BETTER.

But the truth is Kathleen Ford does not know better. The conventional wisdom is that Mrs. Ford is so damn smart. If she’s so smart, how is it that she only made $35K last year from her legal work, while Bill Foster made five times that? Maybe Ford is not the lawyer she makes herself out to be. After all, she went to South Texas College of Law — not exactly a breeding ground for Supreme Court Justices.

In the only instance I am familiar with Mrs. Ford’s legal work, she demonstrated she is anything but a legal eagle. Ford’s work for Preserve Our Waterfront and Wallets was described by the attorneys who reviewed it, including John Wolfe and Mark Winn, as well as POWW’s Peter Belmont, as “problematic” and by problematic I mean that the ballot language Ford wrote up, if passed, would have made it impossible for a lifeguard tower to be built anywhere in the city where land meets water.

It’s an example like that of Ford’s so-called leadership that make me wonder what will happen if the dog ever catches the car.

This past week, Ford barked that the City Council is nothing but a rubber stamp for Rick Baker’s plans. Karl Nurse is a rubber stamp for Rick Baker? Jeff Danner? Wengay Newton? Please.

In fact, this claim makes little sense in light of the ongoing battle over what to do about BayWalk. I’ve written and spoken out about how I feel about BayWalk’s plight and so I won’t repeat myself just because Herb Polson wants to revisit the issue. BayWalk is an unworkable concept with an unattractive retail mix that has been poorly managed. But I digress.

The problem with the BayWalk issue lies not with protesters or sidewalks, but with the business leaders and politicians who stood by while BayWalk withered. The business leaders are getting theirs via the opposition to their revitalization plan. Now, it’s time to do something about the politicians.

Politicians like Jim Kennedy.

I’m sorry Mr. Kennedy, this whole BayWalk mess isn’t your fault. The baseball stadium issue isn’t your fault. The rise in crime is not your fault. But someone has to take the blame and you’re the only one around.

We can’t blame Karl Nurse. He does too much good and is running against such a bad candidate that no one can vote against him. Same goes for Jeff Danner, although his opponent isn’t so bad as he is inexperienced. I’d love to see someone beat Leslie Curran, but someone has to take Connie Kone’s place in four years as The Ol’ Bag Who Served On City Council.

That leaves Jim Kennedy.

Let’s be honest, no one is going to miss Jim Kennedy. He was appointed to the City Council in the wake of John Bryan’s suicide. Not the most auspicious of circumstances. Since then, Kennedy has done little to distinguish himself.

Kennedy’s supporters (especially the ever-talented and uber smart Johnny Bardine, who I think is trying make lemonade from lemons) will argue about how smart he is, and how advantageous it is to have a lawyer on the City Council. Unfortunately for Mr. Kennedy, there is already a technocrat with communication issues on the City Council. His name is Karl Nurse. Not that we couldn’t use another Karl Nurse. But Mr. Kennedy, I know Karl Nurse and you’re no Karl Nurse.

What is needed on the City Council is more genuine leadership. Funny how it is, but are we going to look back at the City Council circa 2003 with Jamie Bennett, Rick Kriseman and Bill Foster as the Golden Era of city government? Maybe, maybe not, but what I do know is the current crop of council-members is neither the rubber stamp Kathleen Ford contends they are, nor are they the progressive force the eight of them think they are. They are just bleh. Combine this bleh with a term-limited Rick Baker and the prospect of a Kathleen Ford administration and it’s no surprise this city finds itself in its current predicament.

Steve Corsetti, Jim Kennedy’s opponent, could be a breath of fresh air for a city government stale with political impotence. I have some reservations about voting for someone I barely heard of a few months ago, but I didn’t know much about Jim Kennedy a few years ago. And the district they are running in, with its numerous apartment complexes and new developments, is the most dynamic of the eight City Council districts, so it can be forgiven if Mr. Corsetti is not especially well-known.

In my conversations with Mr. Corsetti, I have found him charismatic, engaging, genuine, forthright and principled. There is a little too much Bill-Dudley-Do-Right in him for my liking, but that probably just makes him only more attractive to voters.

Voters who, by Election Day, may be very eager for change. With limited opportunities to change things up in City Hall, a vote for Steve Corsetti represents the best chance to keep St. Petersburg’s elected officials honest. And since Jim Kennedy has done little to earn “re-election” to a seat he was appointed to, I urge you to vote for Steve Corsetti.

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.

Latest from Peter

Go to Top