1. Please provide us with a brief biography of yourself, to include your qualifications, community service, and why you are seeking the office for City Council?
Dr. David McKalip is a private practice brain and spine surgeon in St. Petersburg Florida. Dr. McKalip has served on numerous boards and committees in service to the community including the Board of the Florida Medical Association, the Suncoast Health Council, the Metropolitan Medical Response System and the Policy council of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. He served as the Chairman of the Skyway District of the Boy Scouts of America from 2005-2007 and is a family man married for 22 years and has three children. Dr. McKalip is an active, practicing Catholic and a member of Holy Family Catholic Church. Dr. McKalip has been active in neighborhoods, working to establish street calming and serving as an architect of a neighborhood disaster plan that helped the Allendale Neighborhood receive an award from the City of St. Petersburg. Dr. McKalip also helped found the neighborhood crime watch in Allendale. A more complete biography is located at www.mckalipforcouncil.com.
Personal statement from Dr. David McKalip:
I am seeking election because the taxpayers need an independent representative for them on the city council which is now dominated by elected officials who primarily serve special interests. The citizens need a representative who will serve as their watchdog and help hold their government accountable. I will work for lower taxes, more responsible government spending. I believe our tax dollars need to be prioritized for spending on the core services first: police, fire, roads and parks.
Special projects must take a lower priority and it is time for the local government to tighten its belt and live on less in these hard economic times just like everyone else has.
I will bring much needed common sense to the Council that I have learned as a businessman, community leader and family man.
2. Please tell us about your platform of issues as a candidate for City Council.
St. Petersburg is not living up to its potential as a city. A political class of well connected special interests seem to own our town. Because of that, our city has its priorities wrong and citizens are hurting under high taxes, excessive regulation, and an economy that doesn’t produce as it should. Decades old social problems still have not improved as far as they should.
St. Petersburg can prosper and a be a better town for all. We can grow from a bedroom community to a premier city. To do do so, city government will need to: 1) Prioritize its efforts to focus on public safety and other basic functions, 2) ensure individuals keep most of the fruits of their own labor, 3) ensure a level playing field for businesses to grow in a minimally regulated environment, 4) treat people with respect and protect their freedoms.
Lower Cost of Living Cut property taxes and taxes on electricity, phone lines and gas. Cut water and sanitation bills. Cut the cost of government by ending waste and through reforms of city pension and health benefits that will protect BOTH government workers and taxpayers. The Rays should pay their own way. Stop the 14% rail tax hike.
Prosperity Attract manufacturing, medical tourism, energy development and other businesses. Grow new business with less regulation and low taxes. Allow the economy to work for everyone – not just those “winners” chosen by the political class. If rebuilt privately, the Pier can actually pay the city – not cost taxpayers – and help the economy!
Building a Community of Neighbors Reward citizens that engage in charitable activity by giving them rebates on their taxes and utility bills; free Rays tickets, golf rounds, Mahaffey tickets and more; forgive their fines and parking tickets. Dr. McKalip’s innovative “Good Neighbor Reward Program” in partnership with local charities would do that at no cost to taxpayers. Build UNITY by addressing long standing racial division starting from common ground: faith, family, freedom, independence, personal ownership and economic empowerment.
Accountability Government should be transparent and answer to the people. The People should not answer to the government. Dr. McKalip will be your voice and your watchdog on City Council, alerting you when they go too far.
More Freedom Our Government needs to treat citizens with respect and protect, not abuse, our freedoms. End Red Light Cameras! No mandatory recycling. Expand Food Truck Permissions. Dr. McKalip will protect free speech, free markets and the freedom to work for an honest living.
3. As a member of City Council, what would you do to ensure St. Petersburg attracts the best candidates for employment as police officers?
I would learn from the police department what characteristics they think the best candidates have and what they think attracts those candidates. I would then compare that to available city resources and prioritize spending to ensure that this goal can be reasonably achieved within the limits of our city government’s budget. I would work to ensure that Police officers are treated with respect by the city and the community and have the tools they need to complete their mission. I would insist that we have the highest moral and professional standards for our police officers and expect them to maintain that standard. Ensuring a professional police community with pride in itself will also help attract the best candidates while maintaining trust in the community and the highest levels of public safety.
4. The Police Department has a take home police cruiser program for officers living within a 40 mile radius. This program has extended the life of the vehicles to triple that of a fleet car. Would you support continuing this program?
I would evaluate the program against the necessities of a tight budget. If this program truly saves money then I would continue it.
5. Would you support a police promotional testing and evaluation process that is fair and objective to candidate officers/sergeants?
I would always support “fair and objective” standards for promotional testing and evaluation. However, as a medical professional I know that some standards are often not the best measure of a professional’s skills and I would ensure enough flexibility in evaluation. We need to ensure that we do not become tied to a bureaucracy that seeks compliance with cookbooks rather than common sense and the humanity of police work.
6. What do you believe is the primary roll of the Employee Relations Department in dealing with labor/management issues?
I believe the primary role of an Employee Relations Department is to resolve issues and conflicts between Labor and management, but they should also work together to solve problems. The goal should be to start first at common ground. From there, goals of each side should be identified and progress towards those common goals achieved first. Trust must be built between Union representatives and those with whom they are contracted. Both parties must realize that they are ultimately and primarily accountable the taxpayers and citizens and should behave accordingly. For instance, elected officials should work to reform pension plans in ways that protect both taxpayers and union members. Union leaders and management must come to the table to help achieve that goal in good faith. When issues of personnel or action matters arise (such as controversial events), accountability must be present and there must be willingness of the Union to use any leeway in rules and contracts to ensure people are held accountable in ways that instill trust in the community. Likewise, Union members should not feel constrained to use their best judgment based on rules that are onerous or counter-productive.
7. As a candidate, have you received the endorsement of any other organizations? If so, please tell us who they are?
I have not received other endorsements. I seek only the endorsement of the voters to whom I seek to return control of their government. If other groups want to endorse me, I welcome that but it is not the basis of my qualifications to serve the public.
8. Do you support keeping the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg? Would you exhaust all efforts to keep them here?
I support having the Tampa Bay Rays in the area if they are a responsible “citizen” in the business community. They must live up to all obligations they have under the contract with the city. If they would like a new stadium, they should build it entirely at their own cost and should not ask, nor expect the taxpayers to pay for their stadium. We must find ways to end subsidies to the Tampa Bay Rays that come from taxpayers. I would not “exhaust all efforts” to keep them here. They are free to come or go as any business as long as they keep their contractual obligations to the city. If they leave, there will be ample and outstanding opportunities for private developers or other businesses to fill the void they create.
9. What is your position on defined contribution versus defined benefit plans as it relates to the City’s retirement plans?
Defined benefit plans must be transitioned, over about a five year period, to defined contribution plans. These plans are economically unsustainable; the taxpayers cannot afford them. Also, they simply will not deliver as promised for future beneficiaries despite the promises of politicians and Union leaders. Police pension trust funds are already underfunded at 83.7% and falling; they assume an unrealistic rate of return of 8% per year. This is compared to the -0.7% return in the last audit of the retirement plans conducted by the City’s consultants. The health benefit plans must also be reformed, as the city has saved no money to meet its $177 million unfunded liability for retired government work health benefits! The retirement benefit issue is a prime example of where the Union and the City must come together to find common ground. They must develop a transition plan out of defined benefit plans. I would point out that active and retired police officers cannot count on the city to meet its retirement obligations. Taxes cannot be raised enough to fully fund obligations without harming the economy in serious ways. At the height of property tax collections in 2007, the retirement plan was still not 100% funded. I would work to pass incentives to allow Police officers to choose to be bought out of the defined benefit plan and to choose a defined contribution plan. Incentives could include pay raises, earlier vestments and altered “last-in, first-out” rules, portability of benefits, free financial planning advice and other solutions the Union may present. Failure to reform police pension plans will result in police officers not receiving promised benefits because the city will be at high risk of bankruptcy as has occurred in numerous cities across the nation.
10. What is your opinion as it relates to the performance of the St. Petersburg Police Chief and his staff?
I will reserve a specific opinion on this until I am elected to ensure I have access to critical information needed to make such an important judgment.