Monday, February 19, 2018
News Roundup

Tampa City Council approves deal to keep Jane Castor as police chief

TAMPA — The City Council approved a one-year agreement Thursday to keep Jane Castor on as police chief after her mandatory retirement next week.

Castor, 54, had been scheduled to leave the chief's job Tuesday through her participation in the city's Deferred Retirement Option Program. DROP sets a non-negotiable retirement day in exchange for allowing participants to bank some pension benefits before they stop working.

But in March, Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced he had persuaded Castor to stay on as a contract employee for another year beyond her retirement. That will ensure she would lead the Police Department through the end of his first term next March.

Under the agreement, Castor will be paid $165,426, a 6 percent increase from her current $156,062. As a contract employee, she will receive all the benefits other city employees get, except for a pension contribution.

After retiring, Castor also will receive a monthly pension check of about $9,433. The payout is expected to rise each January with the cost of living, typically 1 to 3 percent.

The city's pension fund has paid those pension benefits since Castor entered DROP, though the money has gone straight into an investment account. She can access that money in December.

At her retirement, the account is expected to stand at about $589,000, though officials say its value could fluctuate with the market before she's allowed to make any withdrawals.

Additionally, Castor is expected to receive about $140,000 in unused sick and vacation time.

Buckhorn has said he wants Castor as chief as long as he is mayor and hopes to talk Castor into staying on beyond the one extra year. She has promised that's not going to happen, saying "31 (years) will be enough."

Still, the agreement opens the door to her staying if she has a change of heart. Though either side can terminate the agreement at any time, after May 2015 it will automatically be renewed, one year at a time, for up to four more years. That would go through the end of a second Buckhorn term.

If Castor stuck around, each renewal would come with a 2 percent raise, assuming the city had available funds.

Cracking down on off-campus house parties

At council member Frank Reddick's request, the council asked city attorneys, police and zoning officials to study the possibility of copying a Winter Park ordinance that targets boisterous house parties.

For nearly two years, parties at homes rented by University of Tampa students have plagued residents of West Riverfront and North Hyde Park with big crowds, thundering late-night music, long lines of taxicabs, litter and public urination.

Tampa police and university administrators have worked to head off problems and discipline students who host out-of-control parties that take place off-campus, but the problem persists. Reddick said another such party last week drew 300 to 400 people to a house on W Arch Street.

The Winter Park ordinance defines an "illegal open house party" as a gathering of three or more people unrelated by blood or marriage in a home that either generates a noise disturbance complaint or is the scene of under-aged drinking or illegal drug use. A first violation results in a written notice to the property owner, and subsequent violations carry civil fines that start at $1,000 and go up another $1,000 with each subsequent violation.

The report is scheduled for June 5. Chairman Charlie Miranda said the problem is not isolated to neighborhoods around UT.

"It's throughout the city," he said. "Enough is enough."

Comments
Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

Bubba Wallace emotional after Daytona 500 runner-up finish

DAYTONA BEACH – No, Bubba Wallace did not win the 60th running of the Daytona 500.But you wouldn't have known that after seeing his emotions after he placed second – the highest finish ever by a black driver in the Great American Race.Wal...
Updated: 5 hours ago
After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

After Irma evacuation gridlock, new energy for Interstate 75 options

OCALA — In mid-2016, a regional task force that spent almost two years exploring ways to improve safety on a crowded Interstate 75 decided to take a conservative approach: make changes to the highway rather than build or expand other roads. Then Hurr...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

Austin Dillon wins Daytona 500 after Aric Almirola wrecks late

DAYTONA BEACH – As Austin Dillon celebrated his Daytona 500 win Sunday, he couldn't help but remember the time he was standing there, in Victory Lane, 20 years ago this week.He was 7 then, and his index finger jutted into the air triumphantly t...
Updated: 6 hours ago
‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know.’

Nikolas Cruz was immature, quirky and depressed when James and Kimberly Snead took him into their Parkland home. But he was pleasant and seemed to be growing happier, they said.How the 19-year-old turned into a man now arrested and charged with 17 co...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Open-mic night at Pilars is a hot spot for Disney talent

WINTER GARDEN — At the end of the day, when the tourists are gone, Disney performers head out to their favorite spot to keep on singing after their shifts are over. Every Thursday, they perform at open-mic night at Pilars, a Winter Garden martini bar...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

Broward program will give small-time offenders a big break

FORT LAUDERDALE — Pot smokers aren’t the only law breakers able to get a second chance in South Florida. Underage adults buying alcohol, those stealing property worth less than $300 and people nabbed for trespassing, loitering or disorderly conduct a...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Facebook turns to postcards to snuff foreign ads

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Facebook will soon rely on centuries-old technology to try to prevent foreign meddling in U.S. elections: the post office. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to try to sway the U.S. presidential campaign, Facebook’s...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

Parkland students to march on Florida Capitol to demand changes to gun laws

TALLAHASSEEAhundred students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland will travel to Tallahassee for a march on the state Capitol on Wednesday in the first organized protest of their #NeverAgain movement.Their demand: that Florida legisl...
Updated: 7 hours ago
EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

EPA chief Pruitt cancels visit to Israel

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has canceled a nearly weeklong trip to Israel, agency officials confirmed Sunday.Pruitt, who had been scheduled to leave this past weekend for an extensive tour of the Mideast al...
Updated: 7 hours ago
As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

As victims are mourned in Florida, a search for solace, and action

PARKLAND — On the Sunday after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost 17 of its own, a minister in Parkland implored his flock not to let the horrific shootings lead them away from their faith."Our world is broken, but Jesus is not," the Rev. Eddi...
Updated: 7 hours ago