Senate approves prosecutor for middle district
The U.S. Senate has confirmed veteran federal prosecutor Robert E. O'Neill as the new U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Florida. O'Neill, 53, was nominated by President Barack Obama. He began his career as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and has worked mostly as a federal prosecutor. He joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa in 1993, was the interim U.S. attorney in 2007 and 2008 and most recently has served as the chief of the district's criminal division. O'Neill will succeed A. Brian Albritton and will serve a four-year term with a salary of $155,500 a year. The Middle District stretches from Jacksonville to Tampa to south of Naples, covering 35 counties.
Pawnshop owner returns Rays ring
A Clearwater pawnshop owner returned a stolen 2008 Tampa Bay Rays American League Championship ring to a team executive in court Thursday. The ring was stolen from Robert Windheim in July, and police later found it at R&W Pawn and Jewelry. The pawnshop wanted $350 for the ring — about half of what it was purchased for — and Windheim filed a lawsuit to get the ring back, no strings attached. During the scheduled pretrial hearing Thursday, the case went to mediation, where the pawnshop owners handed back the ring, valued at $3,600. Pinellas County Court Judge Kathleen Hessinger ordered the shop owners to pay Windheim's attorney fees. An Oct. 15 hearing is set to determine those fees.
Yellow Cab goes pink in fundraiser
Yellow Cab is "going pink" for October to raise awareness and money in the fight against breast cancer. Yellow Cab of Tampa will paint 10 of its vehicles pink and donate $1 from each fare they generate to the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute. There will be no additional charge to passengers. It's part of the first nationwide "Pink Ride" program spearheaded by the Taxicab, Limousine and Paratransit Association.
Hillsborough again adds students
Lost in the excitement over class size and early-release days was some encouraging news last week: For the second straight year, Hillsborough's enrollment has increased. The school district counted 192,185 students at its Day 20 count, up 1,819 from the same day last year. "We are right in line with our projections," superintendent MaryEllen Elia said. That's important, since school officials make hiring decisions based on the number of state-funded students it expects. If they guess wrong, they might have to lay teachers off — which Hillsborough has so far avoided. But a portion of that extra state funding isn't staying in district coffers for long. Charter school enrollment is up in Hillsborough, too. Those independently run public schools had 6,131 students enrolled on the 20th day of classes, up 951 from last year. Aside from an administrative fee, their state tax dollars go with them.
Mayor declares today is Rays Day
Mayor Pam Iorio has declared today "Tampa Bay Rays Day" in Tampa. She is encouraging city employees and residents to show their support for the playoff-bound team by wearing Rays gear and apparel.