Morning Report: Kinder, gentler Charlie Crist

Plus: Fire at Yuengling, St. Pete's pier woes and more …

Charlie Crist feels your pain.

That is the message of a new video featuring the former Florida governor — angst-filled and imploring Florida residents: “Tell me how I can help.”

The 51-second short is not the latest ad from Morgan & Morgan, the “For the People” personal injury law firm that brands itself with the Crist image.

No, the former Florida governor released the YouTube video Saturday — along with a new website, — when he disclosed to the Tampa Bay Times that he will announce his run for governor on Mon., Nov. 4, in his hometown of St. Petersburg.

Speculation has been building about a Crist run against incumbent Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The video certainly seems to signal that the Crist for governor campaign has begun.

The film short also may help dispel any hardliner image Crist had as a former GOP governor for a kinder, gentler approach as a new leader with the Florida Democratic Party. (Crist joined the Democrats in December 2012.) The populist style of the video also may distinguish him from Scott, a former venture capitalist whose personal worth exceeds $200 million.

The video opens with Crist looking sad — real sad. He displays the personal empathy of Mister Rogers but sounds a lot like a candidate, as he consoles, “the past few years have been tough.” Crist blames “government on the fringes” and attacks “on working people.” The video ends with Crist declaring, “I work for you the people — always have, always will.” He invites the people to email their comments, and promises to read each and every one.

Getting toasted: Forget black and tan. How about blackened, crisp Yuengling beers?

The five-story Yuengling Brewery in Tampa burned Saturday night, causing $1 million in damage to the beer factory, near Busch Gardens. It is fortunate that none of the 70 workers inside the brick building was injured, but the blaze, which appears to be accidental, certainly puts a new spin on getting toasted.

Yuengling reported that the beer-making equipment and hops were not damaged in the fire.

Monday morning, Yuengling Brewery was back in business, with operations at America’s oldest beer-maker not interrupted.

The fire was confined to the building’s storage area, and may be the result of smoldering embers catching fire after welders were working on the building.

Yuengling’s original brewery opened in 1829 in Pottsville, Pa. The company opened the Tampa factory in 1999. The building previously was owned by Schlitz brewing company.

St. Pete Pier for Mayor: St. Pete voters know what's most important to them and their future. It's not crime or the local economy. It's the shuttered Pier.

With one week to go before the election for mayor, a new poll suggests that redeveloping the Pier tops the list of voter concerns.

Although rebuilding the Pier is not on the ballot, the two mayoral candidates — incumbent Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman — have been fielding questions on how they would handle the redevelopment.

In the city's primary, voters killed a $50 million City Council-backed proposal to replace the Pier with the futuristic-looking Lens design created by an LA architect.

According to the poll, voters want the city's next mayor to make the Pier redevelopment a priority. The poll was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and WUSF Public Media. Fifty-eight percent of respondents want a new Pier design within the $50 million budget originally allotted for the project.

The poll was conducted by Braun Research and interviewed 809 registered voters in St. Petersburg who said they planned to vote in the Nov. 5 They ranked rebuilding the Pier ahead of public safety, economic redevelopment in Midtown and negotiating with the Tampa Bay Rays.

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