Saturday, January 20, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg delays vote on local hiring ordinance at mayor's urging

ST. PETERSBURG — At the urging of Mayor Bill Foster, the City Council delayed moving forward with a new law to make construction firms hire local workers on big-ticket projects.

The law would have forced firms to hire Pinellas County residents for 25 percent of the hours on taxpayer-funded projects that cost $2 million or more.

The council voted 6-2 on Thursday to table the proposal. Council members Wengay Newton and Steve Kornell voted no.

City staffers will now hold workshops in 20 days with construction firms, apprentice programs and others interested in developing a new proposal.

Foster supports that approach.

The proposed requirements, Foster said, could have deterred firms from bidding on projects and burdened taxpayers with higher construction costs.

"This is not what I had in mind," Foster said about his early visions of a hiring law.

Michael Connors, public works administrator, said the best policies aren't made when members of a special interest group pack council chambers, referring to the local advocacy group FAST, which pushed for the measure.

The city, Connors said, might need one or two new staff members to monitor contractors' payroll records on each $2 million project.

"The administration of this ordinance would be very, very arduous and cost money," he said.

Contractors would have also been required to hire apprentices from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco or Manatee counties for another 20 percent of work hours.

The proposal had been in the works for more than a year and is being pushed by Faith and Action for Strength Together, or FAST, an interfaith social justice group made up of 38 houses of worship in Pinellas County.

Critics contend the law would reduce competition, produce lower-quality work and drive up prices.

Supporters of the ordinance asked the council Thursday to go a step further by requiring contractors to hire ex-offenders for 10 percent of the hours on projects.

But Steve Cona Jr., an official with the Associated Builders and Contractors, said ex-offenders might not be able to pass stringent background checks on projects at schools, police stations or airports.

He urged the council to make the proposal a good-faith effort, adding: "We're not opposed to giving second chances to individuals."

Council member Jeff Danner, a longtime member of the construction industry, said city construction projects represent only a small portion of all projects in the region. The hiring law, he said, would not help residents land jobs on upcoming apartment buildings or at hospitals.

He said he wants to focus more on apprenticeship programs, adding: "We need to think bigger and better."

But John Dehmel, a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the legislation would give residents more opportunities to better their lives.

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

Orchestra sets off fireworks in the brassy ‘Sinfonietta’

TAMPA — Many times during Sinfonietta, Leoš Janácek’s notoriously difficult but joyous work, it was impossible for a regular patron of the Florida Orchestra to escape this observation: They have never sounded quite like this.This isn’t to say musicia...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s bitter cold snap is finally over

Tampa Bay is finally clear of the bitter chill that covered the region this week as temperatures picked up on Saturday. 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around t...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Updated: 4 hours ago
More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

More than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles rescued in Florida Panhandle

Florida’s dip into frigid temperatures did more than just stun humans unused to such cold air. This month scientists and volunteers have rescued more than 1,000 cold-stunned sea turtles from a single bay in the Florida Panhandle.The U.S. Geological S...
Published: 01/20/18
Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Romano: If UCF is national champion, then I’m a Hollywood stud

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said people were entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.Clearly, Moynihan never dealt with Florida legislators.Because around Tallahassee, facts are fungible. They aren’t just up for debate, they...
Updated: 4 hours ago
U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

U.S. government shuts down; Democrats, GOP blame each other

WASHINGTON — The federal government shut down at the stroke of midnight Friday, halting all but the most essential operations and marring the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration in a striking display of Washington dysfunctio...
Published: 01/19/18
Updated: 01/20/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 19

Friday’s scoreboardBoys soccerIndian Rocks Christian 2, Lakewood 1Lennard 3, Spoto 0Girls soccerPCAC Championship: Largo 3, Osceola 1Lennard 8, Spoto 0
Published: 01/19/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18