Thursday, December 14, 2017


Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The area Hillsborough County is pitching as the sire for the Tampa Bay Rays Channel District-Ybor City park. Pictured is the area at N. 17th Street at Adamo Dr. looking east with the Selmon Expressway pictured on right. A provision in the House version of the federal tax bill would make it more expensive for Hillsborough County  to borrow to build a stadium for the Rays.
Dirk Shadd   |   Times

How the federal tax bill could make it more expensive to build the Rays a new ballpark

Whether the Tampa Bay Rays end up in Ybor City or in a new ballpark in Pinellas County, the federal tax overhaul underway in Congress could make it much more costly to build the team’s next home.The version of the tax cut approved by the U.S.
Published: 12/08/17
Pasco County Fire Rescue, seen here, will now provide fire and rescue services for Pebble Creek, a community in north Hillsborough County. Tampa has done the job for years but it's asking price to continue service was too high for Hillsborough.

Why will Pasco County be providing emergency service to a Hillsborough community?

TAMPA — Pebble Creek, a small community in unincorporated Hillsborough County surrounded almost entirely by the city of Tampa, will now get its fire service from … Pasco County?Tampa and Hillsborough leaders have fought for almost a year over...
Published: 12/07/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller said Wednesday that the Tampa Bay Partnership needs more people of color on its leadership bodies. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

Hillsborough commissioners call out two major local business organizations for lack of diversity

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners called out two prominent local business organizations Wednesday, citing a lack of diversity among their leadership.The Tampa Bay Partnership, a coalition of business leaders, needs more African-American...
Published: 12/06/17
Arianna Rousey, 11, cheers from on top of her father, Scott Rousey's, shoulders before the doors open Thursday night at Amalie Arena for the Tampa Bay Lightning game against the Flyers on October 8, 2015. The Lightning are nearing an agreement with Hillsborough County to stay in Tampa for another 20 years. TIMES STAFF

Hold on to your Bolts: Lightning in talks to stay in Tampa through 2037

TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and Hillsborough County are narrowing in on a deal that would keep the hockey team here until at least 2037.The two sides hope to have an agreement in place by January, according to county officials.Under...
Published: 12/05/17
The IMAX Dome Theatre, now closed, is seen from the inside of the new Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) located at 4801 E. Fowler Avenue in Tampa, Fla., on Nov. 18. The museum turned a profit for the first time in five years. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Time

Once on the verge of closing for good, MOSI turned a profit in 2017

TAMPA — The Museum of Science and Industry turned a profit this year after operating in the red for much of its recent history.The north Tampa museum, known as MOSI, made $90,384 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to financial...
Published: 12/04/17
A Southwest Airlines plane is seen along the tarmac as workers continue construction of the an elevated people mover tracks near the new people mover terminal at Tampa International Airport Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Tampa. State auditors recently reviewed the airport's expenses on the $2.3 billion expansion. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

Audit of Tampa airport raises questions about spending and salaries

TAMPA — A much-anticipated audit of Tampa International Airport unearthed misuse of a state grant and raised questions about the awarding and oversight of contracts related to the airport’s $2.3 billion expansion, the largest public works project in...
Published: 12/01/17
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, faces four counts of first-degree murder in the Seminole Heights slayings after his arrest on Nov. 28, 2017. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]

Friends stunned by arrest of suspected serial killer in Seminole Heights

TAMPA — The person in handcuffs on the news seemed unrecognizable to many of Howell Emanuel Donaldson III’s closest friends.He wore a white jumpsuit and was surrounded by stout police officers who looked relieved after catching the man...
Published: 11/29/17
Updated: 11/30/17
Howell Emanuel Donaldson III, 24, wearing a white jumpsuit, is led by officers into the Orient Road Jail early Wednesday morning. Donaldson was arrested on four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the Seminole Heights slayings, Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan announced at a news conference hours earlier. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]

College basketball teammates say Seminole Heights slaying suspect Trai Donaldson was cocky, not violent

A couple of college basketball teammates of the man suspected in four Seminole Heights slayings recalled him as cocky but happy and harmless when he was a freshman at St. John’s University.Trai Donaldson walked onto the Division I team for at...
Updated one month ago
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn hugs Officer Randi Whitney as he and Governor Rick Scott congratulate her on the arrest of the suspect in the Seminole Heights killings at Tampa Police Headquarters in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday. At a press conference later in the day, Buckhorn said the suspected killer, if found guilty,

Buckhorn: If Seminole Heights murder suspect found guilty, ‘he should die’

TAMPA — If a jury finds Howell Emmanuel Donaldson III guilty of four Seminole Heights murders, he should be executed, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday.Buckhorn’s remarks came at a news conference in Seminole Heights where Tampa Police...
Updated one month ago
Sandy Murman, shown during a swearing in ceremony, is leaving one Hillsborough County Commission seat to run for another. Among them, four of the commissioners seeking re-election have served 32 years [Times files, 2012]

Hillsborough Democrats have everything going for them except history

TAMPA — For 15 years, Republicans have held a majority of seats on the Hillsborough County Commission.It’s the longest stretch one party has controlled the board since a corruption scandal expanded the body to seven members in 1985.But...
Updated one month ago