Sunday, October 21, 2018


Mark Puente

Mark Puente

Mark Puente covers Pinellas County government, including the constitutional officers and the way they operate their offices. Puente returned to the Tampa Bay Times in July after two years at The Baltimore Sun. He worked as an investigative reporter and was on the team that was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Freddie Gray saga and city's riots. His "Undue Force" series about police brutality led to reform efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Baltimore. The series won the Institute on Political Journalism's Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States. He joined the Times in November 2010 and covered real estate issues as part of the Times' Business team until June 2012. He then covered St. Petersburg City Hall until March 2014. He spent more than five years with the Plain Dealer in Cleveland where he won multiple journalism awards for his investigative work. His reporting forced a 32-year sheriff in Ohio's largest county to resign from office in 2009 and plead guilty to theft-in-office charges. He took a different path to journalism, logging more than 1 million miles in the cab of a semitrailer truck over 14 years. After leaving the trucking industry, Puente earned a political science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has a wife and three sons. Go Tar Heels!

Jennifer Brackney

CareerSource Pinellas board taps internal candidate as new CEO

CLEARWATER — Board members at an embattled Pinellas County job placement agency selected the interim leader to be the next CEO on Wednesday.But the move at CareerSource Pinellas stoked turmoil.The board of directors was slated to...
Published: 10/17/18
Pinellas County Commission District 6: Amy Kedron (left) will face Kathleen Peters (right) in the Nov. 6 election. [Kedrom / Peters campaigns]

Candidates for Pinellas commission race pause to help with natural disasters

As Election Day nears, the candidates for Pinellas County Commission have shifted from campaigning to helping residents deal with the aftermath of natural disasters.Democrat Amy Kedron held a town hall meeting and helped draft policies for...
Published: 10/15/18
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch (right) and his wife Donna at a 2012 social event. [Photo by James Branaman]

Pinellas Juvenile Welfare Board still wants answers over firing of county commissioner’s wife

CLEARWATER –– The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County demanded Thursday to know why the James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center fired the director of its reading program, Donna Welch, the wife of Pinellas County Commission chair Ken...
Published: 10/12/18
The FBI plans to serve subpoenas to the lawyer for CareerSource Tampa and CareerSource Pinellas. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]

FBI takes over investigation of Tampa Bay’s CareerSource jobs centers as state audit launches

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have taken over multiple investigations into whether two Tampa Bay jobs centers overstated their success at using tax dollars to help people find work.Federal auditors also served notice to Gov. Rick...
Published: 10/05/18
Updated: 10/08/18
LUIS SANTANA   |   TimesTens of thousands of dead fish and crustaceans have washed up on Madeira Beach in Pinellas County Sunday afternoon. Levels of red tide algae are testing extremely high on the waters of Pinellas county. Contractors on boats attempt to collect the dead fish before reaching the beaches but cannot keep up with the tons of fish washing ashore.  [Sunday September 15, 2018] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]

Gov. Rick Scott gives Pinellas another $2 million to fight Red Tide

As Red Tide continues to harm the Gulf Coast, Gov. Rick Scott awarded Pinellas County another $2 million on Thursday for clean-up efforts.Through grants from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Scott also awarded Lee...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas County vice chairman Karen Williams Seel, chairman Kenneth Welch and commissioners Pat Gerard and Charlie Justice attend a meeting to discuss the compensation package proposal for Barry Burton, a candidate for the next county administrator, on Aug. 29. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]

Pinellas County Commission passes $2.3 billion budget

With an eye toward November, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday passed a budget for next year that features few new big spending plans.The $2.35 billion budget for 2019 largely maintains existing services. The cautious spending...
Updated one month ago
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times (2016)
Mail carrier Tracy Halesworth navigates flooding on Dodecanese Boulevard in Tarpon Springs caused by Tropical Storm Colin.

FEMA rolling out new flood zone maps for Tampa Bay counties

Thousands of Tampa Bay-area property owners could soon find themselves with new flood zone designations on their homes and businesses.The Federal Emergency Management Agency has completed a years-long study to update flood zone maps in...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas County Commission Democratic candidate Amy Kedron is running for the District 6 seat. [Kedron campaign]

Pinellas commission candidate Amy Kedron loses support from council member and commissioner

Pinellas County Commission candidate Amy Kedron has lost a key endorsement from one of the few elected officials who publicly supported her campaign.St. Petersburg City Council member Gina Driscoll said she pulled her endorsement after...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas County will allow St. Petersburg more flexibility in tax spending to help the redevelopment of the Tropicana Field  site.  [Times files]

St. Petersburg gets more financial flexibility for Tropicana Field redevelopment from county

The County Commission agreed last week to let St. Petersburg direct about $115 million in tax dollars to help redevelop 86 acres around Tropicana Field, whether the Rays move to Tampa or not.With a 5-1 vote, the commission approved Mayor Rick...
Updated one month ago
Tropicana Field as seen from the air on May 21, 2016. The city is creating master plans for redeveloping the Trop's 86 acre site with and without a new baseball stadium, should the Tampa Bay Rays move to Tampa. [LOREN ELLIOTT  |  Times]

Pinellas commission will let St. Petersburg use some tax dollars to develop Trop site

The Pinellas County Commission agreed last week to let St. Petersburg direct about $115 million in tax dollars to help redevelop 86 acres around Tropicana Field, regardless if the Rays move to Tampa or not.With a 5-1 vote, the commission...
Updated one month ago