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What about the Manhattan Casino/Sylvia’s opening?
SK: It’s in progress.
PS: I do not see that succeeding. I’ve never believed in Manhattan Casino. I’m not cheerleading against it. I just think that it seems like Foster is putting a lot of eggs in that basket, and I just.... you could put three Outbacks there and I think it would be tough for a restaurant to succeed right there. I don’t know. I think when Sylvia [Woods, who co-founded Sylvia’s in Harlem] died, some of the momentum shifted away again. It’s going to be a tough project, that’s all I can say. Hopefully I’m wrong.
SK: I think we have to try something. Hopefully it will work, but if it doesn’t, I feel like the city’s interests are protected. I know there were some questions about some of the wording [in the contract], and that got changed to where I feel comfortable that the city is protected. Now that doesn’t mean that Sylvia’s is going to work, you’re right. There’s no guarantee at all.
PS: There’s not on anything.
SK: It’s a free market.
If I can change the subject to gun control. Steve, you’ve been a standout in trying to craft some policies to deal with gun violence. What are your thoughts in the aftermath of Newtown?
SK: Let me make this very clear: I understand state preemption. I’m not proposing an ordinance, I’m proposing a discussion with Tallahassee about them proposing an ordinance that they are legally allowed to do. … The NRA and their advocates are bullies and they want to stifle discussion … A huge number of gun owners I spoke were shocked to learn how easy it is to buy a gun without a background check. They owned guns, they’re against giving them up, but they think everybody should have a background check, universal background checks.
The polls show that there is really strong support for that. Not among gun-owner groups, however. Marion Hammer [formerly of the NRA, now with United Sportsmen of Florida] wrote an op-ed yesterday strongly opposing it. Excessive government regulation, she says.
SK: The [NRA] is not about representing the gun owners now, they are representing the gun manufacturers. They make money off it, and that’s all they seem to care about. And on the local level, when we have people that are being affected by these crimes — I have to care about [that] more than just gun manufacturers making money. Universal background checks I’ve asked for. I’ve asked for a ban on assault weapons, I think it’s the right thing to do. And by the way, for the people who say I don’t know the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons, I do. … I would ban assault weapons, I would ban the high-capacity magazines. I would change the laws.
I think one of the key things, other than universal background checks, is traceability of the guns. And what the NRA has done, which is really offensive to me, is over and over criticized our police officers for not enforcing laws. Well, I can guarantee you, our St. Pete police officers don’t look at our citizens with a gun and say, ‘Oh, that’s illegal, but we don’t enforce that.’ That’s not true. The laws are written — as lobbied by the NRA — as almost impossible to enforce … I’ll tell you this: Grover Norquist will never extract a pledge out of me, and the NRA will never dictate to me on guns. I will make a decision that’s fair and balanced that respects gun ownership but also protects people. What you’ll never hear me do is criticize our hard-working police officers by saying the problem is them — I couldn’t disagree more. The problem is legislators beholden to special interests. …
PS: I got a Living Social deal the other day for a Doomsday Prepping package. And I’m just like: how crazy is it that we have a Doomsday Special on Living Social, like a Groupon? I think this has somehow infected the mainstream, and I think we’re protecting the rights of a couple of hundred thousand people.
I will tell you that there is a senior, senior legislator, who is a huge doomsday prepper. … I talked to his chief of staff about it. I said, ‘I can’t believe — did you hear about your boss? He has a doomsday plan?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, so, what’s your problem? You don’t have like 12 months of food stored up?’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not worried about zombies taking over.’
Adrian Wyllie was not mentioned. He is running for Governor.
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