To be frank, they're being wienies
It took the St. Petersburg City Council exactly one meeting in early 2008 to decide to chase a $450 million baseball stadium.
But for something really important - whether street vendors such as Joy McGhee can sell hot dogs downtown after 9 p.m. - that decision is taking month after month.
McGhee, you see, actually committed two offenses against the city in July. The first was to sell hot dogs from her pushcart on Central Avenue after 9 p.m..
But her second offense was to attract publicity for her case and to tick off City Hall - for which she now is being punished by the full weight of the bureaucracy.
Twice now, I've had a conversation with someone from the city and asked: Why are you guys being so ridiculous?
And I've had the same reaction each time. A clenched jaw, angry disapproval and the identical reply: "She broke the law."
Which is true enough. She broke a law. It dates back to the 1960s. It was intended to keep ice cream trucks from playing tunes after 9 p.m.
So clearly, she must be punished. This rampant, lawless selling of hot dogs at night could lead to social collapse.
The Broken Weenie Theory.
Now, if Joy McGhee were as important as, say, the World Series, I am sure the City Council could have done some emergency mumbo-jumbo like last year.
Instead, we're talking about a woman who sells hot dogs at the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Sixth Street (lunch special #1: two dogs, chips, soda for $4.50).
Some weeks after her citation, the City Council swung into action by holding a committee meeting.
Now we're well into September, and the council's next action-packed decision was that, uh, before it decides anything, the Police Department will need six more weeks to draft the appropriate rules. Then, of course, the City Council will take up the question again, all nice and proper.
July, August, September, and now six weeks more of rule writing! There must be some complicated frankfurter thinking going on. Maybe the city will have to call in a Hot Dog Consultant. So now we are talking November, December, maybe beyond.
And I am thinking , of the ones up for re-election: Jeff Danner, this is why I should vote to re-elect you?
Karl Nurse, I know you're trying to be a get-along guy, but - is this why I should vote for you? Really?
Leslie Curran? Really?
Jim Kennedy, why should we "Keep Kennedy" if you can't even get a hot dog sold?
"In government," Kennedy said blithely of this latest delay, "six weeks is pretty darn quick."
Pretty darn quick! That's easy to say when you're not the one standing on a street corner trying to make a living . Besides, this is going to take closer to six months.
One council member, Wengay Newton, who irritates the others by constantly asking questions that they think are dumb but sometimes are really smart, asked why they can't just let the woman sell hot dogs. Everybody else ignored him like he was a dummy. But he isn't the first one of 'em I'd vote off the island, I tell you what.
NOTES: Contributed by Uncle Frank's old college room mate, John Horsley
And normally, we would have just pointed you at the article's URL but they change every day on their site...