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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Galvin's wife stands by her husband's candidacy in email to Pinellas commissioner

ST. PETERSBURG - District 8 City Council candidate Steve Galvin’s wife is rallying to his defense, following a Times' story that revealed Galvin lied to the newspaper about being sued and fathering a child.

After the story ran on Saturday, Galvin’s campaign manager quit, and the candidate took to the comments section to defend himself. But it didn’t end there – on Monday, Galvin's wife, Pamela Cichon, an assistant attorney for the city of St. Petersburg, sent an email from her work address to Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long, giving her version of events and claiming that this reporter conspired with Galvin’s opponent, Amy Foster, to “dig up dirt” on her husband.

(In reality, any reporter covering a political campaign searches the candidates' names in the county's court system. When Galvin's name turned up, I read the case files.)

"Stephen is still in the race to win it," Cichon wrote, "and the calls of support we have received --even from some elected officials--have been really great and give him the energy to push on." …

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News conference to discuss parvo reports at Hillsborough shelter

Hillsborough County officials will hold a news conference Wednesday to discuss reports of parvovirus showing up at the county's animal shelter on Falkenburg Road in Brandon. The news conference will take place at 2 p.m. in a 26th floor meeting room at County Center, at 601 E Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.

Commissioners have a budget reconciliation workshop scheduled to run all day Wednesday, but which is not likely to run past noon.

County Communications Director Lori Hudson said officials will discuss what they know about what they are characterizing as isolated incidences of parvo and what they are doing to prevent its spread. She said they will be turning to independent outside assistance to help them manage a problem that is being taken "very seriously."

Stay turned to for a report about parvo at the shelter.

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Pinellas County policy change could mean more money for some non-profits, less for others

Pinellas County will give roughly $550,000 to social service agencies next year, but officials plan to change how they prioritize which organizations get help.

Every year, the county sets aside money to give to groups that help the homeless and feed the elderly. But that amount, divided among 15 organizations last year, often comes in grants that are about $30,000, often less than 1 percent of the organizations' budgets.

"We need to distribute these resources so we have the greatest impact," said Gwendolyn Warren, director of the county's Health and Human Services Department. "And it might not be doling out $30,000 awards."

Commissioners agreed to give Warren and her staff more control over which groups receive funding, which currently goes to organizations such as The Salvation Army of St. Petersburg and Religious Community Services. When considering which groups to fund next year, Warren said she might look at organizations that provide housing for homeless families, which is in short supply in Pinellas, and deliver meals to low-income seniors.

That could mean more money for groups focusing on these issues and less for others. …

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St. Petersburg City Council members react to sale of Bayfront's parent company

One City Council member is concerned that the new owners of Bayfront Health System are being bought by another hospital chain.

Tennessee-based Community Health Systems announced Tuesday that it had agreed to purchase Health Management Associates of Naples, Bayfront's owner. The deal was valued at $3.9 billion.

Council member Steve Kornell said he worries Community Health will put profits ahead of providing charity care to the public. He said he has heard reports that the chain believes Bayfront is an underperforming hospital.

"It is very concerning to me," Kornell said. "The level of charity care needs to increase, not go down."

Click here for more City Council reaction.

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Charles Brink moves from backing Hillsborough School Board candidates to being one

Long a backer of reform-minded school board candidates, Charles R. Brink is now a declared candidate for the Hillsborough County board.

Brink, 60, filed his papers July 23, joining 14 others vying for three open seats in 2014. Brink seldom speaks publicly about his concerns on education, but Jose Colindres, the chief operating officer of his charitable foundation, delivers an address at almost every School Board meeting about the need for more transparency and accountability in the district.

Meanwhile, Brink and members of his family have given $5,000 since 2010 to candidates who were critical of the administration of superintendent MaryEllen Elia. That list includes board members April Griffin and Cindy Stuart, as well as Henry Ballard, a former district manager who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Doretha Edgecomb in 2012.

Click here for a full report.

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City Council candidate Amy Foster on the Pier and public safety

Amy Foster, a candidate for the District 8 seat on the City Council, stopped by the Tampa Bay Times' editorial board last Friday for an interview. Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Foster moved to St. Petersburg about 10 years ago. She works for the EdLab Group, a Seattle-based nonprofit, and lives in Historic Kenwood, where she’s a member of the neighborhood association, Vice President of St. Pete Pride and on the STEM Advisory Board for Girls Inc. of Pinellas. Foster, 35, is running for office for the first time. Here are a few of the issues she discussed last week.

On the Pier: Foster is the sole candidate in the District 8 race who supports the city’s current Pier re-design, called the Lens. "I think I'm the only candidate running that has the courage to say what I think about this issue," she said on Friday. No single design is going to make everyone happy, she said. "There's not going to be a unanimous decision from [Mayor Bill Foster's] 828 Alliance or from voters and at some point someone is going to have to say ok, we've gone through a lot of processes now, we have to move forward," she told the board. …

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Council candidate to Times: "Not Your Business"

Every election the Tampa Bay Times editorial board invites candidates to fill out questionnaires before the board interviews them and then issues it candidate recommendations. The forms include biographical information as well as questions about assorted issues.

David McKalip, a neurosurgeon hoping finally to end the common lament that St. Pete's city council doesn't exactly attract brain surgeons, shows some spunk on his questionnaire. A sampling:

10. Mother’s name
Not your business
11. Father’s name
Not your business
12. Siblings
One Sister
13. Marital Status
Married to same wonderful woman for 22 years.
14. Spouse’s name
Not your business


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Cash race continues in St. Petersburg mayor's race

With less than a month until St. Petersburg residents vote, mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman still leads the cash wars.

But Mayor Bill Foster is gaining steam. The incumbent now has more cash on hand to spend before the Aug. 27 primary. Kathleen Ford still lags behind Foster and Kriseman in raising money.

Between July-19, Kriseman raised $15,090, bumping his total to $124,781. He currently has $69,905 to spend. Foster collected $22,132 in the same period, raising his total to $115,733. He has $85,787 on hand.

Ford, who is seeking the job for the third time, collected only $5, 675 and raised her total to $26,535. She has $18,395 available.
The finance reports show no surprises for the three major candidates, all lawyers and former City Council members.

Foster’s report shows that prominent civic activist Bill Edwards donated. City Hall watchers wondered when the millionaire would give money. He and his wife each donated $500 to Foster. …

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Andre Moses White urges unity in resolving Tampa's Bro Bowl controversy

Skateboarders skate the Bro Bowl in Tampa's Perry Harvey Sr. Park last month. The skateboarding basin has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, provoking a controversy with city officials and black leaders who say the bowl should be demolished to make way for park improvements that honor Tampa's African-American history along Central Avenue.


Skateboarders skate the Bro Bowl in Tampa's Perry Harvey Sr. Park last month. The skateboarding basin has been nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, provoking a controversy with city officials and black leaders who say the bowl should be demolished to make way for park improvements that honor Tampa's African-American history along Central Avenue.

Andre Moses White had a dream. And a change of heart.

On Thursday, the Tampa native asked his friend Barbara Oguntade to speak on his behalf at a state review board looking at the historic value of the Bro Bowl in Perry Harvey Sr. Park in downtown Tampa. Like several other black residents with strong ties to the area, he wanted to object to the nomination of the skateboarding basin to the National Register of Historic Places. "There's a more significant cultural history of blacks in Tampa and their contributions that supersede the Bro Bowl," White said in his statement.

The panel, however, voted to recommend including the Bro Bowl on the National Register, setting the stage for a final decision in Washington, D.C.

White, who now lives in Atlanta, went to sleep that night and had a dream in which his father, Moses White, a renowned Tampa businessman who died decades ago, spoke to him about the park. And he says his father’s message is one that might upset other members of the black community.

“My father died 27 years ago and he never came to me in a dream,” says White. “So I have to share what my father told me.” …

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A Jacksonville political group helps Rick Kriseman in St. Petersburg mayoral race

Mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman is getting some help from a statewide group.

Fact Check Florida, an electioneering communications organization, or ECO, recently sent thousands of glossy mailers to city households.

The Jacksonville-based mailers ask: “If mayors were like street lights, which one would you want for St. Petersburg?”

The back side shows candidate Kathleen Ford as the red light, and Mayor Bill Foster as the yellow light. And Kriseman is the green light.

Fact Check Florida was incorporated July 17, state records show.

The group to wants help progressive candidates win elections at the local, county and state level, said chairman Matthew Martz. He declined to reveal the names of donors, but said the group is focused on 2014 elections.

Martz, who is also listed on LinkedIn as an account executive at Mad Dog Mail, has ties to Cesar Fernandez, Kriseman’s campaign manager. Both men worked on the campaign last year for state Sen. Jeff Clemens.

Locally, Martz has also worked for Hernando County Commissioner Diane Rowden and Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, according to LinkedIn. …

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City Council candidate Steve Galvin's campaign manager quits

St. Petersburg -- On Saturday, the same day a Tampa Bay Times story revealed that District 8 City Council candidate Steve Galvin had lied repeatedly about fathering a child and being sued for financial support, his campaign manager announced he had quit.

On his Facebook page, Johnny Bardine wrote:

"It has become necessary for me to sever my professional relationship with Steve Galvin and his campaign for city council. I just notified Steve that I am resigning as his political consultant, effective immediately. I wish him the best of luck."

The Times story showed that although Galvin claimed he had never been sued and had no children, he was taken to court in 2006 in Orange County, California, over child support payments for a son he fathered with a woman he met while living there. Asked about the suit, which followed him to Pinellas County, Galvin initially claimed it had been dismissed. Confronted with court documents from California, he later admitted the dispute ended in 2009 when he agreed to pay child support. …

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Another candidate considers entering Clearwater City Council races

CLEARWATER ---Interest in races for the Clearwater City Council continues to ramp up.

Nathan Hightower, 56, a commercial litigator and real estate attorney, told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday that he is giving serious consideration to running for one of two seats up for election.

Incumbent Council Member Bill Jonson has already drawn one announced opponent, David Allbritton, 62, a contractor.

Former Council member Hoyt Hamilton, 54, whose family owns Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach has said he is very likely to run for an open seat being vacated by term-limited Vice-Mayor Paul Gibson.

Hightower said he hasn’t picked which race to jump into if he decides to run for council. But he has thought about the ramifactions of a three-way race for Jonson’s seat as opposed to a  likely two-person race for the open seat.

“It certainly is a factor that plays a role in my consideration,” Hightower said.

He’ll make a final decision no later than the end of August. Candidates are able to formally file their candidacies in September and the political dynamics could be different by then, Hightower said.

“You never know, things could change,” he said. …

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State law gives condo builder green light in Safety Harbor

Developers can build their controversial seven-story condominium downtown, and there's nothing opponents can do about it.

A little-known state law designed to stimulate a lagging economy gives the developers an extra two years to build at the high-visibility intersection of S Bayshore Boulevard and Main Street, though their city permits would have expired this year.

The news stunned residents who were prepared to rehash a bitter fight they lost five years ago, when a divided City Commission approved the plan for two stories of parking topped by five stories of residential units.

Read more here.

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Tampa needs baseball to be next great city for business, official says

Hillsborough County commissioner Mark Sharpe was looking at one more list of the top cities for business awhile back, and once again he was disappointed that Tampa did not even make the list, let alone rank highly.

Telling that story as a setup, he posed a question during a budget workshop Thursday to Rick Homans, president of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp., the county's business recruiting arm: What will it take for Tampa to consistently appear in the top five, like Austin, say, or Raleigh?

Homans didn't hesitate, giving his top five ingredients:

1. Pursue a plan to create targeted economic development areas in the county ready to house new businesses;

2. Build a public transportation system (one of the answer's Sharpe was looking to hear);

3. Bring a baseball stadium to downtown Tampa;

4. Lure at least two new corporate headquarters to Tampa to "fill in" its skyline;

5. Foster an entrepreneurial community, "reeking with innovation." (No doubt Sharpe's second desired answer, though perhaps sans the reeking part.)

It should be noted that Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, he of the Tampa Bay Rays crush, was not even at the meeting.


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Hagan, Buckhorn ready to talk if St. Petersburg and Rays agree to allow broader stadium site search

Two of Hillsborough’s top elected officials stand ready to talk if the Tampa Bay Rays and city of St. Petersburg reach an agreement to let the team explore possible stadium sites outside of Pinellas County.

But neither Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn nor Hillsborough County Commission chairman Ken Hagan is eager to reach for the public’s checkbook to cover the cost of a new ballpark.

“It’s got to be a partnership,” Buckhorn said Wednesday when asked what the Rays ought to know going into any discussion with Hillsborough officials.

“Both sides have to have skin in the game. Obviously, the Rays have to have a lot more skin in the game than not,” he said. “Our commitment, given this opportunity, would be to put our best minds to the task. I don’t know what the deal would look like at the end. I don’t know how much it would cost. I don’t know where it would be located, but I think the Rays and the region deserve our best efforts.

“Tampa is a baseball town,” the mayor said. “We’ve got as long a history of baseball in this town as any place in America. I think the Rays would be warmly received here.” …

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