Posts Tagged ‘Tampa Bay’

Two remain missing in Gulf of Mexico waters near St. Petersburg

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
A college student and a chartered boat mate who was trying to save the other are still missing a day after they jumped into the waters of a channel leading out into the Gulf of Mexico near St. Petersburg, U.S. Coast Guard and sheriff’s spokespeople confirmed Wednesday.
Jie Luo, 21, from China, and Andrew Dillman, 27, went missing Tuesday after Luo jumped into the Gulf of Mexico waters off western Florida with four others, Coast Guard spokesperson Petty Officer First Class Michael De Nyse told FloridaPolitics.com.
The boat, a 71-foot yacht, was anchored at a point called Shell Key, chartered for

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St. Pete man accused of murdering 7-week-old; abuse was to ‘toughen’ child

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Jeremiah Dillard
The father of a 7-week-old girl told police he pinched her cheeks and squeezed her ribs to make her “tough.”
Instead, the St. Petersburg infant died in September after suffering a brain hemorrhage, fractured ribs, broken clavicle and split lip, according to police documents obtained by FloridaPolitics.com.
J’Lena Dillard was taken to John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in the early hours of Sept. 24, where she was pronounced dead.
According to the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, J’Lena died of “asphyxia with contributing conditions of blunt trauma and malnutrition,” said an arrest affidavit and warrant obtained by FloridaPolitics.com.
Jeremiah Dillard, 33,

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Dana Young says Bob Buckhorn should support utility legislation

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says a bill co-introduced by Tampa state Senator Dana Young would take away local control of public spaces, but Young says that the mayor has it wrong in his concerns about what the bill will actually do.
“Telecommunications companies are pushing SB 596 and HB 687, legislation that would allow them to place small refrigerator-sized equipment, and even towering poles, on public rights of way. If passed, local governments would have no control over where this communications equipment would be placed or how it would look,” Buckhorn writes in an op-ed published in the Tampa Bay Times. “This idea tramples on the authority of the very local officials

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Joe Ayoub wins solid victory to return as Safety Harbor mayor

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Joe Ayoub will again serve as Safety Harbor mayor, after decisively defeating City Council member Janet Hooper by more than 30 points in Tuesday’s municipal elections. He will replace Mayor Andy Steingold, who had retired from local politics.
“We have a special city and I absolutely love serving our community,” Ayoub said. “it is humbling and an extreme honor to become your next Mayor. I am ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work to protect our small-town charm and give a voice to all of our residents.”
Unofficial results from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections show Ayoub

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Joe Gruters calls Republicans to ‘pack seats’ at Vern Buchanan’s Sarasota town-hall meeting Saturday

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
Sarasota-area Democrats have waited several weeks to engage GOP Congressman Vern Buchanan; they’ll finally get their chance at a town-hall meeting Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
But will there be a counter presence of Republicans packing the seats?
Anticipation around the meeting is so strong that Buchanan’s staff announced last week they would move the event from the New College Sudakoff Center to Van Wezel, which has a capacity of over 1,730 seats.
If it’s anything like most other town halls held around the nation in 2017, it could be dominated by rowdy Democrats demanding to know why Buchanan

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Tampa Bay area GOP Representatives weigh in on American Health Care Act

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted Monday that changes occurring with a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the implementation of the American Health Care Act would result in 14 million people losing coverage in just the first year.
The CBO continued by saying that it expects premiums to come back down afterward, but the number of people without coverage would continue to rise ― eventually reaching 52 million in 2026, or 24 million more than what the CBO expects if the Affordable Care Act remains in place.
Gus Bilirakis press folks directed us to his speech on the House floor last

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House committee pushes through local bill abolishing Hillsborough PTC

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
A bill to shutter the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Committee continued its rapid pace through the House, quickly passing the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Tuesday.
Transportation and Infrastructure, which oversees taxicabs and limousines, has clashed with municipalities lately over the regulation of ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
In past years, several members of the Hillsborough County legislative delegation have unsuccessfully sought the elimination of the agency, in support of transportation network companies (TNC).
However, the 2017 Session is the first time the entire county delegation voted to close the PTC.
Sponsored by Tampa Republican Jamie Grant, HB 647 was unanimously advanced in

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Donald Trump could be forcing out U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

President Donald Trump has asked for resignations from 46 U.S. Attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama, possibly including A. Lee Bentley of the Middle District of Florida.
The Tampa Business Journal contacted multiple sources to see if Bentley had been asked to step aside, but did not get a confirmation as of Friday evening.
Bentley was sworn in to the position just a year ago, and was appointed based on the recommendation of Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio. Before becoming U.S. Attorney, Bentley spent 15 years as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the same district.
The Middle District

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Tampa a ‘final four’ city to host National Gay & Lesbian Chamber Convention

Friday, March 10th, 2017
Tampa is one of the final four cities in the running to host the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Convention this summer.
Last week, a team of NGLCC officials visited Tampa to evaluate the location for the gathering scheduled for Aug. 7-10, 2018.
Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to attract the conference to Tampa — competing against Austin, Texas; Philadelphia and New Orleans. The chosen city could see an economic impact of more than $2.1 million, with bookings for approximately 2,450 hotel rooms, including another 700 on the peak night.
If

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Minority Whip Steny Hoyer returns to Florida for Charlie Crist fundraiser March 24

Friday, March 10th, 2017

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer will be back in Florida later this month as special guest at a fundraiser for St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist.
Hosted by Kathy and Joe Saunders, JoAnn and John Nestor, Janette and Tom Carey and Watson Haynes, the reception will be Friday, March 24, at the Saunders’ St. Petersburg home at 4916 62nd Ave. S. The $500-a-ticket event begins 5 p.m.
Hoyer represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District and has served as House Majority Leader (2007-11) and House Majority Whip (2003-2007). The last time he was in Central Florida was October in Sanford to stump for Democrat

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After 27-hour committee hearing, Kathy Castor calls GOP House push to pass health care bill without CBO scoring ‘ unconscionable’

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed the GOP health care repeal bill this afternoon, in a session that lasted 27 hours. It was the second committee on Thursday to pass the legislation, after the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23 to 16 to advance the American Health Care Act shortly before 4:30 a.m. Thursday after about 18 hours of debate.
Tampa Representative Kathy Castor serves as Vice Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and she went off her GOP colleagues after the bill passed this afternoon.
“It is unconscionable that House Republicans rammed this repeal bill through committee

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Tampa officials reacts to Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Bob Buckhorn’s decision not to run for Governor is eliciting plenty of reaction in Tampa. Many people say they are not surprised Buckhorn has chosen not to pursue a path to the top political job in Florida.
“Am I the only one who felt he wasn’t heading in that direction?” asked City Council woman Yolie Capin.
“I truly believe that he made the right decision, because he has not demonstrated over the past six months that he had a keen interest in running for governor,” said Councilman Frank Reddick.
Alluding to the fact that he has done little over the past year to travel around the state to get to

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House bill could transfer millions from FHP to county sheriffs

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
The Florida Highway Patrol came out against a proposed committee bill Wednesday that would hand over agency funding and jurisdiction in two counties.
CRJ 17-01 from the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee could give the Pinellas County and Polk County sheriff’s offices a combined $6 million to handle crashes on state roads within county borders.
FHP Lt. Col. Mike Thomas said the move “would be a stark change to our business model” and that FHP hasn’t “had the chance to really evaluate any of the fiscal impacts as well as the impacts on the public.”
FHP has jurisdiction to investigate crashes on state roads in

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Charlie Crist opens political action committee

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
First-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist opened a political action committee Monday that he can use for his own re-election and help other candidates.
The former Florida governor is listed as the chair of Charlie Crist PAC, with Peggy Gagnon serving as custodian of records and Joseph Saunders taking the treasurer job.
The FEC filing reads that the “committee supports/opposes more than one Federal candidate and is NOT a separate segregated fund or a party committee.”
“In addition, this committee is a Leadership PAC,” the filing concludes.
Saunders is hosting a fundraiser for Crist at his and his wife Kathy’s home in St.

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Charlie Crist gives a thumbs down to GOP health care replacement for the ACA

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
In recent weeks, Charlie Crist has heard loud and clear from his constituents that he should be standing behind the Affordable Care Act, and on Tuesday he registered his strong opposition to the Republican House replacement for the ACA that Democrats say will result in over 10 million Americans to lose their health care coverage.

“The plan Republicans have put forward falls far short of current law – driving up health care costs, stripping away important protections, and leaving millions without coverage,” said Crist.  “Even more troubling, it slashes Medicaid, a program that 70 million Americans depend on, hurting those most in need of coverage –

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Kathy Castor calls new GOP House health care plan ‘Robin Hood in reverse’

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Congresswoman Kathy Castor has always been an unflagging champion of the Affordable Care Act, so you could have bet she would have a harsh reaction to the plan unveiled by House Republican leaders on Monday night.
“It’s pretty horrendous,” the Tampa Democrats told a group of reporters who gathered in front of a medical building on West Swann Avenue in South Tampa on Tuesday morning.
Castor said Floridians arguably have the most to lose under the GOP proposal. Over 1.7 million Floridians signed up for ACA plans on Healthcare.gov in 2016, the most of any state. They would automatically lose coverage when the

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After nearly 50 years in news, Mike Deeson announces retirement

Monday, March 6th, 2017

In a sudden announcement, longtime WTSP investigative reporter Mike Deeson says he is retiring from the Tampa airwaves, effective immediately.
“I know this will come as a surprise to many of my friends in Tampa Bay,” Deeson says in a Facebook post published Monday, “but I have decided to retire from Channel 10 effective today.”
Deeson, named one of the INFLUENCE Magazine’s top 100 Florida influencers in 2015, will use the time to “put more effort into many of other projects I have been trying to juggle while working full time … Maybe I’ll even improve my golf game.” He explains that

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Personnel note: Former lawmaker Kim Berfield named chief lobbyist for All Children’s Hospital

Monday, March 6th, 2017
Kimberly Berfield, a former deputy secretary of the Florida Department of Health and state Representative from Clearwater, has been appointed Vice President of Government and Community Affairs for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
The hospital hopes the move will strengthen the 90-year-old hospital’s community outreach as well as increase its visibility in Tallahassee’s corridors of influence.
“Kimberly is a proven leader, coalition builder, and long-range strategist who will spearhead our community mission-based initiatives. Her addition stretches our capacity to fulfill our mission of providing child health through treatment, education, advocacy, and research, locally and beyond,” said Jonathan Ellen, M.D., Johns Hopkins All

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Jeff Brandes amendment would give felons gun rights

Monday, March 6th, 2017
A restoration of civil rights bill got an amendment from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes that would give convicts the right to own guns after completing their sentence.
SB 934, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston, would automatically restore all other civil rights, such as the right to vote, when a felon completes their sentence, but specifically carves out the right to own firearms.
Thurston argues in the bill that automatic restoration helps felons reintegrate into society and takes some weight off the “cumbersome, costly” process of executive clemency.
Brandes’ amendment removes the portion of the bill carving out gun ownership

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2017 Legislative Session preview: Sewage, transportation, beer issues face Tampa Bay

Sunday, March 5th, 2017
As the gavel falls Tuesday on the 2017 Legislative Session, several key issues face Tampa Bay’s legislative delegation.
With 40 official members, the Tampa Bay Area Legislative Delegation — sometimes known by the not-so-attractive acronym BALD — represents a vast region of eight different counties.
Among the significant topics BALD is looking to see some action:
Transportation
With lawmakers hailing from areas as disparate as Lakeland, Trilby and Longboat Key, no issue has the delegation more unified in getting something accomplished than transportation.
While the ideal bill would include lots of money to fund a regional transportation entity (think TBARTA but with money attached),

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James Buchanan – son of Vern – launches campaign for House District 71

Saturday, March 4th, 2017
James Buchanan, the son of Sarasota area Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan, has filed to run for the House District 71 seat in 2018.
The 35-year-old is the founder of James Buchanan Realty, which specializes in residential, luxury, waterfront, condominiums, commercial, and land real estate.
“I’m running because as a small business owner with deep roots in our community, I want to be a voice for those conservative principles,” he said in a statement. “I understand firsthand how decisions made by government can affect local businesses ability to grow and create jobs. I also know that a healthy and vibrant economy is the key to addressing

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Charlie Crist fields questions for nearly four hours at his first town hall meeting in St. Petersburg

Saturday, March 4th, 2017
In the weeks since Donald Trump and the Republican Party have taken control control in Washington D.C., congressional town hall meetings around the nation have been marked by vitriol, confrontation and anger.
Those elements were decidedly not present at Charlie Crist’s town hall meeting held on Saturday at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus. Instead, it was a veritable love fest, with the mostly liberal crowd calling on Crist to hold the new regime accountable, as well as asking him to help guide them on what they could do to slow down the Trump administration.
“It’s not Democrats, Republicans or independents,” the freshman Representative said when asked who could bring the

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Bill Edwards to help raise money for Rick Scott in Pinellas next week

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

St. Petersburg entrepreneur Bill Edwards will be helping raise money next week for Let’s Get to Work, the political committee closely tied to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
The reception begins 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at The Club at Treasure Island, 400 Treasure Island Causeway in Treasure Island. Minimum suggested contribution for the VIP reception is $5,000; tickets to the General Reception are $2,500.
Edwards, CEO of The Edwards Group, has been a longtime supporter of Scott and Republicans. He gave $1 million in 2013 for Scott’s re-election effort, as well as about $4.6 million to support Republican National Convention in

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Jeff Brandes and Kathleen Peters file legislation to limit the release of sewage discharges

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Following the dumping of millions of gallons of raw and partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay, Clam Bayou and other waterways by local governments in 2016, two state lawmakers filed legislation Thursday to incentivize local governments and private utilities to dedicate more resources to improving their sewage infrastructure.
St. Petersburg state Senator Jeff Brandes and Pasadena Representative Kathleen Peters‘ bill (SB 1476) creates within the state Environmental Regulation Commission, the Blue Star Collection System Assessment and Maintenance Program to limit the unauthorized releases or spills of treated or untreated wastewater and the unauthorized discharge of pathogens. 
“This legislation gives utilities an incentive to improve their infrastructure assets and

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Vern Buchanan demands answers on VA drug thefts

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Congressman Vern Buchanan Thursday demanded answers from the new Veterans Affairs secretary about the nationwide theft of opioids and prescription drugs intended to help suffering veterans.
In a letter to VA Secretary David Shulkin, the Sarasota Republican wrote, “I’m concerned that Florida veterans may be at risk following press reports of a shocking spike in drug thefts at VA health facilities across the country.”
“The perpetrators are stealing directly from veterans who need help,” Buchanan wrote. “In addition, those VA employees may be using the stolen drugs at work, endangering the veterans they’re supposed to be caring for.”
A former VA employee

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Charlie Crist calls for Jeff Sessions to resign after reports of meeting with Russian ambassador surface

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
St. Petersburg Democratic Representative Charlie Crist is calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign, a day after published reports surfaced that Sessions met twice with the Russian Ambassador to the U.S. during the president campaign last year, and yet said last month that he had not done so.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that one of the meetings between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race. Sessions did not disclose those meetings during his confirmation hearings before the

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Pinellas GOP chief Nick DiCeglie confirms he will run for Florida House

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
Nick DiCeglie confirmed Wednesday he is running for House District 66 in 2018.
The Pinellas County Republican Party Chairman will make a formal announcement sometime this spring. 
When asked if he would run for office, DiCeglie told FloridaPolitics.com: “I’m really focused right now on my duties as chairman.”
But with nearly a year and a half before the GOP primary, DiCeglie is in no hurry to file.
“I certainly would like to make an official announcement in the next several months,” he said.
A Long Island, New York native who moved to Pinellas County in 1996, DiCeglie owns Solar Sanitation, a Clearwater-based trash removal and recycling company.
He

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Toddler dies after hours in hot car parked outside Tampa day care

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
A 2-year-old boy died after his half-sister left him in a hot car parked outside a Tampa-area day care for several hours while the girl was working, a law enforcement spokesman said Wednesday.
Hillsborough County Sheriff deputies were called to the Oak Park Shopping Center Tuesday at 2:40 p.m. at the corner of W. Lumsden Road and Kings Avenue in Brandon.
They were responding to a child found locked in an unattended vehicle, said Det. Larry McKinnon, a representative for the HCSO.
McKinnon told FloridaPolitics.com paramedics rushed Jacob Manchego to Brandon Regional Hospital, where the boy later died.
“We’ve told the public for

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Berny Jacques announces his candidacy for HD 66 seat in Pinellas County

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Former Pinellas County Assistant State Attorney Berny Jacques has announced that he is running for the Florida House District 66 seat next year.  The seat is currently occupied by GOP incumbent Larry Ahern, who is term limited out in 2018.
“I’ve had the great privilege of serving this area as a prosecutor, in community service groups, and as a grassroots conservative leader. As a proud first generation American, I’ve been fortunate to achieve the American Dream because of the opportunities available in our great state,” says Jacques, a Haitian native.

“My reason for running is simple: I am running because I’m passionate about public service, and

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Newsprint vendor sues Tampa Bay Times over defaulted $340K debt

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
A newsprint vendor is suing the Tampa Bay Times, claiming the paper owes more than $340,000 in debt from the acquisition of the Tampa Tribune last year.
Emails submitted in the suit show a story of increasing disarray with vendors at the 121-year-old Trib leading up to the May 2016 purchase.
In April 2015, the Tribune issued a promissory note to Boise Packaging acknowledging an unpaid debt of nearly $600,000 for newsprint. Boise Packaging is a subsidiary of Packaging Corporation of America, an Illinois-based manufacturer of corrugated boxes and paper products.
The note came about three years after Revolution Capital Group, led

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