Christopher O'Donnell, Vulnerable Communities Reporter

Christopher O'Donnell

Vulnerable Communities Reporter

I’m a political junkie and I love literature so this job fits like a glove. But journalism wasn’t my first career. I was born and grew up in England and programmed computers for a living. I switched to reporting when I moved to Florida in 2001. I got my first break at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune after earning a journalism degree from the University of South Florida. I joined the Tampa Bay Times in 2016 after a three-year stint at the Tampa Tribune, where I covered city halls on both sides of Tampa Bay. When I’m not shouting at cable news, I love watching real football from England (alright, soccer) and riding my road bike on trails.

After Hillsborough passes two sales taxes, Tom Lee’s bill would set tougher rules for referendums

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa
A new bill requires legal vetting of ballot initiatives and that all ballot measures qualify at least 180 days before an election.

St. Pete housing agency U-turns on charging board member for public records

St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love (front) and St. Petersburg Housing Authority Vice-Chair Harry Harvey (left) during a recent City Council meeting. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
After facing criticism, agency agrees to provide public records to board member without payment but maintains its policy followed state law.

In a good economy, report reveals grim news for Florida families

Volunteer Stella Davis, 44, places canned goods and other food items into a bin at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent in Tampa before Thanksgiving. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
The United Way reports that almost half of state households struggle to afford basic needs.

St. Petersburg council member picks up $900 tab after housing agency charges board member for public records

St. Petersburg City Council member Charlie Gerdes, right, shown here with Mayors George Cretekos of Clearwater and Bob Buckhorn of Tampa, paid $900 of his own money for records from the local housing authority. [SCOTT KEELER ( 2018)]
City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes said he paid the bill to ensure oversight of St. Petersburg Housing Authority

Agency refuses to release documents to a member of its own governing board unless she pays for them

St. Petersburg Housing Authority CEO Tony Love during a Committee of the Whole All Council meeting at City Hall in St. Petersburg. Council members questioned Love about his agency’s public records policy after it told one of its governing board she would have to pay almost $300 for records she requested. Commissioners on the governing board are charged with overseeing the agency.    [DIRK SHADD   |   Times  ]
The St. Petersburg Housing Authority sent board member Terri Lipsey Scott an email asking for payment after she requested copies of invoices, evaluations and other documents.