A lot has been said and written about the mayor’s decision concerning the awarding of a new lease on the Manhattan Casino to the Callaloo Group. Needless to say, there is a significant percentage of people in Midtown who do not agree with that decision.
As I was sitting at the memorial service of Dr. Reggie Ligon last Saturday, I saw a very wide cross section of people from Midtown and other areas of south side St. Petersburg. After I got home I thought about it even more. For two hours, we all came together and put aside our differences to celebrate the life of a community stalwart.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could put aside our differences in this political race and come together for the greater common good of our community?
Most of us care about the Manhattan Casino but we are squabbling amongst ourselves about it because of the decision made by the mayor. Issues like the Manhattan Casino should transcend whom we are supporting for the mayor. It should transcend who the mayor is or might be.
It has been a part of the history of Midtown long before any of the candidates running for mayor were born. In fact, it has been a part of Midtown before any living former mayor was born.
I would like to recommend a compromise that all factions in Midtown should be able to support. I am suggesting that Midtown collectively request that the mayor and the city council table the lease of the Manhattan Casino until the current mayoral election is over.
Secondly, I would like to recommend that the city administration issue a new RFP on the Manhattan Casino, which properly lays out the requirements and expectations to each bidder, with respect to a plan, financing of the plan and personnel that will be responsible for implementation and carrying out of the plan as a minimum. The city should clearly lay out its financial participation in the project as well. These recommendations are made for the following reasons:
It is very important that whoever operates the Manhattan Casino has the full support of the city administration. We will not know whom that will be until after the elections are over. That will give the operator the best chance of being successful in the long run.
The process to select the Callaloo Group was clearly flawed. The mayor said he selected them because they had the best chance of surviving. Other than a hunch or a guess, I will bet a dollar to a donut that the mayor has very little to no empirical evidence upon which he based his assumption. If he does, it was not shared with the public.