Last week the city sent a letter to VoteOnthePier.com stating that its , or the city will not put the future of the existing inverted pyramid up for a vote.
Tom Lambdon, who chairs Vote On the Pier, said the deadline is meaningless and that the group would continue to push for the nearly 16,000 votes necessary to force a referendum.
“For the Mayor to arbitrarily come up with this deadline is ridiculous,” Lambdon said in an interview with Patch. “It’s clear why he wants to do it. To try and promote an ill-conceived and ."
However, even if Vote on the Pier gets the required number of verified petitions by June 11, which Lambdon said is not likely, there is no guarantee that a vote will actually happen.
City Attorney John Wolfe . The future of a referendum also rests with the City Council, not Mayor Bill Foster, he said.
Wolfe said that the petition's woriding does not legally bind the city to hold any referendum, no matter how many petitions are collected.
"I don’t think there is any time frame that would require you to put it on the ballot," Wolfe said at the May 17 Council meeting. "There is no legal obligation for you to put it on the ballot."
During the May 17 City Council meeting, Council member Steve Kornell addressed a consistent argument for those trying to save the Pier, which is that Foster said its future should be decided by voters citywide. Foster made that statementin an interview while he was campaigning for Mayor in 2009.
Kornell, at that meeting, said that argument was irrelevant because the Mayor does not have the authority to authorize a referendum. Wolfe agreed.
Wolfe said the power to call for a vote on the Pier rests with the City Council. "The point that the mayor might have said or not said (there should be a vote), it does not supercede the charter," Kornell said.
On Wednesday night, as reported by Bill Foster Watch, Vote on the Pier spoke with former St. Pete Times reporter Cristina Silva, who interviewed Foster about the Pier when he was running for office.
"I remember Bill (Foster) getting all upset because Scott Wagman said he was going to bulldoze the Pier during that mayoral election," but she added that, "I will note that in my article... I clearly said that Bill thought the Pier would have to go."
The Pier is tentatively , with demolition expected to start in August 2013.
Even if Vote on the Pier gets 16,000 signatures by June 11, Kornell said he is not sure he would vote to authorize a referendum because the city is under no legal obligation and because he believe the process put in place to choose a new Pier was followed.
"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 Wednesday 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."
Vote on the Pier has collected and verified more than 14,000 petitions.
Council member Charlie Gerdes said at the May 17 Council meeting that he is not an "aesthetics person," but he supports the process that was put in place to choose a new Pier.
"I don’t like the design," he said. "...(However), in 2008 we set out on this course,"
Gerdes said the city defined the scope and budget, created a task force, held 68 meetings and had public hearings. "This is the end result of what the process brought to us."
Tonight the city hosts its on the "Lens" design refinement at 6 p.m. at .