St. Pete Patch Questions

Doc Webb of the St. Petersburg Patch challenged all Mayoral and Council Candidates for St. Petersburg to respond to seven questions.  As of 5/14/13 ONLY Dr. McKalip had responded and his response was issued on 4/27/13, one day after the request.

1. Should the LENS come to a referendum, will you support voting to stop the project.

When the “Stop the Lens” referendum is on the ballot, I will vote to Stop the Lens.  I have also called for City Council to stop spending on the Lens architect until the voters have spoken.  My opponent so far has refused to make a public call for the same, despite my challenge to do so. It is easy to say “let the voters decide”, but it takes courage and leadership to tell people how you will vote and to work for better policy on the pier and responsible actions on spending until that vote is done. That is what I have done.   Read my press release on the matter at http://tinyurl.com/cy8ytry or the News section

2. Do you support closing the Pier?

I support leaving the Pier open until the vote on the “Stop the Lens” referendum. More importantly, I am offering an innovative approach to rebuild the pier if the Lens is stopped.  The Lens can be converted from an entity that consumes a $1.4 million annual taxpayer subsidy to one that that actually pays taxes and provides a venue and destination people will want.  The more than $50 million cost of rebuilding the Pier can be borne entirely by a Private entity with NOT A DIME OF TAXPAYER MONEY. To do this, I have offered a “NO COST PIER SOLUTION” that would be accomplished by leasing the Pier to a private company that would bid to build it to City Specifications and that would ensure open access to all.  Read more on this at my website at: http://www.mckalipforcouncil.com/no_cost_pier_solution

3. Will you move to end the red light camera program?

I will work hard to stop the red light camera program. I will work to stop expansion if I can’t get the votes to stop it. I will work to extend yellow light times if I can’t stop expansion. I will hold up other less important votes until the Red light cameras are banned from our city. These cameras have increased auto accidents and are nothing more than a money-making scheme by a government that refuses to cut spending.  I have been analyzing and speaking up against red light cameras when it was not popular to do so unlike my opponent who remained silent at they were implemented.  My opponent will not work in the way I will work to stop Red light cameras. Read about my activism against red light cameras at my blog: http://sunbeamtimes.com/2012/12/13/crashes-caused-by-red-light-cameras-hidden-since-may-2012-in-st-petersburg.aspx

4. Do you support the Rays talking to anyone in Pinellas County or Hillsborough County about a stadium site?

The Rays should be able to talk about other sites IF AND ONLY IF, they agree to an addendum to remove their annual $1.4 million taxpayer subsidy from the city. They should also agree pay the full ANNUAL cost of the 30,000 hours (!!) of overtime that our City Police spend directing traffic for the Rays!  I stood up with Councilman Gerdes agreeing with his proposal to amend the contract to allow the Rays to look elsewhere IF they agree to have no subsidy. I did not see my opponent doing the same. They Rays can have a new stadium in St. Petersburg if they pay their own way. The taxpayers can’t afford it any longer but the Rays can.  However, I will not allow the Rays to do anything to get off the hook for the enormous costs they owe the City if they try to renege on their contract and leave early.

5. Do you support the neighborhood association concept and what will you do to specifically help rebuild this City asset?

A key part of my campaign is to help build a “Community of Neighbors”, not a community dependent on government. Neighborhood associations are vital and valuable asset for our city.  We should encourage their growth by ensuring that each neighborhood has a relationship with the Police and Fire department. Out city should rapidly and properly respond to neighborhood representatives that report crime, streets in need of repair, issues with vagrants, sanitation and water issues and the like.  I have worked hard in my own Neighborhood to facilitate traffic calming, help to design a neighborhood disaster plan for hurricanes or terrorist events and by supporting our local crime watch.  I would also ask the Neighborhood association to focus on more bread and butter neighborhood issues rather than ask the city to push social and political agendas. I also would establish a program to allow people to get tax rebates, free passes for Golf, Rays Games (and more!) and forgiven fines and parking tickets if they volunteer time in their community. This “Good Neighbor Reward Program” is described on my website and would help us build a Community of Neighbors. People helping each other one-on-one will serve our city better.  http://www.mckalipforcouncil.com/a_community_of_neighbors.

6. Do you support hiring a new Police Chief?

This question is difficult to answer as it is so broad.  It would be irresponsible for any candidate that has not been intimately involved in the management of the City to comment on whether the Police Chief should be replaced since that would rely mainly on politics. It is clear however that reform is needed in the police department from a number of perspectives with the most important being spending.  The Citizens of St. Petersburg need tax relief – a family of four now pays an EXTRA $1,500 per year for the cost of St. Pete City government than it did in 2001 (with 365 fewere workers and 3,500 fewere residents)! While the Police department wouldn’t be the main or first place to find savings, there are opportunities for savings there.  We need to support responsible efforts to consolidate the call center if it can improve and not jeopardize public safety. While we need a new police station, it should be affordable to the citizens of St. Petersburg and the City Council should evaluate it critically.  We have a high quality, brave and loyal police force and they deserve our respect and support. But they must also ensure that as they engage in their police work that citizens are protected from things like high speed chases and shooting at moving vehicles (which is against city policy and happened recently).

In the end, the City Council needs to ask the hard questions, demand answers and accountability and set policy. Right now our City Council usually rubberstamps policy given to it by the City staff.  I have a record of critical thinking, detailed analysis and courageous leadership and would help transform the City Council with that work ethic.

7. What specifically what will you do to begin to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in South St. Pete?

There is no easy way to reduce crime ANYWHERE, not just in South St. Pete which should not be considered a “separate city” but part of the entire community.  Crime can decrease naturally as a result of prosperity, freedom and opportunity.  For too long the City Council has acted like THEY were the source of the “quality of life” of citizens.  This is wrong thinking and it turns out that government “solutions” often cause more problems. The people of St. Petersburg, including South St. Pete, are capable of great things if we allow them to work on their own problems peacefully.  But look at what happened with the Sweetbay grocery. The grand visions of a government created grocery store disappeared when the Federal money dried up, but not without harming smaller businesses in the neighborhood (http://tinyurl.com/c9ewgn5). The city has also bought up empty lots with government money and harmed property values (http://tinyurl.com/csgdtev). At one point the put in a house made out of a metal shipping container from a freighter on 13th Ave. S. only to have to spend more money to tear it down (and never checked with the local neighborhood first)!

If we treat people with respect and STOP PANDERING to them, they will solve their own problems. However they need a stronger police presence. Neighbors need support from the City when they are trying to drive drug dealers out.  They need to know that we will have their back if they help the city clean out crime and we will have their back when they do the right thing.  My “Good Neighbor Reward Program” would also help us build a community of neighbors by sending the message that it is one-on-one help that will rebuild communities, not another government program. This program would reward citizens for tutoring kids, adopting a rehabilitated prisoner returning to society or helping a single mom.  We can’t “solve” decades of problems with more of the same failed government solutions that have caused many of the problems to begin with. It is time for a different course and I would help lead the way towards a community of neighbors and a racially unified St. Petersburg by first FOCUSSING ON THE COMMON VALUES shared by various communities:faith, family, freedom, independence, personal ownership and economic empowerment.

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