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Tiger Bay or Tiger Lilly?

in Peter/The Bay and the 'Burg by
Like with so many others, my relationship with Tiger Bay is becoming a love-hate situation. I love going to the forums, I think they hate when I show up and make the likes of Leslie Curran quiver with discomfort.

Earlier this year and behind closed doors, the board of Tiger Bay contemplated taking away a fang-and-claw award I received for a question I asked Mayor Rick Baker. The rationale for this unprecedented action (seriously) had something to do with Beverly Mitland, who is Jewish, not liking Rob Eschenfelder, who is German and did the tabulating that day. Evidently, Mitland thought Eschenfelder threw me the award because he and I play tennis together, and had nothing to do with the fact that my question was the only one written about in the Times and Creative Loafing.

All sorts of conspiracy theories sprang from that meeting with notable members Jamie Bennett, Mo Epply and Greg Wilson each taking sides for and against me. When I learned of the effort to take back my Tiger, I called board president Darryl Paulson and told him I would go to court to stop them from taking back my Tiger, they had much of a mountain out of a molehill.

Since then, I have inevitably finished in second place for the fang-and-claw award every time I ask a question that, had it been asked by some blue-hair, would have taken home the hardware. My question of Ray Tampa should have won, acknowledged that day’s winner Rob Eschenfelder. I should have won this past Wednesday, as evidenced by the fact that my question — again — was written about, while some whinebag asked a ridiculous question about Karl Nurse conspiring to get appointed to his seat on the City Council.

I suppose it’s this continued slight leads me to believe that Tiger Bay just sucks lately.

Here’s this organization, supposedly as open-minded as a college freshman, which had about six black people in attendance at a forum for candidates running in the two districts which, you know, actually have black people in them. There were three black people on the dias and I saw Wengay Newton and Terri Scott in the audience. There was the black woman who asked that stupid question. And there was Darryl Rouson and his entourage.

Am I missing anyone? I don’t think so, nor do I think it’s ridiculous to say that Tiger Bay is Tiger Lilly White.

It was almost insulting to have Angela Rouson, Joe Smith and Vel Thompson subject themselves to questions from an audience that has no way of relating to them. The Bayfront Towers crowd, however liberal, has no clue what it’s like to be black in a segregated city. And here we are questioning them at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, a building seemingly entirely staffed by black people adorned in tuxedos. I mean, could Tiger Bay pick a more condescending place to hold its meetings other than the Yacht Club?

This last forum represented all that is wrong with Tiger Bay. Behind the scenes, the thank-God-he-finally-retired Darryl Paulson was whining to the Times about certain campaigns being mean to him, prompting calls from Cristina Silva to the candidates confirming they would attend.

This was after the organization had its second gaffe in as many months when it sent out a notice for the forum that drew the ire of the Pinellas Democratic Party because the notice said one candidate had the support of the Democratic establishment, whatever that means. This gaffe came just a month after Tiger Lilly sent out a notice I thought bordered on inappropriate.

Maybe this all just on me. But I don’t think it is. I just spoke with a former board president who is equally disgruntled with Tiger Bay and for a whole other set of reasons. Maybe it isn’t me and it’s time to tame the Tiger.

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.

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