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Mayor-elect held secret conference call with council | News

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Mayor-elect held secret conference call with council

St. Petersburg, Florida -- He won't take office until January, but St. Petersburg Mayor-Elect Rick Kriseman is already raising eyebrows because of a secret conference call with council members. Some are saying the conference call skirts Florida's Sunshine Laws.

The 10 News Investigators discovered the conference call took place, and some council members refused to take part.

On election night, Kriseman said in his victory speech, "City Hall must lead by example." Now some are questioning the example he's setting even before taking the oath of office.

When we questioned the mayor-elect about the conference call, he responded, "I'm never going to make everybody happy no matter what I do."

And some people are unhappy with the email Kriseman sent every council member, asking them to participate in a secret conference call with him a week ago Saturday.

We told Kriseman some are saying if the conference call didn't violate the Sunshine law, it violated the spirit of Sunshine. However, Kriseman says, "And there was no intent to do that."

While Kriseman says nothing was discussed that would violate Florida's Sunshine Law, meeting secretly with council members certainly steps on the toes of transparency. And while Kriseman says he understands how some people might think and say that, he adds, "There is nothing illegal about it."

Veteran Council member Karl Nurse participated and says no issues the council will vote on were discussed. When we asked Nurse how the public can be confident when there was a secret call where the public had no access, Nurse told us, "I can tell you what the conversation was, but I can't prove it."

And while everyone who participated in the call say they did so with the blessing of Assistant City Attorney Mark Winn, not all attorneys agree, including Jim Kennedy and Charlie Gerdes, who also happen to be council members and who did not participate in the call. Gerdes tells 10 News he was concerned about a violation of the Sunshine Law.

When we asked Kriseman if it would have been better in retrospect to call everyone individually, he said, "In retrospect, it might have been clearer, but quite frankly my schedule has been so crazy."

And when it gets crazier, some wonder how Kriseman will handle issues like this when he's mayor.

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