Best Of 2018

In the not-too-distant future, plastic straws and bags may be largely banned in St. Pete. If that happens, you’ll have groups like the Rise Above Plastics Coalition to thank. While the St. Pete City Council consists of a majority of progressives, it takes local activism to help reach the community at large with a message about how much single-use plastics suck. While there are some barriers at the state level (i.e. the legislature’s efforts to block such local bans, though they’ve for now been overturned by courts), such bans would make St. Pete a leader in the movement to get us off single-use plastics. —KB

Directly in the wake of the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, students there did not hesitate to go to the media with their outrage over state and federal leaders’ inaction regarding guns. And though students in the Tampa Bay region may not have been in the line of fire, they were also incredibly pissed, and loudly expressed their frustration over having to do active shooter drills rather than, you know, actually living in a society in which mass shootings don’t happen — an idea that’s really just a few commonsense pieces of legislation away. So they organized walkouts, marches and rallies that attracted thousands. Will all this affect election outcomes and policy in the coming weeks and months? We won’t know for sure until Nov. 6 (hint, hint). @marchtampa. —KB

Every year, the Tampa Bay area/Florida in general has a multitude of stories we categorize under “this is why we can’t have nice things.” Well, the fiasco at the Florida State Fairgrounds in which one Donald J. Trump showed up to be cheered at by his unquestionably adoring worshipers… er, endorse Ron DeSantis… was one of these. This event served as the first surfacing of the bizarre Q-Anon conspiracy theorists, which was embarrassing enough, but run-of-the-mill Trump supporters then had to act like buffoons in front of the TV cameras (which they did until the cameras turned off, after which they reportedly sought selfies with nationally famous journalists like Acosta), and both sides ended up flinging literal horseshit. Nice look. —KB

Apparently not everyone wants to be her neighbor. This past June, Florida AG Bondi headed to the historic Tampa Theatre to see the new Mister Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, only to be greeted by protesters demanding answers about her stances on healthcare and immigration. A brief confrontation before the movie apparently resulted in her calling the cops, who escorted her out of the theater past a larger throng. Bondi’s tepid response lamented the differences between the world Mister Rogers tried to inspire and the partisan vitriol of the real one, lumping herself in with the other politicos approached by citizens in public over the summer — politicos who seem not to understand what the “public” part of “public servant” means. —SH

Clowns to the left of him, jokers to the right, the outgoing Speaker of the Florida House was stuck in the middle of Florida Republicanism and thus had to bow out of the GOP gubernatorial primary this past spring. Corcoran, a Pasco Republican, was obviously not going to go anywhere near the quasi-moderate politics of Adam Putnam, and there was no way he was going to out-Trump Trump bro Ron DeSantis. And now he’s terming out with nowhere to go. So all those (successful) efforts to gut everything from public education to economic development to environmental protection were for naught. So long, dude. We’ll always have that racist, anti-immigrant video spot you made that will forever live on YouTube to remind us of your misguided leadership. —KB

As someone who commutes south over the Sunshine Skyway most days, I can 10/10 attest that it’s substantially less chaotic than the northbound Howard Frankland at rush hour. And the views from the summit are downright breathtaking. Most days, I run at least a 5k before breakfast (and commuting south, obvs). Then, when I hit the crest of that bridge, which happens to be around 190 feet high, I wonder how amazing it would have been had I opted to wake up at 3:30 a.m. that March morning to run the Skyway 10k; what it would have been like to take in those views at a pace significantly south of 70 mph. Next year, I’ll go for it. —KB

As high rent shoves many of the businesses that made downtown St. Pete cool further north and west, the Fringe District has become an antidote to gentrification on Central as well as the corporate takeover of the 4th Street corridor. The neighborhood had its own brush with corporate monotony earlier this year, though, when a land owner/developer asked the city to allow Dunkin Donuts to open a drive-thru at MLK Street North and 1st Ave. North, the district’s southern end. Business owners and employees knew the city couldn’t reject the proposal on emotional grounds, so they packed a crowded committee hearing and argued that having a drive-thru there would pose problems to public safety. The committee, which didn’t seem too stoked about another friggin’ Dunkin Donuts to begin with, agreed. —KB

The Secretary of Agriculture knew he’d have to maneuver as far to the right as possible in his GOP primary bid for governor against Ron DeSantis. Hence, he pledged his undying love for one Marion Hammer. Alas (for him), DeSantis got the Trump bump, although by then all six moderate Republicans that still exist in the wild (if that many) were probably already turned off by his giant leap to the right anyway. By primary day, his “base” consisted of people who knew him as a kid or recently worked with him (LOL, Pam Bondi) or whatever. Psssst… Adam… wanna join #TheResistance? It’s hella fun up here. —KB

Unless you’re the money person, or the team itself, the prospect of the Rays actually scoring an $892 million stadium in historic Ybor City seems to be totally up in the air. Bigwigs say they’ll put up sponsorship and season tickets, and cheerleading is definitely on full blast, but the team itself has only pledged the contribute a fraction of the cost, which leaves us wondering: Who else is gonna pick up the tab? Plus, why isn’t anyone talking about the way inevitably rising rents are going to affect all the venues and bars that give Ybor its charm? —RR

For a cultural destination and overall contemporary city on the rise, St. Pete sure has a lot of gross mattresses and half-destroyed baby furniture leaning against fences in its alleys. This isn’t the city’s fault; we’ve got great sanitation services, cheap recycling and plenty of resources and information available to those who need to drop crap off or have crap picked up. But we’ve also got a segment of the population that’s not completely engaged in the community, for whatever reason, and that’s unlikely to change without a little targeted outreach on the part of the city itself. It’s not the affluent or the influential who are dumping their shit when they move out of one of the few cheap apartments left in town, and I’m not sure if they don’t know or don’t care that the guys in the trucks aren’t reponsible for taking that crap on their regular trash runs, but I do know that people who feel more a part of something are generally more likely to take better care of it. —SH