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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Harbor Bar in Safety Harbor will open deck on own land

Harbor Bar will have its Margaritaville-themed deck after all.

But it won't be on city land. It will be on the bar's private property.

The 1,600-square-foot deck is under construction in front of Harbor Bar at 844 Main St.

Read more here.

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St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford will not attend forum at Suncoast Tiger Bay Club

When members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club gather next month to quiz St. Petersburg mayoral candidates, one major challenger will not be there.

Mayor Bill Foster and challenger Rick Kriseman will attend the July 10 event.

Kathleen Ford, a lawyer and former City Council member, will not participate.

“I have a conflict so I will not be attending,” Ford told Buzz in a text message about this year’s debate.

She attended the forums during her 2001 and 2009 campaigns.

Club members say they want to quiz candidates on the budget, jobs and revitalizing Midtown. Don’t forget the most controversial issue in the city: The Pier.

Local blogger Peter Schorsch, a board member, first reported that Ford said she wasn’t available July 10. The club then presented her with three other dates, but Ford stopped returning calls, Schorsch said.

When asked about the other three dates, Ford replied: "Trial calendar for two weeks."


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Mulhern holding fundraiser tonight

Democratic Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern is holding a fundraiser tonight as part of her campaign for an at-large seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. Mulhern is seeking the seat that will be vacated by Republican Mark Sharpe in 2014. So far she is competing against fellow Democrat April Griffin, a school board member, and Republican Al Higginbotham, who is seeking to switch from his District 4 seat representing largely eastern Hillsborough.

Tonight's fundraiser is being held at the home of Mark Anderson and Keith Bucklew. Here is the host list: 

Mark Anderson & Keith Bucklew

Rosemary Armstrong & Sandy Weinberg

Wendy Cartwright, Jane & Gary Gibbons

David Hall, Debbe Kelley & Charlie Beehler

Patricia Kemp, Peggy Land, Rick Martinez

Bill Rain, Rochelle Reback, Sara & Mort Richter

Sara & David Scher, Linda Saul-Sena, Ken Stoltenberg

Judy Tampa, Starr & Kevin Wren 

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Beckner applauds DOMA ruling on Twitter

Here's the reaction of Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who is gay, to the Supreme Court's rulings pertaining to gay marriage Tuesday, as he posted on Twitter:

"The Supreme Crt’s decision has elevated the marriages of gay/lesbian couples & illuminated the rts of the LGBT community under the US Const."

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Scott appoints friend of Bondi to Hillsborough County Aviation Authority

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced the appointment of Martin Garcia, a private investment firm founder from Tampa, to finish out the term of the late Steve Burton on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. The remainder of the term lasts about a week, though Martin is expected to be reappointed for a new term starting July 1.

Garcia, 57, the founder and managing director of Pinehill Capital Partners, was state co-chair for Pam Bondi's campaign for attorney general in 2010. Burton, a trial lawyer who was chairman of aviation authority as it undertook several major changes at Tampa Internation Airport, died in April from complications following a heart transplant.

Yep, those rumors that Burton's friend, east county Republican activist Sam Rashid, would replace him sounded like a float. Of course that's easy to write now. Scott still has another aviation authority appointment decision to make when board member Dr. Joseph Diaco's term expires next month. Diaco is seeking to be reappointed. …

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As Safety Harbor's mayor tries to make his mark, his predecessor looms

Joe Ayoub had not yet settled into the mayor's chair in City Hall when his predecessor, Andy Steingold, hinted that he might make another run for the city's top political post.

"This may not be my last Mayor's Breakfast," he said at the annual December fundraiser, just before Ayoub took office in January.

Steingold said the statement was made lightheartedly, that he didn't want to just "shut the door and say, 'Good luck, everyone!'"

But, in many ways, the comment foreshadowed what may be the biggest challenge to Ayoub's leadership: Steingold.

Ayoub ran unopposed for mayor after Steingold resigned to make an unsuccessful bid for judge, so he did not have to mount a political campaign.

But, with his predecessor and possible future opponent seemingly hovering over his shoulder, Ayoub is now forced to take on a more protracted, and possibly more grueling, bid for public favor.

Read more here.

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Newcomer to District 4 race: Richard Eldridge

ST. PETERSBURG -- Richard Eldridge, who jumped into the already-crowded 4th District Council race this week, said he’s running because he thinks it’s his civic responsibility to get involved and do his part to make things better.
   “The city as a whole is doing OK,” said Eldridge, adding that he’s not the kind of candidate “who gets out there and says 'take our city back.' "

He is running against Carolyn Fries, David McKalip and Darden Rice. Eldrige, 51, works as a taxi driver and received his biology degree from the University of South Florida. He was among 10 candidates who ran for mayor in 2009.

Eldridge said he supports putting the new pier plan to a referendum so citizens can have say-so on that important project. He thinks the city should turn over the venue to a business such as Disney, Universal or Busch Gardens, so they could make money and bring more people to the area.

Eldridge lives in the Crescent Lake area, and said he has been in the same home since about 2008.

In other District 4 news, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner announced that he has endorsed Darden Rice in the District 4 City Council race.

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Net worth of St. Petersburg mayoral candidates ranges from $1 million to -$19,000


If a candidate’s net worth decided elections, Kathleen Ford would be St. Petersburg’s next mayor. But that’s not the case. Voters decide.

Here is a breakdown of liabilities and assets for the three major candidates in the race for mayor:

Kathleen Ford, 55, is a lawyer and former City Council member.

A former North Shore Neighborhood Association president, she was elected to the City Council in 1997. She left the council to run for mayor in 2001, but she finished second behind Mayor Rick Baker. Ford also finished second behind Bill Foster in 2009.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1979 from the University of Virginia. After working in pediatric intensive care units in Houston, she went to South Texas College of Law and earned a law degree in 1985.

Ford has a net worth of nearly $1.1 million, with the bulk of that tied to her $800,000 home on 18th Street NE, according to state financial disclosure forms. Her other noteworthy assets are a collection of stocks, retirement and money-market accounts worth $276,291.

She owes $684,000 on a mortgage and other loans. Her $17,152 annual income is from her family law firm, Ford & Ford. Learn more at …

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Get ready for endorsements in St. Petersburg's mayoral race

It’s election season in St. Petersburg. Let the endorsements begin.


Sixteen hours after the qualifying period ended, mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman announced an endorsement. Here is what his campaign said:


Two prominent LGBT advocacy organizations, Equality Florida and the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County, have endorsed Rick Kriseman’s campaign for mayor of St. Petersburg.

“I am proud to have the support of the LGBT community,” said Kriseman. “As mayor, I will ensure that St. Petersburg remains a city that values and celebrates diversity.”

The announcement comes on the week of the 11th Annual St. Pete Pride celebration, which is the largest of its kind in the Southeastern United States. Kriseman is a longtime supporter of St. Pete Pride and served as a Grand Marshal in last year’s promenade.

“As a legislator and as a St Petersburg City Council member, Rick Kriseman has been a champion for equality,” said Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith.

The mayoral election is onAugust 27, 2013.

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High-speed ferry backers to hold community meetings

Promoters of a proposal to create high-speed ferry service linking southern Hillsborough County to MacDill Air Force Base will hold a pair of community briefings this week.

The group, fronted by former Hillsborough commissioner Ed Turanchik, a lawyer with the Akerman Senterfitt firm, holds its first meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Dickman Community College Center at Hillsborough Community College's South Shore campus. The address is 551 24th St NE in Ruskin.

The second meeting takes places at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hilton Tampa Downtown in the Buccaneer B Room. The address is 211 N Tampa St. 

A representative of HMS Global Maritime, the proposed operator of the ferry service that backers hope will ultimately link downtown Tampa and St. Petersburg, will be on hand.

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Buckhorn, Sternberg talk about 'everything but the stadium' during NYC social call, mayor says

Tampa Bay Rays owners Stu Sternberg, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan were all hanging out together at Yankee Stadium during last week’s Yankees-Rays series.

So, Mr. Mayor, what did you guys talk about? Maybe a new baseball stadium? Say, in downtown Tampa?

“Um …,” said Buckhorn, as Tampa’s unflappable mayor appeared briefly flummoxed by that obvious question during Monday’s news conference at the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp.

Sitting next to the mayor, EDC CEO Rick Homans couldn’t believe what wasn’t happening.

“C’mon,” Homans said. “You had to have prepared for that question.”

Buckhorn smiled. “I’ve heard it enough times,” the mayor said. He also issued what has become the standard denial in Tampa, as Buckhorn said that he did not Sternberg about any new stadium in Hillsborough County for the team.

“We had a wonderful social chat,” Buckhorn said. “We talked about everything but the stadium.” …

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First debate set for St. Petersburg mayoral race

It’s debate season.

Three of the major challengers seeking St. Petersburg’s top job will debate Thursday, the first of the campaign. Mayor Bill Foster will spar against Kathleen Ford and Rick Kriseman. All three candidates are lawyers and former City Council members.

Topics include the Police Department's pursuit policy and diversity in its ranks and economic development in the Midtown area and 34th Street S corridor.

The debate is being sponsored by The Weekly Challenger, the St. Petersburg NAACP and Bay Tech Label, a firm owned by council chairman Karl Nurse. Attorney Michelle Ligon will moderate.

The action starts 7:30 p.m. at Suncoast Hospice, 3050 First Avenue S.

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Roster being finalized for St. Petersburg elections

ST. PETERSBURG -- The clock is ticking towards 5 p.m.

By then, residents will know the roster of mayoral and City Council candidates for the Aug. 27 primary. Residents will also find out whether any City Council candidates will bypass the primary voting process to face off in a November general election.

Here’s the candidates who have already qualified to run for office:

In the mayor’s race: Mayor Bill Foster, former City Council member Kathleen Ford, homeless activist Paul Congemi.

Who hasn’t qualified yet?

Former City Council member and former state lawmaker Rick Kriseman will turn in the final paper work Monday afternoon. Resident Anthony Cates has also filed initial paperwork.

Unless candidates claim an undue burden, they must pay an election fee of nearly $1.600. The city also collects a qualifying fee of $250.

As of 11:30 a.m. Monday, these candidates have qualified for the City Council races:

In the District 2 race, City Council member Jim Kennedy and activist Lorraine Margeson.

In the District 4 race, Darden Rice, Dr. David McKalip, Carolyn Fries and Richard Eldridge will battle for the seat being vacated by council member Leslie Curran. …

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Amy Foster announces three more endorsements

City Council candidate Amy Foster, one of four people running for Jeff Danner's District 8 seat, announced three more endorsements on Friday.

Foster received the backing of the Equality Florida Action PAC, the Pinellas Stonewall PAC, and Ruth’s List Florida.

The first two groups support LGBT-friendly candidates -- Foster is gay and lives in Kenwood with her partner -- and the last one focuses on bolstering the campaigns of pro-choice, Democratic women who are running for office (essentially EMILY’s List, but for Florida).

Foster’s press release is below:

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St. Petersburg: The latest in the race for District 4 council seat

ST. PETERSBURG -- The three candidates in the District 4 City Council race are expected to attend a candidate debate sponsored by the Northeast Park Neighborhood Association.

The hour-long debate among candidates Carolyn Fries, David McKalip and Darden Rice is scheduled for 7 p.m. July 8 at the Masonic Home of Florida, 3201 First St.NE. The event is free and open to the public. For questions, contact Scott Willis at


Rice has been endorsed by state Rep. Dwight Dudley, D-St. Petersburg. Rice said she was honored by the endorsement, saying in a statement that “His willingness to take on public utilities reform is the type of courage we need in elected officials. Dudley raised the red flag that corporate monopolies are hurting the middle class and getting away with hidden utility taxes.”


McKalip has posted a YouTube campaign commercial touting his efforts in getting a section of Haines Road repaved. You can find it by going to and entering ‘McKalipforcouncil.”

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