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The Morning Watch: Trop redevelopment, marijuana on city councils' agendas

Here's what's new around the bay area this morning:

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Feels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay area

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The latest Tampa Bay-area radar

TROP DEVELOPMENT, MARIJUANA AMONG MEETING TOPICS TODAY

• The St. Petersburg City Council has a busy day ahead. Council members will get a update on the city's sewage issues, hear the latest plans for redeveloping the 85-acre Tropicana Field site and vote on whether to grant historical preservation protection to Block 25, or the downtown area around Jannus Live. It's one of the original commercial centers in the city and now home to restaurants, clubs and bars. Follow Charlie Frago at @CharlieFrago for updates.

• The Tampa City Council meets at 9 a.m. and is scheduled to consider a 180-day moratorium on granting permits for medical marijuana dispensaries inside city limits. The pause is meant to give city officials a chance to craft rules regulating the location and operations of such facilities if Florida voters pass Amendment 2.

• At 6 p.m., the Tampa Downtown Partnership will launch the Downtowner, a set of electric shuttles that will carry commuters and visitors around downtown Tampa for free. The Downtowner will run seven days a week — 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Users will be able to summon the shuttles with an app. Officials will mark the start of the service shortly before 5 p.m. with a news conference at 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., followed by a public reception nearby.

HOW TO REPLACE THE PHEIL BUILDING

After being largely dormant and encased in a steel shell for 50 years, an entire block of booming downtown St. Petersburg is now being demolished by a crane and wrecking ball. But what will be built in its place? Mayor Rick Kriseman prefers office space, but the developer may have other designs.

THE BUZZ'S FLORIDA CONGRESSIONAL VULNERABILITY RANKINGS, OCTOBER EDITION

It's been six months since the Buzz last handicapped the most vulnerable congressional seats in Florida. Since then, the list of House-seat battlegrounds in the state — and the intensity of several key races — has only grown. Here are the seats we're keeping an eye on and how vulnerable the incumbent party is to losing the seat on Election Day.

A LOOK AT THE FLORIDA HOUSE DISTRICT 67 RACE

Democrat David Vogel is going head-to-head with Republican incumbent Chris Latvala for the District 67 seat of the Florida House of Representatives, saying he feels a "social responsibility" to represent Pinellas County's Democratic voters. A longtime lawyer who moved to Clearwater two years ago, Vogel says that when no other Democrat stepped up to challenge Latvala in the race, he decided he had no choice but to do it himself. Read Megan Reeves' story for more on the race.

AMC

They woke up like this.

'THE WALKING DEAD' SEASON 7 PREVIEW: TEACHING US HOW TO SAY GOODBYE

The Walking Dead has come a long way since Rick Grimes gasped to life on our TV screens in 2010. Almost 160 issues and seven seasons later, there's no end in sight for The Walking Dead. Its upcoming season is gearing up to be its most brutal and bloody yet, Chelsea Tatham writes.

NEW CLEARWATER FIRE CHIEF PLEDGES TO BRING VISIBILITY, HIGHER MORALE

With Clearwater Fire & Rescue already owning a reputation as being one of the more efficient departments in the bay area, newly appointed Chief Scott Ehlers will be tasked with turning around the more cultural, and very public, issues of staff misconduct and low morale. Learn more about Ehlers and what he has in store for Clearwater.

JULIA CHILD'S GREAT-NEPHEW ON HIS NEW BOOK, 'THE FRENCH CHEF IN AMERICA'

Alex Prud'homme, a journalist and the great-nephew of Julia Child, co-wrote his great-aunt's 2007 memoir, My Life in France. Now, Prud'homme has written The French Chef in America, which is described as the story of Child's "second act." We caught up with Prud'homme during the tour for his latest book; on Nov. 12 he comes to the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Steven Stamkos, who says he practices shooting from this tough angle, scores past Panthers goalie James Reimer to force OT.

STAMKOS SAYS OF SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE GOAL: NO BIG DEAL

A lot went into one of the best shots of Steven Stamkos' career, and the biggest goal of the Lightning's young season, as shown in this photo. Joe Joe Smith writes that Stamkos is one of a handful of players who can convert that shot, and probably the only one who actually practices it. But it might not have been possible without the net-front presence of Alex Killorn, who distracted goalie James Reimer, or the timely on-the-tape pass by defenseman Victor Hedman.

BUCS, NFL'S EAST COAST TEAMS AT DISADVANTAGE WHEN TRAVELING WEST

Will Tampa Bay be able to shake off the jet lag when it takes on the 49ers late Sunday afternoon in San Francisco? The coast-to-coast trip has been an obstacle for previous Bucs teams. Tom Bassinger breaks down the Bucs' West Coast woes.

The 1920s-era Pheil Hotel, dubbed the "cheese grater" after its metal facade added in the 1960s, is currently being demolished. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times

The 1920s-era Pheil Hotel, dubbed the "cheese grater" after its metal facade added in the 1960s, is currently being demolished. SCOTT KEELER | Times

The Morning Watch: Trop redevelopment, marijuana on city councils' agendas 10/20/16 [Last modified: Thursday, October 20, 2016 8:57am]
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  1. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman and Baker pull no punches in first forum

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.
  2. Wildlife officers look for answers in gopher tortoise deaths while reward money piles up

    Wildlife

    The blood had already pooled when the bodies were found, bashed and beaten. One was dead. The other was still gasping, but it was too late.

    A gopher tortoise emerges from a bush to feed on vegetation on Thursday in 2016 at the Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center in Clearwater. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is investigating the deaths of two tortoises that were beaten and their shells broken in Manatee County. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  3. Airbnb on track to shatter tax revenues brought in last year

    Business

    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.

    Airbnb has collected more than $18 million in taxes for Florida state and local governments so far this year, putting it on a fast-track to shatter its 2016 tax collection of $20 million.
[Bloomberg file photo]

  4. PSTA foresees no service cuts as it rolls out proposed 2018 budget

    Transportation

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority will unveil the first draft of its 2018 budget at Wednesday morning's meeting of the governing board.

    A Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus leaves the terminal at  3180 Central Ave. in St Petersburg in 2014. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  5. What you need to know for Wednesday, June 28

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    St. Petersburg will finally break ground today on its long-awaited downtown Pier. [City of  St. Petersburg]