Thursday, January 02, 2014

Rick Kriseman's Inauguration Speech

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was sworn in. Kriseman hit the right notes during his inauguration speech.

It's been a long and winding road, and it's time to put our destination in view.

The form and fashion of the next pier is unlikely to meet with universal approval. We must recognize this now so that our progress isn't impeded later.

However, what we can agree on -and to a large degree already have -is how our signature structure will function. With a renewed sense of urgency and a spirit of collaboration, I am confident that the coming year will be productive and that a final design will emerge.

In the interim, residents and visitors should be able to once again enjoy walking, running or fishing around the pier head.

And that's why this morning we have begun the process of removing that unfriendly fence, allowing the pier head to be accessible within the next week.

The hard work of reaching an accord with the Tampa Bay Rays must also begin, with the primary goal of doing what's in the best interest of the residents of St. Petersburg.

And while I am eager to see this resolved so that we can better plan St. Pete's future, our desire for clarity must not supersede the need for continued diligence.

The Pier and the Rays may be our most high profile challenges, but a police station, a port, a renewed focus on creating sustainable jobs throughout the city, economic stimulus for Midtown and South St. Petersburg, and the revitalization and re-branding of vital corridors -also hang in the balance.

On Midtown and South St. Pete, my remarks on election night bear repeating.

Too many people there are struggling.

One out of every five residents is unemployed.

One out of every four lives at or below poverty.

Property values have fallen 42% since the onset of the Great Recession.

This is happening right here in St. Petersburg. It is unacceptable, especially given Midtown's rich history and potential.

It is good that Kriseman addressed Midtown and the economic problems St. Petersburg is still facing after the Great Recession. Former Mayor Bill Foster would have likely mentioned neither. Foster often seemed to live in a bubble that reality could not penetrate.

Kriseman will not be able to keep the Rays in St. Petersburg. Voters are not going to approve a tax for a second stadium. The sooner Kriseman allows the Rays to talk with the City of Tampa the better.

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