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Pier Petition Drive Gets Deadline

June 11 is the deadline the city issues to a group trying to force a citywide vote on the Pier's future.

Mayor Bill Foster and the city announced that Vote On The Pier has until June 11 to submit the number of required petitions to force a citywide vote on the Pier's future.

For Vote On The Pier chairman Tom Lambdon, June 11 is just another day.

Friday, Lambdon said his group has collected more than 14,000 petitions but still needs nearly 16,000 petitions to force a vote on the future of the inverted pyramid building.

He believes that the Pier should not be demolished to build the "Lens" unless the public votes to spend $50 million to build it.

“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 .

"The date of June the 11, 2012, means absolutely nothing to us regarding our citywide petition drive to obtain the remaining required petitions to apparently now force the mayor and council to keep their recent promises made to taxpaying residents and registered voters of the City to allow their voices to be heard through a referendum vote on the pier’s fate," Lambdon added.

The Pier is tentatively , with demolition expected to start in August 2013. 

Lambdon received a letter from the city, dated May 24, that said petitions must be submitted no later than June 11 in order to ensure a question gets on the ballot on time.

The Supervisor of Elections needs to receive ballot language by Aug. 3 to get it on the Nov. 6 presidential ballot. 

"In order to place your question on the ballot, council must conduct first reading and second reading/public hearing on the ordinance. Per the council meeting schedule, first reading of the ordinance would (potentially) occur on July 12 the first meeting in July, with public hearing on July 26."

Foster told the Tampa Bay Times Thursday that, "It's either put up or shut up.''

“While the mayor suggests we have been at this for two years already, that is not true,” Lambdon said in an interview with Patch. “It’s (been) a year and a half. Our signatures do not begin to expire until Nov. 8 of this year.

Lambdon said the deadline is a tactic by Foster to scare off voters from signing the petitions.

"City leaders have said repeatedly a vote on the Pier will not happen unless and until we chase their carrot by going out to get 15,648 audited and certified petitions from 10 percent of registered city voters," Lambdon said. "Now that they fear we are getting very close, Foster apparently believes the simplest thing to do is try to intimidate and stop us from continuing to the finish line. Well, that is not going to happen."

At the May 17 city council meeting, the council voted  with Michael Maltzan Architecture to build the “Lens”.

During that meeting, council member Steve Kornell suggested it would be beneficial to Vote On The Pier and the city to set a deadline to receive the petitions.

That way, Kornell said, Vote on the Pier knows it has a certain amount of time to force the city's hand and the Maltzan architecture team knows it has a project. He did not suggest any specific date, however.

The city's contract with Maltzan includes five design phases, including the most crucial phase, phase I, which is also called the basis of design. The  is for a refinement of the conceptual design. During that phase, the Maltzan team will have meetings with the public and the council to solicit input. 

It is during those meetings where the design will take shape and pubic enthusiasm for the project will increase, according to Council Chair Leslie Curran. 

"Once people start understanding what it is and having input, they’ll realize that this is something that is going to be good for the community," Curran said at the May 17 meeting. 

Four public meetings have been set in June for the . 

  • Thursday, June 7:  6 p.m., Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.
  • Tuesday, June 12: 6 p.m., Enoch Davis Center, 1111 18th Ave. S.
  • Thursday, June 14: 6 p.m. J.W. Cate Center, 5801 22nd Ave. N.
  • Tuesday, June 19: Lake Vista Center, 1401 62nd Ave. S.

City Attorney John Wolfe has said that even if the group gets enough signed petitions, .

"It’s just a petition ... I don’t think it (legally) requires you to do anything," Wolfe said at a February City Council workshop.

Foster, however, said that while there might be no legal requirement, there certainly would be a political requirement. 

"We, as elected officials, can’t ignore it," Foster said. "If they are successful, you will have to put that on the ballot." 

Lambdon said he and his group would not tire until the petition drive is complete. 

"We are focused ... and will not be bullied with inappropriate distractions by any individual city leaders, including the mayor," he said. “He is the one that will need to ultimately answer to his previous supporters for his actions, not us."

William Mansell June 01, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Do you agree with the deadline?
Jeannie Cline June 01, 2012 at 08:54 PM
The issue is......Foster probably doesn't have the authority to mandate this.....and he is grandstanding........
Red June 02, 2012 at 05:40 AM
The "fix " is in. There's NEVER been a chance. Those guys have 50 mil to spend how could it ever go any other way. The people just get the bums rush. Yeah, "go meet here" "go sign over there". .. ... yeah right.
Loyd June 02, 2012 at 12:40 PM
If the voters do not get to decide on this issue then there will be quiet a few from the commission including the mayor possibly being thrown out the next time they are up for reelection. They should not be able to decide where that much money is ebing spent without voter input on the issue.
Dharma June 02, 2012 at 01:34 PM
I know how hard itis for a representative of the people, anyone holding office, The Pier isn’t yours to make choices about, it the people’s choice. it sound like they have already chosen not to do listen to them on not replacing the Pier. Most people holding office get in there and found out their job wasn’t a job, it was that of one who listens to the people and then do what they need. That then becomes a town, city, state, all states and country. However we have been lead, not followed, anyone one who is making money now, in business is because they are not making demands and changes and choices. They are listening to what their people need to make a product work, sell, and create a living for all. Now our representatives, NOT LEADERS and totally confused at their position. Please people do not vote for anyone who doesn’t get their position. As in this case this is what happens all the people do not want this because they don’t want to spend the money on this at this time. They are happy for fix the issues. GET IT
ava June 02, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I hope every person against this project and the others in this city, that are being ram-rodded through without the voice of the people.....get to the polls and vote them out before our city is bankrupt and ruined beyond repair! People need to stop voting along religious and party lines and vote in people who have lived in and loved this city throughout their lives AND will not be afraid to stand out from the others. Wengay Newton is one of the only councilman that questions the mayor and his cronies. He truly stands up for the people of his district without fear of not fitting in or retribution from the other "yes" men/woman. We need some courageous councilman in our other districts to stop this downward spiral that is taking place in our neighborhoods and city. I hope to see you all at the polls....the ONLY place our voice is heard!
Jack Sprat June 02, 2012 at 03:23 PM
"Once people start understanding what it is and having input, they’ll realize that this is something that is going to be good for the community," Curran said at the May 17 meeting. Nancy Pelosi said, "But we have to pass the [health care ] bill so that you can find out what is in it." Curran and Pelosi depend on exactly the same assumption - that both politicians and voters are too stupid to understand what is best, so go ahead and pass the bill (sign the pier contract) and then we will find out what is in it. It turns out that the health care "reform" bill is going to drive the country into an unsustainable debt spiral. Who knows how much the pier is actually going to cost the taxpayers who live St. Petersburg? We need to go ahead and build it so we can find out.
Jeannie Cline June 02, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Ms Curran should be recused from her vote on council....she has a conflict of interest as she was part of the selection committee....now how is she going to be objective and represent the people she was hired and elected to do? Apparently, based on her performance up til now on this and other issues....and this comment by Jack Sprat.....she thinks that she is imbued with the power to decide for the constituents in her city. What kind of local gov't is this here? What is this "strong form of mayor" form? Is this why Ms Curran and Mr Foster have so much power in this Pier issue? They both, apparently, think that they were elected to think for us. Have either of them gone out and talked to the real people of St Pete or do they remain in their little bubble at city hall and among the few Lens' supporters? This is crazy. They are not doing their jobs as representing the people.
S. Ripley June 02, 2012 at 05:32 PM
A day late and a buck short- and then some. The Pier redevelopment topic has been on the public radar for five years. In 2008 alone there were at least three open-to-the-public sessions and an on line component to solicit community input. This was long before funds were committed and decisions made. I’ve lived in many places and have never seen this level of opportunity on a capital project for citizens to be heard or even involved. Furthermore, in the last five years there have been several opportunities for citizens to elect those who would act on their behalf (one mayor election, and five city council spots); and only now people are screaming that they need to be heard? You can’t decide to start playing in the fourth quarter of the game, and then claim the deck is stacked against you.
Jeannie Cline June 02, 2012 at 05:58 PM
They don't listen at those so-called public meetings....they are required by law to hold them....and that makes it all the more disgusting....that with all the caring and active people in this community, the people on the panels do not listen. When the public was asked to vote on the designs of the pier.....there was not an option about a redesign of the present pier.....and the city continues avoiding the other quotes done by engineers about a redux that are much lower and affordable than the ones the city is promoting......I have been to many of these meetings and if they had listened to the citizens, they would have included a redux of this pier. Karl Nurse on council addressed that he is surprised at the upswell of citizens against the Lens....Charlie Gerdes did, too....W Newton has always said this. Are these council reps starting to "play in the fourth quarter"?.....or is the truth emerging....the process has been deficient.......and dictactorial.....
S. Ripley June 02, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Don't listen? Which meetings exactly did you attend? I was at all three initial ones in 2008, and a few more in the years since then. I can assure you- they listen. It’s easy to trash the process, far more difficult to actually participate in it.
S. Ripley June 02, 2012 at 06:38 PM
I should have added that my last sentence was a general comment, and not a reply specifically to Miss Cline.
Jeannie Cline June 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
I attended the three meetings that they had open to the public in the pier process....and there were many people, in fact, sometimes it was the majority...of the citizens who wanted the pier refurbished.....one time, somebody mentioned how a municipal water taxi station there (to go to Tampa and back) would open up additional funding and update this pier......that guy got applause in the audience and nobody on the panel responded......
Jeannie Cline June 02, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Ms Curran and Foster and the few on council who believe that the process was open......always cite that there were over 60 meetings or so about the pier....only 3 were open to the public, something these people won't tell the press or say during council meetings
Red June 02, 2012 at 07:07 PM
When I read some of this stuff it reminds me of the old line"We're gonna give you a fair trial and then we'll hang you". Any last words?
Jerry Kendall June 02, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Mayor Foster and many members of the coucil have forgotten just who put them in office. This entire process has been an example of arrogance never before seen in St. Petersburg. I have yet to find anyone that thinks the Lens is a good idea. Mayor Foster will come to understand what a deadline really is when the next election rolls around. Please everyone, do not forget this rush to spend $50 million by this bunch.
Bob Wilson June 03, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I guess you need to be reminded that candidate-for-Mayor Foster said he would allow the voters to decide on the fate of the Pier back in 2009, then when he came to office he went back on that promise and started pushing for the destruction of the pier, shortly after that is when the voteonthepier group started.
Bob Wilson June 03, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Those comments were ignored because the pier task-force had already decided that refurbishing the pier was not compatible with their primary goal of reducing the subsidy. Looking at the minutes and documents of the task-force it is clear that refurbishment was dismissed as an option early on in the process, and no amount of citizen input would bring it back after that.
Bob Wilson June 03, 2012 at 03:44 PM
To be fair, there were about 20 general task-force meetings that were open to the public for comment(none of the sub-committee meetings were), but you had to wait until the end of what could be a several hours meeting to speak, and by the end of the process less than a dozen people gave input, the most frequent person was the woman that was hired by Maltzan to help with the project locally, and she said in one of her statements that the people wouldn't support refurbishing the existing pier, I wonder how she really knew that, without any research or surveying?

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