Here's what's new this morning.
Donald Trump will take the oath of office outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday to become the 45th president of the United States at 11:30 a.m. Expect plenty of pomp and a good deal of protest, too, as hundreds of thousands of people descend on Washington to mark the occasion. Here is a guide to the festivities, demonstrations and much more.
PINELLAS COUNTY CONSTRUCTION LICENSING BOARD PLAYS FAST AND LOOSE WITH DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board doesn't report to anyone, not to the local county commission like every other similar board in the state, and not even to the Florida Legislature which created it. The lack of oversight contributes to a fast and loose approach to how it handles complaints against contractors, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.
DIVERSE GASPARILLA PARADE HAS TRANSCENDED INSULT OF RACISM
The Gasparilla Parade of Pirates, Tampa's signature good-time event, brings back memories of disappointment and insult for Fred Hearns. A clarinet player with the Middleton High School Marching Band in 1965, Hearns was thrilled to learn his would be the first all-black band to march in the annual parade. But the excitement was short-lived. The band that followed, all white, stood and let Middleton march five blocks before finally stepping out.
FROM CREEPY MASKS TO THE CLOSING CIRCUS, IT'S A HARD TIME TO BE A CLOWN
[Courtesy of Ringling Bros.]
When the clowns found out the circus was closing, they turned their red noses to each other for support. It had been a hard year already. Their centuries-old art form had been reduced to a punchline for creepy clown sightings. And now, corporate managers from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had delivered the worst news, that the show would close forever in May.
EPILOGUE: CHARLIE FANT, LONGTIME TREASURE ISLAND FIRE CHIEF
When he was a teenager, fire sirens were music to Charlie Fant's ears. Fant's boyhood experiences turned into a 41-year career. He and best friend Tom Dusil joined Treasure Island's volunteer fire department the day after they turned 18. Fant became a firefighter and a paramedic and then fire chief in 1982, becoming the youngest chief in Florida. There he stayed until retiring in 2012. Fant, 64, died Sunday from cancer.
SUPPORT POLITIFACT: JOIN THE TRUTH SQUAD
It's been almost 10 years since the Tampa Bay Times launched our unique fact-checking website PolitiFact. Today we have more than 13,000 fact-checks in our online database, all aimed at helping people sort out the truth in a complex world. Today, we're asking you, our readers, for a new kind of support. We're launching a project that we hope will be a steady source of long-term funding for PolitiFact: a membership program called the Truth Squad.
SEA LEVEL RISE COULD HAVE WATER LAPPING AT TAMPA'S EDGES IN 2040, STUDY SAYS
ANDRES LEIVA | Times (2016)
Rising sea levels could swell Tampa Bay 5 to 19 inches over the next quarter-century, sending more water to lap at the edges of the city of Tampa. That's one conclusion of a new analysis from the Hillsborough City-County Planning Commission, which looked at how potential sea-level rise could affect Tampa and its most flood-prone areas through the year 2040.
U.S. SIGNS AGREEMENTS OPENING GULF TO CUBA DRILLING, PARTNERING ON CLEANUPS
In its final days in the White House, the Obama administration made it easier for the Cuban government to drill for oil in Gulf waters just beyond the country's maritime border with the United States. It's the result of a treaty signed Wednesday that defines who controls a 7,700-square-mile area that begins just over 200 miles off the coast of Tampa Bay and Florida, long known as the Eastern Gap.
TAMPA WOMEN PREPARE TO PROTEST TRUMP PRESIDENCY AT WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON
On Saturday, one day after Trump's inauguration, Tampa lawyer Jennifer Zumarraga will join an expected 200,000 to 500,000 people in Washington, D.C. who will "do something" that could make history. Born on a modest Facebook page just hours after the election results, the Women's March on Washington has become a national movement in protest of Trump's election. Approximately 370 cities around the world will hold marches of their own, including St. Petersburg, which is expecting anywhere from 7,000 to 10,000 participants.
DUKE ENERGY AGREES TO $600,000 ANTITRUST SETTLEMENT OVER POLK PLANT
Duke Energy has agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department accusing it of breaking antitrust law in the purchase of an independent power plant in Polk County. Duke Energy admitted no wrongdoing in a case in which it was accused of filing for Federal Trade Commission review of the acquisition four months later than it should have. The FTC is mandated to protect consumers from deals that impinge competition.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND: 'BEACHES' REMAKE ON LIFETIME, 'FRONTIER' ON NETFLIX
Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) stars in Frontier as Declan Harp, a part-Irish part-Native American outlaw who fights, bludgeons and schemes his way through the Canadian fur trade in the 18th century, in Game of Furs: Frontier. That's one of the highlights this weekend.
BERKELEY PREP SHOWCASES NATIONAL BASKETBALL TALENT IN WEEKEND TOURNAMENT
The National Hoopfest series makes its way to Tampa this weekend. The tournament, held at Berkeley Prep, is one of the top 15 boys basketball tournaments in the country, according to USA Today.