Anthony Sullivan: 'Lens' Supporters Need to Speak Up

Sullivan said the "Lens" can be an iconic landmark for the entire region, similar to the Arch in St. Louis.

Anthony Sullivan, the national TV pitchman for products such as OxiClean, wants you to speak up about the "Lens". 

The Tampa Bay area resident recently hit up one of his favorite things to do in St. Petersburg, the Saturday Morning Market. There he saw people with red shirts getting people to sign a petition to "Stop the Lens." The "Lens" is the design slated to replace the St. Petersburg Pier. 

Sullivan saw the shirts and became angry. No one, he said, was speaking up in favor of the "Lens".

"Honestly it was a call for action," Sullivan said of "Lens" protesters. "The lens needs a voice and seemingly no one involved directly in the project were promoting it.

Two days ago Sullivan launched a Facebook page and Twitter account, WOW Our Waterfront St. Pete. Sullivan said no one affiliated with the city or Michael Maltzan Architecture, the firm who designed the "Lens", has hired him or asked him to support the "Lens". 

"My goal right now, even (though) some residents and people are very angry at me, I just want to be a positive voice for the 'Lens'," Sullivan said in an interview with Patch. "It’s only my opinion. It’s a lot better than what’s there now." 

On the page, Sullivan has been posting iconic structures — St. Louis Arch, Sydney Opera House, Seattle Space Needle, the London Eye — from around the world that he said were not all received warmly at the beginning and took a vision to be created. 

Sullivan said despite what his newfound critics say, he is not against a public vote on the issue, he is just pro "Lens". He cannot force the city to hold a referendum, he said. 

"Anything new always has detractors or haters," he said. "I think St. Petersburg needs a shot in the arm. It’s been getting some really good shorts in the arm (lately) and this could be the icing on the cake."

Sullivan said if you support the "Lens" now is the time to say so.  

"If you like the 'Lens' speak up," Sullivan said. "Don't let it be steamrolled over. People seem to think I’m anti-democracy. I would just like people who like of the idea of the 'Lens' to come out, speak up and get into conservation."


Tom Lambdon - VOTEONTHEPIER.COM October 24, 2012 at 12:15 PM
PUHLEEZE. Good luck with that.
Johann October 24, 2012 at 12:41 PM
LOL!!! Could it not be more appropriate that a glorified carnival barker (from another country, no less), who, IMHO, sells worthless crap on TV, has taken up promoting another worthless piece of crap aka "The Lens"? Brilliant!!! You can't get people to speak up in favor of the Len$ when almost 70% of residents polled oppose it! Stop the Len$ !!! Put it to referendum!! And to the elected officials who continue to ignore the will of their constituents, your political careers are OVER in this town. We will NOT forget!
Johann October 24, 2012 at 12:57 PM
And I ask Mr. Sullivan directly, what part of citizens expressing their 1st Amendment rights made you so angry?
beichler October 24, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Thanks Mr. Sullivan for your support of the project, as a resident I am excited about this icon crowning our waterfront!
Tom Lambdon - VOTEONTHEPIER.COM October 24, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Beginning on November the 8th, 2010 - more than 23,000 City VOTERS signed petitions as provided for under the State Constitution to FORCE City "leaders" to listen to them regarding the fate and future of THEIR Pier. City "leaders" - AFTER our group spent more than 20 months legally soliciting and accumulating those VALID petitions - chose to arrogantly flip the finger to these registered voters at the very last minute - contending they did not need to honor those petitions - as certified by the Supervisor of Elections - after we paid the respective fees to validate each and every one of them - to let VOTERS decide what THEY would like to see happen with THEIR Pier. The handful of City "leaders" that chose to deliberatly tell the citizens of the City to sit down and shut up on 8/02 - now find themselves scrambling for ways to somehow convince these same citizens that THEY know what is best for everyone - and that the new Leslie Curran selected and promoted lens "winding sidewalk to nowhere" is somehow actually a pier. Today I can formally announce that the beginning of our court fight to stop these renegade and irresponsible idiots at City Hall begins with our very first hearing before a County Judge on Wednesday, December the 5th, at 10:15AM. The City has responded to the lawsuit filed by 15,652 of our group's petitioners against the City - contending these same petitioners have NO legal standing as Plaintiffs. We will see on 12/05/12 if a judge agrees. Stay tuned.
JDMcC October 24, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Me, too. I'm glad to see the Lens coming to our beautiful waterfront and support it 100%.
JDMcC October 24, 2012 at 02:25 PM
You have every right to take this to court, Tom, but your opinion is not the only one in town. We have just shy of 300,000 residents living here in St Pete, last time I checked the Census stats. As it stands right now, the Pier is set to be demolished next year and construction of the Lens will get under say soon afterward. Fantastic. I'm glad the City has decided to move forward with this plan, and I support it wholeheartedly. If you win in court, OK, I'll respect the ruling like a civilized adult. If you lose, however, something tells me it's highly doubtful that people like you will respond in kind. The Lens is coming, and I'm happy about that, whether you like it or not.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Hey JDMcC, I guess you missed the part where the lens architects won't have construction plans for 14 months, and they can't even begin to get the environmental permits until they submit construction plans to SWFWMD?(Southwest Florida Water Management District)
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Great, a vibrator salesman sticking up for the lens, just what it needs! http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/venturebiz/content/move-over-oxiclean-tampa-infomercial-giant-pushes-sex-product-boundary-tv-ad
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 03:01 PM
The Lens supporters need to speak up? How about the 23,000 registered voters who spoke up? I guess they mean nothing? We'll see about that...you can't squash the voices of 23,000 people, all their families and friends, and expect them to just go away. To the contrary, by city council shutting all those people down, they created a monster, as all thos pissed off people make their rounds across the city. What madness our inept "leaders: have created by pushing, and shoving this down our throats. It's criminal.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Yes, thank you Mr.Sullivan...it's not everyday that multi million dollar art projects become indelibly identified with "made for tv" chinese made junk. Welcome to The Oxiclean Lens. This will now be even more of a laughing stock than it already was.
Jerry Kendall October 24, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I see a couple of positive comments to Anthony's statements. Maybe his Mother and Brother are in support of his position. At least it will be easy for him to hold his meetings. They can use any booth at a fast food place.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
"Don't let it be steamrolled over. People seem to think I’m anti-democracy. I would just like people who like of the idea of the 'Lens' to come out, speak up and get into conservation." Anthony, are you SERIOUSLY SAYING THIS? After 23,000 VALID petitioners were TRULY steamrolled? What you don't seem to understand is that by supporting the lens, you are supporting a process and design that DID and IS squashing local democracy. It's fine to like the lens, but if you truly cared for your community, you would instead be supporting a vote. Once you support a vote, and people DO get to vote, THEN is the time to support your choice. But by using your fame to support something that came to being by steamrolling 23,000 people, and all their friends and family, you are truly helping squash democracy here. I never had a problem with you, in fact I support the fact that you have helped inventors. But now that has all changed.
Tom Lambdon - VOTEONTHEPIER.COM October 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM
JDMcC: There are actually about 250,000 residents - and just under 160,000 registered VOTERS in the City - and while we only needed 15,652 certified (by the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections) petitions - we have exceeded 23,000 to date. REGARDLESS that City "leaders" decided at the last minute - when they KNEW our petitions were legally certified - to leave these dedicated registered City VOTERS on the side of the road in their attempt to silence them on the issue of the Pier is NOT ONLY wrong - but likely illegal - and we believe they should be FORCED to let VOTERS decide this issue once and for all. It does not matter what you want or what I may want - it SHOULD BE what the MAJORITY OF REGISTERED VOTERS in the City want for THEIR Pier - as they have a LONG TERM stake in this decision (BOTH financially and aesthetically) - LONG AFTER Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner, Jim Kennedy, Bill Dudley, Steve Kornell and "Mr Flipflop" Charlie Gerdes are long gone. WHEN YOU have actually obtained 23,000 valid petitions from City VOTERS in support of the Leslie Curran selected and promoted lens that you love so much - let me know. The Pier (any Pier) IS the centerpiece of the City's downtown waterfront - and under the City's own Charter REQUIRES A VOTE by electors of the City regarding any permanent DISPOSITION of it!
L October 24, 2012 at 04:16 PM
It's time to move forward and build the Lens. No one is ever going to agree & have 100% agreement on anything. The current pier is outdated, falling apart and carries a large subsidy. It's obvious that the current Pier tenants are in favor of saving it, because they pay virtually no rent. What retailer/restaurant on Beach Drive wouldn't want free rent and have the city spend money on constantly improving it, but is it fair? Believe it or not, but the next generation that will raise their families and lead this city thinks it's a great idea to build this new pier. The excuse 'sidewalk to no where' is invalid. Taking a walk with your family to the end of the pier, having a drink out there or running around it is considered entertainment. Having a tourist trap of unexciting retailers on the pier will not be missed, and the taxpayers won't carry this burden.
L October 24, 2012 at 04:26 PM
If we vote on the Lens, what else should the citizens vote for? If I'm unhappy with the new police station design, can I get thousands of people to sign a petition to stop the process? What about if I don't like that a new dog park will be built in my neighborhood, can I then create a confusing and ambiguous petition to get people to sign? We live in a republic and elect officials to make the hard decisions. If you are unhappy with their decisions, then you vote them out in the next election. If the Lens design was halted, what design company would then spend their money on a new design concept in the future? There could be another petition process if they didn't like the new design, and we could go round and round. It's time to move forward!
JDMcC October 24, 2012 at 04:56 PM
The strident tone of your post notwithstanding, sir, you have no right to dictate what my opinion should be. I am fully entitled to my opinion, just as you are entitled to yours. I am not going to be bullied by you or anyone else. I live and work in St Pete; I own property here and pay taxes; and I am happy to express my support for this project. In that vein, I hope it goes through over the opposition of you and others, and I am confident that it will. If it doesn't, I'll respect the finding of law like the civilized adult that I am. So what's the problem? You can't stand that someone's opinion might differ from your own? Too bad. I suggest you figure out a way to deal with it. I already knew my comment was going to elicit the usual vitriol from the anti-Lens quarter, but that's fine with me. You have your opinion, and I have mine. We also have a First Amendment in our Constitution, last time I checked, and it doesn't require me to go around getting signatures to back me up. You want to do that? Fine. Congratulations. My opinion still stands. Incidentally, there is no law which says your opinion of what "should be" is in fact what "must be." Perhaps I think there "should be" free ice cream given to everyone in St Pete who asks for it. Does that make it the law? Clearly it does not. Your opinion is not the law. Sorry, but that's how it is. By the way, NAW, I am well aware of the facts you raised. I still support the Lens and look forward to seeing it built.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 05:05 PM
L- It's the waterfront. Is the police station or dog park on the waterfront? No. If we are unhappy with their decisions there are avenues to voice those grievances, they are called petitions. This form of addressing grievances was followed to the letter, and it means nothing to our "leaders". As far as companies spending money on design concepts, well, they would know full well, that on St.Pete's waterfront, they must come up with something that is voted on by people, not shoved through like in so many other places. That's fine with me, leave our waterfront free of development...and if there is a project, have a vote, and get the people behind it like was done at pike's place market, which, by the way, was voted on by referendum at the tune of 70 million. Ambiguous petition? What are you smoking? It was very clear...yes keep and fix what we have, or no, demolish and start new. Why is that ambiguous? Moving forward without consent of the people when it comes to the waterfront is NOT moving forward, it's losing one of our most important and long standing rights we have here.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Your opinion is noted, however why are you so afraid of a vote? Sure people will never agree 100%, I agree, that's why we have votes in situations like this. No matter what you think of the pier, this should go to a vote, and get the people behind whatever the decision comes from a vote. Large subsidy? 6 bucs a year per resident? WOW. Too bad you hate local businesses and many American made products...how nice of you. 1.3 to 1.5 million a year in rents is "virtually nothing"? By the way, the city is going out of it's way to create a bad perception of the pier, since it fits their agenda. I can't wait to vote these fools out and get someone in office that cares about their community, local business, jobs, and democracy!
L October 24, 2012 at 05:32 PM
So are you in favor of 'fixing' the current pier, or demolishing the entire pier & getting a new design? If you want a new design for the pier, please explain what this new design would have. If you are in favor of the current design and restoring it, please let me know your favorite activity of the pier when you visit it. There have been public meetings for the past several years during the dicussion process, so I'm confused why all of a sudden there's so much resistance. Is it because of the design of the Lens, or that you want to save the existing pier? I am in full support of local business, but why should the retailers out there get reduced rent and free upgrades paid for by us (even if it's $6 per voter a year)? I'd rather have by $6 subsidy go towards education, safety, parks, etc. Is it fair for Johnny Reno's to not have to pay rent, while other restaurants on Beach Drive are paying $25+ per square foot? I am very curious, and love to hear both sides. I'm not afraid of a vote, but the difficult question to answer is how would the question read on the ballot? Since you do not have faith in the 'leaders', then I assume you wouldn't be happy with how they would word the question on the ballot?
JDMcC October 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I agree wholeheartedly, L. Well said. And unlike NAW, who seems to have a penchant for making unsubstantiated assertions about the background knowledge and motives of those with whom he/she disagrees, I do not see any evidence whatsoever that you "fear" a vote on this. Rather, you have simply indicated what amounts to a legal fact of life in societies governed by elected officials according to (small-"r") republican legal principles. You are 100% correct, L. We do not, in fact, have any legal "right" to vote in a referendum on everything that happens in our city with respect to development. There is nothing in the U.S. or State constitutions - nor in any state, county or municipal statute currently on the books in this particular jurisdiction -which confers upon the citizenry any such right. As such, any contrary claim in that regard is inherently specious. Yes, there is a constitutional right (in the 1st Amendment) to voice our opinions and petition the government for a redress of grievances, but that's as far as it goes. Tough luck, but that's the law.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Honestly, I have nothing against you. It is well known that the waterfront in St.Pete is supposed to be protected by referendum. I don't care really about the outcome of such a vote, as long as it's voted on. To me, it's very simple: A yes or no vote on the pier that we have. If people vote yes, then we rehab it and bring it into the future. If people vote no, then we demolish it, and build new. This is fair, and would have the taxpaying voters behind it. I believe this was the step that council skipped over that caused this mess. Don't forget, the TIF funding was specifically for a refurbishment, until Foster and crew changed the usage of the funding. Rick Baker put together a refurbishment plan together in 2005, why wasn't everyone up in arms then? The reason it's 50 million in the first place is because it's refurbishment money, which is not enough for a complete demolition and rebuild to be done properly. That's why the lens had to be scaled back, and every single final design was over budget....those guys had to somehow squeeze something that would satisfy the public into money that was meant for a refurbishment. I think the retail should be removed from the pier building itself, and put onto the approach, to open the building floors up for the community to decide what goes in there.
N.A.W. October 24, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Cont- I think there should be no traffic on the approach to keep the oil and rubber, etc out of the bay. I think all the tenants should pay market rents. The reason they aren't now is that the city is downmarketing the place. They cut advertising, are not promoting it, and rarely include it in big crowd functions. They want it gone, so why promote it? That's understandable..why promote something you want rid of? So they are giving the tenants a break as they are put out of business, that's also understandable. But with a new retail section, there would be no reason to give them a break on the rents...which amount to 1.3 to 1.5 million a year. Yes, I agree with St.Petersburg Preservation that the architecture should be saved, as well as the jobs and businesses...it's a part of our history, and it certainly shouldn't be demolished without a vote. The 6 dollar a year subsidy helps create a 74 million a year impact on the entire county...I'm not making this up, this comes from an impact study done by the city(google The Klages Report St.Petersburg Pier) A vote would get everyone behind whatever the outcome would be, because democracy would have been served.
beichler October 24, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Also L, I believe N.A.W is a Pier tenant.
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