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News at Noon: Employee-less Bank of America branches; class-action suit against Charter; ferry delay irks Castor; Mattis the voice of reason

President Donald Trump, left, hands Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, a pen after he signed an executive action on rebuilding the military during an event at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. [Associated Press]

President Donald Trump, left, hands Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, a pen after he signed an executive action on rebuilding the military during an event at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. [Associated Press]

Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com.

BANK OF AMERICA TESTS TOTALLY AUTOMATED, EMPLOYEE-FREE BRANCHES

Bank of America Corp has opened three completely automated branches over the past month, where customers can use ATMs and have video conferences with employees at other branches. Like many U.S. banks in recent years, Bank of America has been reducing its overall branch count to cut costs even as it opens new branches in select markets. New branches are typically smaller, employ more technology, and are aimed at selling mortgages, credit cards and auto loans rather than simple transactions such as cashing checks.

CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST SPECTRUM FOR $9.99 WI-FI ACTIVATION FEE

A Spectrum customer has filed a lawsuit in Pinellas County circuit court accusing the broadband company of attempting to charge customers an "illegitimate" $9.99 wifi activation fee. The suit , which seeks class-action status, was filed Jan. 31 by Sharon Memmer, 58, of St. Petersburg and names Spectrum's parent company, Charter Communications, as a defendant.

CASTOR 'VERY FRUSTRATED' FERRY TO MACDILL IS TAKING SO LONG

There would be no hard feelings if Hillsborough County decided to turn down federal money for a ferry connecting MacDill Air Force Base to south county and go it alone, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor said. Still, Castor told the Tampa Bay Times she is "very frustrated" that county leaders are only now debating the best path forward to make the ferry a reality. Castor announced the $4.8 million Federal Transit Administration grant in 2014 and the project remains in limbo three years later.

WALLENDA: SOMEBODY MAY HAVE FAINTED ON WIRE

Nik Wallenda says it was a "miracle" that his co-performers who fell more than 30 feet from a high-wire rehearsal are expected to completely recover. Among the injured were family members. Even more amazing: Wallenda has decided to perform when the circus opens.

DEFENSE SECRETARY MATTIS ASSUMES NEW ROLE: TURNING DOWN THE TEMPERATURE ON TRUMP

As President Donald Trump's new Pentagon chief, Jim Mattis has a long list of tasks ahead. But a few weeks into his tenure, the retired general's most visible role has been of a different sort: soothing Americans and allies unnerved by the president and some of his top advisers. Mattis, wrapping up a visit to Japan and South Korean last week, carried a message of constancy and restraint on many of the foreign policy issues whose fate has generated anxiety since Trump's election.

JEFF SESSIONS SWORN IN AS U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions has been sworn in as President Donald Trump's attorney general. During an Oval Office ceremony, Trump called Sessions a man of integrity and principle, and someone who has devoted his life to the cause of justice.

ABORTION LEGISLATION LETTING WOMEN SUE DOCTORS CLEARS HOUSE PANEL

Women who are injured or experience "emotional distress" after having an abortion could sue their doctors for up to 10 years after the procedure under legislation passed Thursday by a Florida House subcommittee.

ARC SERVICE PROGRAM HELPS MOVE FOOD FROM FIELDS TO TABLES OF NEEDY

Nancy Stubbs has been with Arc Nature Coast for more than 15 years. She has a passion for helping the agency's approximately 250 intellectually and developmentally disabled clients grow and contribute. Her brother, Gary Wilson Stubbs, was sent to an institution when he was 12. Now 60, Gary delivers Meals on Wheels. Recently, the Arc participated in a national program to get fresh, healthy food to those who are served by food banks in Hernando and Pasco counties.

IS IMAGE EVERYTHING? UNCONVENTIONAL FREE-THROW STYLE YIELDS SUCCESS

Of the hundreds of Division I-A college basketball and NBA players across the country, only two are known to shoot free throws underhanded. One of them is Chinanu Onuaku of the Houston Rockets, whose unlikely method trended on social media. In college basketball, it's Canyon Barry for the suddenly hot Florida Gators (19-5). Oh yeah, Barry is the son of former NBA star Rick Barry, who made underhand free-throws famous.

SAFETY HARBOR CANDIDATES FOCUS ON DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT

The six candidates, vying for two open seats on the Safety Harbor City Commission, seem focused on the same thing: growing Main Street while maintaining the city's claim-to-fame charm. Each shared their mostly similar thoughts on development with the Tampa Bay Times ahead of election day on March 6.

REVIEW: 'JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2' A BRILLIANTLY-STAGED ACTION RIDE FOR REEVES

[Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate via AP]

Keanu Reeves in a scene from, "John Wick: Chapter 2."

When it comes to choreography, the spunky dreamers of La La Land have nothing on the death dances Keanu Reeves leads in John Wick: Chapter 2, movie critic Steve Persall writes. This movie's balletic brutality, its relentless pacing and practical stunt work are breathtaking. Read his review here.

REVIEW: '50 SHADES DARKER' LIGHT ON PLOTTY, HEAVY ON NAUGHTY

Fifty Shades Darker is what you'd expect from encoring a regrettable one-night stand. Not a keeper, but nothing to gnaw off your arm about, movie critic Steve Persall writes. Compacted from E.L. James' trashy novel, Fifty Shades Darker continues the sexual odyssey of Anastasia Steele, again played by Dakota Johnson although wishier, washier than the woman who slammed an elevator door in her kinky lover's face at first movie's end. Read his review here.

REVIEW: AMAZON'S 'THE COLLECTION' LACKING REFINEMENT

Paris, 1947. The Nazis are gone and folks want to make Parisian fashion great again. It sounds like the perfect setting for a haute couture period drama. Sadly, Amazon's The Collection fails to follow through on its potential and promise, delivering a patch job far from cohesive and often uninspired, Caitlin E. O'Conner writes. Read her review here.

News at Noon: Employee-less Bank of America branches; class-action suit against Charter; ferry delay irks Castor; Mattis the voice of reason 02/09/17 [Last modified: Thursday, February 9, 2017 12:17pm]
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  1. Hillsborough and Pinellas officials can't even agree that they agreed to meet

    Local Government

    Tampa Bay political leaders often tout taking a regional approach to solve the region's most pressing issues. But the challenge has been getting Hillsborough and Pinellas County leaders together on the same page.

    Or in this case, in the same room.

    This month Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill (above) nixed a joint meeting of the Hillsborough and Pinellas County Commissions. But Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long said her Hillsborough counterpart, Stacy White, had already agreed to two meetings. [DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times]
  2. Ex-sheriff's official says sheriff intentionally hid federal inmate revenue from county

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — The former third-in-command at the Hernando County Sheriff's Office has filed a complaint, alleging that Sheriff Al Nienhuis intentionally hid from the County Commission $1.3 million in revenue he collected from housing federal inmates last year.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times  Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis said he was "extremely disappointed'' to hear of James Terry's allegations about the sheriff's handling of federal inmate dollars and noted that Terry was "offered the opportunity to resign from his position at the Sheriff's Office when numerous complaints as to his unprofessional conduct began flowing into the front office.''
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    Movies

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    Local Government

    In a pocket formed at the end of a branch of the Anclote River, Kevin Meisman has seen the size of the boats coming by his family's business get smaller.

    Kevin Meisman, 37, looks out from the dock of his family’s business, Quality T-Tops & Boat Accessories, in Tarpon Springs. Meisman says that, without dredging along the Anclote River, the number of boats he can service is limited.
  5. Senator Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa