Wednesday, May 23, 2018
News Roundup

News at noon: Pinellas construction board leader retires; Democrats boycott Trump confirmation hearings; Gov. Scott proposes $83.5 billion state budget; and a Ph.D. candidate at USF is stuck in Iran

Here's what's happening today.

PINELLAS CONSTRUCTION BOARD LEADER RODNEY FISCHER RETIRES

Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board executive director Rodney Fischer retired on Tuesday after 20 years leading the agency. "The issue with the PCCLB should not be about me," Fischer told a meeting of the Pinellas County legislative delegation, where he announced his retirement. "The PCCLB is not in the business of making friends." The 72-year-old former builder came under fire after a Tampa Bay Times investigation detailed how board members failed to properly disclose conflicts of interest while disciplining contractors and failed to obey Florida's public records laws.

DEMOCRATS BOYCOTT CONFIRMATION HEARINGS FOR PRICE AND MNUCHIN, BLOCKING VOTES

Democrats intensified their opposition to President Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries on Tuesday by further delaying the confirmation of several of his Cabinet nominees amid strong Republican objections. Hours after Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his executive order banning certain immigrants and refugees, Democrats lashed out during hearings held to approve Trump's choices to lead the departments of Justice and Treasury - or didn't show up at all.

GOV. RICK SCOTT PROPOSES $83.5 BILLION STATE BUDGET

Gov. Rick Scott proposed a $83.5 billion state budget proposal on Tuesday that would cut $618 million in taxes mostly for businesses, boost education funding and would revive his cherished job incentive program the Legislature eviscerated last year. Scott said decreasing taxes, even though mostly for businesses, helps all Floridians. A week after threatening Florida ports with retaliation if they do business with Cuba, Scott is using his proposed budget to further make the point. It includes a line prohibiting money from a pot of $176 million for various port improvements from going to any facilities the does business with the communist nation.

PH.D. CANDIDATE AT USF WENT TO CARE FOR MOTHER, NOW STUCK IN IRAN

[Courtesy of Mehdi Zeyghami]

Mehdi Zeyghami, photographed here at a solar power plant operated by the University of South Florida, learned Monday he may lose his shot at a Ph.D. from USF because he traveled back to Iran to care for his mother. An executive order from President Donald Trump bars Iranians from entering the United States for 90 days.

For eight months, 34-year-old Iranian Mehdi Zeyghami had waited for his visa so he could return to Tampa to defend his dissertation on solar energy technology at the University of South Florida. He'd put his life on hold to return to Tehran last May to care for his mother after she had open heart surgery. On Thursday, his case number popped up on the U.S. Consulate's web site. His visa was ready, and it looked like he would make it back to Tampa in time for the spring semester. He booked a flight to pick it up at the U.S. embassy in Armenia. Then came President Donald Trump's executive order. His dreams have been deferred again, indefinitely.

POLICE: NEW PORT RICHEY MAN, RECENTLY RELEASED FROM PRISON, CONFESSES TO BOOST MOBILE ARMED ROBBERY

A New Port Richey man faces charges after he walked into a Boost Mobile store Sunday evening and pulled a knife on a clerk, holding it up to her throat and demanding money, according to the New Port Richey Police Department. The man, later identified as John McCarthy, 27, of New Port Richey, was just released from prison after serving a five-year sentence for a sex offense, police said.

FLORIDA CONSUMER CONFIDENCE AT 15-YEAR HIGH AMID GROWING PESSIMISM ABOUT THE FUTURE

Consumer confidence among Floridians has reached the highest point in nearly 15 years, though there is growing gloominess about what the future holds, according to a University of Florida report released Tuesday morning. A UF survey found consumer sentiment in the state ticked up another one-half point to 97.8, up from a revised 97.3 in December. That's the highest reading since March 2002.

USF RELEASES RENDERINGS OF NEW MORSANI COLLEGE OF MEDICINE BUILDING IN DOWNTOWN TAMPA

[Courtesy of USF]

The University of South Florida unveiled preliminary renderings of the future home of its USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in downtown Tampa.

The University of South Florida on Tuesday morning unveiled renderings of the Health Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute buildings set to begin construction in downtown Tampa at South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive this summer. The renderings offer an early look at USF's future facility, which will house a medical school and a cardiovascular research institute. The $152.6-million building is part of the 50-plus acre redevelopment of downtown Tampa, spearheaded by Strategic Property Partners, a real estate firm backed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment.

IMMIGRATION ORDER PLAYING WELL TO TRUMP'S FANS AROUND NATION

President Donald Trump's order temporarily banning refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries is playing well in Trump Country, those places that propelled him to the White House. The New York businessman and reality TV star promised to put America first during the campaign, his supporters say, and he's doing it. That includes securing the nation's borders and doing everything possible to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. In their view, Trump is being Trump. They add that Democrats and liberal snowflakes and soft-hearted do-gooders just need to calm down.

FLORIDA ORCHESTRA'S DAVID BOWIE TRIBUTE EVOKES AWE, NOSTALGIA FOR SINGER TONY VINCENT

[Courtesy of the Florida Orchestra]

Singer Tony Vincent, welcomed the opportunity to lead the Florida Orchestra concert, The Music of David Bowie at the Mahaffey Theater.

Tony Vincent will pay tribute to the legend whose music defied genre, just as his androgynous persona evaded labels. The singer who has performed alongside Paul McCartney before Queen Elizabeth II, will headline this weekend's Florida Orchestra concert at the Mahaffey Theater, The Music of David Bowie. Brent Havens, who has led the orchestra's previous tributes to bands including the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and the Police, will conduct.

USL EXECS SUPPORT ROWDIES' MLS BID, THINK TAMPA BAY WILL REMAIN SECOND-TIER FOR NOW

Bill Edwards, former Mayor Rick Baker and a swarm of Ralph's Mob, the fervent fans of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, delivered the team's Major League Soccer application Monday to league executives in New York. Considering the Rowdies haven't played their first game in their current league, the newly-ordained second-tier United Soccer League, how do USL officials feel about being a stepping stone before the Rowdies have even placed a toe in the league? Surprisingly good, Charlie Frago writes.

MCKAY: COMMUNICATION, DRIVE ARE KEY TO JOHN LYNCH AS 49ERS' GM

John Lynch should make a seamless transition from player and broadcaster to the 49ers general manager because of his competitiveness and ability to communicate. That's according to Falcons president Rich McKay, who went from the Bucs general counsel to GM in 1994 before leaving for the same position in Atlanta in 2003. "The trait I like about John for this is his competitiveness," McKay told Rick Stroud on Monday at Super Bowl LI.

ENTERTAINMENT IS EXPENSIVE! HERE'S HOW TO GET TICKETS CHEAPER

Entertainment has gotten really expensive, everywhere, all the time, from concerts to live theater. Local professional theater can routinely reach $50 a seat, features editor Stephanie Hayes writes. And she can't even talk about Hamilton. But the reality is, you have to pick your artistic shots if you're on any kind of budget. She offers a few hints.

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Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

Rays journal: Could Sergio Romo be looking at pitching 3 straight games?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' pitching rotation for the weekend series against the Orioles could have a familiar look: Romo, Romo, Romo.Manager Kevin Cash said using veteran right-handed reliever Sergio Romo as the "opener" in all three upcoming g...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

Rookie’s error in 9th helps doom Rays against Red Sox

ST. PETERSBURG — Willy Adames was so excited to be in the big leagues, even if was for just a three-day cameo callup. So thrilled to make a smashing debut with a homer on Tuesday. So proud to have his parents and sister fly in from the Dom...
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‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

‘This looks bleak.’ Game 7 loss short circuits Lightning fans

TAMPA — Nick Genovese was anxious.The 21-year-old from Land O’Lakes had come to Thunder Alley outside Amalie Arena hoping to see the Tampa Bay Lightning triumph over the Washington Capitals in Wednesday night’s Eastern Conference winner-take-all Game...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

Lightning’s season ends one win short of Stanley Cup final with 4-0 loss to Capitals

TAMPA — The Lightning's dream season ended late Wednesday with the final horn, or, if you prefer, early in the second period of Game 5, when it scored its last goal of the Eastern Conference final.How about that? The team with the most regular-...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

Lightning-Capitals: Tampa Bay had its chances. Here are the best ones

TAMPA — Yanni Gourde said he will have to see a replay to know just how it got away, but even in a lopsided 4-0 loss like Wednesday night, he'll remember the puck in front of an empty net, and the missed opportunity that encapsulated a frustrat...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Red Sox game

In a way, the timing of RHP Jake Faria's oblique injury seemed manageable in that RHP Nathan Eovaldi is close to coming off the disabled list and can step in. But on the other hand, the Rays finally could have four regular starters. Imagine that.Ther...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

Lightning-Capitals: A hurt that could last forever

TAMPA — This one stings. And it will ache for a long time. Maybe forever in these parts.Another chance for a Stanley Cup. Another disappointment. As the Lightning skated off the ice after losing Wednesday night's Game 7 of the Eastern Conferenc...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Woman hit, killed while crossing road in Tampa

TAMPA — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing N 40th Street near E Hanlon Street on Wednesday night, according to Tampa police.The crash took place just before 8 p.m. The driver was heading north on 40th Street before strikin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

Son tells NC police he found dog leash around neck of strangled Hillsborough developer Bill Bishop

After a prominent Hillsborough County developer died last month in North Carolina, word spread it was a heart attack that claimed his life.But records from that state show the death of William "Bill" Bishop was much more complicated.His 16-year-old s...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s 4-0 loss in Game 7

TAMPA — Forget Vegas.The Lightning have left the building.No more season. No more watch parties. No more anything.There is no way around it. Jon Cooper's team couldn't finish, not in Game 7 at home, not in the Eastern Conference final...
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