CHRIS ZUPPA | Times
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn throws out the first pitch at Friday's Tampa Bay Rays game against the New York Yankees.
After throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday's Tampa Bay Rays game against the New York Yankees, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said he believes the Rays stadium “stalemate has gone on long enough.”
And the waiting game has been tough because Buckhorn admits he’s “not a patient guy,” reports Tampa Bay Times staff writer Joe Smith.
But Buckhorn has been encouraged there seems to be a growing sense of urgency and more discussions between St. Petersburg and the Rays.
“I get a sense that, perhaps over the summer, there may be some movement,” Buckhorn said. “I don’t know what it’ll be. But I think everyone recognizes that the status quo is not an answer.”
Buckhorn made it clear he’s not going to “get in the middle,” saying he respects the position St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster is in and how much of an investment the citizens of St. Petersburg have made to the facility. Foster has said they’ve been trying to find a “middle ground” with the Rays, who have a lease at the Trop until 2027 but want to explore potential stadium sites outside of the city. Buckhorn said there “needs to be options because this is not going until 2027. It’s just not.” …Full Story
Billboards, electronic airport displays, and a full-on social media and mobile marketing blitz are tentatively slated to roll out across the Tampa Bay region next year as part of latest phase of a $73,150 branding campaign to attract tourists to Dunedin.
The items are included in the final version of a marketing plan created by Wilesmith Advertising and Design and adopted by city commissioners this month.
Under the first phase of the plan, Dunedin late last year launched its new city logo and slogan — “Dunedin: Home of Honeymoon Island” — on items including stationery, city vehicles, street banners, the city website and promotional clothing.
The second phase of Wilesmith’s plan includes incorporating a second slogan, “DUN OUR WAY,” into ads for baseball, city festivals and other events. Local tourism group Visit Dunedin will seek to cover advertising costs through donations and grants. …Full Story
Dunedin Vice Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski has paid off half the fines she owes for failing to file annual financial disclosure forms, state ethics officials said Thursday.
The Florida Commission on Ethics said it received $1,500 from Bujalski this week for the most recent fine. The city commissioner reportedly told the state department that she would contact its collections agency directly to resolve $1,550 in remaining fines.
Approached by a Tampa Bay Times reporter in February, Bujalski said she didn’t know she had been sanctioned. She was levied a $50 fine for filing two days late in 2010 and the $1,500 maximum fine in both 2011 and 2012 for failing to file at all.
Bujalski said 2010 was a rough year, in which both her parents died and she was severely hurt in a boating accident. She said she had no excuse for the following years and that she accepted responsibility.
Bujalski submitted the missing forms to the Florida Commission on Ethics days after she was notified by the Times. …Full Story
Groans, angry outbursts and a plethora of questions punctuated a neighborhood meeting this week aimed at gauging public support for a proposed zoning change at the former Nielsen Media Research property.
Representatives for Wells Fargo, which owns the 25-acre site at 375 Patricia Ave., met with neighbors for two hours Monday evening to float an idea they say would finally help attract a buyer after eight years.
Neighbors had mixed reactions to the bank's desire to change the property's light-industrial land designation to a category that would accommodate anything from mostly residential to a mixed-use "village" community featuring townhomes above offices, boutiques, restaurants and other retail shops.
However, a proposal that Beltrees Street be extended through the site for vehicular traffic — or, at the minimum pedestrians, bicyclists and golf carts — elicited such a visceral reaction from a few opponents that a bank representative had to step in.
"We are not going to be rude," Joel Tew, a land-use attorney hired by Wells Fargo, said to applause from most of the roughly 150 residents gathered at Dunedin Highland Middle School. …Full Story
Safety Harbor is poised to get a new subdivision after city commissioners agreed Monday to annex a 5-acre former auto salvage yard that's being primed for 21 homes.
The proposed neighborhood at 2805 Rigsby Lane, south of State Road 580 and east of McMullen-Booth Road, would include one- and two-story homes built to sell for roughly $300,000.
Tarpon Springs-based developers Pioneer Homes asked the city to annex the unincorporated land so future residents can hook up to the city's utilities.
Read more here.
St. Petersburg residents can now get daily updates on the future referendum to stop the Lens from moving forward.
The Pinellas Supervisor of Elections is posting daily updates on how many signatures have been verified on the more than 20,000 petitions turned in to the city clerk.
As of Tuesday, the county has processed 2,200 signatures, and 98 percent have been verified. The office will update the total at the end of each day on its website.
Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg handed in more than 20,000 petitions demanding a referendum to cancel the contract with Lens’ designer, Michael Maltzan Architecture.
The group needs 16,652 verified signatures to get the referendum on the ballot. If successful, the vote will most likely be on Aug. 27, the day of the city’s primary election.
For Tallahassee, refusing additional federal funds to expand Medicaid may turn out to have been the easy part.
It will take longer, a half-dozen Hillsborough legislators acknowledged Tuesday, to come up with an alternative to provide health care coverage to an estimated 1 million uninsured Floridians.
The business impact of legislative decisions on health care was a main issue when about 120 members of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce sat down for lunch with seven Hillsborough County legislators at the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown Tampa.
After an easy opening question, chamber chairman Gregory Celestan told the lawmakers to prepare for a hardball.
Some Tampa businesses, he said, are “very concerned about significant additional health insurance costs” because of the Legislature’s “refusal to expand Medicaid.”
“We will be at a competitive disadvantage when recruiting new businesses or adding jobs,” Celestan added. “How would you respond?” …Full Story
What’s that line about a tree falling in the forest and nobody being around to hear it?
That’s what comes to mind when Mayor Bill Foster tweets campaign news on Twitter. He launched his Twitter account last month and can be followed @Foster4Mayor.
On Friday, he told his 10 followers about his first fundraiser next week at Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill. On Tuesday, he told 33 followers about his new website: BillFosterformayor.com.
Foster is running against former City Council member Kathleen Ford and former City Council member and state lawmaker Rick Kriseman. They are seeking to lead Florida’s fourth-largest city.
Buzz wonders if Foster is trying to avoid the media in this campaign. He has sent only two press releases since announcing his reelection bid.
A dozen people have applied to fill the vacancy on the Hillsborough Aviation Authority created by the April 21 death of lawyer and board chairman Steve Burton.
Gov. Rick Scott has not indicated when he will make his choice. The day after Burton’s death, Scott told reporters, “we'll do this in a methodical manner, try to find somebody as good as Steve to be there, but Steve will be tough to replace."
Those who have filed applications with the governor’s office include:
• Architect and past congressional candidate Eddie Adams Jr., 59, of Temple Terrace.
• Gregory W. Bryant, 49, of Tampa. Bryant is president and CEO of Bay Cities Bank.
• Steve Cona III, 38, of Tampa. Cona is the president of the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, which represents the interests of 450 construction-related companies from Gainesville to Naples.
• Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Arthur “Chip” Diehl III, 59, of Tampa. Diehl is a pilot and former wing commander at MacDill Air Force Base.
• Attorney and businessman Martin Garcia, 57, of Tampa. Garcia is founder and managing director of Pinehill Capital Partners. …Full Story
Melissa Snively kicks off her campaign for the District 4 seat on the Hillsborough County School Board at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Winthrop Theater, 11349 W Bloomingdale Ave., in Riverview.
Snively, a 42-year-old insurance agent who lives in Valrico, is one four candidates who have filed papers to run for the District 4 seat. The others are Terry Kemple, Jereme Monette and Dee Prether. The election is next year.
ST. PETERSBURG -- City Council chairman Karl Nurse is running for reelection to his District 6 seat.
"I believe there is much work to do in the next four years,” he said in his announcement Friday. “I will continue to focus on public safety, jobs, neighborhood renewal, children and the efficient delivery of basic services.”
Nurse, president of Bay Tech Label, a specialty printer, touts his business experience and says he tries to use it to help the city save money, remove roadblocks to job creation and to look for ways to attract business to the city. He is proud of the passage of a foreclosure registry, a new lien release system tied to renovations and the “Rebates for Rebates” program, all of which are designed to spur neighborhood renewal. His website is www.electkarlnurse.com. Full Story
On second thought, former state Rep. Peter Nehr will not be running for the Pinellas County Commission after all.
Nehr, a Republican who served six years in the state House, from 2006 to 2012, but lost his bid for a fourth term last year to Democrat Carl Zimmerman, officially withdrew from the commission race in late April. He sent the Supervisor of Elections a letter stating: "Effective immediately I am withdrawing as a candidate for the elected position of Pinellas County Commission District #4."
2012 was not the smoothest year for Nehr. In July, he made national news for sending his friends pictures of himself shirtless - intended, he said, to show them how much weight he'd lost while struggling with diabetes. Then after he lost the election for House District 65, the Times' Steve Bousquet found that Nehr had used leftover campaign money to pay his live-in girlfriend, an acupuncturist, $22,000. Nehr said the payments were for "consulting, editing and fundraising" work. Full Story
Arborists are working to revive what may be the oldest and most treasured tree in Pinellas County after an effort to showcase the majestic Baranoff Oak blocked its ability to get the nutrients it needs to survive.
Safety Harbor spent $350,000 in 2005 to construct a decorative tribute to the downtown oak, including a parking lot, red brick plaza, statues, a pedestrian walkway and benches where people can sit and admire the thick branches draped with moss.
Read more here. Full Story
As rumors swirl around Midtown about a new grocer opening in Tangerine Plaza, residents might know details in August about efforts to fill the space partially built with tax dollars.
Larry Newsome, head of Urban Development Solutions, told the St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday that he is still seeking a retailer to replace Sweetbay Supermarket.
“We’re negotiating for a new tenant,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll have news to share in the next 60 to 90 days.”
The City invested million in public money to help bring Sweetbay to the plaza in 2005. The project was viewed as the catalyst to revitalize Midtown. But Sweetbay closed in February, leaving an oasis of empty parking spots and struggling businesses.
Sweetbay still pays rent to Urban Development Solutions. Full Story
After getting plenty of phone calls and emails this morning from people looking for the Pinellas term limits ruling, I thought I'd put it online.
Here's a link to the pdf.
And a link to my story in today's paper about the judge's order.Full Story