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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa City Council's Yvonne Yolie Capin seeking re-election

Tampa City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin is running for re-election, though a little sooner than she expected.

Capin, 64, was appointed to a partial term in July 2010 after John Dingfelder left the council. In 2011, she ran for and won a full term representing council District 3, one of three at-large seats elected by all city voters.

Capin said Friday she had planned to file for re-election more toward the fall, but an opportunity came up to hold a June 17 kickoff fundraiser at Richard Gonzmart’s new restaurant, Ulele Native-Inspired Foods & Spirits, next to the city’s Water Works Park.

On the council, Capin proposed that Tampa create the bay area’s first domestic partnership registry. It did, with St. Petersburg, Gulfport, Clearwater and Pinellas County following suit. …

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Tampa city employees union endorses Ed Narain in House District 61

State House District 61 candidate Ed Narain this week picked up the endorsement of the union that represents city of Tampa clerical, technical and blue-collar workers.

The recommendation came after the board of the 900-member Amalgamated Transit Union, No. 1464 looked at Narain and candidate Sean Shaw, union president Effrem Green said Friday. Narain, Shaw, Sharon Carter and Tatiana Denson have filed to run in the Democratic primary to succeed term-limited state Rep. Betty Reed, D-Tampa.

“We take pride take pride in not only working for the city, but being a part of the city,” Green said in a statement released with the endorsement. “Our families use the same roads, parks, water, and neighborhood services that other Tampa citizens use, and we’re happy to be a part of the community. That’s the same reason we endorsed Ed Narain. ... He shares our commitment to this community and to making sure Tampa is a great place to live and work. Narain has deep roots in Tampa, and we know that he will put the needs of our city first when he’s elected to the state Legislature.”

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Moore by a mile in fundraising

If campaign fundraising were akin to the Indy 500, Pasco County commission candidate Mike Moore would be at victory lane guzzling a quart of milk.

As he has all campaign season, Moore, a business broker and president of Wesley Chapel's Republican club, is running miles ahead of fellow Republican candidates Bob Robertson and Ken Littlefield in the race for campaign dollars, according to the latest finance reports.

They show Moore with more than $54,000 on hand after raising $72,861 and spending $18,843. April was especially fruitful with $22,300 in contributions, including several fat $1,000 checks.

By comparison, Robertson, a financial planner, and Littlefield, a former state representative, are stuck in neutral.

The reports show Robertson with $11,606 in contributions and $6,125 in expenditures, meaning he has about $5,481 in the bank.

The report covers April 1 to April 30. Littlefield, who entered the race in mid-January, has raised $4,400 and spent $1,525 for a $2,875 balance.

In other words, Moore has 10 times as much cash on hand as his closest rival.  …

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Tampa protest supporting Palestinian activist planned

Protesters plan to wave signs to demand federal charges be dropped against a Chicago-based Palestinian activist at 56th Street and Fowler Avenue in Tampa at 6:30 p.m. today.

Organized by the local chapter of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the protest is one of several being organized around the country on behalf of Rasmieh Yousef Odeh, the associate director of the Arab American Action Network in Chicago.

Odeh was sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli military court after her conviction in a bombing that killed two people at a Jerusalem market in 1969, according to the Associated Press. After 10 years in prison, she was released in an exchange of prisoners with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Now in her 60s, Odeh came to the U.S. from Jordan in 1995 and became a naturalized citizen in 2004. U.S. officials charge that she did not disclose her conviction in Israel when she applied for citizenship.

Pro-Palestinian activists claim U.S. officials are using the case to suppress criticism of Israel. Organizers of the Tampa protest say the charges should be dropped and Odeh should not be deported. …

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Belleview Biltmore mixed-use plan gets preliminary okay

BELLEAIR| The Town Commission on Tuesday night preliminarily approved a new zoning category that would let a developer build a mixed-use project on the Belleview Biltmore property.

The unanimous vote followed 40 minutes of discussion before about two dozen audience members, two of whom spoke against the plan. Jim White, president of the 553-member residential district surrounding the hotel, said the homeowner association board unanimously supports the measure.

The mixed-use option is aimed at smoothing the way for St. Petersburg developer Michael Cheezem, who intends to buy the site, apply for the new zoning designation, demolish the former hotel, then build a small replica inn, condos and townhomes in its place.

The new category would require that any mixed-use project approved for the site contain architecture, building materials or artifacts that are either salvaged from or reminiscent of the historic hotel. …

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Dunedin unveils memorial to former City Manager John Lawrence on Sunday

DUNEDIN| The public is invited to join city commissioners, family and friends as Dunedin dedicates a memorial in honor of former City Manager John R. Lawrence.

Lawrence, who earned the designation as Dunedin’s longest-serving city manager with 21 years of service, died in 2012.

The city added his name to downtown’s Pioneer Park, where a memorial has been placed in the southeast corner.

The ceremony is set for 3 p.m. Sunday at the park, at 420 Main St. off Douglas Avenue. Call (727) 298-3001 for information.

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A backdrop with a mayoral endorsement? Buckhorn says no

Jackie Toledo is a candidate for Tampa City Council District 6.

Jackie Toledo

Jackie Toledo is a candidate for Tampa City Council District 6.

Is Mayor Bob Buckhorn signaling a preference in the race for Tampa City Council District 6?

You might wonder, considering that candidate Jackie Toledo’s campaign portrait shows her standing in front of a big wooden carving of Tampa’s city seal — a carving that happens to hang in the mayor’s private conference room at City Hall.

Buckhorn says no.

“I didn’t know anything about it,” he says of the photo. “That wasn’t some way of me endorsing her. … It was funny, because I noticed that same thing, too. I was like, ‘When did she take that picture?’ “

It wasn’t recently. A chair pictured in Toledo’s photo got replaced a while back. Buckhorn said the image could be two years old.

Toledo said Monday she couldn’t remember herself. As a member of the Mayor's Hispanic Advisory Council since 2009, she said she’s been in the conference room a lot. But she would welcome Buckhorn’s support: “I love what he’s doing with the city.” …

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John Tornga joins 2014 Dunedin City Commission race

DUNEDIN| Longtime community volunteer John Tornga has thrown his hat into the ring for this November's City Commission election.

So far, Tornga, 67, is running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski, who is running for mayor against another sitting commissioner, Julie Scales.

This will be the second run for Tornga, who launched an unsuccessful bid against former Commissioner David Carson in 2009.

Tornga is a retired businessman whose volunteerism includes service as chairman of Dunedin's Board of Finance, first vice president of the Dunedin Council of Organizations and a departure coordinator for Honor Flight, a nonprofit that sponsors free round-trip, single-day tours to Washington D.C. for World War II veterans.

He has lived in Dunedin since 1990.

"I'm a strong supporter of the culture and heritage in Dunedin but also aware of the fact that we need to continue to make ourselves better, and we have to continue in the area of development but keep it within some bounds," Tornga said.

Click here to read about the other candidates running for City Commission. See who's contributing to their campaign accounts here.

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Biltmore mixed-use option goes to Belleair commission Tuesday

BELLEAIR| The Town Commission on Tuesday will consider adding to city code a zoning option that would let a developer build a mixed-use project on the Belleview Biltmore property.

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 901 Ponce de Leon Blvd. (Agenda here.) If commissioners support the proposal, a second hearing and final vote would be June 17.

The mixed-use measure is aimed at smoothing the way for St. Petersburg developer Michael Cheezem, who intends to buy the site, apply for the new zoning designation, demolish the former hotel, then build a small replica inn, condos and townhomes in its place.

He told the Tampa Bay Times in a Q&A interview this month that experts concluded his original plan to incorporate the original hotel's lobby and restaurant was not feasible due to cost and structural concerns about bringing the deteriorating structure up to current fire, wind and handicap-accessibility codes. …

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Backyard Chickens a no-go in Clearwater

CLEARWATER---The hopes of one determined chicken aficionado have flown the coop as the City Council opted Monday not to allow poultry to be raised in the city’s backyards.

Erin Bennett, who lives near Sunset Point and Keene roads, had become a familiar face at council meetings, asking for an ordinance to legalize the practice.

Earlier this month, Bennett had presented a petition with more than 1,110 signatures that she’d gathered around Tampa Bay’s third-largest city.

At Monday’s work session, Council member Bill Jonson said he thought Bennett ---known by some at City Hall as the “chicken lady”--deserved some feedback.

So Mayor George Cretekos polled council members. Not a peep of support.

Bennett, 31, said she was disappointed in the council’s decision.

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Flags to be lowered for St. Pete's first female mayor, who died Sunday

ST. PETEERSBURG | Flags around the city will be lowered to half-mast this week in honor of former mayor Corinne Freeman, who died Sunday.

Freeman was the city's first female mayor. She was 87.

Current Mayor Rick Kriseman has ordered the flags to remain lowered until dusk on Friday, a spokesman said Monday.

"Corinne was one of those women who set an example for the young women coming along, at least in Pinellas County if not the broader area as well," Sandy Freedman, the first female mayor of Tampa who was first elected to its City Council in the 1970s, told the Tampa Bay Times. "And that is the most lasting legacy any of us could leave."

Read the full story about Freeman here.

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Scientologists offer parking options for Clearwater aquarium

CLEARWATER---The Church of Scientology recently suggested to the city that property near the Bank of America building downtown could be a good location for a parking garage.

The city and Clearwater Marine Aquarium beg to differ.

For months, the city and church have sparred over the location for a parking garage to service an influx of tourists to CMA’s planned aquarium on the waterfront site where City Hall now stands.

The city wants a church-owned property at N Osceola Avenue and Drew Street.

No dice, church officials said.

The city then floated building a massive, possibly 1,000-car, garage near signature church properties, the Flag Building and the Oak Cove building.

The church has communicated to the city that it isn’t happy with those options.

So church leader David Miscavige directed his team to provide alternate sites, according to city officials.

Last week, a church representative provided City Manager Bill Horne with a map of possible sites across the street from the Bank of America building. …

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Kriseman says never had any plans to discourage pastor's entry into congressional race

ST. PETERSBURG | Mayor Rick Kriseman said he never had any intention to call St. Petersburg pastor Manuel Sykes and tell him not to run for Congress, as was suggested in a voicemail left a few weeks ago by a local Democratic Party leader.

Kriseman said he is not sure why county democratic chairman Mark Hanisee told that to Sykes, who ultimately decided not to run for the seat currently occupied by Republican David Jolly.

The mayor said he had met with Sykes earlier this year about the race and told him to "follow his heart." He also said he game him the names of some other people from whom to seek advice.

"I have deep respect for Pastor Sykes," Kriseman said this week. "I consider him a friend."

Kriseman has not endorsed anyone in the race (yet), including Ed Jany, the Democrats' new candidate who entered last week.

"I haven't even met him," Kriseman said. "So im not taking a position on anything at this time."

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Tampa chamber joins 50 others calling for federal transportation funding

The elevated toll road connecting Interstate 4 to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway under construction. The $425 million federally supported project opened in January and was built to ease traffic congestion in Ybor City, make commuting between southeastern Hillsborough County and I-4 easier and boost business at the Port of Tampa.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times (2011)

The elevated toll road connecting Interstate 4 to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway under construction. The $425 million federally supported project opened in January and was built to ease traffic congestion in Ybor City, make commuting between southeastern Hillsborough County and I-4 easier and boost business at the Port of Tampa.

The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is adding its voice to those of 50 other metro chambers around the country to urge Congress to ensure the continued solvency of the federal Highway Trust Fund.

In coming months Congress is expected to consider reauthorizing the federal MAP-21 program. That’s short for the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” which provided more than $105 billion for transportation projects in 2013 and 2014. Chamber executives also want Congress to give metro regions more authority to seek their own solutions to transportation problems.

“Transportation has been identified as a key issue for our members and is an integral part of our three-year strategic plan as evidenced by our establishment of a standing transportation committee,” Greater Tampa Chamber president and CEO Bob Rohrlack said in a statement. “Just as we are tackling transportation on the local level, it’s imperative that our members of Congress address the issue on the federal level.  We need a sustainable source of funding to grow jobs and keep the country moving.”

Also signing the metro chambers’ letter were chamber leaders from Jacksonville and Central Florida.

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Kent King files to run for Tampa City Council District 4

Kent King

South Tampa businessman Kent King has filed to run next March for the Tampa City Council seat now held by first-term council member Harry Cohen.

King, 51, grew up in Tampa and has lived most of his adult life in South Tampa, which is covered by District 4. He works as business development manager for the Tampa Atlantic division of Southern Wine & Spirits of Florida.

A first-time candidate, King said he’s running “because I believe that the citizens and neighborhoods of District 4 deserve the most effective representation possible.”

“With 28 years of business, management and problem-solving experience, I will fight for the citizens and neighborhoods of District 4 to get the best return on their taxes and ensure needed infrastructure and services are delivered to them by the city,” he said in an announcement of his candidacy.

A big issue for King is what he describes as South Tampa’s “overloaded and antiquated stormwater system,” which he said has allowed silt to build up and plug residential canals in South Tampa. …

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