Today’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting will be like every other meeting on the second Thursday of the month after all. There will be some public commendations offered, and the public won’t be permitted to give comments. That’s because Mayor Rick Kriseman smartly opted yesterday afternoon to delay the vote on the deal to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to stadium hunt in Hillsborough County for another week.
Hours before Kriseman’s announcement, Councilman Charlie Gerdes told this reporter that he was “sympathetic” to requests from some of his colleagues to delay the vote for a week. But he added that he hasn’t been flooded with calls or emails from his constituents on the matter, anyway. “I’ve had a few (calls), and they’ve all been supportive of the deal.”
Meanwhile Steve Kornell told me that while he was “very happy” that Mayor Kriseman and the Rays now appear to have established a solid working relationship, “I’d feel a lot better about having an extra week.”
Kriseman needs five votes next week to approve the deal. Wengay Newton is a solid no. Karl Nurse continues to express his reluctance. Kornell is noncommittal, repeatedly saying yesterday that “My role is to protect the taxpayers of St. Petersburg. Period.”
This is a major deal crafted by Kriseman, and it was important that he and the Rays came to an agreement before the end of the year (and it helps for those writing those year-end reviews). Let’s face it – ever since the Rays dropped their botched plan for a referendum to rebuild a stadium on the lot that houses Al Lang Stadium along the waterfront in 2008, there has been nothing from the city or the club on a new ballpark, while time continues to slowly move forward. And the only significant move in the private sector, developer Darryl LeClair’s Gateway proposed ballpark design in 2012, died weeks after its much publicized unveiling.
This is a smart and talented crew of people on the City Council who were only given the details of this plan on Monday afternoon. That’s asking a lot of them to turn around and make such a momentous decision on Thursday. However, there ain’t going to be any renegotiating, I don’t think (despite the advise of former Mayor Bill Foster that the council’s job now is to improve it). The deal is the deal, and they’re going to have to vote up or down on it in a week. In the end, it was the smart call by Kriseman to delay a week.
In other news – Well, it’s been an interesting week for Uber, and that’s saying something. While they were recently evaluated as being worth $40 billion, they’re having serious troubles in some countries overseas, and now in California. Meanwhile, all is good here in Hillsborough County though, as more and more people continue to use their services (as well as fellow ride-sharing company Lyft). Yesterday a group of taxi cab owners demanded that the Hillsborough PTC do something – anything, about them not being in compliance with local laws.
Medicaid expansion continues to be a dead letter with the GOP members of the Florida Legislature. But will they continue to ignore the public and now more businesses calling for them to at least craft a hybrid version, such as what’s being called for by the coalition called A Healthy Florida Works.
Julie Jenkins is the latest candidate to put her hat in the proverbial ring in the sweepstakes for Tampa City Council. Read more about her here.