The St. Petersburg Bar Association met Sept. 12 in the Mirror Lake Lyceum for its monthly membership luncheon. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, an attorney, served as keynote speaker.
Former Bar President Eric Ludin spoke first. He announced the opening of "A Legacy of Vision, Courage & Hope," a project of the Diversity Committee, at the Holocaust Museum. He asked bar members for pledges to support the exhibit as it tours the area.
Next, President David Abbey announced the results of the summer membership drive: 54 members joined between March 7 and June 30. That represents a five percent increase in bar membership, he says. Assistant City Attorney Jeannine Williams was recognized for recruiting the most (three) new members.
Gentry Byrnes of Fisher & Sauls PA, the mayor's former law firm, introduced Baker with a few pieces of trivia. The mayor can play guitar, name any '70s or 80's tune from one line of the song, and can juggle and moonwalk, she says. She shared an old joke from her days under Baker's leadership at Fisher & Sauls.
"We used to say we'd been Baker-acted if we got a document from him covered in red ink," she says.
Baker thanked Byrnes for what he called the most unique introduction he's ever had. He then talked about his transition from full-time lawyer to mayor.
"I haven't filled out a time sheet in two and a half years," he said, laughing. Plus, he says, he was happy to get a tax refund for the first time in years - until he remembered it was a reflection of his much lower income.
He discussed the constant scrutiny of local media, including reporters' habit of reading his mail before he does.
"Now," he says, "When I go by I ask, Anything I need to know about?"
He then touched on various matters of public interest including dog parks (he's for 'em), the bullet train ("dumb idea, but if there is one, I want a terminal in downtown St. Pete.") and Albert Whitted Airport (willing to keep it, but would like to see it downsized).
- Hali White