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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Pasco commission candidate Mike Moore draws early endorsement from property appraiser Mike Wells

Pasco Property Appraiser Mike Wells says he’s endorsing Mike Moore for county commission.

“Once in a great while, an experienced business leader steps forward for the good of the community. Mike Moore is such a man,” Wells said in a release from Moore’s campaign. “I enthusiastically ask my friends and supporters to get behind Mike for the District 2 county commission seat.”

Moore said he’s known Wells, a Republican, several years. Moore is a business broker and president of Wesley Chapel’s Republican club.

The endorsement is the latest in a stream of support for Moore, even though the commission election is still a year away. Other recent endorsements have come from House Speaker Will Weatherford, Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco and County Commissioner Jack Mariano.

Moore is being challenged by fellow Republican Bob Robertson, a financial planner who chairs the Lake Bernadette Community Development District. 


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Pier-less ideas for a Lens-less life


Tuesday's resounding defeat of the Lens pier project has left many wondering what a future without an inverted pyramid might look like. If St. Petersburg voters don't want the Lens, what do they want? Conveniently, we have the answer.

Answers, in fact.

In May 2011, Floridian gathered dozens of readers' best ideas for the new pier and had our peerless illustrator Don Morris render them in one drawing. So what do St. Petersburg residents think is worthy of their waterfront? It starts with a 400-foot-tall manatee-shaped ferris wheel.

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No stumping this week for St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster


While fighting for his future as St. Petersburg mayor, Bill Foster is taking a short break from the campaign trail.

The hiatus ends after Labor Day. Foster told his army of backers to rest since he needs their “time, talents and support” to win the election.

“I’ll be getting back to you soon,” Foster wrote to his supporters. “The general election will be a hard fought battle so enjoy this much deserved week off.”

He added: “Thank you once again with all of my heart.”

Foster faces former City Council member Rick Kriseman in the Nov. 5 general election. Both men emerged victorious in Tuesday's primary race.

Kriseman’s camp tossed a jab at the incumbent.

"We are working hard to communicate Rick's vision of a St. Petersburg with more jobs, better schools and stronger neighborhoods," said campaign manager Cesar Fernandez. "We welcome Mr. Foster to take some time off. He;s going to need some time to figure out where he now stands on the big issues that face the city."

UPDATED at 5:20 p.m.

Foster's campaign team is stressing that the mayor only asked his volunteers to take off. Campaign staffers will be working on strategies, said campaign manager Neil Allen. …

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Next five weeks crucial in St. Petersburg mayor's race

ST. PETERSBURG — The race between Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman may become one of the most competitive contests in city history.

More than 50,000 people voted in Tuesday's primary, yet fewer than 900 votes separated the incumbent mayor and his challenger.

The men evenly split the city's precincts, with Foster dominating north St. Petersburg and Kriseman capturing neighborhoods south of Central Avenue in predominantly African-American neighborhoods.

"It's going to be a tight fight," said businessman Scott Wagman, who lost his own mayoral bid to Foster in the 2009 primary.

"Rick Kriseman is going to have to make a compelling case to fire an incumbent mayor," said Wagman, who supports Foster. "Bill is going to have to mobilize the business community."

A closer analysis of Tuesday's preliminary election results shows the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate and underscores the importance of the next five weeks:

• Foster's stronghold seems to be in precincts with traditionally high voter turnout. The three precincts with the highest turnout (all above 50 percent) voted for Foster: Placido Bayou, Bahama Shores and Caya Costa neighborhoods. …

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TV station confuses Safety Harbor and Safe Harbor homeless shelter

On this one, former Safety Harbor Mayor Andy Steingold was right.

He went to battle in 2011 with Public Defender Bob Dillinger and St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster over the name of Pinellas Safe Harbor homeless shelter in an unincorporated area near Largo.

The names Safe Harbor and Safety Harbor are too similar, Steingold said. People will be confused.

Dillinger and Foster responded with something like: Thanks but don't worry. It's not that confusing.

Tell that to ABC 7 (Sarasota) television news, which reported at least twice today that local leaders were touring a Safety Harbor homeless facility.

The channel posted online that "Dr. Robert Marbut, who was hired by Sarasota to study the homeless issue and offer solutions, helped create a facility in Safety Harbor addressing the needs of homeless."

Later, the station's broadcast told viewers to join reporter Max Winitz for his live report at the homeless shelter in Safety Harbor.

The problem, of course, was that Winitz was not in Safety Harbor at all. But on 49th Street N, near Largo.


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Rays tell business leaders MLB revenue-sharing sustains the team, to the growing annoyance of other owners

Cash in the form of Major League Baseball revenue-sharing is sustaining the Tampa Bay Rays, but the patience of other team owners is running low as they wait for the Rays to secure a new ballpark.

That’s a key point local business leaders took Wednesday from an hour-long discussion with Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg and president Matt Silverman at the offices of the Tampa Bay Partnership, a nonprofit economic development organization.

What the Rays’s leadership told the partnership was that the team’s “sustainability is driven off revenue-sharing,” partnership chairman Chuck Sykes said. “That is not a long-term winning formula."

As a business person, he said, “I wouldn’t get a false sense of security to say that there isn’t real money behind this revenue-sharing that would cause somebody to say eventually, “Time’s up. I’ve had enough.’ ”

Click here for a full report.

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'Know what I call that? A box of Buckhorns'

Photo courtesy of Archie Bourne

Sometimes the image is the story, and here the image is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s face, rendered in chocolate.

“You know what I call that? A box of Buckhorns,” said Archie Bourne, an Iraq war vet who owns Schakolad Chocolate Factory on S Howard Avenue. Bourne made a dozen chocolates of the mayor from a mold created by Georges Kaufman of Kaufman used a photo of the mayor to create a 3-D model, then used a 3-D printer to print out a 2-inch bust that was, in turn, used to create a food-grade silicon mold. Kaufman delivered the chocolates to City Hall Tuesday.

Buckhorn’s reaction? Sweet.

“I have made it to the big time,” he wrote on his Facebook page, which got nearly 1,300 views in two hours. “Parents will love this as a way to convince their kids that too much candy is a bad thing.”

Buckhorn declined to let anyone touch the chocolates, saving them for his family.

"No one's had a chance to bite my head off," he said. "My daughters get to do that."

Times columnist Sue Carlton contributed.

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Beckner relents on Kemple appointment to Hillsborough diversity committee

Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner is relenting on including social conservative Terry Kemple, who is running for a school board seat, on a proposed citizen diversity committee.

Beckner, who is openly gay, had proposed the committee to study ways to make Hillsborough County more inclusive to all people. Fearing it would be a tool for advancing gay rights, Kemple, who opposes that, applied for an appointment.

To block his appointment, formation of the committee was tabled by Commissioner Les Miller. Beckner is hoping take it off the table and put the group to work.

“My mind is open to his appointment if that means we can get the group started,” he said.

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Schorsch lied about role in chicken suit

Surprising no one, St. Petersburg politics blogger Peter Schorsch announced early on the morning of the city's primary election that he was behind the repeated appearances of someone in a chicken suit at political events that St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford didn't attend.

The chicken, or whoever was inside of it, always held the same sign: "Kathleen Ford: Too chicken to debate Foster + Kriseman."

Schorsch posed in a chicken suit in the announcement on Facebook and confessed: "You're damn right I was behind the chicken! Bye-bye Kathleen"

His confession came after weeks of denying involvement and lying to Tampa Bay Times reporters, despite comments he wrote on the newspaper's own website in which he took credit for the stunt. In a July 12 story, Schorsch told the paper that the political consultant who had accused him of being the chicken was "absolutely lying" because he didn't like Schorsch's writing about his candidate. He feigned surprise that the chicken had shown up to a mayoral debate hosted by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, where he is an officer. …

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Live chat with John Romano

Have the St. Petersburg elections, state government or anything else on your mind? Join John Romano at noon Wednesday on for a live chat.


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Tampa poll: Most oppose using taxpayer money for Tampa Bay Rays stadium

A new poll of 584 registered voters in Tampa finds little support for using taxpayer money for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

That almost certainly comes as no surprise to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan — both who say that the kind of sales tax increase that paid for the stadium where the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play would never fly with Hillsborough voters now. (Buckhorn has said this for nearly three years, ever since he was a candidate for mayor.) Buckhorn, however, does like the idea of using downtown property tax money that is now paying off bonds for the convention center for a downtown stadium. More on that in a moment.

But the poll, from and commissioned by St. Petersburg political blogger Peter Schorsch, puts some numbers to the unpopularity of the idea. …

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Will Weatherford to speak to Emerge Tampa Bay

Florida Speaker of the House Will Weatherford is scheduled to speak to the young professionals of Emerge Tampa Bay and take questions about his political career from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Chart House, 7616 W Courtney Campbell Causeway in Tampa.

The cost is $15 in advance for Emerge Tampa Bay members, $25 for non-members. To register, go to For more information, contact Ashley Ehrman at (813) 276-9448 or

A program of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Emerge Tampa Bay works to support, cultivate and attract professionals from 21 to 35 by providing access to business resources, educational opportunities and community partnerships.

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Pinellas Democratic Party chairman charged with DUI

The chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party, Mark Hanisee, was arrested earlier this month on a charge of driving under the influence, his third such arrest.

Pinellas County sheriff deputies pulled over Hanisee, 54, on the night of Aug. 11, for driving without his headlights, a fact first reported by SaintPetersBlog. They made note of a “strong odor of alcoholic beverage” and Hanisee’s "bloodshot & watery" eyes, according to his arrest report.

His blood-alcohol content was recorded at .237. Florida law presumes a driver is impaired when blood alcohol is above 0.08 percent.

Records show that Hanisee spent two nights in the Pinellas County jail before being released on Aug. 13 on a $750 bond.

Hanisee’s two previous DUI arrests occurred in 2001 and 1997. He could not be reached for comment.

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St. Petersburg City Council chairman Karl Nurse endorses mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman


St. Petersburg mayoral hopeful Rick Kriseman has landed another endorsement from a City Council member.

As polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m., Kriseman announced he has the support of City Council chairman Karl Nurse.

“As the economy recovers, it is critical that St. Petersburg grabs the opportunities to bring jobs and renew our neighborhoods,” Nurse said in a statement. “I am convinced that Rick Kriseman can better provide this needed leadership for the next four years.”

Kriseman is battling Mayor Bill Foster and Kathleen Ford in the race to lead Florida’s fourth-largest city. The top two vote winners will battle in the Nov. 5 election.

With Nurse’s endorsement, Kriseman has public support from half of the eight council members. Charlie Gerdes, Steve Kornell and Leslie Curran are already in Kriseman’s camp.

“Karl’s endorsement is another boost for our campaign,” Kriseman said in a statement. “He’s a tireless advocate for his constituents and fully understands the impact that smart public policies can have at the neighborhood level. I’m excited about what we can accomplish together.”


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Debate continues on Safety Harbor apartment complex

A controversial luxury apartment complex proposed for Safety Harbor is up for debate again, this time in front of an administrative law judge.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, attorneys are scheduled to meet at the Pinellas County Courthouse, 315 Court St., to argue whether the County Commission was right to strike down plans for the apartments at the site of the defunct Firmenich citrus plant on State Road 590 at McMullen-Booth Road.

Hearings start at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and are scheduled to continue all day Wednesday on the courthouse's fourth floor.

The Richman Group, the West Palm Beach developers behind the project, appealed the County Commission's decision against the needed zoning change, citing the distress of the neighbors about the apartments and other factors.

Safety Harbor's City Commission had already given the green light to the project after months of debate.

Administrative Law Judge Bram Canter's decision will likely be the final call on whether the proposed complex can proceed.

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