Wednesday, January 17, 2018
News Roundup

News at noon: Prince, addiction and an intervention too late; FL death penalty in Supreme Court; SeaWorld reports more losses; Hillsborough County transportation woes; Cinco de Mayo events

• Prince Rogers Nelson had an unflinching reputation among those close to him for leading an assiduously clean lifestyle. He was known to eschew alcohol and marijuana, and no one who went on tour with him could indulge either. But Prince appears to have shielded from even some of his closest friends that he had a problem with pain pills, one that grew so acute that his friends sought urgent medical help from Dr. Howard Kornfeld of California, who specializes in treating people addicted to pain medication.

• Following a yuuuuuge win in Indiana, Trump "would certainly consider" Marco Rubio as a running mate. There are other candidates that would be "very, very good" though.

• Vice President Joe Biden plans to visit Tampa next week. Biden will give a speech Wednesday in Tampa on his "vision for U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere," the White House said.

• Florida's death penalty law went on trial before the state Supreme Court today as a death row inmate sought a reduced sentence of life without parole and the state said he should be executed.

• GrayRobinson this morning announced a merger with Capitol Insight, a Tallahassee-based lobbying firm founded by former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon. This merger makes Orlando-based GrayRobinson's government relations and lobbying practice the largest such practice of any law firm in Florida and one of the largest groups of legislative and executive branch lobbyists in the state, the company said in a release.

• SeaWorld has reported more revenue loss in this quarter after losses in the beginning of the year. President and CEO Joel Manby said in a written statement that the company's recently announced decision to end all orca breeding and transition its shows toward more natural orca encounters — along with its partnership with the Humane Society of the United States — should help improve its performance over time.

• Fire swept through a Carrollwood apartment building early this morning, displacing as many as four dozen residents, fire officials said.

• It's back to the drawing board for Hillsborough County's transportation plan. A week after voting 4-3 to kill a half-cent sales tax increase that would have paid for $117.5 million in roads and transit projects a year, Hillsborough commissioners on Wednesday scrambled to figure out what's next.

• Supporters of decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana possession in St. Petersburg will have to wait for at least three months. The St. Petersburg City Council voted 8-0 Thursday to defer an ordinance that would have allowed officers to issue citations for the first three offenses of 20 milligrams or less of marijuana. The measure also covers other minor offenses like trespassing or public intoxication.

• In February, Gulfport abruptly closed and padlocked the Tomlinson skate park, citing safety concerns about aging and broken equipment. Citing concerns about aging and broken equipment, the city closed the skate area and now many are speaking out.

• As part of an ongoing effort to bring housing to Pinellas County's working-class neighborhoods, county officials are gearing up to sell or donate 67 vacant lots in two midcounty communities.

• At 3:45 on a recent weekday afternoon, a walk through Gulf View Square mall was mostly quiet. Despite smaller crowds and recent defections of stores, Gulf View tenants say all is not lost and they still have hope for the 36-year-old mall's future.

• Donald Blake was momentarily speechless as Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart interrupted his lesson on the national electrical code Thursday morning. Stewart took over his Marchman Technical College classroom to surprise Blake and his students with the news that he was one of five finalists for Florida Teacher of the Year. He's the first Pasco County finalist, as well as the first career and technical education finalist, according to the sponsors.

• Happy Cinco de Mayo! While it's one of the least important holidays in Mexico, the fifth of May is cause for great celebration in the United States, one of tacos, tequila and lime-y beer. Find all events here. Not quite freed up from the work week? Here's a planner for your weekend.

• Yet year after year, the biggest stars in music — Adele, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Luke Bryan, Justin Bieber, Coldplay — still deliver thousands of exclusive, unreleased songs to giant retailers like Target, Walmart, Best Buy and iTunes in hopes of (get this!) selling actual albums. From B-sides to bonus tracks, music stars offer more to connect with fans.

• One afternoon last August, on a day off from touring with their band Rebelution, drummer Wesley Finley and keyboardist Rory Carey stopped by Tampa's Cigar City Brewing for some drinks. Now, Rebelution and Rock Brothers Brewing to debut new craft beer at St. Petersburg festival.

• As much as Rays manager Kevin Cash wants to stick with the struggling members of his lineup to build their confidence, he also has to find ways to get the hot hitters more playing time.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

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