Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Tampa City Council votes to explore restricting sale of synthetic herbal drugs

TAMPA — Antoinette Glover showed the City Council a photo Thursday of her 8-year-old grandson standing in a neighborhood store, staring at a wall full of brightly colored packets of synthetic herbal drugs, some decorated with drawings of cartoon characters.

"It's there like it's a bag of potato chips," she said.

Tired of seeing stores in Jackson Heights and Belmont Heights sell the synthetic compounds, which users say mimic the effects of marijuana, Glover, 52, asked the council to ban the products.

Council members voted unanimously to ask their attorneys to report back on March 1 on what the city could do to crack down on the synthetics. While acknowledging it could be difficult to ban a product with a formula that can be quickly changed to make it legal, council members said something needs to be done.

"If you go into just about any store in the black community, you will see these on all the walls," council member Frank Reddick said. "It's a serious problem."

With its vote, the council became the latest local government to grapple with a product that authorities worry is appealing, legal — and dangerous.

In January, 19-year-old Logan Kushner drowned while trying to swim in a Clearwater creek after smoking "Jazz," an herbal incense that's legal.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has said Kushner's death is "exactly why we must do everything in our power to ban all synthetic drugs."

She is sponsoring bills this year to expand laws passed last year banning some components of synthetic drugs.

That expansion is necessary, law enforcement officials say, because as soon as the state outlaws one compound used for fake pot, manufacturers come up with a new formulation.

Jazz comes in small neon packages that sell for about $6 for 3 grams. The only listed ingredient is Althaea officinalis, a perennial herb also known as common marshmallow, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Glover said she is circulating a petition to ban such products and has gotten nearly 500 signatures.

Count me in, said council chairman Charlie Miranda.

"This is nothing more than an attempt … of unscrupulous people trying to make money on innocent people," he said.

In two other pieces of other business, both related to the Republican National Convention, council members approved:

• Allocating $878,000 toward an expected $2 million hotel tab for out-of-town officers being hired to help police the event. City officials plan to bring in about 3,000 additional officers from outside the Tampa Bay area for the convention and will need 1,500 hotel rooms for them. Money for those rooms will come from $50 million in federal funds the city is getting to pay for convention security.

• Paying $99,500 to URS Corporation Southern to design new landscaping and accent lighting on Ashley Drive south of the Interstate 275 off-ramp to Tyler Street. And they gave the green light to $561,000 that will pay for the Ashley Drive improvements and similar work on other roads later.

Work on Ashley Drive is expected to begin in May and be finished by August, before the Aug. 27-30 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Comments
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes.That included blowing a one-goal third-period lead at home down the stretch, with Tampa Bay missing the playoffs by a point."You l...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

TAMPA — USF used a 21-3 run midway through the second half en route to an 83-63 win over Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night before an announced 2,091 at the Sun Dome.The victory halted a four-game losing streak for the Bulls (5-6), who scored the last...
Updated: 4 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 14

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLargo 4, Boca Ciega 1
Updated: 4 hours ago
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s not leaving Congress soon

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday he’s not leaving Congress anytime soon, trying to squelch rumors that he will walk away in triumph after the Republicans’ treasured tax bill is approved. Politico and the Huffington Post published re...
Updated: 5 hours ago
No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

No big deal for Rays at winter meetings, but it’s still coming

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Here’s the one thing we definitely know:Rays officials headed home from the winter meetings and back across I-4 Thursday without making deals to trade any of their bigger-name, higher-paid players. Not closer Alex Colome, not third...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

Tampa police seek ‘person of interest’ in Dec. 3 homicide

TAMPA — Police are seeking a "person of interest" who they believe has information about a Dec. 3 drive-by shooting that killed a 22-year-old man.Police are searching for Anan Motilal, 25. He stands about 5-foot-10 and weighs 180 pounds. He may have ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, please go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Thurs., Dec. 14, midday:97 796 8399e_SRit63724Thurs., Dec. 14, evening:37 731 1382e_SRit63276LottoWed., ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

Pence to delay Mideast trip as tax deal nears vote

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence is delaying his weekend departure for the Middle East as Congress nears completion of a tax overhaul, his office announced Thursday. White House officials said Pence now plans to leave for Egypt on Tuesday so he...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Pinellas Park officer stuns middle school student with Taser

PINELLAS PARK — A school resource officer stunned a middle school student with a Taser while trying to break up a fight between her and another female student on Thursday, police said.Neither the Pinellas Park officer nor the students involved in the...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

Senator: Comey’s remarks on Clinton probe heavily edited

WASHINGTON — A draft statement former FBI director James Comey prepared in anticipation of concluding the Hillary Clinton email case without criminal charges was heavily edited to change the "tone and substance" of the remarks, a Republican senator s...
Updated: 6 hours ago