Stephen Auger, executive director of Florida Housing Finance Corp., has resigned in the wake of an audit that rapped the agency for hosting expensive meals, including a $52,000 dinner, and awarding nearly $443,000 in employee bonuses while thousands of Floridian were waiting for help to save their homes.
U.S. REBUKES ISRAEL, ALLOWS U.N. CONDEMNATION OF SETTLEMENTS
The United States has given its biggest rebuke in recent history to longstanding ally Israel, allowing the U.N. Security Council to condemn its settlements and continuing construction in Palestinian territory as a 'flagrant violation' of international law. Instead of casting a veto to support Israel, as it almost always does on council resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. abstained.
JONES: WINSTON AND THE HEAD BUTT: IMMATURE OR TOM BRADY-ESQUE?
Have you watched Tom Brady? He yells at assistant coaches and he's called "fiery.'' He chews out a teammate for not running out a route and he's called "competitive.'' He barks at an official and we say he's "amped.'' So the 22-year-old Jameis Winston sticks up for a Bucs teammate who was being roughed up by head-butting an opponent — and he's "immature?'' Times columnist says cut Winston a little slack. It's not okay for him to go around picking up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on a regular basis, but critics need to appreciate this is all part of his growing.
WEEKEND WEATHER: HAVE YOURSELF A WARM CHRISTMAS
The weather outside will be frightfully warm throughout the holiday weekend in Tampa Bay, as the area will near record-high temperatures on Christmas. A warming trend will bring lower humidity, but high temperatures in the 80s on Saturday and Sunday, forecasters say. Expect a high of 83 for Christmas, short of last year's record-setting 86 but still quite toasty for this time of year. For a complete report, check out the Times weather page.
LIBYAN PLANE HIJACKERS SURRENDER IN MALTA
An hours-long hostage drama at an airport on the Mediterranean island of Malta ended peacefully Friday with two hijackers who had threatened to blow up a Libyan passenger jet choosing instead to surrender to authorities. The surrender came after all of the passengers had been safely released.
WHY IT COULD COST $35 MILLION TO CANCEL THE PIER PROJECT
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has heard suggestions that $66 million earmarked for the Pier should be used elsewhere. If the city were to halt the project, he has declared, St. Petersburg would forfeit $35 million "to not have a Pier." The mayor said diverting funds — almost all of it borrowed — to spend on other projects, for other purposes, would be expensive, imprudent — and illegal. Is that, in fact, the case? Experts say yes. Paying for the Pier is no simple endeavor, and not paying for it could be even more complicated.
TRAFFIC UPDATES TO GET HOME SAFELY FOR THE HOLIDAY
As you head out for your evening commute before the Christmas weekend, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.
REPORT RAPS FLORIDA'S RECORD ON FELONS VOTING RIGHTS
A new report from the Brennan Center for Justice takes Florida to task for its law denying voting rights to felons unless they successfully navigate an arduous and lengthy process to get those rights back.
LIVE NATIVITY SCENES ADD REALISM TO CHRISTMAS
From Tampa to Brandon to Plant City, neighborhood churches are bringing to life recreations of Jesus' birth, with roles played by members of the congregations. These live nativity scenes clearly create a fun activity for church members; more importantly, they serve as a call to Christianity. "Over the years we have converted many people who have joined and are active members of our church community," said Betty Cabrera, head deacon at Brandon Christian Church.
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