It's all over the newspaper, the blogs and is a general topic of conversation in St. Pete: What is going on at City Hall?
A lot of the writers, me included, have hung the blame on Bill Foster's lack of leadership. And, as Mayor, that's where the buck stops. It is the Mayor's job to lead, and pretty much everyone agrees that he has come up woefully short.
Bill gets up every morning truly believing there is a lot of good in everyone and if he just waits long enough they will do the right thing. Things just don't work that way, especially at City Hall.
A while back I posted "Does Bill Foster Really Want To Be Mayor of St. Petersburg?" on SaintPetersblog. It is still a relevant question.
Mayor Foster has lost the respect of staff members, and more importantly they don't have any sense of fear that they may be held responsible for what they do.
City Council sees the Mayor as a wishy-washy adolescent who somehow got elected Mayor. Virtually nobody on the staff takes Bill Foster seriously. I know. I was there.
City staff members have always had their own agenda, from Code Enforcement to Parking to the Police Department. The people running every City Department have their agenda and they work at it quietly all the time. Left without leadership they move in their self-serving direction.
The two really strong administrative leaders, Tish Elston and Mike Connors, cannot seem to get any traction with the staff, most likely because Mayor Foster won't back them up.
All of this leads to the debacle at last Thursday's Council meeting regarding red light cameras. The staff goes off on its own agenda without any direction or reporting responsibility. Follow that with the "LENS" team members trying to slip a cool $60K past the Council so they have some wiggle money.
Either there is a total lack of respect for leadership, or a leader totally in the dark.
Unprepared and politically motivated, City Council members pounce and the whole organization looks like a very bad joke.
The childlike sniping and condescending approach of the Mayor only infuriates the Council and gives residents a sinking feeling in their stomachs, as they wonder and worry: What is going on at City Hall?
There seems to be an adolescent's approach to decision-making and running a big city. It just doesn't work. Things aren't not going to get better either until there is a new Mayor and a Council reinvigorated by some new members.
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Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information at Stop The Lens.