This is the latest hurricane prep info from the city of Tampa:
City of Tampa Action & Information
City of Tampa offices will be closed tomorrow, Tuesday, August 19, 2008. This includes Parks & Recreation facilities and programs as well as the after school program.
Solid waste collection services including yard waste and recycling will be postponed for Tuesday, August 19. Residents with regular Tuesday collection will be serviced on their next regularly scheduled collection day, Friday, August 22. Tuesday recycling and yard waste collection services will be postponed until the next regularly scheduled collection on Tuesday, August 26. All scheduled commercial collections will be delayed one day.
Sandbags: Residents may continue to pick up sandbags until 8 p.m. this evening. Residents may pick up sandbags at the Himes Sports Complex, 4500 South Himes Avenue; Jackson Heights Playground, 3310 East Lake Avenue; and the solid waste facility at 4010 West Spruce Street. Tampa residents interested in receiving sandbags must show identification verifying residence within the city limits. Valid drivers license, utility bill or electric bill will serve as appropriate identification.
The Parks and Recreation Department has cancelled the Davis Islands Park Improvement Fund meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, August 19. At this time a new meeting date has not been scheduled.
City emergency management officials are continuing to monitor the path of Tropical Storm Fay. Residents are encouraged to stay tuned to local media organizations for storm updates.
Residents with questions regarding Tropical Storm Fay are encouraged to call the Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center at (813) 272-6900.
In today's St. Pete Times, political columnist Adam C. Smith says it's time for Gov. Charlie Crist to forget about any vice presidential aspirations he might still be harboring, citing the "return $50,000 of suspicious campaign donations [to John McCain] funneled through Charlie Crist's pal and top fundraiser, Harry Sargeant III of Boca Raton."
Earlier today, Crist appeared on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer and probably did little to boost his chances in McCain's veep-stakes. Right out of the gate, when Blitzer asked Crist if he'd been through the vetting process for vice president, the governor said he was unable to comment. Blitzer then said, "I'll take that as a 'yes.'"
After a brief, awkward pause, Crist responded, "You can take that anyway you want to."
The balance of the interview consisted of Crist giving his support to McCain, calling him a "maverick" (where have we heard that before?) who opposed President Bush's 2005 energy policy while Barack Obama voted for it. As he spoke, Crist looked and sounded like he was on autopilot.
When the topic of nuclear energy and Crist's support for it came up, the guv smarmily pointed out that Blitzer's mother is a Florida resident. It was a meaningless, patronizing reference (and one that Blitzer quickly moved past) in an otherwise Stepford Wives-like performance. Crist didn't embarrass himself, but he also didn't do anything to steal the limelight from Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.
That's the question progressive District 55 voters should think about before they vote in their August 26 primary. Human rights activists uncovered a 2-year-old video of State Rep. Darryl Rouson on a local talk show and sent it out to media this week that shows the former NAACP president making some inane comments about same-sex adoptions and gays and lesbians in general.
From the video, which CL's PoHo posted here):
"I think it is wrong to allow adoptions of children by gay and lesbian couples. It sends a wrong message early to a child during formative years that's hard to overcome just by sitting down and talking to them. ..."
"I think lesbianism and homosexuality is morally wrong. The law is supposed to discriminate sometimes, in some respects, it is supposed to discriminate against social order and anarchy."
In a response to the video, Rouson told the Times he's "evolved" since that 2006 taping of Florida This Week.
In an interview with me last month, I asked Rouson if any of his values had changed since he changed from a Republican to Democrat to run for the Florida State House seat 55. Here's an excert:
Did you switch parties for political expediency or a change in your values?
My values have remained constant and consistent for the last 20 years. The ones who are most harping about the political party change are those who feel the most threatened by it. And that is my opponent. No one in the Democratic Party is angry or criticizing the 50,000 change in registrations that's been occurring over the last several years. In fact, the Democrats are celebrating that, for the first time in 50 years, because of the influx of new registrations of Democrats, we now lead in party affiliation in this county. So, to me it's a little disingenuous to try and attack me only on that.
In contrast to Rouson's past comments, his primary opponent, the Rev. Charles McKenzie, has long advocated for gay and lesbian rights. In my interview with him in May, McKenzie did mention his position on human rights. He's a longtime fixture in progressive circles and
also sits on the board has been involved with the Florida ACLU, which supports same-sex adoptions.
So back to the main question: Do you think Rouson's newfound tolerance is heartfelt, or just a political ploy?
Today is the last day to register to vote in the statewide August primary. There's umpteen different primary races this year state house, school board, county commission and you want to have a say (Keep your eye out for future CL election coverage closer to the primary).
If you think you are registered, but not sure, call your county's election office to check (Pinellas County residents can check online here). If you just moved within your county, you can call and change your address. Otherwise, go online or head to the library to fill out a new application.
Here's the links to the election offices:
Got this from the Darden Rice campaign for Pinellas County commissioner:
Darden asks Rene, "Where'd ya get that yard sign?"
ST. PETERSBURG, FL Yard signs are among the most visible parts of a campaign and so are their hiccups. The Darden Rice campaign posted a picture today of her opponent's misspelled yard sign ...
There are just some details you have to get right, said Darden Rice. Especially the name of the job you're asking voters to hire you for.
Here's that photo:
Now, do you think former St. Petersburg City Councilmember Rene Flowers has to pay for those signs?
But the real question I have is this: Is a misspelled yard sign really that big of deal to voters? As a Pinellas County resident with all the issues facing us like taxes, crunched budgets, crime would a yard sign really make or break your support for Flowers? Or does it make Rice look petty?
There's some good news on the preservation front:
The City Council has approved a proposal of Saint Pete Preservation Inc. to preserve some of the Crislip Arcade, one of three arcades left in the city.
From my earlier story on the nine most endangered buildings in St. Pete:
Over the decades, St. Pete has lost many of its early commercial arcades, or open-air shopping corridors. The Crislip Arcade -- one of only three left in the city -- may be next. The 82-year-old arcade was built during St. Pete's '20s boom, and like other arcades, is regarded as a precursor to pedestrian malls and modern shopping malls.
In 2006, 601 Central LLC bought the entire north side of the block and moved out several small retailers in order to build condos. Soon after, the housing market tanked and the block has sat empty since. But on May 1, the developer requested a demolition permit from the city, which is pending.
But due to the efforts of SPP, the developer now must follow some strict rules on how they go about demolishing the building, including:
In an e-mail to supporters, SPP president Will Michaels points out that the application they filed helped halt the demolition process of the Crislip Arcade. He writes:
Saint Petersburg Preservation originally filed an application to landmark the Crislip. We were advised by City staff that this was the only way to stop the imminent demolition of the building. Although demolition procedures had been initiated, the owners and buyers did not have the permitting or financing in place to actually begin
construction. Too often in the past historic buildings have been demolished, only to leave a vacant lot in place for years to come. While SPP has agreed to withdraw the landmark application, were it not for filing it the demolition would have proceeded and none of the ten points in the agreement would have happened.
And though SPP wishes the whole building could be saved, they're happy that some concessions were made. Plus, since a new demolition permit could take years to procure, perhaps there is hope that another investor will come in, buy the building and find a profitable re-use for it.
This good news comes after the owners of the First Baptist Church announced they would retain that downtown historical building's facade instead of demolishing the whole structure.
Maybe we're finally getting somewhere with preservation after all ...
Now that the Rays have abandoned plans for a waterfront stadium at the Al Lang Field site (for now), preservationists and community leaders are once again petitioning the city to preserve the site as a park.
At tomorrow's 8:30 a.m. St. Petersburg City Council meeting, councilmember Jeff Danner plans to introduce a resolution to designate the Al Lang Field site as "Downtown Center Park." The resolution is supported by the city's Council Of Neighborhood Associations and St. Pete Preservation Inc.
Will Michaels, a CONA board member and president of St. Pete Preservation Inc. sent out an e-mail to members today:
Designation of Al Lang as part of the park zoning will prevent condos and other large buildings from being built on the Al Lang site. It would still allow a Ray's major league regular season stadium to be built on the site, although that would require a referendum to be approved. The current small spring-training Al Lang stadium may remain on the site. This could be used for high school, college, or Little Leagure baseball, or for cultural activities (plays and concerts), or a new permanent location for the popular Saturday Morning Market, etc. The small Al Land Stadium fits the site and still provides green space and views of the bay for the public. One of our most precious assets is our Downtown Waterfront Park. Placing Al Lang under the downtown park zoning will further help to preserve the Waterfront Park for future generations.
Last year, I reported on residents' push for this waterfront protection. But the day after I filed my story, the Rays came out with their own plan for the site, completely changing the narrative.
CONA president Barbara Heck already wrote the City Council supporting the resolution, but Michaels says all concerned residents need to contact the City Council to show their support.
(Photo courtesy of Tim Baker)
Here's a sneak peak at my news story running in next week's Creative Loafing:
Don Kobasky is losing sleep over recycling.
The St. Petersburg resident lives across the street from one of the citys 22 drop-off recycling centers, and from sunrise to well after sunset, he hears the crash of glass.
Theres nothing worse than working 10 to 12 hours a day and waking up at 3 a.m. to glass exploding, says Kobasky, a large, tattooed artist who inhabits an apartment across from Crescent Lake Parks recycling center. Its enough to make your brain snap.
Kobasky doesnt know what the answer is. Hes called the citys solid waste department to complain; they responded by putting up a bigger sign informing residents the center closes at 9 p.m.
But it wont do much good, he says.
Though hes worried about the possible costs, hes open to a county proposal to fund curbside recycling in St. Pete and the rest of the county.
It seems like a win-win for everyone, he says.
But if St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker has his way, Kobasky may be hearing glass break for the foreseeable future. As the county picks apart Bakers arguments against curbside recycling, the mayor is digging his heels in.
When asked if the city is open to the countys plan, Mike Conners, the citys internal services administrator and the Baker cabinet member who has taken on the county over their proposed program, replies flatly: At this point, no.
Wanna wipe your butt with the U.S. Constitution? We suggest U.S. Constitution Toilet Paper, a brand spanking new "product" that you can own for the ultral low price of $8 a roll.
Here's the hilarious sales pitch:
Dont just tell people that Americas leaders are wiping their butts with the Constitution, hand them a roll of US Constitution Toilet Paper! This custom designed TP looks like the US Constitution, but the words have been updated to reflect the actual modus operandi of our modern government. Highlights include a revised Presidential Oath of Office, tricameral Congress, and Bill of Privileges.
For many people, seeing the Constitution on a roll of TP is sobering. Wiping with the Constitution can be a very emotional experience. US Constitution Toilet Paper causes many people to ponder what our Founders wanted, what America has become, and whether we have lived up to our ideals.
The toilet paper itself is fairly plush. It is printed using soy ink which is organic and biodegradable. This is fully-functional, usable TP! Each roll is individually shrink wrapped for protection during transit.
...Federal Budget Toilet Paper coming soon!
It was a good intentioned idea. Really.
On Saturday, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office let area residents turn in their rusty, broken and unwanted guns for a brand-new $25 giftcard to Publix or Wal-Mart.
True, it was a little badly-timed considering the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that unequivocally gives us, the common folk, the right to bear arms. (Bear arms, not bare arms, mind you.) But something else struck me: If the deputies were trying to rid the streets of guns, why did they hand out Wal-Mart giftcards? Doesnt Wal-Mart sell guns and amunition?