A month after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman used emergency powers to create the “Fightning Chance Fund” (FCF), only two council members out of seven have donated more than $50 to the effort. Mayor Kriseman and four city council members have donated bubkes (zero). As we reported previously, Council Member Ed Montanari donated $1,000 before our first article about the FCF.
“Why did you not donate to the FCF,” we asked Kriseman through City Communications Director Ben Kirby. We also asked Kirby why he himself had donated nothing. Does he disagree with the mayor’s statement that the locally-owned businesses fund recipients are “the backbone of” the city? We did not receive a response to any of our questions.
After our initial article on the lack of donations from the mayor and city council members, City Council member Robert Blackmon did donate $500. He did not answer if our initial article had prompted him to donate.
“The donation I made was as a show of support for small business,” said Blackmon. “And to show thanks for a program helping to keep our vulnerable and hardworking local entrepreneurs afloat during a difficult time.”
Via e-mail, we asked the seven St. Petersburg city council members the following questions ahead of this article:
1/ Do you agree with Mayor Kriseman that the locally-owned businesses fund recipients “the backbone of” the city?
2/ To whose of you who did not donate: why did you not donate to the FCF?
To Council Member Darden Rice: why did you donate so little? [$50]
3/ To all: given that revenues for the city are down, have any of you foregone any of your pay from the city? Not in the future, but prior to your receipt of this e-mail.
Blackmon was the only only council member to respond to our e-mail.
In her May 2nd “District 6 Newsletter”, Council Member Gina Driscoll urged readers to donate to three different charitable causes. The FCF wasn’t one of them.
In that same newsletter, Driscoll supplied a link for individuals affected by the pandemic to apply for FCF funds, but made no mention that businesses also can apply for funds. Businesses are expected to receive 90% of the program funds.
Council Member Foster, like Driscoll, has urged people to apply for money from the FCF. Also like Driscoll, Foster hasn’t donated to the FCF.
Thus it appears that Driscoll and Foster believe in the FCF, they just don’t believe in donating their own money to it.
Through April 30th, a total of 83 people and organizations had donated a total of $439,121 to the FCF. Most of the money came from four donations of $100,000 each.
On her birthday April 19th, Council Member Brandi Gabbard urged donations to a charitable cause. It just wasn’t the FCF.
Gabbard has not mentioned the Fighting Chance Fund even once on her City Council Facebook page, or in her constituent e-mail newsletters.
On May 3rd, Council Member Deborah Figgs-Sanders also asked for charitable donations, but not for the FCF. Figg-Sanders posted about the FCF three times when it was accounced, so it appears she supports it. Just not with her own money.
Talk is cheap, and it’s cheaper for politicians like Kriseman, Driscoll, Foster and Figgs-Sanders to be virtue signaling windbags than it is to actually donate money to a cause they claim to support.
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.