Pier Petition Drive Continues Past Deadline
The June 11 deadline set by Mayor Bill Foster is not stopping VoteOnThePier.com from continuing its petition drive to collect nearly 16,000 signatures.
June 11 came and went and for the future of the existing Pier, nothing has changed. VoteOnThePier.com is still collecting petitions to try and force a referendum on the future of the inverted pyramid and the city is still under contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture to build the "Lens."
Less than two weeks ago, Mayor Bill Foster set the June 11 deadline for Vote on the Pier to submit nearly 16,000 petitions to have residents vote on the pier. Monday, Tom Lambdon, chairman for Vote on the Pier, said the deadline passed without a word from the city.
"Nothing from the city, but the sound of crickets," said Lambdon in an interview with Patch. "We continue to move forward to obtain the balance of signatures required to force the referendum, which should not take much longer."
Lambdon said Vote on the Pier has around 14,100 verified petitions.
Nearly 16,000 signed and verified petitions are required to force a referendum on city ordinances in St. Pete, according to the City's Charter. Since this is a capital project, and not an ordinance, allowing a vote on the pier would be a political courtesy according to City Attorney John Wolfe.
He said the pier petition drive wording does not legally require the city do anything. Wolfe said at February meeting the City Charter is silent on the length of petition drives are valid in St. Pete. State law is two years.
Lambdon said state law is what governs Vote on the Pier's right to continue its petition drive until at least Nov. 8.
"Our petitions individually do not begin to expire regarding the Pier until after November the 8, 2012, which will be two years to the day since we formed out Political Committee," Lambdon said "The Mayor has no jurisdiction over the State Department of Elections, the government agency that controls the actions and rules of our formally registered Political Committee VoteOnThePier.com."
Foster said the deadline was to ensure there would be time to put the vote on the presidential ballot in November. He said he does not want the city to hold a special election.
""I do not support a special election. This is really it," Foster told the Tampa Bay Times.
The existing pier is set for closure on May 31, 2013 with demolition starting in August 2013.
Council member Wengay Newton has been the lone 'no' vote on the "Lens" throughout the process to replace the existing Pier. He has maintained the pier's future should be in the hands of the voters.
In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Newton said, "The petitions are good for two years. How are you going to tell 16,000 registered voters you can't vote and then say, 'Vote for me?'"
Council member Steve Kornell told Patch he was not sure even if Vote on the Pier collected enough petitions that he would put the pier up for a vote.
"We did a very thorough (pier selection) process and I’m not sure that I am going to put it on the ballot even if they submit the petitions on the deadline," Kornell said last week in an interview with Patch. "I think the idea that somehow the process was illegitimate or that we’ve hidden information is just not accurate. I completely disagree with that."
The second of four "Lens" design input meetings is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday night at the Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S.
On Wednesday Night, Vote on the Pier is hosting a strategy meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the The Village Inn, 9107 4th St N. to plan out the next steps of the groups petition drive.
Other "Lens" Meetings
- Thursday, June 14: 6 p.m. J.W. Cate Center, 5801 22nd Ave. N.
- Tuesday, June 19: Lake Vista Center, 1401 62nd Ave. S.
All along, since day one, we have always know that individual petitions do not begin to expire until after two years," Lambdon told Patch. "This is not a city rule but a Florida Department of Elections rule, which the Mayor cannot change to accommodate his own agenda to move forward quickly with his own plans."