Thursday, February 22, 2018
News Roundup

Afternoon Update: FBI announces a new Clinton email probe; state officials reassure judge on voter verification

Your roundup of today's top stories.

FBI: NEW CLINTON EMAILS PROMPT FURTHER INVESTIGATION

The FBI informed Congress today that it is investigating whether there is classified information in new emails that have emerged in its probe of Hillary Clinton's private server. The FBI had said in July its investigation was finished. Today's disclosure raises the possibility of the FBI reopening the criminal investigation involving the Democratic presidential nominee just days before the presidential election, although it is not clear if that will happen.

STATE REASSURES FEDERAL JUDGE ON EFFORTS TO VERIFY ALL NEWLY-REGISTERED VOTERS

The federal judge who extended Florida's voter registration deadline won assurances from state officials today that they have done all they can to verify each new voter's application before mandatory statewide early voting begins Saturday. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker called a special hearing after discovering on a state web site that of 128,000 people who took advantage of a week-long extension, about 21,000 remained unverified on Friday afternoon. Those people would cast provisional ballots, which are typically rejected at a higher rate than other ballots, based on data from the 2012 presidential election in Florida. Maria Matthews, director of the Division of Elections, told the judge that the voters were unverified because they submitted incomplete forms and their identities couldn't be confirmed. "Every effort is being made that if we can get everyone registered, we will," she said.

Strategic Property Partners

Strategic Property Partners unveiled plans to redevelopment Channelside Bay Plaza to Port Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The plans involve require demolishing Channelside Bay Plaza and opening the space up to the waterfront. The Bay Plaza design is often said to "turn its back" on the water, not taking full advantage of the views.

THE TOP 10 TAMPA BAY REAL ESTATE PROJECTS WITH WOW! APPEAL

"From the frenzy of downtown projects in Tampa and St. Petersburg to Tampa International Airport and east Pasco, big-dollar and innovative developments are in high gear," writes Robert Trigaux. Alone, they signal confidence in the urban strongholds of Tampa Bay. Combined, they send a strong message that the economic vitality of the Tampa Bay region in the coming years has been noticed and recognized by savvy developers near and far. It bodes well for the region."

WIDESPREAD USE OF SENIOR JUDGES IN FORECLOSURE CASES QUESTIONED

The presiding judge in Courtroom 510 on the fifth floor of the George Edgecomb Courthouse retired eight years ago. Yet on a recent Wednesday morning, The Honorable Sandra Taylor — a black robe draping her shoulders — was busy working her $350-a-day part-time job. Unlike most of the other judges in the 13th Judicial Circuit, Taylor was never elected to the bench in Hillsborough County, nor was she appointed by the governor. In fact, she doesn't even live here. Taylor, 67, is a senior judge. Retired judges like her are called in to hear cases in the absence of a regular judge. In essence, they are the substitute teachers of the state court system.

SCOUTING REPORT: ARE THE RAIDERS, FALCONS, TEXANS AND BILLS CONTENDERS? OR PRETENDERS?

It's almost Halloween — time to sort out the NFL contenders and pretenders. It's like dumping your pillowcase of candy on the kitchen table and separating the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups from the Necco Wafers. As always, the Patriots are really, really good and the Browns are really, really Browns, even Brownsier than usual. Through seven weeks, the Vikings, Seahawks and Broncos are all firmly in the "contenders" category while the 49ers, Bears, Panthers and Jets are researching hotel rooms in Philadelphia ahead of April's draft. Everyone else warrants more consideration. Let's look at a handful of teams, starting with the Bucs' opponent Sunday.

Associated Press (2014)

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley walks on the sidelines during the second half of the 2014 Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville.

UF'S JEREMY FOLEY ON RETIREMENT, GROWING THICK SKIN AND 'THE LAST TIME I'LL HAVE GOOD SEATS'

University of Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is currently 1-2 at hiring football coaches (though Urban Meyer was a big win). The ballots haven't been tabulated on Jim McElwain, but early returns are good. More so if Florida knocks off Georgia on Saturday. It will be Foley's 41st consecutive Florida-Georgia game since he arrived in Gainesville, his final one as UF athletic director. He recently sat in his office and chatted with our columnist Martin Fennelly about past and present, about orange and blue.

DESPITE OBAMACARE RATE HIKES, ADVOCATES SAY MANY PLANS IN FLORIDA WILL BE AFFORDABLE IN 2017

Open enrollment for individual health insurance starts Tuesday — and local shoppers are already bracing for rate hikes. Florida won't be immune from the increases that made national headlines this week. Premiums for plans offered on and off the Affordable Care Act exchanges will rise by an average of 19 percent statewide, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. Still, advocates insist the plans will be economical. A study released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found 84 percent of Florida consumers will be able to purchase a plan with monthly premiums of $100 or less.

UTILITIES CONTRIBUTE TO PAC FRIENDLY TO JOLLY

David Jolly has been trailing badly in the money race against Charlie Crist in the 13th Congressional District. The Republican incumbent hasn't gotten any significant outside help while Crist has been aided with substantial ad buys from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and environmental groups. But Florida utilities have spent some money in support of Jolly recently. Florida Power and Light contributed $250,000 on Oct. 6 and Duke Energy gave $100,000 on Oct. 13 to People for Pinellas, a PAC supporting Jolly.

Afternoon Update is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

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Dunedin man serious injured in motorcycle crash

Dunedin man serious injured in motorcycle crash

OLDSMAR — A Dunedin man was seriously injured in a high-speed motorcycle crash early Thursday morning.According to deputies, 37-year-old Justin Kaune was riding southbound on Bayside Boulevard around 2:30 a.m. when he struck a cement median and lost ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

Tampa Bay area’s population projected to grow to 3.1 million this year

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay area’s population, already the largest of any metropolitan area in the state, is projected to grow from 3 million last year to 3.1 million this year, and to 3.3 million over the next five years.That growth is expected to bring c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Police seek machete-wielding suspect in Plant City robbery

Police seek machete-wielding suspect in Plant City robbery

PLANT CITY — Police are searching for a suspect who, armed with a machete, robbed a Plant City convenience store on Tuesday.Police say the suspect arrived at the Circle K convenience store station at 1514 Alexander St. S around 2:50 a.m. and demanded...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol

Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor at U.S. Capitol

MONTREAT, N.C. — U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the Rev. Billy Graham’s body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for two days next week. Ryan says he’s inviting members of Congress and the public to pay their respects to the man called "...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

Clearwater police chief forms special unit for repeat offenders

CLEARWATER — Police Chief Dan Slaughter started this month a new unit to target repeat offenders and nuisance properties.The Special Enforcement Unit consists of six police officers and a sergeant from within the department to focus on the small grou...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Top 5 at noon: Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons; about those annoying popups on your phones; and more

Top 5 at noon: Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons; about those annoying popups on your phones; and more

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:TRUMP ENDORSES RAISING MINIMUM AGE TO 21 FOR MORE WEAPONSPresident Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures today, including raising the minimum age to 21 for possessing a broader ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Hillsborough County inmate dies after becoming unresponsive at Falkenburg Road jail

Hillsborough County inmate dies after becoming unresponsive at Falkenburg Road jail

TAMPA — A 54-year-old inmate died Saturday after she became unresponsive at the Falkenburg Road Jail, authorities said.Tammie Castro was alert in the jail infirmary when jail officials called for paramedics at 3:34 a.m. but became unresponsive within...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

Work finally starts on downtown St. Petersburg’s newest hotel

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly a decade after it was first proposed, a new boutique hotel in downtown St. Petersburg is finally under construction.Workers are preparing the foundation of the Galaxy, an 11-story, 92-room hotel at Third Avenue N and First Str...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

Ruth Eckerd Hall asks Clearwater for $3 million toward renovations

CLEARWATER — Ruth Eckerd Hall is requesting a $3 million grant from the city to help complete the $21 million renovation of its facility on McMullen Booth Road.The Expanding the Experience project began in 2015 with a renovation of the Murray Theatre...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

Outback Steakhouse owner Bloomin’ Brands beats Wall Street forecasts

TAMPA — Bloomin’ Brands this morning beat Wall Street expectations in reporting fourth-quarter net income of $16.4 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. The Tampa-based restaurant chain group — which in...
Updated: 2 hours ago