Conflict in St. Pete
Regarding St. Petersburg City Council member Karl Nurse’s acquisition of Midtown properties: This raises a conflict of interest question. Specifically, is it appropriate for a sitting member of city council to initiate new policy, propose modifications to existing policies and ultimately purchase and sell properties in the designated redevelopment area where his policy reforms are enacted?
Media report that Nurse has quietly bought Midtown properties through foreclosure and tax deeds, and initially voted for a program to erase liens and assessments on vacated properties in order to facilitate sales. Nurse reportedly abstained from the final vote on the program, and if memory serves me correctly, his abstention followed an admonishment by former council member Leslie Curran. Ironically, section 9-1, of the St. Petersburg Rules and Regulations clearly states: “City employees and officers must avoid ... even the appearance of a conflict of interest ...”
Nurse reported he sold two properties, still owns four, acts as his own real estate agent to save money and has one property listed for nearly $90,000. Nurse also acknowledges the special taxing district he supported will benefit him with respect to his holdings.
Section 9-2(F) of the city rules and regulations prohibits city officers and employees from having personal investments in enterprises which reasonably creates conflict between one’s private and public interests. As noble as Nurse’s stated intentions may be, his actions do not appear to pass the smell test and when held up to the light of day raises even more questions.
Nurse says he did not pursue his purchases to make a profit, and it may take years for him to recoup his investment given the current status of the housing market. But let’s not forget, the market is rebounding, and Nurse did not become a millionaire by losing money or merely breaking even.
Goliath J. Davis, III
The writer, who holds a Ph.D., is a former St. Petersburg city official.
My heart goes out the residents of the Ruskin community. In Saturdays paper (“Ruskin’s future development in question,” Metro), it appears the comprehensive plan for the area is missing a key document from the study group in Ruskin outlining lot sizes and densities, etc. It was omitted from the final approved plan! What makes matters worse is that a county attorney working on the matter knows nothing about how or why it was left out. This sounds so familiar. The “Hillsborough Two-Step:” No one is responsible; no one is held accountable. At worse, perhaps transfer the person responsible if that can ever be determined.
I guess I look at things in a rather simple fashion. I see a group of interested parties in Ruskin meeting, intent on finding a solution to long-range plans for the area. They come up with their list. They then present the list to the planning department folks, who tell them this is all good and we will incorporate it in the final plan. Time goes on, and wham — it’s left out. At some point there is a record of who had the list last and should show what happened to it. Someone, somewhere knows the truth.
Let’s give credit where credit is due. Russia and President Putin did everything they said they would do to make a successful Olympics, so let’s stop the constant criticism. The only issue was the weather — too warm — but who can control nature?
More important was the effort, or lack of, from the U.S. hockey team. After beating what proved to be a less-than-stellar Russian squad in a historic contest, they let their guard down against a stellar Canadian team and then totally quit against Finland. They should be embarrassed for their inept effort. There is no excuse except they lost the “fire” in their heart. What example does that send to our young athletes who are not paid the dollars these professional “Olympians” are paid?
Regarding “The myth of ‘settled science’ ” (Charles Krauthammer, Other Views, Feb. 22): The observations of Krauthammer are right-on. Almost 40 years ago international climate gurus predicted that by 2020 five meters of ice would cover Western Europe. When the weather began to warm they switched to dire predictions of global warming. Now, like their American soul mates, these self-styled experts are (again) switch hitting to the euphemism climate change. This substantiates Albert Einstein’s remark: “The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.”
James J Harkins IV
Sun City Center
Regarding “The hype of drug legalization” (Other Views, Feb. 21): The problem with the drug war is not the hype; it’s the goal: “to limit demand for drugs,” as measured by annual surveys of drug use. The unstated assumption is that drug addiction will decline in proportion to drug use. It won’t. When penalties rise and/or society frowns harder on drug use, large numbers of casual users quit, allowing the surveys to report success. But addicts continue to get their drug because they are, well, addicts. It is they — not the casual users — who damage society. The goal should be “to limit addiction to drugs,” and the task be shifted from the Department of Justice to the Department of Health and Human Services.
John G. Chase