David McKalip criticizes opponents regarding the Lens, opponents lash back

McKalip has been an outspoken critic of the Lens, and during our talk he took a shot at both Rice and Fries while boasting his bona fides in that department.

"Darden Rice has never shown up to work against the Lens. She didn't work to collect signatures like I did. Carolyn Fries has never shown up to do anything to stop the Lens, but now they're latching on in the littlest way possible because they don't want to offend the pro-Lens people, and they don't want to offend the Stop the Lens people," he said, while emphasizing that he has shown leadership on the issue.

"My position is very clear on the website," Rice responded when I repeated McKalip's comments to her (she supports allowing the public to vote on the issue).

Rice said as she canvasses the district, the top issues on voters' minds are improving the economy and public safety.

"I feel pretty strongly that I have my finger on the pulse of how District 4 voters feel, and I couldn't be clearer about where I am on the Lens. I say it's time to hit the reset button — let the laboratory of democracy settle this out, and let the people vote," she said.

Likewise, Carolyn Fries said she has also been forthright on her opinion about the Lens on her website. She thinks the city should cancel its contract with Lens architect Michael Maltzan. "Perhaps I have not been as vocal" as McKalip has been, she added, or "excessively polarizing." She said to be an effective member of city council you must be able to work with a number of people within the community to find common ground; she said she's always been a good listener.

McKalip, a St. Pete-based neurosurgeon, is no stranger to being in the public eye. Though this is his first effort to become an elected official. A simple Google search of David McKalip brings up his resignation from the Pinellas County Medical Association in 2009 after he whipped up a cauldron of controversy by forwarding an e-mail of a doctored photo of President Obama as a witch doctor in a loin cloth and headdress with bones in his nose.

He's been a regular presence with fellow Tea Party members at Pinellas County Commission meetings throughout the past year, and he has spoken out against what he called the wayward ways of the St. Petersburg City Council.

"They mislead the voters," he said of the current City Council members. "They push ideas that don't work and that fail, and they expect to get support. And they expect us to pay for it and keep our mouth shut."

McKalip called the recent story about IRS agents targeting conservative groups for extra scrutiny "serious," but added that there are "so many scandals that are bigger that are being ignored."

When asked to name one, he named several, such as the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi last September, and his opposition to the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), which could allow the military to indefinitely detain American citizens on suspicions of supporting terrorism.

And there's more.

"Like the use of drones to kill American citizens. The arrest powers of the federal government to arrest people and put them in jail for life without a trial under the NDAA," he said. "It's just one of a number of examples of an out of control federal government. I think government starts at the local level. I want to make St Pete a no-drone zone. I don't want surveillance cameras on our street corners. And if we do, the video would be used only on a warrant specific to a person or an event that you're linking it to."

  • David McKalip

As of late, there has been quite a bit of news about the St. Pete City Council District 4 race. Mark Puente of the Times reported last week that both Darden Rice and David McKalip have rented homes in the newly drawn up district but don't actually live there.

St. Pete's charter requires that candidates live in a district for a full year before an election. Uncertainty ensued this year after the Redistricting Commission changed district boundaries, leaving both candidates outside of the newly drawn District 4.

The third entrant into the race, Carolyn Fries, called on the pair to drop out after news broke, but said she won't pursue legal action.

Not surprisingly, neither candidate plans on exiting the contest. A day before Puente's story broke, I bumped into McKalip at the spanking new Birchwood Inn — at a fundraising event hosted by St Pete Pride — and got his views on the issues.


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