Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

These 10 people kept us talking

In some places, choosing the 10 most intriguing personalities of 2008 would be a simple task.

In Tampa Bay, it's a joyful challenge. Where else can you find so many people who piqued our curiosity?

Narrowing the list to 10 was no easy task, given a field that included Renee Benton, Brian Blair, Matt Bryant, Carol Rome Crist, Andrew Friedman, Julia Gorzka, Kathy Harris, Buddy Johnson, Vinny Lecavalier, Jeff Lyash, Lex Salisbury, Frank Sanchez and Ivanka Ska.

But I like my final picks.

Kevin Beckner: Beckner stunned local political circles when he upset Blair, a well-funded incumbent, to earn a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. Now we wonder how much influence he will have over a board — and a county — that suddenly seems more moderate.

Julie Janssen: The Pinellas schools superintendent assumes control during a colossal budget crisis that looks like it will bring about school closings and massive transfers. Good luck, Julie.

Cornelia Corbett: Corbett rightfully reveled in adulation when officials broke ground on the new Tampa Museum of Art this year. It was Corbett who guided the museum board during the ups and downs of one of the city's most controversial projects.

Joe Maddon: It's not just that he piloted the Rays from a worst-to-first appearance in the World Series. It's the uncanny feel for the game he demonstrated while doing it. Who else would send little-known Dan Johnson to the plate to face Red Sox uber-closer Jonathan Papelbon? Maddon didn't even blink when Johnson hit a home run.

Courtney Courtney: The name alone intrigues, but there's more to her than that. The former Courtney Dempsey made news when the story of her inspiring cancer battle and devoted fiance, Gary Courtney, helped her win a dream wedding from Us magazine. The publicity drew other survivors to Courtney and she has admirably offered advice and support.

Ken Welch: The Pinellas County commissioner could be a potential game changer if he enters the 2009 St. Petersburg mayoral race, but for now, he remains on the sidelines. Still, folks are urging him to jump in and become the likely front-runner.

Malik Filmore: He willingly shared his story of homelessness this fall, explaining how he remained a dedicated Hillsborough Community College student despite the hardships. A tattoo on his arm says, "Laugh now, cry later."

Pam Iorio: Iorio is spending her considerable political capital on advancing the light rail debate, and so far she has achieved positive results. But her deft touch has to remain consistent if she's going to help put the initiative on the 2010 Hillsborough ballot while maintaining regional support.

Brian Lamb: Lamb, 32, went from chief financial officer to senior vice president for Fifth/Third Bank this year, and he's just getting started. Given his intense drive, the former University of South Florida basketball player could one day run this town.

Anonymous: What can be more intriguing than a masked group of protestors whose origins remain unknown? If nothing else, Scientology's latest critics have a captivating style.

Ten names that made us take notice in 2008, and 10 likely to show up in 2009.

That's all I'm saying.

These 10 people kept us talking 01/02/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 4, 2009 8:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  2. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Four questions with Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith before he helps lead the St. Pete Pride parade

    Human Interest

    A decade ago, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith was afraid to tell his friends and family he was gay.

    Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith will serve as a grand marshal at the St. Pete Pride parade on Saturday. [City of Largo]
  4. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. What you need to know for Friday, June 23


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Graffiti butts are everywhere in downtown St. Pete. What's going on? [CHRISTOPHER SPATA | Times]