ST. PETERSBURG — David Jolly has represented the 13th Congressional District since 2014. But the incumbent Republican has never represented large portions of southern Pinellas County, which were recently brought into the district after a court-ordered redrawing of the lines last year.
Those voters were represented by Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor. But now they’re part of the new 13th District.
Neighborhoods like Midtown and Childs Park, traditionally Democratic and predominantly black, have become an unexpected battleground between Jolly and his Democratic opponent, former governor Charlie Crist.
Jolly has sought to cut into what are expected to be large voting margins favoring Crist by making frequent forays into St. Petersburg's southern neighborhoods.
For his part, Crist has made plenty of campaign appearances in Clearwater, where large numbers of the district's Republican voters live.
Over the weekend, Jolly campaign workers hung placards reminding residents that Crist had once championed "chain gangs" for prison inmates. …Full Story
Democratic congressional candidate Charlie Crist on Monday finally called for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to stop running that fake ad with altered images pairing U.S. Rep. David Jolly, the Republican incumbent in the 13th District, with GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Jolly has never met Trump and doesn't plan to vote for him. The DCCC said it would stop airing the ad.
ST. PETERSBURG — Charlie Crist says he had a change of heart on a misleading political ad that has emerged as the focal point of a nationally scrutinized congressional race.
On Monday, a Tampa Bay Times editorial criticized the former governor about a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad that portrayed U.S. Rep David Jolly, Crist’s Republican opponent in the 13th Congressional District race, as a pal of Donald Trump.
That editorial was posted online on Friday afternoon.
Jolly, though, has never met Trump and has said he won't vote for the GOP candidate for president.
After reading the editorial, Crist said, he called the DCCC and asked them to take down the ad.
Crist said the DCCC later took down the ad.
“I wish I’d done it sooner,” Crist said. “I was moved.”
Jolly, the Republican incumbent, wasn’t in a forgiving mood. The ad has run for two weeks, typically the lifetime of a political ad. The Jolly campaign pointed to information on the Federal Communications Commission website that appears to indicate the ad was only supposed to run through today. …Full Story
[EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
Much of the millions of gallons of sewage that St. Petersburg has dumped roadways and waterways over the last 14 months is due to its three sewage plants and aging pipe system being overwhelmed by storms such as Tropical Storm Colin in June and Hurricane Hermine in September. Those plants include the Southwest plant by Eckerd College.
ST. PETERSBURG — The city has too many consultants advising it on how to run its 900-mile sewer system, the City Council learned Monday.
Who told them? A consultant.
The council spent the day hearing testimony from eight teams of consultants working on St. Petersburg’s wastewater system, and the picture that emerged was that of a city where no one is really in charge of its failing sewer system.
That’s because the work on individual sewer projects had been farmed out to consultants. No one entity — not city officials, not the consultants — was overseeing the big picture. Council member Darden Rice likened it to the parable of blind men examining an elephant. No one was able to grasp the problem in its entirety.
Despite paying for those squads of outside help, council members marveled at the absence of any kind of coordinated response to the city’s sewage crisis. St. Petersburg has released about 200 million gallons of sewage into neighborhoods, road and waterways since August 2015.
Some consultants who were hired to study the city’s system didn’t realize that the city had shut down one of its four sewer plants last year. …Full Story
About 22,000 residents in Clearwater recently found a jargony letter in their mailboxes from the city about a chemical found in the drinking water.
But don't panic.
Cities are required by federal law to test once a year and ensure there are no traces of a variety of chemicals in the drinking water.
If any amount of a list of banned chemicals is found during the test, cities must test again every quarter that year to make sure there's no reoccurring problem.
A very small trace of cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene (as I said, jargony) was found during the annual test in January but city officials did not follow up with a retest the next quarter.
Once the oversight was discovered, the city was required by federal law to let residents know the follow-up test wasn't done.
“This is not a water quality issue, it's a reporting issue,” said Public Utilities Director David Porter.
About 0.6 parts per billion of the chemical was found in the January test, well below the 70.0 parts per billion maximum limit that's considered safe. …Full Story
President Barack Obama
Endorsements of political candidates don’t generally do much to move the needle for a campaign.
But might that be different when that endorsement comes from the occupant of the White House?
The Florida Democratic Party announced this morning that President Barack Obama is endorsing 13 Democratic candidates running for in Florida legislative races including state House District 63 candidate Lisa Montelione.
The 55-year-old, who is resigning her Tampa City Council seat to run for the state House, is looking to unseat incumbent Republican Shawn Harrison.
The endorsement from the president is somewhat a completing of a circle for Montelione, who was a volunteer in Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and said speeches he delivered when he was an Illinois senator inspired her to run for office.
“Having our President’s trust to carry on the fight for our shared Democratic values in Tallahassee is a responsibility I am proud to take on,” she said in a statement. …Full Story
Kyle Cockream addresses members of Palm Beach County Commission during a discussion on ridesharing rules in April
The Public Transportation Commission governing board is to hold an emergency meeting next week to look at allegations that the agency collaborated with the taxicab industry
PTC Board Chairman Victor Crist sent a memo to board members Thursday calling for the meeting that could determine the future of PTC Executive Director Kyle Cockream.
It comes after the Tampa Bay Times reported that the PTC used workers from taxicab and limousine firms in stings targeting Uber and Lyft drivers and that Cockream shared emails from the agency’s attorney and lobbyist with a taxicab owner.
In a memo to board members, Crist said the meeting is to discuss recent allegations “attacking the integrity, character and independence of our director, staff and board,” it states.
The Times report led State Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, to request an investigation of the agency by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Uber officials to claim that the PTC is siding with the taxicab industry, which has argued that Uber and Lyft should be subject to the same regulations they follow. …Full Story
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
HKS Architects, a New York firm that his crafting a master plan for the future of the Trop’s 85-acres, updated City Council members Thursday on the status of the plan, which is near completion. The big change? The interstate stays.
ST. PETERSBURG — So that idea to raze the Interstate 175 ramp to forge connections between Midtown and a redeveloped Tropicana Field? It’s not going to happen.
HKS Architects, a New York firm hired by St. Petersburg to craft a master plan for the future redevelopment of the Trop’s 85 acres, on Thursday updated City Council members on the status of the plan, which is almost finished.
The biggest change? The interstate stays.
Turns out not many people, or at least those with clout, were happy with the idea of getting rid of the mile-long highway spur that runs to the south of the Trop, said Randy Morton, who is leading the project for HKS. “Architects are at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said.
Mayor Rick Kriseman withheld his opinion when the idea first surfaced in August. At that time, Morton told city officials the interstate’s concrete barriers effectively shut out Midtown from the anticipated benefits of a revitalized Trop district, which could add 9 million square feet of development over the next three decades. …Full Story
As if incumbent Republican David Jolly doesn't have enough problems with opposition cash flooding in his race against Charlie Crist in the 13th Congressional District, he's got another headache on the way.
The League of Conservation Voters named Jolly to its "Dirty Dozen" list and said it would spend $200,000 to defeat him.
The group takes issue with Jolly's environmental record.
Full release below: …Full Story
Courtesy of Pat Kemp
Democratic candidate for Hillsborough County District 6 commissioner Pat Kemp
TAMPA — It has been tougher than expected to get the candidates for Hillsborough County’s open District 6 commission seat to get together for a debate or one-on-one forum.
The Bay Buzz learned that first hand this week.
We asked both Democrat Pat Kemp and Republican Tim Schock on Oct. 13, if they would sit down for a Facebook Live debate at our Tampa office. The plan was for our Hillsborough County reporter (the author of this post) to ask them both questions about issues facing Hillsborough and each would have an opportunity to respond to the questions and each other. Our large Facebook audience of 210,000 followers could watch the conversation live or catch an archived version at their convenience.
It was a relatively simple proposition. This being a very local race, we hoped we could pull it off without complicated negotiations. Both had come in to meet with the Tampa Bay Times’ editorial board without any issues. They answer phone calls directly when Times’ reporters have questions about their stances on various topics. It’s not as though they have large campaigns with many levels of bureaucracy — most of their campaign workers are volunteers — to make something happen. …Full Story
ST. PETERSBURG — The city has leaky pipes. On an average day without rain in the Sunshine City, about two-thirds
of the sewage flow is made up of groundwater entering leaky sewer pipes, consultants told the City Council on Thursday.
When it rains, that flow spikes even more, leading to about 200 million gallons of spills and discharges over the past 14 months, according to a preliminary analysis by a wastewater consultant.
But much of the problem lies in relatively concentrated areas around Lake Maggiore, Old Southeast and a large swaths of west-central of the city.
That eased Council member Karl Nurse’s mind. Now the city has an emerging map of areas to focus efforts of fixing pipes.
“It makes this a much less overwhelming task,” Nurse said.
Nurse wants the city to spend as much money budgeted for sewer repairs as quickly as possible.
Public works administrator Claude Tankersley said that he wants to spend all of the $8 million additional money recently designated by the city for pipe lining and other fixes before the start of next summer’s rainy season. …Full Story
After criticism for contributing to the campaign of one City Commission Seat 3 candidate, planning and development director Greg Rice tried to remedy the situation by giving the same sum to the other candidate.
A high-ranking city employee who answersto and takes direction from the commission, Rice defended his contribution to incumbent Heather Gracy by saying it was unconventional -- he bought six $60 tickets for his wife and some friends to go to a Sept. 20 women's leadership event, which he knew doubled as a fundraiser for Gracy.
The $360 donation quickly set off opponent Reuben C. Hepburn's camp, and word traveled quickly to Rice, who last week decided to level the playing field by donating another $360 to Hepburn.
"I knew it was a fundraiser for (Gracy), but I didn't realize it was going to cause the stir that it did," Rice said. "I heard from other people that (Hepburn's) campaign staff was very upset, and I did not want it to be perceived that way."
Hepburn said Wednesday he has decided to return Rice's contribution, because in his opinion, accepting it would not be "ethical or appropriate." …Full Story
ZACK WITTMAN | Times
Cars sit locked in evening rush hour traffic on Dale Mabry near Raymond James Stadium on Monday evening, April 25, 2016 in Tampa.
About 15 people spoke during the Hillsborough County Commission’s meeting Wednesday morning about a proposed $600 million, 10-year transportation plan -- and more are waiting to share their thoughts later this afternoon.
Commissioner Chaiman Les Miller limited the public comment period to 45 minutes so the board could vote on other matters on the agenda. He said more than 30 people had signed up to speak. Those who did not have time in the morning are invited to address the board in the afternoon session. It’s unclear how many will come back to give their statements.
The proposed project list is a road-centric plan focused on safety improvements at intersections and schools, road resurfacing and new and wider roads to relieve congestion in unincorporated Hillsborough.
Opponents are upset that there is no money in it for public transportation, including buses, rail or ferries.
“If we don’t plan for ways to move folks around in the urban core...in something other than cars, we are going to have a serious problem,” said Laura Lawson, chair of the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Citizen Advisory Committee. …Full Story
Charlie Crist continues to add to his lead in campaign donations in the 13th Congressional District race.
According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Crist raised $386,272, outpacing Republican incumbent David Jolly, who raised $211,003 in the same period between mid-August and the end of September.
Overall, Jolly, who ran for Marco Rubio’s Senate seat before switching back to defend his House seat in June, has still raised more overall cash: $1,750,606 to Crist’s $1,452,907. But Crist has been soliciting donations for a lot less time and has quickly closed the gap.
With three weeks before Election Day, Crist also has more cash on hand. The former governor has $775,614 in addition to ample help from the national Democratic Party.
Jolly, who is on the outs with the National Republican Congressional Committee, in part because of his proposal to ban members of Congress from soliciting donations, has $257,930 on hand. …Full Story
Times file photo
Hillsborough County Attorney Chip Fletcher is recommending the PTC hire its own law firm.
The embattled Public Transportation Commission may soon need new legal representation.
The agency at the center of the battle between rideshare firms like Uber and Lyft and the taxicab industry pays Hillsborough County government for the services of Assistant County Attorney Cindy Oster to handle legal matters.
But Oster’s boss, County Attorney Chip Fletcher, is recommending that the PTC seek new counsel because he fears a potential conflict of interest if state lawmakers move to dissolve the PTC.
In an email sent Friday to PTC Board Chairman Victor Crist, Fletcher said he will be briefing other PTC board members about his recommendation.
A chief concern would be that dissolution of the agency that regulates for-hire vehicles like taxicabs, limousines and tow trucks would mean additional responsibilities for his other client, the county. That would make it difficult for his office to advocate for both clients, he said.
“We’ve identified a potential conflict of interest for the PTC and the county and the Board of County Commissioners,” Fletcher said. “Based on current information, it seems like it’s a preferential course of action.” …Full Story
State House District 63 candidate Lisa Montelione
TAMPA City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez are endorsing fellow Democrat and council member Lisa Montelione in her bid to win the state House District 63 seat.
But it’s unclear if Montelione will get similar backing from her other colleagues on the all Democratic city council.
Councilman Frank Reddick in June crossed party lines to endorse Montelione’s Republican opponent Shawn Harrison.
And Yvonne Yolie Capin, who donated to Montelione’s campaign, said Tuesday she will not be making an endorsement in the race.
“The only person I endorsed was for president,” Capin said. “I stayed out of all the campaigns.”
Also not picking sides is longtime council member Charlie Miranda. He served alongside Harrison on the city council for part of Harrison’s eight-year stint on the council.
“I work with both of them so it would be disrespectful to endorse one of the other,” Miranda said.
Councilman Guido Maniscalco, who represents West Tampa said he has not been approached by Montelione’s campaign and may opt to stay neutral.
“I’d rather not get involved,” he said. “It’s nothing personal. (The seat) is beyond my district.” …Full Story