Best Of 2015

"Khaleesi" Goetz, Critter and her other two dragons.
"Khaleesi" Goetz, Critter and her other two dragons.

Facebook is an “Awwww” machine, its endless stream of cute kitties and kiddies inevitably generating warm fuzzies and awesome pageviews. It takes something special, though, to defy the Tolstoy truism that all happy families are alike and make your own daily diary so distinctively entertaining that even kidless curmudgeons will look forward to the next installment. That’s what Crawford Long, Kari Goetz and their son Porter, aka Critter, managed to do in the first year of his life, from June, 2014, to June, 2015, not just with Awww-worthy photos (though there were plenty of those) but hilarious deadpan commentary (sometimes assuming Critter’s voice) that captured both the stresses and the joys of first-year parenting. It helped, of course, that “Dad-man” is a kickass writer, photographer and lawyer, mom is the equally amazing actor (Stageworks’ Sylvia) and TIA marketing director, and Critter, is well, Critter. And while it’s sad to report that the chronicles of his life have ceased to be published on a daily basis, we expect we’ll continue to be entertained by whatever posts his future no-doubt-delightful life will yield.

People & Politics

People & Politics
Best "Christian"

Speaking of Larry Ahern, we think he deserves mention for his attempt to convince the St. Pete City Council to fly a “pro-life” flag during whatever time the far right celebrates its hatred of female autonomy. He voiced that assertion at a meeting in which the council was passing a proclamation in honor of Pride Week, a time during which the Pride flag flies outside City Hall to honor equality and signify that bigotry isn’t welcome in St. Pete. His request, naturally, went unheeded. Hear that? That’s the sound of the impotent rage of knuckle draggers.

Best "Screw You" You to Nature and The Will of The People

Few things are more depressing than watching dozens of people pleading with an ambivalent group of officials bent on causing untold suffering. But here we are, weeks out from a weeklong free-for-all black bear hunt in Florida’s most remote areas because some bears wandered into exurban subdivisions looking for food. They say the hunt will be limited to 320 bears (wonder if they’ll enforce that), or some 10 percent of the estimated population (though they won’t have an accurate estimate until a year from now). But, hey, we’re sure everyone who hunts those bears is doing so out of concern for sustainability and will use every part of the animal they kill, at least every part they can use as décor for their dens.

Best Beach Town
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Runners-Up: Pass-A-Grille, Anna Maria Island

Best Blog You Should Already Be Reading

Naming her blog after “a rare flower found in the South that lives in the sand,” progressive writer Marth Jackovics really goes for the throat on the state’s hypocrisy, and does so with excellent wit and insight. She’s also fun to follow on Twitter.

Best Can’t Believe This Is Finally Happening

It’s rare that St. Pete moves quickly on anything. Things drag out much longer than they need to, largely due to how divided the city can get on matters of development and preservation. So it’s kind of hard to fathom that the inverted pyramid is actually being dismantled. Granted, the Pier has been an ongoing issue for years (the 2013 Lens vote, anyone?). But still, it’ll be strange and sad to see it go to make way for Pier Park. We feel for those that worked hard to preserve the 1973 structure, and did so tirelessly more than once.

Best Champion for Disabled Drivers

When the Nuance Galleries owner began noticing a recurring pattern of illegal handicapped parking at the South Tampa Starbucks (at Dale Mabry and Azeele), he started asking non-permitted customers to move their cars. A customer complained to the coffee shop’s manager, who told Rowen to stop harassing customers, and when Rowen contacted the Starbucks regional office, the district manager banned him from visiting all Starbucks locations. Local and national media seized on Rowen’s story, and a few days later, Rowen was notified that the ban was revoked.

Best Chickenshit Display of Corporate Public Relations
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“I’m a little disappointed,” disabled parking activist Rob Rowen told WTSP Ch. 10 of his meeting with Starbucks Vice President and General Manager Pablo Arizmendi-Kalb. According to WTSP, when Rowen suggested in-store signs encouraging friendlier parking practices for the disabled and a national awareness campaign, the Starbucks rep chose to flee the scene rather than give an answer on camera. The South Tampa store has complied, but Rowen says the battle will be won when all Starbucks stores are on board.

Best City Councilmember

From her wage theft ordinance to her outspokenness on environmental issues, Rice is someone who’s not only perpetually on the right side of history, but is often leading the way on issues that will define St. Pete for generations. She’s thorough and thoughtful on issues like the Rays’ stadium debate and always well-spoken. We do sometimes worry she’ll leave her seat before she terms out to run for higher office, though, which she certainly has the ambition and talent to do, as we would miss her. (We must note there were quite a few runners-up for this award among her colleagues, including Councilmembers Karl Nurse, Amy Foster and Steve Kornell.)

Best City: Tampa, St. Pete, or Clearwater?

Runners-Up: Tampa, Clearwater