Last week, School Board member Renee Flowers, a Weekly Challenger contributor wrote: “….focal points in Midtown/south St. Petersburg surround jobs, healthcare, the economy, voting rights and true small business expansion have not taken hold nor have found roots as a place for change under the current Republican leadership.” Additionally, she reported political analyst Herb Poulson maintains one should expect partisan politics to be inserted into our non-partisan mayoral race. I wish to address both points.
First, she referenced the wrong individual. The political analyst in question is former University of South Florida professor Darryl Paulson. Second, regarding her assessment of Midtown’s focal points, School Board member Flowers is partially correct. Midtown’s focal points—jobs, the economy, healthcare, small business, etc., are in serious jeopardy under the current administration.
However, the current city administration is democratic, not Republican as indicated by Flowers. And, if by chance she is referring to national politics as she and the campaign do all too frequently, consider the following:
Rick Kriseman, not Donald Trump is mayor of our city. Donald Trump has been President for nine months. Rick Kriseman has been mayor for nearly four years and the sitting president for eight years prior to Trump was President Barack Obama. Yet, despite the omnipresence of democratic rule, Flowers accurately notes jobs, healthcare and small business have “not taken hold nor found roots under the current. . .leadership.”
The Kriseman campaign insists on injecting party politics into the mayoral race. Given Kriseman’s poor record and Trump’s propensity for acting out and offending, one can understand the strategy. However, should reasonable people get caught up in the emotionalism of Trumpism and deny Kriseman’s dismal Midtown record? What has Kriseman done for Midtown?
He lost the grocery store, Sylvia’s and Walgreens. Upon winning the office of mayor, his campaign told the Tampa Bay Times they did not need the black vote. When confronted with racial bigotry by a candidate at a mayoral debate, he sat silent and refused to confront the racist.
He offended the pre-eminent civil rights organization (NAACP) and is recommending awarding a historical Midtown asset, the Manhattan Casino, to a Cuban business group. The Tampa Bay Times’ investigative report on the status of education in Pinellas revealed the City of St. Petersburg is plagued with Failure Factories and Kriseman’s response has not been noteworthy.
Kriseman continues to employ the O Kee Doke. School Board member Flowers’ justification for the deception surrounding “Banning the Box” is that it is a national movement and Eddie Pelham got a job. I am happy for Mr. Pelham and wish him all the best. However, we all know the number of African Americans in the city of St. Pete with criminal justice issues exceeds one (1) and if credible statistics regarding enhanced employment exists, they would have been offered.
For years, past city administrations hired Individuals with adverse criminal justice encounters in sanitation, stormwater, etc. Banning the box will not increase employment in other areas as long as the current selection standards remain. Don’t “Ban the Box!” Change the criteria and policies that preclude the employment of individuals with a criminal history, and stop pretending there is hope for a significant number of arrested/convicted applicants impacted by existing exclusionary selection standards and procedures.
One should also be aware of the “Kriseman Tease,” which consists of him and his campaign announcing a series of initiatives marked by duplicity. For example, Kriseman purports to favor an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour but his staff and the city administrator says it is too expensive.
He supports the recent action by the city council to limit monetary campaign contributions but not until his race for mayor has concluded. He brags about the efficacy of Park Walk and Talk, but offers no proof as crime in Midtown soars.
The list of simplistic campaign sound bites includes an array of other empty campaign promises for a second term and begs the question: Why was Kriseman so ineffective during the first term?
The only thing Baker and Trump have in common as it relates to St. Petersburg is party affiliation. During Baker’s tenure as mayor, he addressed all of the “focal points” identified by Flowers and more. He worked with an African American non-profit (Urban Development Solutions) to develop Tangerine Plaza (grocery store) and the Manhattan Casino. The Midtown Post Office, 1,000 scholarships, a library, Job Corps, jobs, the Jordan School and Royal Theatre renovations were all Baker initiatives. Sadly, we lost too much under Kriseman.
Lastly, I agree with School Board Member Flower’s assertion “what you believe matters,” but I do not agree with her underlying premise. She suggests we should vote for Kriseman because he is a democrat and rejects Baker because he is Republican. However, when the bottom line is examined, it becomes abundantly clear that political party is not the predictive variable in the upcoming election for the Office of Mayor in St. Petersburg.
Review the records and you will find Baker’s leadership, commitment to Midtown, compassion and accomplishments are proven. On the other hand, Kriseman, the Democrat has a record of Midtown failures and doesn’t warrant another term.
Cognizant of his inattention to Midtown and failures citywide, Kriseman resorts to pulling the Bogeyman, Donald Trump, out of the closet. Trump is not on the ticket for mayor—Kriseman is, but he lacks a credible record of service.
Goliath T. Davis, PhD
The Kriseman campaign asserted it did not need Midtown and Kriseman’s actions during his first term are indicative of his indifference and neglect. Midtown does not need and nor should it be subjected to four more years of unfulfilled promises, O Kee Dokes and teases.