Love and Kriseman: Push the reset button

Dear Editor:

The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is respectfully calling for the St. Petersburg Housing Authority Executive Director Tony Love and Mayor Rick Kriseman to push the reset button in an attempt to ensure the residents living in public housing are receiving the quality of services they deserve from those charged to ensure they are receiving affordable, safe and decent housing.

In media interviews on Feb. 22, Mayor Kriseman made his intentions known to remove five SPHA commissioners and replace them with commissioners that did not support Love. The reasons cited were that in 2017 the commissioners failed to review Love’s performance review prior to approving a 7.1 percent increase or $10,000 salary increase.

The story also alleged that Love routinely shouted, belittled staff, which caused the agency to lose experienced employees. While the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is deeply concerned about the allegations against Mr. Love regarding his employees, the story is void of information indicating whether the allegations were found to be true. The story is also void of any actions the commissioners may have taken to address the accusations if they found concerns.

Equally disturbing to the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP is the fact that the few Africans supporting this action by the mayor are some of the same individuals that vowed to unseat Rep. Wengay Newton for his failure to support Mayor Kriseman in his bid for re-election. They also vowed to unseat the sitting president of the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP for the branch’s insistence on holding Mayor Kriseman and his administration accountable. These individuals supported Mayor Kriseman’s campaigns and currently receive funding from the City of St. Petersburg, directly or indirectly.

The St. Petersburg Branch NAACP has been consistent and resolute on holding all public officials accountable regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation. If Mayor Kriseman is in possession of credible evidence that Mr. Love or the commissioners have taken any actions within their official capacities that are illegal, immoral or unethical, there are avenues through the Department of Housing and Urban Development that he can pursue to receive an objective review any concerns that he may have.

For Mayor Kriseman to take any actions that result in the removal of SPHA commissioners or failure to re-appoint commissioners prior to requesting and receiving validation of his concerns, his actions come short of resembling a modern-day lynching of African leaders for being disobedient.  This is not how this community has handled perceived missteps by Mayor Kriseman or the St. Petersburg City Council, and as a result, the St. Petersburg Branch NAACP will not sit idly by and watch this happen to the SPHA executive director or SPHA commissioners simply because they happen to be African.

For more information, please contact branch President Maria L. Scruggs at (727) 798-5361!

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