Sunday, April 12, 2015

The St. Pete Pier Process a way to the end

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog

Mayor Rick Kriseman's crass statement "build the damn Pier" is a testament to how little he and his deeply inexperienced senior staff fail to understand the office of a strong Mayor. Faced with the very process he created crumbling before his eyes the Mayor is frustrated and his staff is clueless.

This is not the time for barroom rhetoric; it is the time for insightful leadership. It's time to calm the waters not stir the pot. It's time to be a leader.

We will never know for sure whether Kriseman's handpicked Selection Committee Chairman Mike Connors screwed up with his rant against the current pier or was simply following orders like the good solider he is.

What is obvious is the Mayor's failure to step in and do some damage control regarding the Connors' rant and reassure the Selection Committee that they have his full support has left the people serving on the Selection Committee in a very difficult spot.

There has been a lot of talk about how the Committee can only evaluate on the merits of the proposers.

The objective of this formal selection process is to get a project built. One of the merits must be how the customer views the quality, suitability and functionality of the proposed design.

One Survey and two polls provide the answer.

The thing to keep in mind is the customer for this project is not the Mayor, not the Selection Committee, not Mike Connors, not the Mayor's Dream Team, not City Council; it is you the citizen and taxpayer. The Selection Committee must accord your opinion the merit it deserves.

There seems to be general agreement that all of the remaining designs can be constructed. The bigger question is which one can actually be approved and actually built?

The Selection Committee has a responsibility to evaluate all of the merits including the public's opinion, which is a functional merit, and that merit is simply acceptability.

It is unreasonable for the Selection Committee to rank a design team first when it is highly unlikely the project with that team will actually be approved due to lack of public and/or political support.

The five people on the Selection Committee have the opportunity to make a historic decision that will allow City Council to move St. Pete forward or create a firestorm which will distract the Kriseman administration, the City Council and the community for months if not years to come.

The Selection Committee can do the City of St. Petersburg a great service by simply following the rules and looking at all of the merits.

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