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Will St. Pete Be Reimbursed for RNC Security?

While $270,000 for security cameras will be reimbursed, there is no guarantee about other RNC security expenditures, the Council learns.

On Thursday City Councilors voiced their displeasure with the unknown security costs that will be associated with Tropicana Field hosting on Aug. 26.

Starting that weekend, the  along the perimeter of the Trop. Anything outside that perimeter is the responsibility of the city.

The city has for the event, though the city's legal team said the U.S. Department of Justice and City of Tampa will reimburse St. Pete for that expense. 

Expenses not associated with the cameras, such as overtime for police, firefighters and other city employees, are still up in the air, according to deputy city attorney Mark Winn. 

"They may or may not be reimbursible," he said. 

Congress, Winn said, has approved a $50 million grant for security for the RNC in Tampa. All reimbursements for Tampa and St. Pete have to come out of that fund. 

Winn said St. Pete is still negotiating with Tampa to get reimbursements for those expenditures. Some police costs have been submitted, but are still waiting Tampa's approval. 

Last week, the city  that regulates what you can carry, where you can go and in some cases what you can wear inside that zone.

At Thursday's agenda review session, Council member Jim Kennedy said he was hesitant moving forward with an ordinance where expenses have not been settled. He asked the legal team what would happen should the city not go forward with the ordinance.

"If we were concerned about that, and if we voted 'No' on the clean zone ordinance, would that then protect us from incurring costs that we may not want to incur?" Kennedy asked. 

City Attorney John Wolfe said the city does not have much of a choice. The "Event Zone," he said, isn't so much an RNC requirement but a necessary measure to protect St. Pete residents, property and businesses. 

"It’s really to protect the city, the (city's) assets and the property owners," Wolfe said.  

Winn said that while he expects most protesters to be peaceful and not destroy property, history shows there has been unrest and upheaval.

A majority of protesters are peaceful, however, there’s traditionally a small percentage of people who do intend to create damage, Winn said. 

"Basicllay you’re saying we need to do this for self-preservation," Kennedy said. "That we really have no choice in the matter."

City Administrator Tish Elston, who was sitting in for Mayor Bill Foster Thursday, said Foster would not approve events that the city had no chance of reimbursement. 

"From the onset the mayor has always been told we'd get reimbursed," she said. "We are not interested in having events that can’t be reimbursed."

Council member Steve Kornell said he understands the need, but feels that city is being led down a path without much control.

"I’d really like to see some movement on this," Kornell said. "This is a big event, and I (don't) think people are assuming we’d pull the plug. However, I also don’t like that we are kind of being shuffled around.

"I hope discussions move along rapidly, because I dislike the idea of voting on something that I don’t know how much it is going to cost," he added. "It’s a difficult situation we are being put in. I hope those discussions move rapidly. That back and forth is fine, just get it resolved." 

Council member Wengay Newton that the more than seven square miles of zone was unnecessary after the kick-off party. While the party is on Aug. 26, the event zone runs through Aug. 30 because other unannounced delegate/media events are expected at various St. Pete locations.

Winn, however, said police want to keep the zone in place for the duration of the RNC week because of those additional events. 

A final reading of the ordinance for the creation of the “Event Zone” is scheduled for Aug. 2.

CJ July 27, 2012 at 01:14 PM
After the reminder in Colorado of the havoc that what just ''one'' DOMESTIC terrorist can cause , it's hard to believe that all people don't realize the security we see here is ''not'' overdone. It's scary to imagine the eyes studying our area as a possble FOREIGN terrosrist attack. Why can't people see this is not just a mild threat? Even with all this security, the week of the RNC is a dangerous week. The more security the better. Obviously, a major 911 type attack is looming again. It is not a matter of if..but more like ''when''. Personally, I don't want to see it be here. It's safe to say, we are ''due''. It's been way too quiet since 911. Our guard is coming down, and that is what terrorist's look for. From my militray training, I can tell you that according to textbook, an event like this ''always'' a terrorist target, high security or not. If various terrorist minds perceived the area as weak during this event, the danger here this week would almost be eminent. It's going to be scary enough as it is. It does not make sense to simply treat this like a summer festival and welcome in the evil waiting to pounce somewhere. Good luck to the police and govenment security official watching out for our safety...and thank you for being there.
Dharma July 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
LET them pay upfront, none of this billing. I for one am very tired of protecting people who are literally into being afraid ... there is no reason a town, city or anything should be protecting people who are coming here. I mean do we all get that sort of treatment? And in truth how much will they be spending here, because everyone gives these big parties, for free over here stuff.. If you’re going to visit our city what are you bringing us? Why are we going to have to go without and do without? Can’t carry a bottle of water or string? Personally I don’t know anyone that carries string unless they packaging and carrying them to be posted. But why should we be on alert! Frankly I am so tired of taking care of unreasonable needs that people seem to recreate for themselves. I don’t believe for a minute we will make more money because they are here, possibly cabs will and the restaurants, probably not because they get all that in their traveling packages I live in the midst of all this crazy security thing they are doing and really do not like being under some sort of alert. That is not what our country is about. Does anyone remember that at all? And stop this 911 thing all of the time. We have long surpassed this and if you think that the republicans draw that sort of element why would you even consider them as candidate?
Paul B. July 27, 2012 at 05:35 PM
I am feeling conflicted about whether the city should get reimbursed for convention-related expense, security and otherwise. Obviously, as a St. Pete taxpayer, I'd like to see our city get a piece of the reimbursement pie, but on the other hand, I strongly resent federal taxpayer funds going to pay convention expenses. The political parties should pay the expenses, and local govt's should pay if they want to have these headaches on their turf. There would be a lot less bidding for these insane extravaganzas if cities had to pay the expenses.
CJ July 27, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Wow...what a mouthful. Really don't know where to begin with what you wrote. Obviosly, this blog does not give us an unlimited amount of words to use to respond....but virtually every sentence you wrote sounds like someone who does not have much of a grasp on the complexities of this country, or the world. Sometimes I wish I was like that, then nothing would matter to me , either. I will address a couple things you wrote. 1-''...there is no reason a town, city or anything should be protecting people who are coming here. I mean do we all get that sort of treatment? And in truth how much will they be spending here. Answer: Many of ''these people'' are the most important leaders of our country. Senators, members of Congress...etc, etc, etc...are you serious? You really don't value these people's safety? I don't care what your political side is...your comment is unbelievable. Plus....they will all be staying in the best of hotels at premium rates, and spending ''lots''of money here. Nuf said on that. 2- you also wrote:''And stop this 911 thing all of the time. We have long surpassed this'' Answer: Uh..no..you really did not just say that did you? There will not be any other comment here that will have as much bull in it as what you wrote. It scares me there are people like you.
Red July 27, 2012 at 08:46 PM
As usual, St.Pete. will creep-up, lifting our empty bowl asking "Please Sir, may we have some more?". Typical . .. ...
Dharma July 28, 2012 at 03:13 AM
am not the least bit conflicted here, pay up front. and then no tax payers money goes into anything like a party trying to achieve a goal. we pay enough for these people. when in office. enough. smile
Dharma July 28, 2012 at 03:20 AM
CJ. Of course I know what goes on here in this country, I live here. I pay taxes. As to 911 I absolutely feel its time to recognize that was a horrendous time, but its not each day. And being wise doesn’t mean being terrified or horrified. Being alert and taking responsible care makes perfect sense. I am not sure why you or anyone would expect that terrorist would be at the convention for these people. My orginal response is about not being put out for a visiting group of people coming here.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 04:42 AM
''Of course I know what goes on here in this country'' No , Dharma, you don't. Like anyone that reads The Patch, I read comments from people that I may not agree with here and there...but never has anyone quite hit a nerve like you did with your 911 comments. Frankly, I am surprised there are not more people on your back right now. This is from the St Pete Times TODAY: Quote: The head of al Qarda anounced he is ready to stat attacks back up on the US. He also threatened the U.S. by saying "you will see them [al Qaeda militants] at the heart of your country with God's willing, since our war against you has just started." You really don't get it..do you? The world awaits the first use of a nuke in a terrorist attack. Wherer will it be we all wonder? Why can't you see that day is fast approaching, ''somewhere''. Even if you are old, you have a good chance to be around when it happens. You are a fool if you don't see it ''could'' happen here. The 3000 or so dead from 911 ''are nothing''. What the terrosits ''strive, eat, live and breathe for..is that magic number...''the million kill''. When that days comes, people like you with a mouth like you have may get lynched if they spout off things like you do. You should be ashamed of your lack of knowledge about the threats our nation and other places in the world have to fear...and also your lack of remembering dreadful history surrounding political conventions, olympics, sports venues, etc, etc, etc.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 04:56 AM
Dharma, I want to clarify that your remarks about what a waste of money this all is do not annoy me. I think most would agree with you generally on this, but please realize that the saying, ''you have to spend money to make money'' applies here. It is true that it is questionable if St Pete can recoup the expenses for an event this big...but it probably will. The RNC is, for the most part, a necessary evil...and so is the DNC....but this is what we do to during presidential elections. I don't see that stopping...but it certainly would be good to see less money spoent on these affairs when our economy is in the shape it is. What's new about all levels and forms of government wasting money? The point is, the RNC ''is'' going to happen here...and the Tampa/St Pete Area can't sit back like this is a County Fair, and have to protect the important people that will be here..and not ''invite'' trouble of the caliber that could threaten all of us that live here.
CJ July 28, 2012 at 05:03 AM
If they won't give us a handout...then maybe we could charge toll on all roads '' leading to'' St Pete...but not back to Tampa...lol! They don't have an easy way to get to some of the best spots on the beach without going through us first !

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