Rick Kriseman

Dispatch from Dept. of We Used To Serve Together, starring Patronis and Kriseman

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis engaged in a tweetstorm earlier this week with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman over a lawsuit involving a city firefighter diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Patronis, who also serves as the state’s fire marshal, took shots at Kriseman after hearing a report that the city had denied benefits for Lt. Jason Francis, who began his cancer treatments two months before a new state law that expanded cancer benefits for firefighters went into effect.

Patronis, who has more than 15,000 Twitter followers, accused the city of “splitting hairs with a first responder’s life,” adding in the tweet, “We must not allow these heroes to slip into a bureaucratic hole.”

Kriseman, a Democrat who has roughly 2,000 more Twitter followers than Patronis, replied: “Jimmy, happy to provide you with facts. Let me know.”

That prompted Patronis, a Republican, to up the ante by noting that he and Kriseman served in the state House together.

“I know your heart. You can change any policy you wish with a simple majority of your @StPeteFL Council. It’s time to step up to provide the necessary changes for this hero,” Patronis tweeted, with the addition of “#Dotherightthing.”

Kriseman shot back: “Not council purview. We’re doing the right thing. My comms director tweeted our statement and facts to you. Thanks.”

The new law, pushed by Patronis, provides benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer. It also helps firefighters pay their bills while undergoing cancer treatment by providing lump-sum payments of $25,000 upon diagnosis. The Florida League of Cities opposed the measure, raising questions about how local governments would pay for the expansion of benefits.

Francis’ problem, from the city of St. Petersburg’s view, is that it’s uncertain whether the law, which went into effect after the firefighter was diagnosed, is retroactive.

But that wasn’t good enough for Patronis.

“Mayor @Kriseman, sometimes the legislature has to pass policy that can’t seem to get resolved at the local government level. Legislative intent was to cover Firefighters with cancer, there is nothing prohibiting you create a local solution for this hero,” Patronis tweeted, drawing another volley from the obviously irked mayor.

“Classic Trump playbook from my GOP friends: tweet first, facts never. Like Lt. Francis & his legal team, we are seeking clarity on the statute either from the court or Tallahassee. Hoping the Legislature offers clarity so cities like mine can provide firefighters their due,” Kriseman snapped.

But it didn’t end there.

Patronis, in a post that included the hashtag “#leadership failure,” retorted that the city should just act.

That led Kriseman to post a release from the city, which said Francis has received more than 100 hours of donated annual leave from colleagues and city officials, and that the “city, as well as Lt. Francis’s own lawsuit, seek clarity from a court or from the Florida Legislature to clarify this benefit.”

— By Jim Turner.

Fla Dems: We’re not in disarray

Florida Dems are using St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s “big win” Tuesday — as well as victories in Virginia, Washington and New Jersey — as proof that their party has got it together.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel sent out an email to supporters this morning piggybacking on the victories to raise money.

“These wins proved that Democrats aren’t in disarray, but working harder than ever to rebuild our party after 2016.

But, between now and Election Day 2018, we know a lot can happen. That is why now that Democrats have won big, we’re not resting in Florida — we’re working harder than ever before.

“We can’t do that though if we don’t raise $1O,OOO before the end of the day today. Can you click here and donate $5 now?”  Bittel wrote.

Kriseman, the incumbent, defeated former mayor Rick Baker in a hotly contested race that was technically non-partisan but in which major party players — like former VP Joe Biden — participated.

Dems are banking that the strategies used in Tuesday’s elections will provide a playbook going into next year’s elections, where Florida Democrats hope to flip legislative seats and win back the governor’s mansion, which has been in GOP hands for nearly two decades.

Dems bash rebranded Baker in St. Pete

It may have worked it Miami, so why not St. Pete?

Florida Dems and incumbent St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s campaign have tethered Rick Baker, a Republican who’s seeking a comeback as mayor, to President Donald Trump, who’s not exactly a rock star in the left-leaning Pinellas County seat.

Dems used the same strategy in a Miami special election in August, successfully pairing Trump with former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. The Miami Republican and his allies vastly outspent Democratic opponent Annette Taddeo in the race for the open Senate seat, but Taddeo coasted to victory.

In advance of the advent of early voting tomorrow, Florida Democrats released a new ad bashing Baker, again tying him to the president.

“The new Rick Baker: angry, deceptive and backwards,” a voiceover says.

“Rick Baker is taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook. He’s willing to say or do anything to win an election—anything besides challenge Donald Trump. Even when Trump embraced white supremacists, Baker was silent. Now that his campaign is flailing, he’s willing to lie if it means getting his old job back. Baker seems to have traded his dignity for $25,000 from the RNC,” Florida Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Amir Avin said in a press release announcing the ad.

Florida Dems launch TV ad in St. Pete mayor’s race

The Florida Democratic Party is running a TV ad aimed at keeping St. Petersburg blue.

The mayoral race is a rock ’em, sock ’em battle not only between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat, and Republican Rick Baker, a former mayor who left office in 2010.

The November election is also viewed as a contest between state Dems and Republicans, and could foreshadow Democrats’ ability to score in legislative and statewide races next year.

The ad puts Baker on the “Extreme Team” alongside President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee backed by Baker. (Note the ominous clouds in the background while the Reds are on the field).

“Baker is weak, out of touch with our values,” a voice over proclaims.

In contrast, the ad links Kriseman, a former state representative who took over as mayor three years ago, with former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and hometown Congressman Charlie Crist.