Beach Theatre — the St. Pete Beach city commission approves yet another deeply unpopular $500 million beachfront real estate redevelopment project

The Art Deco style “Beach Theatre” at 315 Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach has been an icon in the city ever since it opened in 1940. However, the Beach Theatre has been closed for about a decade, so locals have had to go elsewhere if they wanted to see some theater.

Recently, one place locals have been treated to theater is the St. Pete Beach City Commission. There, four unelected commissioners have been putting on political theater while voting through two huge beachfront real estate redevelopment projects. The second one was approved shortly after midnight early this morning.

In the interest of accurately depicting the present situation, we call these four unelected commissioners “the Four Flunkies.” The actions of the Four Flunkies appear robotic, yet they aren’t machines.

The flunkies even have names: Karen Marriott, Nick Filtz, Betty Rzewnicki and Richard Lorenzen. The exact names of those they serve are names that we hope to find through a recent public records request, and other efforts we undertake to uncover the truth.

More specifically, the political theater put on by the Four Flunkies has been in the form of Kabuki, which is a classical form of Japanese theatre, mixing dramatic performance with dance. Kabuki is a very old and highly ritualized form of expression, but often using story lines with very predictable outcomes.

So it also was with the vote at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting that went past midnight into Wednesday. The shitty commission city commission predictably approved another $500 million beachfront redevelopment, this one for the Tradewinds resort.

As with the illegitimate approval for the Sirata redevelopment in February, today’s vote was 3-2 but with a different unelected commissioners voting against this time. Like many local residents, we had suspected as much and wrote about such a scenario 10 days before the vote.

Today’s suspicious show vote against the Tradewinds Conditional Use Permit (CUP) came from Betty Rzewnicki, the district 4 commissioner. On the Sirata CUP, it came from Filtz, yet in both cases, the CUP was passed.

One day in an election campaign, Rzewnicki and Filtz will no doubt try the “but I voted no on one CUP” argument with voters. That’s when voters should remember what a show vote is.

This 2024 picture shows representative government being murdered in St. Pete Beach, while surrounded by half a dozen law enforcement officers.

Comedian and former sportscaster Dennis Miller once remarked that when he first saw square dance, he realized that he hadn’t seen choreography that stiff since the Lee Harvey Oswald prison transfer. The Kabuki Theater of the Four Flunkies may surpass both square dance and the Oswald murder in terms of stiffness and predictability.

But will the approvals for Sirata and Tradewinds CUPs ultimately stand up to scrutiny in the courts? Walking into city hall late yesterday afternoon, Mayor Adrian Petrila was served the latest lawsuit against the city. That lawsuit challenges the Sirata CUP approval and we reported on that lawsuit last week.

Petrila is the only elected commissioner on the city commission. A scheme designed by unelected city attorney Andrew Dickman resulted in four commissioners being appointed (not elected) to the commission in late 2023 and early 2024. Dickman’s scheme was executed just before the largest real estate redevelopment projects in the city’s history were coming before the commission.

As always….the Guardian opines reports and the readers decide. Please like our Facebook page to find out when we publish new stories.