Current Topics

When is investing an act of charity? My work in Melrose Mercy.

Posted on 06/07/2013

A little over 18 months ago, I could no longer stand the modest pace of the progress in Midtown, so I decided to focus my efforts in the city's poorest neighborhood to see if I could help jumpstart a come back in Melrose Mercy. I have outlined on this website some of the programs that I launched or changed. Here I want to layout a few of the "investments" that I have made in the neighborhood. I realized going into this effort that I could not make money and do an effective job of using the houses that I rehab to encourage a neighborhood comeback. That was fine with me because neighborhood renewal is the goal.

Here are some concrete examples of the "investments" that I made in the Melrose Mercy neighborhood:

1) 1936 Melrose Ave S. Purchased Nov. 2011 for $15,800. Rehab cost $81,835. Rehab cost was high because termites required significant reconstruction including the porches, the bathroom and portions of the roof.
Because the possible sale price was no more than $65,000, I decided to rent it for $800/Month to a very nice lady. Happily, 3 houses have been rehabbed on the street since and another boarded house just sold.

2) 1734 12th Ave S. Purchased Dec 2012 for $28,000. Rehab cost $30,000. House is for sale for $55,000. Everything from roof to floor has been redone.

3) 1243 - 21st St. S Purchased in 2012 for $15,000 with intention of rehabbing. After spending $2000 on building plans, it became obvious that the termite damage was too severe to rehab. We demolished it for $3,000. I hope to get a new home built there. Currently, it is an expensive vacant lot.

4) 1523 Preston St. S. Purchased March 2013 for $19,000. Projected rehab cost is $30,000. There is another boarded home in foreclosure next door so I do not believe it can sell for more than $40,000 at this time. I plan to rent it out and hope that it's transition from a boarded home to a nice home on the street will cause a ripple and other homes will be improved.

5) Vacant lot in 1900 block of Melrose. I purchased a vacant lot on the same block that I rehabbed a house. At this point, we have simply cleaned it up and hope to be able to build on it at some point.

6) 1650 19th Ave S. I first saw this partially built house when I was going door to door after being appointed to council. It has a foundation, walls and plumbing stubbed in. Then, the builder went bust and abandoned it. Staff said there was nothing I could do at the time. A few years later after I pushed for choices, I was told it was possible to buy the tax deeds and in about 1 year force the sale of the property. I did that. No one else bid and so it became my responsibility. The problem worsened because the city had cut the grass and such during the intermediate years which resulted in 30,000 of additional liens. Since I am a city official, staff is reluctant to enter into the same kind of agreement that any other citizen can get which is if the new owner finishes building the house, most liens would be forgiven. Bottom line is that I am going to give this property to a non-profit who will finish building it. Money lost is about $7,000 less any tax deduction. The neighborhood will get an eyesore turned into an asset.

The nature of being in public office means that everything I do is looked at with a critical eye. Financial disclosure and public records require much of this to be disclosed. I wanted to simply layout the math so people understand this is no a money making venture.

Another complication I have found is that programs intended to help first time homebuyers and those to stimulate renewal are off limits for potential homebuyers and for me as long as I am in office. I am prepared to lose money in the neighborhood if it helps generate sufficient momentum to help the neighborhood comeback. It does however, make it more difficult to sell the home to a first time homebuyer. I will happily step aside once the momentum results in rehabs that provide decent housing for the neighborhood. My wife will be very happy when this happens as well.

Sustainability Council approved

Posted on 06/07/2013

The city council supported my request that we start a sustainability council and to apply for a Rockefeller Foundation grant to help fund it. Many people assume sustainability is only about the environment. That is not so. It is the effort to combine good policy for the economy, the environment, social equity and efficiency. Happily, the recession has provided me with many opportunities to find those projects that save money, are good for the environment and sometimes create local jobs.

Our goal is to assemble volunteers to help us develop policies and programs that are good for our environment, save money or the city and/or citizens and
promote good jobs.

As a community with a significant percentage of homes in various flood zones, we need to be on the lookout for ways to reduce our risk from extreme weather events like storm surge and hurricanes. When people live less than 10 feet above sea level, even modest sea level rise increases our risks. Therefore, we need to both plan and implement policies that lower our risks and increase our ability to recover if we suffer a hurricane or similar event.

It is always cheaper to avoid disaster than it is to recover from one.

Bartlett Park - help is coming.

Posted on 04/03/2013

UPDDATE: March 2013.

The continuing effort to assist in the turn around of Bartlett Park takes important steps forward this month with the purchase of 6 vacant lots and 3 houses by the city on 14th or 15th Ave S. This is an area where the city has already built or rehabbed several houses. The City's NSP3 funds will be used to rehab these 3 additional homes and to build new houses on the vacant lots. We have learned the critical importance of clustering rehabs and new houses so as to create a critical mass that then leads to the private sector taking over the process. Once that starts, the city can move on to another area.

ORIGINAL POST - 2010

The City has just received Neighborhood Stabilization funds to purchase, rehab and sell foreclosed homes in some of our struggling neighborhoods. I argued without success for many months during the first round of money in late 2009 and early 2010, that it made no sense to rehab or rebuild one house on block and not touch the other boarded houses on the same block. Naturally, the City is struggling to find buyers for those houses.

Fortunately, I was able to convince the Mayor to duplicate the lesson we learned when Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay rehabbed, with our help, several houses on Paris Ave in Bartlett Park. The street was turned around, crime dropped sharped, values increased and the improvements lasted. The Housing Department staff will target a few blocks on another street in Bartlett Park and rehab several houses. I expect that we will then sell the houses reasonably quickly and move to the next targeted area.

I will update this as concrete action approaches.

UPDATE JUNE 2011

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay is raising money to make improvements to 15 houses surrounding the area where the city will work. I believe we can create sufficient momentum to make a significant difference in the neighborhood.

UPDATE October 2, 2011

The "Paris Project" to improve many of the homes on 15th Ave South is coming together thanks to support from the Mayor, many city departments, Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, Habitat for Humanity and the Urban League. I believe this is the model of how to have real impact in a community. The scattergun approach that has been traditionally used is incapable of bringing the transformative change that many neighborhoods need and is a staggering waste of public and private money. We will launch this project as soon as all the pieces are in place to transform this street.

Bank on St. Petersburg - Approaches 2,000 new accounts.

Posted on 03/03/2013

Bank on St. Pete was my baby in 2009. The effort to bring mainstream banking and financial literacy to underserved neighborhoods has outgrown me! The project has become BANK ON TAMPA BAY and is reaching out to people on both sides of the bay. The United Way has assumed the lead role in this effort with consider resources and energy. It is gratifying to see an idea grow to serve our region.

ORIGINAL POST - JANUARY 2009.
My effort to bring the 18,300 households without banking services into the financial mainstream was announced at City Council on January 15th. We will be bringing a program from San Francisco that brought 24,000 households into mainstream banking services and away from the predatory check cashing and
payday loan businesses within 24 months.

This program potentially represents the single greatest thing that a local government can do to raise the standard of living of the 15% of our community that uses the loansharks and predatory cash checking services. Studies suggest that this segment of our community spend up to 5% of their income on
these ripoffs that we can help them avoid.

It will be a coalition of the City of St. Petersburg, the banks and the "wealth building coalition" that will bring these services to the community. The City's role is to make it happen, insure a good product
and get the word out. Ten other cities across the country are also bringing
this service.

UPDATE: Mayor Baker and Council Member Nurse have invited the banks and credit unions to meet on February 2nd in hopes of getting many of them to commit to this program. The offers to help are coming in everyday. The
final element needed to make this work is a financial literacy campaign so people learn to plan and budget their money.

UPDATE 2/18/09 Over 100 people filled a room at City Hall to kick-off the Bank on St. Petersburg program. 22 financial institutions were represented.
Committee will be meeting starting next week to work out the details of bringing this here. Getting the 15% of our community into the mainstream financial community can have more impact than any other program.

UPDATE 3/21/09 - I spent a day in Washington on the 15th with leaders from about 20 cities who are working on the Bank on .. projects. The goal is have the first cities teach the newer onces, like St. Pete, so we can learn from their experience. We are working through the details so we can implement this
quickly with as few problems as possible.

UPDATE 7/20/09 - August will be the launch of the Bank on St. Petersburg program. We have 15 banks and credit unions going through the final steps to
be ready to open their doors to more customers. Everyone wins with this program.

UPDATED Feb 2011
The program had brought 1,600 new customers into the mainstream banking system after the first year. The pace is picking up and financial education is being added to programs and in classrooms around town. Getting into the mainstream banking system is the first step into financial security. Thanks to the banks, credit unions, wealth building coalition, and other partners for helping this reach more people each day.

UPDATE JUNE 2011

Bank on St. Petersburg has enrolled more than 2,00 new customers into the mainline banking system so far. A majority have also taken financial literacy training and have opened savings accounts. Many are laying the foundation for responsible home purchases.

Guns, criminals and the mentally ill

Posted on 03/03/2013

The series of mass shootings across America brings into clear focus the need to take concrete steps to limit the ability of criminals, spouse abusers and the mentally ill to access guns. We are at a critical moment that opens the possibilities to common sense reforms such as uniform background checks, limits on the number of bullets in a gun clip and outlawing military style assault weapons.

The St. Petersburg City Council voted 8-0 last month to ask Congress to require uniform background checks. This is supported by 92% of the voters but still will be an uphill struggle when Congress begins debating this in March. The core of the problem is that criminals are able to purchase guns easily without background checks at gun shows, from gun trafficers, and from "private sales". Check the paper when a violent felon is arrested. They usually illegally have a handgun. While we obviously will not be able to completely cutoff the supply of illegal guns, we certainly should do what we can.

The effort to limit the flow of illegal guns is being lead by the 850 Mayors across the country who have joined Mayors against Illegal Guns. Additional information is available at www.MayorsAgainstIllegal.org.

Our most troubled housing complex, Citrus Grove, is being improved.

Posted on 03/03/2013

I am happy to report that Citrus Grove is making a comeback. The new owner, city, and police have worked together to make real improvements to property and conditions for the residents.

The owner immediately met with the tenants and learned their priorities. As a result, first he redid the laundry facilities so there are now sufficient washers and dryers to handle the needs of the community. Then, the roofs were all replaced. The apartments all received central heat and air conditioning for the first time. Heat in the winter is not a luxury!

Public safety was the next area addressed. The owner installed an 8 foot wrought iron fence to prevent drug dealers from using the southern corner of the property. Additional lighting eliminated the dark corners where bad things happened. The police arrested and the owner evicted a few, bad tenants.

The results are positive for the residents of Citrus, but also for the Campbell Park neighborhood and John Hopkins Middle School across the street. Finally, I was able to get the police to put a camera in Campbell Park to allow the police better protect the children who use one of the city's nicest parks.

ORIGINAL POST 2009.

After Paris Hamilton-Whitehead was killed in 2009, I began digging into the problems at Citrus Grove apartments on MLK Dr S. next to Campbell Park. I have worked with HUD, a lawyer with Gulf Coast Legal Services and city staff to get new on-site management and improved police presense there. Several months ago, an opportunity came with State funds available to an experienced public housing rehabilitation company for a total rehab of the 88 units. Ironically, the Board of Citrus Grove agreed to sell the complex on the same day that Officer Crawford was killed by a 16 year old resident of the complex.

I am continuing to stay plugged in as the sale proceeds in an effort to be sure that the great majority of good people of Citrus Grove finally get decent housing and that the criminals are evicted. The State of Florida is involved and providing rehab funds which means that it will happen at the speed of government - that is slowly. It is critical that I stay involved so the Campbell Park neighborhood and the school across the Street, John Hopkins Middle School, have a neighboring complex that adds to the neighborhood.

UPDATE JUNE 29th, 2011

A room full of people sat down again today to work through the process to sell and rehab the Citrus Grove complex. It is a complicated proposal and involved the federal, state, and city governments along with two non-profits and a for profit developer. In the meantime, work is being done to make the complex safer (No Tresspassing signs and enforcement, Security Cameras and removal of a wall that hid illegal activity) and better for the residents (5 buildings have new roofs, stairs are being repaired, the laundry room has been rehabbed, all units are getting screens, etc).

A contract to sell will be signed on Friday. We will know in late October is the State is going to assist in the sale.

October 2, 2011

We have a contract to buy and rehab the Citrus Grove apartments from a buyer that will be approved by HUD. The sale should close by the end of the year. The rehabilitation should start by the end of March 2012. Residents will get central air conditioning for the first time and well as more efficient hot water, toilets and other reasonable housing conditions.

The future for the Citrus Grove apartments looks better than ever thanks to a group of people who kept their eye on the goal - decent, affordable housing.

April 2, 2012 UPDATE

The sale of Citrus Grove has been delayed until April 20th. The good news is that it will result in an additional $450,000 in badly needed renovation funds being available for the complex.

Melrose Mercy Neighborhood - Focus of my neighborhood renewal efforts

Posted on 03/03/2013

I decided about one year ago that I needed to invest my time and money in a much bigger way to speed the turn around of the Melrose Mercy Neighborhood. This is the neighborhood in town with the highest percentage of vacant lots, with over 230 vacant, and 70 houses that were boarded up. Since then, many good things have happened:

1) We restarted the neighborhood association,

2) I led a group to paint a house for an elderly couple and connected with volunteers to paint another house for a gentleman who just had by-pass operation.

3) I renovated a house in the 1900 block of Melrose Ave. Three other houses have been rehabbed on the block after that.

4) I purchased a home on the corner of 21st St S and 13th Ave to rehab it but found it was too termite ridden so I tore it down and plan to build a house there.

5) Stonegate Bank offered the city a lot on 12th Ave S which the city turned down. Happily, I was able to connect them with the Wounded Warrior folks and a wound warrior will have a new home built there this Spring.

6) The City agreed to give the Wounded Warrior organization a second lot across the street. A house will be given to another wounded warrior as soon as the funds are raised for it.

7) I rehabbed a house on 12th Ave S that went from a liability on the block to one of the nicest houses on the block. Two houses on the block have had work done on them since then.

8) Wells Fargo said yes when I asked them to give the City a lot with a terrible house on it across the street from Melrose Elementary. They tore it down. The City will build 3 houses on 13th Ave S, all within one block of the two wounded warrior houses.

9) The children who walk from Jordon Park to Melrose Elementary now have a safe place to walk thanks to a sidewalk that we finished last week. At least, 50 little children use it everyday.

There is more work to do. But, it is a start. Community groups are stepping up to rehab buildings like the Fannie Ponder House and the Happy Workers Daycare. A private developer is completely rehabbing the worst two buildings on 22nd St. Another developer has rehabbed 16 units on Russell St. The momentum is building. The best days for this neighborhood are coming!

Nurse Voted Chair of Council, Sets Priorities

Posted on 03/03/2013

My fellow City Council Members elected me Chair of Council this year. I am honored and humbled by their vote. My goal this year is to help us focus on our "A List" or the critical issues to move our city forward, rather than getting distracted by politics and petty complaints. So, at the next Council meeting, I brought a poster with the "A List". I will refer to it during the year.

The "A List" is:

1) PUBLIC SAFETY,

2) JOBS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT,

3) HOUSING AND NEIGHBORHOOD RENEWAL,

4) EDUCATION AND CHILDREN'S SERVICES,

5) EFFICIENT DELIVERY OF BASIC SERVICES.

If we are able to focus our energies in these areas, we will have served our community. Please help us came an eye on the A List.

The City Budget - It's the Economy or Jobs and Neighborhoods

Posted on 04/18/2012

As the Mayor and City Council go through our annual effort to balance the city budget in challenging times, it is apparent to me that the real need is to focus investments in the two areas that can generate the biggest long term return for the city: job creation and neighborhood renewal.

The Adminstration has cut the staffing for economic development steadily over the last three years. Frankly, that is like a business complaining that sales were down and laying off the salespeople. It is short sighted and results in missed opportunities. The best economic development people are on a constant search to grow local businesses and recruit potential businesses to our area. In addition, there is a need to, like Tampa, look at our business processes in an effort to reduce the paperwork needed to create jobs.

Neighborhood renewal funding has been radically reduced over the last four years and it shows. The need now is to use the limited funding for this area to get the private sector to invest in our neighborhoods. As an example, I am proposing that we sharply reduce building permit fees in our most troubled neighborhoods for two years. If this helps spur additional building and renovations, it will generate more property taxes and benefit the surrounding properties. This is only one of the things we need to do to insure that our housing stock is updated and made more hurricane resistent and energy efficient.

Police Headquarters - We need one that we can afford.

Posted on 04/02/2012

The headline in the March 30th, Times said, "New Police Headquarters Scrapped". That is really not an option. There are several parts of the current buildings which range from the 1900's, to 1950's to 1970's, that do not work in any reasonable fashion. The evidence and labs are particularly inadequate. The computer room is housed in a fashion that does not provide for efficient operation or energy use.

The problem is one of math. The Penny for Pinellas budgeted funds totaled $50 million. The new projected receipts are $32 million. The plan that was submitted proposed spending $64 million. The current headquarters is 130,000 square feet. The plan proposed a 230,000 sq ft building and a 400 car parking garage. The original plan included an indoor police shooting range and a 250% expansion of the stolen bike storage area. That plan was revised down to 200,000 square feet.

Now, let me suggest some starting assumptions:

1) A newly planned headquarters should be more space efficient than the existing buildings so even the same space can function as bigger if well planned. Meeting rooms can serve multiple areas as an example.

2) Those portions that require large AC loads like computer rooms and some of the evidence areas should be separated conditioned. This reduces the need to heat and cool large areas to meet the needs of the computers and large refrigerators that store evidence.

3) A building can be designed to allow for a phased project. If designed well, it can look and function like one building after expansion with little additional cost.

4) 32 Million Dollars is not chump change and can build a significant building.

5) The city and county are in the early stages of discussing a possible merger of communication (911) dispatch. A merger of that section would likely not occur during the first phase of the new building. It would impact the space needed and the operating costs.

6) Most of the police officers report directly to their work sector rather than the headquarters. This lessens the need for additional space.

7) The building planners should be tasked with the job of providing the Mayor and Council with options based upon what money is available now. It is a healthy process to create downward pressure on available funds. This often leads to creative ideas to save money.

The Mayor and Council can not give up on this because money is tight. We can solve this and provide better, more efficient and more functional police services for our community.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Posted on 10/02/2011

Jobs will not solve every problem, but jobs will help solve every problem. Therefore, I have been working in an effort to bring several manufacturers to the Dome District. The City has been assembling land for more than a decade without bringing the jobs. Fortunately, I have been able to work with staff and a number of local businesspeople with connections around the world which has resulted in very serious disucssions about building additional plants in the district.

I believe we have an excellent chance of breaking ground on the first of the manufacturing sites before the year is out. Others will locate in temporary sites while they work out the details of building a facility. The jobs will have the full range from blue collar construction work to high technology research and development needs.

We need to look at everything we do to try to find ways to generate jobs from this. The city tears down about 50 houses per year. I am trying to convince my fellow councilmembers and staff that we should allow people to pull the valuable items (doors, cabinets, stairs, baseboards, hardwood floors, windows, sinks, air conditioners, metal, etc) out of the houses before we tear them down. The city would collect a modest fee, a number of jobs would be created and useful items would not go to the dump.

Another area that I am working on is called priority hiring. The city contracts at least a hundred million dollars per year of construction projects. While giving local companies a price advantage has the negative impact of raising our (taxpayers) cost, there is another way to insure that many of the jobs from significant projects go to local people. We can mandate that on projects that are big enough that many people will be hired, like the new Pier or new Police Station,that most of the newly hired employees be hired locally. This item will come before the City Council Budget committe by the end of the month.

Natives Landscaping - The Way to prevent huge increases in the cost of water.

Posted on 06/30/2011

I introduced two items this week to promote landscaping with plants and ground covers that naturally grow in Florida. This grew out of the fact that we have used all the cheap water in the Tampa Bay area. All additional water is going to come from rivers which cost twice as much and ground water or the desalination plant which costs 3.5 times as much. The solution is to shift our landscaping codes to promote native and/or "Florida Friendly" plants and grounds.

Please contact your City Council members to educate them on these needed changes.

12/12/08

The City Council PS&I committee will take up this issue on as soon as the committee chair sets a date. The members are Jeff Danner, Leslie Curran, Herb Polson and Jim Kennedy. Please encourage them to support the moves toward plants and covers that use less water, fertilizer, pesticides and maintenance.

UPDATE JANUARY 24th. We did the groundbreaking on the new water department
administration building on 16th St this week. It is designed to use 50% less
water than a traditional building and will only have drought tolerant landscaping and ground covers. It will be an excellent example of how governments would landscape to reduce water use and maintanence costs.

UPDATE: 2/18/09 The front page of yesterday's paper had a banner story about us running out of water. In spite of that, I am struggling to convince
council members that we need to move toward draught tolerant landscaping. This issue will come back to the Public Services & Inferstructure Committee next month.

UPDATE 7/20/09 - City Council will take the final step on Thursday to implement a new landscape ordinance that requires much more water efficient landscapes for new construction. Although the change will have a modest near term impact, as we redevelop our community, it will result in significant water savings.

UPDATE 6/29/11 - The Parks and Recreation Dept has been experimenting with a variety of St. Augustine alternatives, all of which require less maintenance, water, fertilizer and mowing. Some standup to foot traffic better than others. The areas in front of Sunken Gardens and the north side of the street in front of city hall are two examples of replacements for grass that are working well.

Crime Prevention at Convenience Stores - VICTORY - crime drops 65% in first year.

Posted on 02/07/2011

2/5/11 Police Chief Harman reported to city council that convenience store robberies dropped a stunned 65% during the first year after Councilmember Nurse's proposal was adopted. Seldom does any anti-crime tactic generate this kind of improvement.

3/5/09 - City Council passed the ordinance to require crime preventation efforts
at the convenience stores. It passed on a 7-1 vote. We will be a little
safer as a result.

2/20/09 - City Council approved the "1st reading" of the safety ordinances on
Thursday. The Chief of Police approved funds for the stores to add safety locks for evening use to further improve the safety of customers and employees at these stores. The final passage will be on March 5th.

2/18/09 UPDATE
The two ordinances to protect convenince stores will come before City Council
for "first" reading on 2/19/09. They should be passed on March 5th. Our
community will be a little safer as a result.

1/11/09
City Council agreed with my proposal to consider a local ordinance to require convenience stores to remove sufficient advertising from their windows to help
people see into the stores in case of robberies. We have had a rash of convenience store robberies and shootings recently. State law rquires this for some convenience stores. However, the law is adminsistered by the Attorney General's office and he has no staffers in Pinellas County. Studies are very clear, if convenience stores will adopt a series of simple anti-crime
efforts, their chances of being robbed will drop by about 40%.

Workshop is scheduled for Feb. 12th at 2:00PM at City Hall.

Open Government - More Victories

Posted on 12/05/2008

City Council approved my proposal to televise debates between candidates for Mayor and City Council starting with next year's elections. It will be on the city channel and moderated by the League of Women Voters. As President of
CONA (Council of Neighborhood Associations), I twice attempted to get Council
to agreed to provide this opportunity to citizens. Both prior attempts failed.

Dec 4th - City Council Committees dates, times, places, agendas and backup
material are now on the City website. This was a request of mine because it is in committee where ideas to change things first have to go. Previously, none of these meetings were on the website so people did not even know when issues were coming up. Now, if you go the website and look under City Council and then go to meetings and agendas, you can get this information.

Council Member Karl Nurse knows the clock is ticking.

Posted on 09/05/2008

The St. Petersburg Times recently wrote a story on the first hundred days of this job. It outlines what I have been doing. Click on the link below to read at.

Todays article:
St. Pete Times article: Council member Karl Nurse knows clock is ticking

OPEN GOVERNMENT - VICTORY

Posted on 07/12/2008

Sept 25th, 2008
City Council and the adminstration agreed to a series of changes to City Council procedures to make our actions more open generally and in particular
in economic development actions.

All additions and deletes from the City Council agenda will be posted on the City website through the end of the day prior to the City Council meeting. This will apply to all items. The background material will also be available.

The economic incentives approval process will include the above plus it will not be on the "consent" agenda. It will be on the regular agenda and a report will be given to Council prior to voting. This combination will prevent tax breaks being given to companies, in exchange for job creation, without it being an open process.

City Council approved a request of mine to direct city staff to draft a change in the city's TV ordinance to allow us to televise candidate debates in
city elections. This will allow thousands of people to see candidates directly respond to our concerns. As CONA President, I had requested this change prior to the 2007 city elections without success.

A considerable amount of press has occurred in recent days about how the City approved tax incentives to keep and attract business. I have a proposal
before City Council on 7/17, requesting a Council workshop to review the competing needs to attract business and have open government. I hope to convince council members to provide a more open process and not allow these
items to be approved on the "consent agenda" where the subject is not even
announced at the meeting.

CITY ELECTION DEBATES ON THE CITY TV STATION. This is another open government
proposal of Councilmember Nurse. Many cities use their TV station to allow
the League of Women Voters to organize debates which they televise. This allows thousands of voters to directly see their choices in local elections.
This comes before a city council committee on Thursday.

VICTORY FOR TV DEBATES - The city council committee voted to direct the staff to draft an ordinance to provide for one televised debate in the primary and
one in the general election for the 2009 city elections. Thanks to members
Jeff Danner, Leslie Curran and Jim Kennedy for standing up for democracy! -
July 24th,2008

OPEN GOVERNMENT FOR CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEES - Councilmember Nurse requested this week that the agendas for city council committees be posted on the city
website along with the city council meeting agendas. Most proposals go to a
committee first and currently it is very difficult for a citizen to learn the
status of proposals until it reaches the full city council. This brings another part of city government into the open.

OPEN Government Workshop set for Sept 18th. Staff will present the process for the City to follow the state law when providing tax incentives to keep and attract good jobs to St. Petersburg. We will also consider how to make this process more transparent. This can include: tax incentives not on the
consent agenda, putting adds and deletes on the web site (staff has agreed to
this change), limiting last minute additions to the agenda or at least prohibiting putting them on the consent agenda.