Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Big A and Little a

Last Friday Morning as the news of the Big A shuffle hit the papers, the Little a artists group was having our Friday Morning Group meeting. The contrast could not have been more stark. The St. Pete Times was all abuzz about the Big A shuffle of the Palladium, American Stage and the Florida Orchestra engineered by all the usual Big A suspects. Not a word was written about the Little a artists who actually produce the art for the Big A. So what else is new?

Speaking of Big A, we did get some interesting news from our own Lexy about Tom James latest plan. Tom is going to build a Western Art museum in downtown St. Petersburg at a yet to be determined site.

Last Friday we welcomed back some old faces and greeted some new (to me anyway) faces. Bob Devin Jones brought us up to date on the goings on at the Studio @ 620. The Studio currently is showing a very interesting photography exhibit by Zachariah Thompson. The photographs are of laundromats reminding all of us of the good old (or maybe not so good old) days. The show has been very well received, perhaps because we all can relate to the subject in one way or another.

The multi-faceted Peter Kagayama, current President of Creative Tampa Bay, another old familiar face also joined us last Friday. Peter just returned from some more of his Creative Community globe hopping to Singapore and other interesting far off places. Being the ever so deft communication specialist that he is, Peter dropped the phrase "creative competitiveness"on us. That has a ring to it doesn't it?

Len Neff also joined us. Besides Len's well known work with beaded glass, Len talked about his work with public art in Pinellas County.

Among the new faces was Cliff Rice. Cliff works with folk musician and social activist Lorna Bracewell. Lorna has been doing a series of On This Earth benefit concerts for CASA and other worthy causes. The next concert in the spring is going to benefit Habitat for the Humanities. Cliff is looking to incorporate visual artists into the event, so if you have an interest you can contact Cliff at or call him at 727-430-3130.

And our old friend Nancy Loehr dropped by with County Commissioner Ken Welch in tow.

You never know who might show up at the Friday Morning Group. This Friday, it might even be you.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Really Stupid People Tricks

Michael Hussey over at Pushing Rope alerted me to one of the stupidest and mean spirited plans I've heard of from someone local in a long time. You have to read this and maybe like me, you still won't belive it:

Rachel Moran has the less-than-brilliant brainstorm of filming homeless people getting assaulted by her friends.

We are thinking about proving this nuisance and need for civil action by making a short film called “Eddie Rolls on the Homeless,” whereby Mark secretly videotapes me and Lil Sis in a variety of situations to see how many homeless people approach us and, then, how many of these situations escalate into harrassment. Then, he’s gonna videotape Eddie in the same scenarios, only Eddie is going to beat up every homeless person who escalates the contact after being told that his panhandling is illegal and annoying.

More from Michael Hussey's post:

Let's make this clear. What Moran proposes is illegal. This isn't funny. It's a crime and should be treated as such. Feel free to contact the St. Petersburg police department about this post.

District I
(southern St. Petersburg)

District II
(north and northeast - Including Downtown St. Petersburg)

District III
(western St. Petersburg)

Give them a call and let them know you want the police to do their duty to serve and protect.

And, yes, that includes the homeless.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

All You Gotta Do is Act Locally

After the 2000 Presidential election debacle in Florida, I did what many of my fellow Floridians did. After I got done slamming my head up against the wall and puking at the sight of Katherine Harris (I still do that, BTW), I started doing some soul searching and some number crunching.

What came out of that was the realization that if we had just been a little smarter, worked just a little harder, we could have changed the course of history. And it was right there in front of us the whole time.

So, below the fold, I'm gonna take you to the big time, all you gotta do is...

Cross Posted from Florida Kossacks

Regardless of what we think of it, the final official vote count in Florida for the 2000 Presidential Election had Al Gore losing Florida's then 25 Electoral Votes to George W Bush by 537 votes. After the Supremes sang their final tune, ole Al sang "Turn out the lights, the party's over". And that was all she wrote.

How could this have happened? We had the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County. We had hanging and pregnant and dimpled chads. We had the Goper Goon squad led by John Bolton (yeah that John Bolton) beating on the glass at the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office.

But all of that should not have mattered. There are those who say elections are never perfect. The only time we even care about this crap is when the elections are so close. And you know, they're right. Any plan conceived by humans becomes worthless once the opening bell rings. But it didn't have to be that way.

I live in Pinellas County Florida. Pinellas is the western anchor of the infamous I-4 Corridor in Central Florida. It is now the swing County in the swing region in the swing state. I bet my fellow Pinellans didn't get it that we are such swingers. We swung to Al Gore by 10,000 votes, so you'd think we could say we did our part. But that ain't the whole truth. The sad fact is we left 10,023 votes on the table in Pinellas. That is the number of votes rung up by erstwhile Green Party candidate Don Quiote de la Nader. Don Ralph Nader and company can be said, fairly or unfairly to have cost Al Gore the White House.

You could use the John Kerry 2000 Electoral analysis. His answer when asked in early 2003 how her was going to win in the South was an absolute classic. After his jaw stopped tightening up and his face stopped turning red, here's what he said:

If Al Gore had won New Hampshire, he'd be President of the United

The last time I checked, New Hampshire was not even is Southern New England, much less the Southern United States. But that was the way Kerry looked at it. I shoulda, known, I shoulda known. I did work for Bob Graham's abortive campaign, and then sat back as Kerry claimed the nomination. And there wasn't nuthin I could do about it. So, I got on the Kerry Bandwagon and did what I could for him. But we all know how that turned out.

So, here we go into the the nascent stages of the 2008 Presidential campaign cycle. John Edwards and Tom Vilsack have announced. A host of others from Biden to Clinton to Obama and some in between are lined up waiting their turn to jump.What are we going to do this time to make the outcome better?

I tried something in the 2004 cycle. I tried to snake some of those 10,000 Ralph Nader votes back from our Green Party friends. I went to Green Party gatherings and made nice. I listened to what they had to say. I found where where our values overlapped. And I took to heart something that is the Green Party Mantra:

Think Globally and Act Locally
Once that sank in, I think I helped make a difference. And I don't think I'm anything special, or that I did anything all of y'all could have done and probably done better than I did. Ralph Nader was again on the ballot as the Green Party candidate in 2004. My pitch to the Green's was pretty simple. Greens and Dems share most of the same values. Greens could make an impact on the Dems and move the Party in their direction if the got in the game on the side of the Dems. And the clincher was my sig line:

You cain't govern if you cain't win
Did it work? Well, John Kerry lost Pinellas County by 226 votes. But Ralph Nader only got 2,042 votes in Pinellas. Did we pick up an additional 8,000 votes for Kerry? I don't know. I'd like to think so. I know we got some, maybe most.

And all I had to do was act locally.

Friday, January 5, 2007

First Friday of 2007

The Friday Moning Group resumed the weekly (Friday morning, imagine that) meetings at the Atlanta Bread Company in Downtown St. Pete this morning. About 10 of us gathered to talk about things of interest to us.

As is often the case, there was another meeting going on at the ABC at the same time. A City employee who has something to do with the Arts, a Downtown Business Booster, and a Florida Progress Employee were all huddled right outside our little meeting room in the back. No tellin what they were talking about (they wouldn't tell), but I'll bet we had more fun and will get more done. Takers?

Our main focus again was how to support artists in St. Petersburg. It was suggested that one way to do that would be to try and get the City and the County to market us as an art buyers destination. The tie ins with economic and tourist development became rapidly apparent.Michele Tuegel of the County Cultural Affairs Council suggested that for St. Petersburg, it would make sense to approach Mayor Rick Baker. Herb Snitzer indicated he would contact Pinellas County Commission Chair Ken Welch.

There was also a discussion about affordable and mixed use housing development for artists. There is a critical need for affordable housing and studio locations for artists in St. Petersburg. Artists are particularly feeling the twin sqeezes of rising property taxes and property insurance. We talked about various options currently available to assist first time home buyers and also using properties the City has purchased primarly as a land bank.

We then moved to a discussion of historic preservation in St. Petersburg. There was a discussion of a plan to purchase a large chunk of the Jannus Landing block to preserve the buildings and the concert venue. There was also a discussion about the transfer of development rights on historic properties within the CBD-3 area in downtown.

Before the group really got under weigh, there was a rather lively discussion about education, which is always a good thing. The talk centered around how to close the achievment gap between white and other students. Heb Snitzer suggested that for the first at least two years, that children are in the public school system, be spent entirely on reading. It was suggested that this might help level the playing field for disadvantaged students. Their main disadvantage at this point is that a good portion of these children are far behind their counterparts in time spent reading with their partents or other care givers.

First time attendees this morning included:

Bob and Amy Barancik. Bob is an artist, photographer and independent film maker.
Cndy McFerrin, a developer and art enthusiast.

And we welcomed back Lexey Covell who is the Tour Coordinator for the Raymond James art collection, the most extensive corporate collection in the Southeast US.

If you were not at the meeting this morning, we missed you. If you were at the meeting and want to include something I left out. please do so in the comments.

We look forwad to seeing you all next Friday morning.