On Wednesday we published on this blog the first part of our interview with former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, upon the publication of his new book The Seamless City: A Conservative Mayor's Approach to Urban Revitalization that Could Work Anywhere.
We pick up the pace by asking Baker about what he called one of the main goals of his campaign and his time in office : improving the mostly African-American section of South St. Petersburg known as Midtown.
CL: You reveal in the book that when you first sat down with Goliath Davis after your election victory in March of 2001) who you had known for a long time, he shocked you by saying he was going to leave the Police Department. You told him to keep a lid on it, but the next time you saw him you werent about to try to persuade him to stay. And you suggested working together on a seamless city. What did you mean by that? In the book you write that you had never used that word before?
RB: I dont recall using it, I may have before..the whole concept is that you should not have places in the city where because you cross into another neighborhood that youre not comfortable with where you are, where you feel youve got to lock the door, or its not safe, or, in the case of Midtown you dont have the amenities that everyone else has, like groceries stores and banks and libraries and not sidewalks and playgrounds and things like that -that youre not going to have every neighborhood the same .I mean some will have big houses near the water and some apartments and duplexes and thats okay, but we should always be working towards the situation where the neighborhoods are safe, that theyre good places for kids to grow up and that the have the neighborhood has pride in the resources it does have.
CL: A critical point in redeveloping Midtown was a grocery store. .. but you write that one day Go Davis sat down with you to say the finance plan for the store was not happening, and the only way it could go forward was for the city to provide a $1.5 million interest free loan. You slept on it. What was going on in your mind?