May 232017
Photo of former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker

Would you buy a used car from this guy?

So Rick Baker has decided he wants to be Mayor of St. Petersburg again. The problem is, the guy may be full of more crap than Donald Trump. One of his biggest issues is how he has treated the very large and active LGBT community in St. Pete. During all his years as Mayor, he consistently refused to sign a Pride Proclamation, and never once got close to the St. Pete Pride event.

Let’s think about this for a minute. The LGBT Pride Festival in St. Pete has grown to be the largest in Florida, and one of the largest in the nation. This is an event that injects nearly $20 million dollars per year into the local economy. Now what Mayor wouldn’t put himself right in the middle of an event that brought that much money into a city, especially during the Summer when tourism is at a lull? Well, if you are that much of a bigot like Baker, you wouldn’t.

And that $20M is in addition to a significant part of downtown that has seen a resurgence as an LGBT center of businesses, bars and restaurants, again, injecting a significant amount of economic activity and taxes into the local economy.

But it’s the video interview below that brings this into sharpest focus. First off, the coward refuses to admit he was a Trump supporter…hiding behind the claim that the Mayor’s race is non-partisan, and so he doesn’t want to bring partisan politics into the discussion, yet he had no trouble actively supporting Herman Cain a while back. He’s not sure if he would have hired the current Police Chief from among the current ranks, but I’m guessing that’s because the new Chief is black. He is doing a great job, by the way. He also tries to lay the problems of a sewage spill in Tampa Bay during flooding rains a couple of years ago at the doorstep of current Mayor Rick Kriesman. Certainly that was regrettable, but under Baker, there was even more deferred maintenance and lack of spending on improvements, so Kriesman doesn’t get all the blame for that. They get to share that.

But the real mumbo-jumbo was reserved for the LGBT question. After some word salad about the LGBT community being part of an integrated community, he finally gets around to saying this, “…and as far as the event is concerned, I will find a way to issue some sort of welcoming proclamation.” So let’s dissemble this. First, he can’t even bring himself to say what the event is, LGBT Pride Festival (“Pride,” if Rick has already used up all his word in all the other word salad he’s spouted). But then he makes it sound like he’ll find some way to issue something, without really issuing anything, “a way to issue some sort of welcoming proclamation.” So don’t let the guy fool you. Once a bigot, always a bigot.

It hasn’t been that hard for other Mayor’s to figure it out. Someone on the staff writes a statement about the important role the LGBT community plays in the economic and cultural life of St. Pete, and how St. Pete strives to be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, blah, blah, blah. They print it on a big piece of paper in a fancy font, press the seal on it, and Rick signs it. Kriesman’s managed to pull it off every year without it requiring so much thought. But don’t take my word for it, just watch the word salad spew forth.

The guy has been the Mayor. He still lives in St. Petersburg, and he wants to be Mayor again, but he just doesn’t have enough information to tell you how he would do things different from Rick Kriesman, but he would definitely do everything different. What a jerk.

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