Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Your DayStarter: Our 'Force Awakens' review, high temps in the 80s(!), scorecards from last night's debate and Jameis Winston's last outing, and things to do

• First things first — even more important than today's weather forecast: Our movie critic Steve Persall saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens yesterday, and he's written a spoiler-free review. It's full of expert movie critic phrases, like "densely entertaining," "instantly historic" and "womp rats."

• We're running out of things to say about the heat. Today is set to break 80 degrees yet again, with patchy fog in the morning and partly cloudy skies later on, according to WTSP 10Weather. A cold front promises cooler temps closer to Friday.

• Wonder who told the truth during last night's GOP presidential debate? PolitiFact has your scorecard this morning.

• Deep-sea treasure hunters Odyssey Marine Exploration will give investors an update on their financial situation at 10 a.m. The Tampa-based company has struggled to keep its stock price above water. More at tampbay.com/money later this morning.

• The James Madison Institute, a conservative think tank, will release a report at 10 a.m. on the constitutional amendment Floridians for Solar Choice has proposed. The institute says the report will detail "negative effects" of the plan, including the economic impact on utility customers. The amendment, if placed on the ballot in 2016, would allow companies to install solar panels and sell that energy without being treated as a utility. Check back with tampbay.com/money later today.

• Iconoclastic film director John Waters brings his twisted Christmas tour to Clearwater's Capitol Theatre tonight. The king of bad taste who gave us Hairspray and Pink Flamingos talked to our film critic Steve Persall about the show and his dark humor.

• Find the other top things to do today in Tampa Bay here, including a barbershop chorus, holiday events galore and Celtic Woman at the Mahaffey Theater.

Thomas Bassinger charts every pass by the Bucs' Jameis Winston and Titans' Marcus Mariota and analyzes their performance at tampabay.com/bucs.

Plan your weekend! Your teens are no doubt prepping already for the seventh annual Jingle Ball, which returns to Tampa's Amalie Arena on Saturday with 5 Seconds of Summer, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas and many other squeal-inducing artists. Our critics also have recommendations for a new take on The Sound of Music and lots to do with the weather outside delightful.

Comments
The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

The Bucs’ problem isn’t how they finish; it’s how they start

For the second straight week, the Buccaneers had the ball in the final minutes of a tie game.For the second straight week, they could not finish.As disappointing as that might be, they have a larger problem, and one that has existed all season: The B...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Campaign f...
Updated: 8 minutes ago
French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

French group to take over Westfield malls for $15.7 billion

Three Tampa Bay malls may soon be under new management. French real estate company Unibail-Rodamco has agreed to buy Australia-based shopping mall operator Westfield Corp. for $15.7 billion in cash and shares."Westfield would arguably be the best or ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Pinellas construction board prepares to lose independence

Pinellas construction board prepares to lose independence

LARGO –– Members of the Pinellas County agency that oversees contractor licensing cried foul in January when elected officials sought to fold the board into county government.They were mostly quiet this week as they received word on plans to make tha...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Prosecutors likely to decide by Jan. 25 on death penalty in Seminole Heights murders

Prosecutors likely to decide by Jan. 25 on death penalty in Seminole Heights murders

TAMPA — Prosecutors will likely know before the end of January whether they will seek the death penalty for the man accused in the four Seminole Heights murders.A judge set the next court appearance for Howell Emanuel Donaldson III for Jan. 25 and as...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Police searching for robber who hit three North Tampa hotels

TAMPA — Police believe the same armed man committed early morning robberies at three North Tampa hotels within half a mile of one another, the latest just before 4 a.m. Tuesday.In the latest heist, the robber pointed a gun at a clerk in the West Wing...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Tampa Bay’s mortgage delinquency rate crept up in September

Times Staff WriterThe percentage of Tampa Bay homeowners who are late on their mortgage payments rose slightly in September, probably due to Hurricane Irma. According to CoreLogic, 7 percent of bay area mortgages were delinquent by at least 30 days c...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

Buchanan Middle aide used Instagram to seek nude photos, sex from students, deputies say

TAMPA — A 24-year-old aide at Buchanan Middle School was arrested Monday and charged with using Instagram to ask for sex and nude photos from female students at the school, deputies said.Between Sept. 1 and the time of his arrest, Quinton J. Bradford...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Column: Trump’s Kirsten Gillibrand tweet is just the beginning of the #MeToo backlash

Column: Trump’s Kirsten Gillibrand tweet is just the beginning of the #MeToo backlash

With all the prominent men being accused of various forms of sexual harassment and abuse, we’ve gotten used to a certain kind of statement the men make when the news breaks.Sometimes they deny the accusations, sometimes they apologize if their behavi...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

Fire at Tampa townhome complex caused by faulty air-conditioner unit

TAMPA — A malfunctioning air conditioning unit sparked the fire that damaged several homes at the Brookshire Townhomes on Monday, authorities said.Investigators concluded the fire started on the back patio of unit B103 when the power supply of a cond...
Updated: 2 hours ago