Tuesday, February 20, 2018
News Roundup

News at noon: Spring went without inspection; Schnitt trial decision; Gmail prank gone wrong; Jobs report; Cranes pass under Skyway; Meet Chris Archer

• U.S. employers notched another solid month of hiring in March by adding 215,000 jobs, driven by large gains in the construction, retail and healthcare industries. Other news: more Americans came off the sidelines to look for work, though not all found jobs.

• Frontier Communications' takeover of Internet, TV and landline phone service from Verizon in Tampa Bay experienced some hiccups during the transition Friday morning. Despite outages this morning, service was restored to customers. AT&T customers have not been so lucky. An outage early Friday knocked out wireless service for some AT&T customers across Tampa Bay, and has been ongoing since about 8:45 a.m. this morning.

• The Hillsborough County Health Department did not inspect the Spring of Tampa Bay for six years even though state rules that govern domestic violence shelters require an annual review. This lack of supervision is clear in yesterday's story of Taneka Rodman, who fled the Spring saying she felt could not get proper investigation to an incident with another resident.

• Michelle Schnitt and radio host Todd "MJ" Schnitt held a defamation trial against rival Bubba the Love Sponge Clem in 2013. The Schnitts lost that case and later sued their own attorneys. But a jury ordered them to pay nearly $700,000 in attorneys fees on Friday. Today, the Schnitts were assessed nearly $700,000 Friday in legal fees the couple had refused to pay.

• Pinellas County tourism chief David Downing was at one of the world's largest tourism conferences in Germany earlier this month. At nearly every turn, foreign tour operators brought up the same topic with him — and it wasn't which of the area's famous beaches was the best. It was Donald Trump.

• You see them on Davis Islands, near Belleair Shore and Tierra Verde. They're McMansions, and many are purchased with cold, hard cash. Hundreds of million dollar Tampa Bay homes have been bought with cash, but this isn't Miami - yet.

• After Gmail users accidentally sent mic-dropping minion gifs to business clients this morning, Google is now acknowledging that it pranked itself after an April Fool's Day Gmail tweak didn't leave many laughing.

• It's not every day that you see a pair of cranes that weight 1,600 tons each pass under the Sunshine Skyway on a barge. Two gantry cranes, a long awaited $21.5 million purchase of the Port of Tampa Bay, arrived this morning after an 18-month construction period and a long haul by ship from China.

• The tight schedule set up by the Florida Public Service commission to consider Florida Power and Light's rate hike for its 4.8 million customers has critics concerned that Florida regulators are yet again favoring utilities over consumers. What a $1.33 billion rate hike, one of the largest ever requested of state regulators, means for this battle.

• Once he heard that the Rays' trip to Cuba would coincide with the historic U.S. presidential visit, Chris Archer was trying to find a way, any way, to meet Barack Obama, whom he considers a barrier-breaker like Jackie Robinson. But Archer is famous in his own right. Read how the 27-year-old All-Star pitcher became one of baseball's leading faces.

• Tampa Bay Times' All-Tampa Bay girls basketball teams are here and we've announced the county-by-county high school players of the year.

• Our insiders help you plan your weekend: from dining, movies, music, arts, stage, things to do, shopping, and outdoors there's something for everyone in Tampa Bay. This week features Duran Duran, Filopino food, Rays home opener and Kathy Griffin.

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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The Daystarter: The St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race returns to a difficult climate; meet Stormy Daniels; and commandos come to Palm Harbor.

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