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Pier Debate, RNC Top Stories of the Year

St. Pete Patch has compiled a list of the top local stories of 2012. What was the biggest story of 2012 for you?

1. The "Lens" and the St. Petersburg Pier

There was this story and then there was everything else in St. Petersburg in 2012. The ongoing controversy of the Michael Maltzan "Lens" design and the St. Petersburg Pier dominated our coverage, your comments and public action. What other story involved dozens of public meetings, two petitions and an unfinished lawsuit? If you like this story, well, it won't be ending anytime soon. The Pier is still and be demolished in August. Recently, council approved the next phase of funding for the "Lens" but with speed bumps along the way incase council wishes to halt construction. 

2. Weird Florida

Florida has been known for its beautiful beaches, warm winters and even Disney World, but there is one thing Florida is increasingly becoming known for — being really really weird. Florida has been named 'Craziest' state by the Daily Beast just weeks after BuzzFeed provided a long list of the 'most insane' Florida stories. In both cases local stories, such as the manatee rider, a giant eyeball was found and monkey on the loose, were mentioned. 

3. RNC at the Trop

The "largest indoor cocktail party" was hosted by the Republican National Convention at Tropicana Field the night before the RNC kicked off in downtown Tampa. While it was just one event, the official RNC kick-off party forced street and sidewalk closures, fences with barbwire were put up and left many taxpayers wondering who was paying for it. While the night went off without much noise, debates about costs and where to put security cameras installed for the RNC have continued. 

4. Bill Edwards

While Bill Edwards' name alone isn't the story of the year, many of his projects have and will continue to be. Edwards' takeover of the Mahaffey Theater has turned around the once struggling city venue. Edwards paid for and installed a Welcome to St. Petersburg sign just west of the Howard Franklin Bridge. The struggling BayWalk complex was purchased by Edwards who plans to completely remodel the downtown district with high-end clothing stores and restaurants. And to get into the political spirit, Edwards' Treasure Island Yacht Club hosted GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan for a fundraiser earlier this year. 

5. Red Light Cameras

Unlike the "Lens", which less than a third of St. Pete likes, the instillation of red light cameras is one of the most divisive issues in the city. The cameras were installed in late 2011 and resulting data from their first year of use has been mixed. Total crashes at intersections with red light cameras were up but city staff maintains it is necessary to prevent people from running red lights. Recently council voted not to halt the program, which means nine more cameras will be installed in St. Petersburg. 

SPEAK UP: What do you think the story of the year was? 

Tom Tito December 31, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Do you have an update on the $580,000 in RNC expenses paid by St. Pete taxpayers? There was said to be $3 million left over and the host committee was looking for a charity to give it to. Why not pay back local taxpayers who also gave $600,000 for the party from Pinellas county hotel taxes.

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