Hard Candy: Campaign Promises

By Cathy Salustri

I would like to take this column to announce my candidacy for the next Gulfport municipal election.

Here’s what I promise:

I will open the Gulfport Casino as a bar during special events and Art Walks to help with budget woes. I will also not rest until the city gets a liquor license for city hall. After all, who here at council hasn’t though that things would go better with a little bourbon? In addition, it will stop some of the name calling. Why? Who can get mad at someone who just bought you a drink? In the interest of keeping the meetings short, I will insist that council play a version of the old college drinking game “Hi, Bob!” whereby everyone had to drink whenever someone said “Hi, Bob!” on the Bob Newhart show. If I am elected, the entire council will have to drink a shot of their choosing every time someone used the phrase “government in the sunshine” or “code enforcement.”

During council’s reports, any council member who uses more than the same three minutes allotted to citizens who speak will have to put their week’s salary back into the city’s coffers.

While we’re talking about what I’d do at council, I plan to give registered voters who voted in the last election double the time to speak at meetings then those who don’t vote.
Employees not getting raises? Not under my rule. Forget the “rollback rate” – I’m doing away with our property taxes completely and implementing a 20% city-wide sales tax. That should give us plenty of money to not only allow our support staff to make a living wage, but to get a second code enforcement officer to deal with those junk properties behind O’Maddy’s and litter left along the streets of Ward Four.

How about our marina? I say let’s make it even more profitable. First step: I think our harbormaster does a fantastic job. So much so I think we should build him a new ship’s store – complete with a Tiki bar on top. It will serve fish and burgers, and the Worthingtons will supply the fish (because, really, they have more people at any given Worthington fish fry than any small Tiki bar could ever hope to serve in one night). It will close 30 minutes after sundown, but don’t worry that the marina feels abandoned at night– I’m going to open it up to heavily regulated liveaboard vessels. That’s right, priority slips will go to people who can prove their ship’s seaworthiness, agree to regular Coast Guard inspections, and pay our new exorbitant slip rent for liveaboards (I think $20 a foot is fair, don’t you?)

Now, about Clam Bayou. Gosh, this one’s a toughie. Since the city’s going to make all this money under my new plan, we’re going to truly restore Clam Bayou– to the 1926 shoreline. We will buy back all the land between Boca Ciega Bay and, oh, 30th Street. On the other side of Clam Bayou we’re going to buy back all the homes between Miriam and the bayou and let the water run back through there. Now, I know that some of those homes were on the Tour of Homes and sure we’re going to displace some folks, but I’m tired of this Clam Bayou thing being an issue, so here’s what we’ll do:

We’ll pay whatever the homeowner paid for the home when they bought it with a 4% cost-of-living increase for every year they’ve lived there. If they’ve made major improvements, well, of course we’ll pay more. We will also pay their moving expenses if they agree to move into a vacant and financially distressed Gulfport property and renovate it.
Of course, this also means marina will have to move, but I think behind the Recreation Center is the perfect place for it, don’t you?

Also, I’m going to make sure the city of Gulfport sues the city of St. Petersburg for its discharge into the Bayou. I will not seek fiscal recompense but instead the city, under my fair and just leadership, will sue for a legislative mandate – enforced by Gulfport’s newly hired “Environmental Enforcement Officers” – that vehicles on any roads with stormwater systems that drain into our bayou must be electric, not gas powered.

Lest you think I’m forgetting my pals in the Arts District, fear not. I’m turning Beach and Shore Boulevards into a combustion motor exclusion zone, which probably isn’t the right word for such a zone on land. All it means is that golf cars, pediacabs, bicycles and pedestrians are all that’s allowed on those two streets.

As long as I’m thinking green, I want to see more environmentally aware businesses in the city. So here’s the deal: anyone who can offer a service that reduces Gulfport’s carbon footprint only has to charge half of that 20% sales tax I mentioned. Along those lines, I’m also planning on outlawing individual bottles of water and making it illegal for restaurants to put a glass of water in front of you unless you request it.
I’m also going to open up our beaches to dogs. Now, I know the arguments against, but here’s how we’re going to deal with anyone who doesn’t pick up after their dog: we get to take their dog. Guaranteed that will stop the problem dead in its tracks.

Under my regime, we will also rip out every blade of grass and Xeriscape all public areas. In addition water customers will pay a $50 monthly fee if they don’t have a Xeriscaped landscape. I will ask the Pinellas County Cooperative Extension to send in their Master Gardeners to help accomplish this in a cost-effective manner.

Finally, I’m planning to sue St. Petersburg for the way they’ve compromised the quality of life for residents along the 49th Street corridor and demand they staff their police force accordingly. The lawsuit will also demand that they devote a portion of their budget to improving the quality of life for those residents in the south side, as that crime touches our borders and impacts our quality of life, too. What portion, you ask? I will demand a percentage in line with residents, not voters. So if the south side has ⅓ of the St. Petersburg’s residents, ⅓ of the city’s monies must get spent in the south side. That should help beef up their force and make things sweeter along our borders.

Let’s see, what else? Oh, yes. Free city-wide wireless internet access. Legalized marijuana (as far as I can tell it’s damn near the city flower anyway), legalized gay marriages, and “councilman for a day” events where citizens get to sit in my seat on council and vote my vote.
So there you have it: my campaign promises for the 2012 Gulfport election. Call me crazy, but I think it just might work. Of course, I live outside city limits, but I think I might change that rule, too.

Happy April Fool’s Day.

Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com or through her Hard Candy Facebook page.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.