Mexico's president says he's informed the White House he has canceled a trip to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump amid tension over a border wall. Trump had tweeted that if Mexico is unwilling to pay for a wall along the U.S. border, "then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting." The developments come the day after Trump said he will jump-start construction of a U.S.-Mexico border wall and cut federal grants for immigrant-protecting "sanctuary cities."
MORE SPECTRUM CUSTOMERS REPORT MISTAKEN FEE ON BILLS
Spectrum says a mistaken fee added to some bills is no widespread problem. But the cable company may want to ask its own customers about that. Nine additional Spectrum broadband customers contacted the Times to complain about a $9.99 "wifi activation" fee even though they said they did not add new service. This comes after a Times report about the complaints of four others who said they were charged the fee.
SMOKELESS TOBACCO BANNED AT TROPICANA FIELD, OTHER CITY VENUES
St. Petersburg City Council formally approved a ban on smokeless tobacco at Tropicana Field and city parks and recreation centers at its Jan. 19 meeting. The ban, supported by the Tampa Bay Rays and Major League Baseball, would make St. Petersburg the 13th MLB city to ban smokeless tobacco, not just for players and coaches, but for anyone who attends an organized athletic event in the city.
IN STATE HOUSE HEARING, DEMS WALK OUT OVER 'ANTI-IMMIGRANT' PRESENTER
Florida House Democrats walked out of a committee hearing on refugees in protest of a presenter they described as a "racist" leader of a "hate group." The man at issue is Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, brought in via Skype to give information about security concerns related to refugees. His center has been flagged by the Southern Poverty Law Center for spreading "anti-immigrant" ideas.
FOR MARK SHARPE, MOVING FORWARD ON TRANSPORTATION MEANS NO PTC
There are few people happier than former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe to see the Public Transportation Commission under siege. His only disappointment likely is that he doesn't get to cast the deciding vote that puts the agency out of the regulating game for good. Columnist Joe Henderson explains.
THE TOP 10 BARS IN WALKING DISTANCE FROM GASPARILLA
Driving after the Gasparilla parade will be a nightmare, and a quick escape after the parade via Uber will be impossible with all the traffic. You'll probably be ready to keep the party going, but you'll also be on foot. With all that in mind, here are a few of our favorite bars -- all within walking distance of the parade -- for hanging out after (or before, or during) Gasparilla. Note that many of them have special hours and entertainment for the occasion.
NEW-HOME SALES TUMBLE NATIONALLY IN DECEMBER
Americans pulled back sharply from buying new homes in December, but sales for all of 2016 were the highest since 2007. The Commerce Department said that new-home sales last month fell 10.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate 536,000. But sales totaled 563,000 in 2016, up 12.2 percent over the past year.
GO AHEAD AND INDULGE ON THOSE EXTRA CALORIES — THE MAYOR APPROVES
Go ahead and have that big, juicy cheesburger for lunch, and wash it down with a milkshake — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn says it's alright to spoil your diet. The city has officially proclaimed today as National Cheat Day, "a day to indulge in all the delicious and exciting things that Tampa's local food and drink establishments have to offer." It's good timing. Our food critic just listed her Top 50 Restaurants of Tampa Bay for 2017.
ST. PETERSBURG MAYOR LAUNCHES RE-ELECTION BID
Rick Kriseman kicked off his re-election campaign Wednesday with a fundraiser at the Three Birds Tavern, promising to take the Sunshine City to "the next level" if he gets a second term. Kriseman told about 150 supporters it's "so important we don't forget to keep our foot on the gas pedal."
GATORS ON TRACK FOR WORST RECRUITING CLASS IN YEARS
IS CAM AKERS FSU'S NEXT DALVIN COOK?More and more of the nation's top five- and four-star kids become impact players immediately once they hit college fields. Matt Baker writes about some of the high school players Florida State has targeted that you should start paying attention to pronto, including Clinton (Miss.) running back Cam Akers.
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