ST. PETERSBURG — The former president of the St. Petersburg Democratic Club wants two City Council candidates blocked from the Aug. 27 primary ballot.
James Donelon is accusing District 4 council candidates, Darden Rice and Dr. David McKalip, of filing a "false oath of candidate in violation of the St. Petersburg City Charter."
The city's charter requires candidates to sign an affidavit swearing they have lived in a district for 12 months before an election — in this case, the Aug. 27 primary.
Donelon filed the request Tuesday with the City Clerk, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections and the Florida Ethics Commission.
His challenge follows a story published last month in the Tampa Bay Times detailing how Rice and McKalip had rented homes in the newly redrawn district District 4, but were still living in District 3.
Donelon's request might not go far.
City Clerk Eva Andujar said her duties are "purely administrative" and that she cannot investigate residency issues. Candidates swear the information is true when signing the affidavits, she said.
"His only avenue is to go through the court system," she said Wednesday. "There's nothing I can do." …Full Story
Qualifying papers are in for three of the four candidates vying for the District 8 City Council seat, and the fundraising has begun.
Alex Duensing, 39, is holding a fundraiser at Cycle Lounge on Central Avenue on July 6th, starting at 8 pm. The Facebook announcement says there will be live music and "live painting," as well as a raffle for a vintage bicycle.
Amy Foster, 35, announced on Monday that she’s been endorsed by the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association and the American Federation of Labor. She’s holding a fundraiser on June 26 at 6 pm at the Kalamazoo Olive Company on Central Ave. There will be a tasting menu and wine, but the invite notes that space is limited and RSVPs are required, which you can do here. The suggested minimum contribution is $50.
Steve Galvin, 55, is already out and about in neighborhoods, talking to voters, but he's officially launching his campaign on June 30th. His kickoff party will be held at Biff Burger on 49th Street North from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. "Refreshments will be served," says the invite. Galvin has been endorsed by Bill Hurley, who planned to run for the seat, but dropped out of the race earlier this month. …Full Story
City of Tampa (2012)
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn at his city's St. Patrick's Day celebration. Did St. Pete Pride organizers see these pants before inviting him to their parade?
For the first time ever, the mayor will ride in a convertible at St. Pete Pride’s Carnivale parade, scheduled for June 29.
The mayor of Tampa, that is.
Organizers say Bob Buckhorn will be the highest ranking official to participate in the 11-year history of the event.
"Happy to participate," Buckhorn said Wednesday. "I don't look at it as a particularly big thing. I did it because I thought it was important. I hope it will send a message that not only are we open for business but that we honor and celebrate the accomplishments and the value of everybody. It's really that simple."
In an announcement of Buckhorn's participation, St. Pete Pride executive director Eric Skains described it as "meaningful in many respects."
“It never goes unnoticed to the LGBT community the level of support from the local government as it brings a sense of belonging and acceptance," he said. "We truly appreciate Mayor Buckhorn’s commitment to the LGBT community, and welcome him to the Tampa Bay/St Pete LGBT Pride celebration.” …Full Story
At least on paper, Monday was a good night for Mayor Joe Ayoub.
He secured an extra eight months in the mayor's post.
And he finally overcame months of resistance from his City Commission colleagues to obtain more than $2 million for Waterfront Park, a 13-acre parcel designated for pedestrian trails, benches and a boat launch.
The latter might be Ayoub's first policy victory since he took office in January. But it was his vote to extend his own term that had people seething.
"In November, dollars to doughnuts they'll be new faces on that commission," Dennis Spicer said after the vote, standing outside City Hall with a handful of angry residents. "I know one new face that will be on that commission."
Read more here. Full Story
CLEARWATER‑ Clearwater Beach is either in danger of becoming as clogged as
or is hitting on all cylinders.
It all depends on which City Council member is talking.
For Vice-Mayor Paul Gibson and Mayor George Cretekos, who live on or near the beach, the gorgeous sightlines are becoming as endangered as sea turtles and the beach becoming chock-block full of chunky hotels and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Council members Jay Polglaze and Doreen Hock-DiPolito see things differently.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, sums up their position.
At issue is the city’s Beach By Design development plan, which is more than a decade old.
City planners asked council members at a Monday work session for input on whether the plan needs to be tweaked or overhauled.
The plan calls for mid-priced hotels to be built on small parcels to make up for the loss of rooms to condos in the past decade.
Despite adding 621 hotel rooms since 2002, the beach is still down 405 rooms from the same year.
Still, more rooms could lead to worse traffic and fewer parking spaces. Cretekos and Gibson said tweaking the plan should be on the table.
“Even the Constitution has been changed,” Cretekos said. …Full Story
Activists plan to protest in front of Sen. Bill Nelson's Tampa office Friday because of his comments regarding Edward Snowden's revelation of National Security Agency data-mining operations such as the program known as PRISM.
Groups expected to demonstrate include St. Pete for Peace, Veterans for Peace, Occupy Tampa, Friends of Human Rights, NatureCoast Coalition for Peace and Justice, Tampa Light Brigade, The Refuge, St. Petersburg Green Party, Peace and Freedom Party of Florida, Green Shadow Cabinet and the Poor People's Economic Rights Campaign.
The protest is scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. in front of the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse, 801 N Florida Ave., Tampa.
In a June 11 column for the New York Daily News, Nelson wrote: "Edward Snowden is not a whistleblower. What Edward Snowden did amounts to an act of treason. And the Department of Justice should bring charges against him for deliberately taking classified information and leaking it in such a way that our enemies can use it against us." …Full Story
There are three things every Greek young woman must do, actor Nia Vardalos lamented as Toula Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
Marry Greek boys, make Greek babies and feed everyone.
Portokalos — the movie character in the semiautobiographical film — chose her own destiny despite her hilariously intrusive family. And in real life, Vardalos has carved out her own path as well.
n Saturday in Tarpon Springs, the Academy Award-nominated actress and screenwriter will speak on how she and her husband (who is Puerto Rican and Russian, not Greek) struggled with infertility and adopted a toddler with only 14 hours' notice. She also will sign copies of her book, Instant Mom.
Read more here. Full Story
The problem: A few months ago a city commission redrew council maps and moved her home out of District 3 and into District 2. The city's charter requires candidates to live in a district for 12 months before an election. The primary is Aug. 27.
Margeson, one leader of the Stop the Lens movement, has lived in the same house in the Mangrove Bay neighborhood for the past 12 years.
"It's a total mess, not of my making," Margeson said Tuesday.
"I'm subject to a perjury charge. I did not take kindly that they threatened criminal action for stepping up to the plate. That's total disenfranchisement language."
Another residency issue surfaced last month in District 4.
Candidates Dr. David McKalip and Darden Rice both criticized the redistricting process earlier this year and vowed to move in order to seek office.
The Tampa Bay Times found last month that both had rented homes in the newly redrawn district District 4, but were still living in District 3. Both vowed to eventually move to District 4.
Carolyn Fries, a third candidate, called on the city to make sure it investigates whether Rice and McKalip are eligible for the ballot. …Full Story
Preliminary plans for a long-anticipated mixed-use complex in downtown Dunedin has drawn criticism from neighbors and others who fear the project will bring parking problems, noise, lowered property values and the ruin of the corridor's quaint charm.
Six years after the poor economy stalled a medical office-retail development dubbed the Gateway project, Pizzuti Builders LLC has revamped it as a three-story development featuring 124 one- and two-bedroom rental apartments over 24,500 square feet of shops and restaurants, possibly including a Lucky Dill Deli.
Pizzuti hopes to break ground on the vacant 4.25-acre tract at the intersection of Main Street and Milwaukee Avenue by the end of the year.
About a dozen neighbors raised concerns during a recent conceptual meeting that the 207 proposed parking spots won't be enough and that the project will draw a young, noisy crowd. …Full Story
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County Commission chairman Ken Hagan and Temple Terrace Mayor Frank Chillura join business recruiters Wednesday on a trip to pitch some big financial firms in New York.
The three-day trop will target not only banks but also firms that could look to expand shared services operations. All companies on the schedule already have a presence locally: PricewaterhouseCoopers, Time Warner, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, DTCC and UBS.
The delegation also includes three officials from the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., which organized the trip: Florida Blue's David Pizzo (the EDC's chairman), SunTrust Bank's Allen Brinkman (its vice chairman) and EDC president and CEO Rick Homans. Full Story
Judicial candidate Michael Scionti, County Commission candidate Mary Mulhern and legislative candidate Ed Narain all have fundraisers coming up this month:
Scionti plans to kick off his campaign for Hillsborough Circuit Court Wednesday at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Scionti is running for the Group 19 seat in the 13th Judicial Circuit, which covers Hillsborough County. Kim Hernandez Vance, a commercial litigation attorney and shareholder in the Tampa office of Gray Robinson, also has filed to run for the seat. Scionti is a former prosecutor, an Army Reserve veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former state representative and a federal appointee who has held posts in the Department of Defense and State Department. …Full Story
While still dealing with infighting and an independent discrimination investigation, East Lake Fire Rescue is trying to move past the alleged racial slurs and erratic governance that earned the department negative headlines and landed it in legal hot water.
All department employees, from the top brass to rank-and-file firefighters, are taking classes online and at the fire station on issues like harassment, ethics and conflict in the workplace.
Even fire commissioners — elected officials who oversee the department — are getting training on discrimination, diversity and the state's Government-in-the-Sunshine Law.
Read more here. Full Story
The Dunedin City Commission on Thursday will consider hiring a company to audit the city’s new utility billing system and spending nearly $35,000 on improved crosswalk signals along Causeway Boulevard and Patricia Avenue.
City Manager Rob DiSpirito says staff has "agressively" worked to fix problems and establish new guidelines following the 2009 discovery that Dunedin had been undercharging commercial users of stormwater, water and sewer lines. The discrepancies cost the city $2.2 million over seven years.
To restore customer confidence in the billing system, he is recommending an independent audit by Water Company of America. Under the proposed contract, WCA for three years would receive 46 percent of increased revenues Dunedin nets from discrepancies identified and corrected by WCA. The company, which has done similar auditing work for St. Petersburg and Pinellas County, wouldn’t receive any money if no errors are found. …Full Story
Clearwater Marine Aquarium officials have responded in detail to concerns raised recently by a group of residents in a neighboring luxury condo building.
At a City Council work session earlier this month, several residents buttonholed CMA's chief operating officer Frank L. Dame seeking answers about the $160 million new aquarium that CMA wants to build on a downtown site now occupied by City Hall.
Water's Edge, the high-end condo, would be a neighbor of the proposed aquarium, scheduled to go to voters for approval in a November referendum.
The residents raised concerns about noise, traffic, blocked views, and night-time events. Dame told them he wanted their support and would get back to them quickly.
He did. In a five-page letter, Dame laid out the future for Winter the Dolphin's new home if voters pass the high-profile project.
Here are some highlights
*A traffic study indicates that the site's traffic could be adequately handled if a parking garage was built at 301 Pierce St. But that site isn't a done deal yet. …Full Story
Hillsborough County officials are confirming they are in the hunt for a third of those 3,000 Amazon.com jobs Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday, dangling subsidies at the online-shopping giant in hopes of luring a distribution center in the South Shore area.
Commissioners have a pair of agenda items before them for next Wednesday's meeting related to the prospective deal. They note that the company is considering building a $200 million, one-million-square-foot distribution complex, or "fulfillment center," at the South Shore Corporate Park in Ruskin.
The 1,000-acre property near State Road 674 and Interstate 75 was partially developed in 2007, before the collapse of the real estate market, and has sat unoccupied since with a vacant 90,000-square foot warehouse-style building.
Amazon, through an affiliate, would pledge to create 375 "higher-wage" jobs, paying at least 115 percent of the average Florida wage, or about $47,581. Ultimately, it would potentially create 1,000 jobs overall and hire more seasonal employees. …Full Story