VoteOnThePier Petitioners No Longer Part of Lawsuit Against City

The court-ordered mediation will go on as planned this Friday between the City and attorney Kathleen Ford.

The City of St. Petersburg and attorney Kathleen Ford, representing VoteOnThePier.com, have reached an agreement to move forward with Friday's court-ordered mediation.

More than 15,000 petitioners will be removed from a lawsuit seeking to force a citywide vote on the future of the St. Petersburg Pier.

Monday's hearing in St. Pete was requested by the city, in order to delay the Jan. 18 mediation. That mediation will not be delayed.

The hearing took less than five minutes, as Circuit Court Judge Jack Day announced that the parties had reached an agreement, or agreed to a "stipulation."

Joseph Patner, representing the city, said today's "stipulation" is a step in the right direction to make sure no unwilling citizens are a part of the lawsuit. 

"We were able to get those innocent citizens who were just petition signers who were dragged into this lawsuit without their knowledge, they’re all out," Patner said outside the courthouse Monday. "And we can now proceed along."

Only a handful of petition signers are expected to remain on the lawsuit, according to Patner.

Chairman of VoteOnthePier, Tom Lambdon, also said that he was pleased by the agreement.

Monday was "only about moving it to the next stage," Lambdon said Monday.

Despite names being removed from the suit, Lambdon said the suit is still valid because the same issues for the public not being allowed a vote exist.  

He said the parties will be acting in good faith in mediation on Friday and they are hopeful both parties can come up with ballot language for a referendum on the future of the pier. 

However, Lambdon said that meeting the deadline for the March elections is unlikely, so a mail ballot or special election may be more likely. 

"We’re hopeful that the voters will finally have the final word, and hopefully soon," Lambdon said.

Ford is arguing that the public should have a vote on the future of the St. Petersburg Pier.

Ford first filed suit in August 2012, after the City Council decided not to hold a pier referendum. The individual petition signers' names were not included in the suit.

Then on Dec. 5, 2012, Circuit Court Judge Amy Williams ordered that all the names to be listed as "plaintiffs" and that there should be a mediation.

After that meeting, Ford sent postcards notifying petition signers that they were a party in the suit.  

The inclusion of the petition signers prompted some people to ask to be removed from the lawsuit.

"Having all the people in the suit without their consent or authorization would not be legally appropriate," Patner said.  

Among those who asked to be removed from the lawsuit were a few city employees who signed affidavits.

The St. Petersburg Pier is set to close May 31 and scheduled for demolition in August. 

Johann January 14, 2013 at 04:22 PM
So does this mean each individual petitioner can sue the city on their own now? I'll be more than happy to do so...this nonsense needs to stop. Let the citizens have a vote already!
Jeanni L. Stewart January 14, 2013 at 04:59 PM
I could not agree more. The members of the local government that feel it is OK to just do as they please, take note that when shoved, the people will push back.
Nicolas Weathersbee January 14, 2013 at 05:24 PM
Whatever moves us forward to a vote.
Patriot January 14, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Amen! What in the Sam Hill is wrong with these city dictators?
sparky January 14, 2013 at 05:37 PM
This is proof that the attorneys hired by the city are not the sharpest tools in the shed. There are 93,000 attorneys in Florida and we get one that says adults signing a petition 15,000 strong are innocents. Give me a break. The best thing going for this suit is that the city attorney's office is filled with people out of touch with reality.
Babak January 14, 2013 at 07:15 PM
If given a vote, no intelligent citizen is going to choose to keep that horrible looking pier we have today. I'm no fan of the Lens by any means, as a matter of fact I dislike the Lens greatly, but anything is better than what we have!!!!
The TRUTH January 14, 2013 at 07:52 PM
So long as WE get to vote!!
Mike Funkhowser January 14, 2013 at 07:52 PM
What happened to the provisions of the city constitution/charter that dictated any changed to waterfrolnt property had to be voted on by the citizens of St. Petersburg ... Pier Park some 25 odd years ago and the construction of the Vinoy Towers. Did we lose that "right" in the intervening years? Or the Pier, sticking out in the bay, not count as waterfront?
Nicolas Weathersbee January 14, 2013 at 08:20 PM
Babak, you might be surprised how many people love our history and wish the city would update and modernize our pier. All the polls show that people would rather refurbish. Not only that, I personally sorted through most the 23,000 petitions we collected with Vote on the Pier, and 98% of those petitions checked the "refurbish" option. Maybe you need to think outside the box here...no one is saying it should remain as it is..there is much we can do with the basic structure of the inverted pyramid, which is already internationally known, and a local landmark and icon. Everyone has the right to their opinion on aesthetics. A vote will sort out the will of the population.
Babak January 14, 2013 at 09:08 PM
Nic, if that is indeed the case why is this our 3rd pier? Why didn't we keep the Million Dollar Pier? If the citizens value history so much why is it that so many houses on Snell Isle are torn down and replaced with McMansions?? Where are the lovers of our history in these cases? I see gentrification and demolition of our history in every corner of St Pete. We almost lost the YMCA building if not for a handful of concerned citizens. I think perhaps you and I value our history, but we are in the minority.
Nicolas Weathersbee January 14, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Well, if the city votes, and it should, and they vote to tear down the pier, then at least democracy has been served. But most polls over the last few years show otherwise...and if you think 22,500 people choosing the refurbish option is a minority, you might be wrong in that case. In a city where 30k people decide elections, 22.5k is quite a lot of voters. I think people are standing up in this incarnation of the pier, with the assistance of the internet, and social media. It makes a big difference...and maybe we have learned our lesson, and people are tired of being a throw away society? One can hope.
Rider January 15, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Babak...there is a big difference between the loss of the privately owned landmarks and the public pier.......it is sad to see such beautiful architecture fall and it's equally sad to see city council deny the citizens the vote on the most important aspect of the downtown waterfront......
Les B. January 22, 2013 at 01:36 PM
My family & I love The Pier. Every year when we go to Florida we visit The Pier & shops. We love watching & feeding the pelicans. Watching people fish. We always go to Cha Cha Coconuts, the Aquarium. We always visit the shops & we always spend hard earned money inside The pier purchases many items for friends & family back home. We are from Toronto Canada & The Pier is always one of our favourite spots to go. We hope it is refurbished & not torn down, although we Like the look of The Pier as it is.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »