Thursday, March 22, 2018


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.

Union leaders say a growing morale problem led to the rejection of a new contract by the rank and file with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. Here, ciounty firefighters battle a house fire in May 2017. [Times files]

Hillsborough fire rescue union rejects new contract, blaming chief for discontent

TAMPA — The union representing Hillsborough County firefighters has overwhelmingly rejected a new contract in a vote that union leadership said is a response to ‘‘union busting’’ and demonstrates widespread discontent with Fire Rescue...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Ken Brandon Jr. walks around the confederate monument, relocated earlier this month from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse to the Brandon family cemetery. The cemetery, at Brandon Boulevard and Lithia Pinecrest Road, was picked to appease opponents of the statue. [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]

Confederate monument has quiet start at new Brandon home

TAMPA — Memoria in Aeterna, the Confederate monument that for more than a century stood downtown until a contentious decision last August to move it, has had a low-key start at its new home.Ken Brandon hopes it stays that way."I...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones has agreed to be randomly drug tested along with the rest of his employees, if the union agrees to a new testing policy in the tentative contract. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times

Hillsborough fire chief agrees to random drug testing after called out by union

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones has agreed to submit to random drug tests as he seeks to require the same of rank and file firefighters and paramedics.The fire union is voting this week on a new contract that...
Published: 03/20/18
Hillsborough County's firefighter union, International Association of Firefighters Local 2294, wants Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones to join them in taking random drug tests. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times

Hillsborough Fire Rescue chief should take random drug tests with firefighters, union says

TAMPA — Hillsborough County firefighters and paramedics will vote on a new union contract next week that for the first time would require random drug testing.Union leadership says it is up in the air whether the contract will pass, citing...
Published: 03/14/18
Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks to the press during a Feb. 9 press conference in Tampa to discuss the Rays' choice of the Ybor City site for a potential new baseball stadium.  Less than two weeks later, Sternberg and the Rays have come under criticism for a rash of payroll slashing trades. OCTAVO JONES   |   Times

Why Hillsborough’s record tourism year may help build a Rays ballpark in Ybor City

TAMPA — For the first time, visitors staying overnight in Hillsborough County hotels, motels and other short-term rentals spent more than $600 million in a calendar year.
Published: 03/13/18
Tampa Bay Rays President and CEO talks to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. On Thursday, Auld updated a St. Petersburg audience on the team's plans to move to Tampa. TIMES FILE PHOTO

Rays make case for retractable roof for new ballpark

Tampa Bay Rays President Brian Auld addressed the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Thursday, his first time in front of a St.
Published: 03/09/18
Tampa Bay Rays President and CEO Brian Auld addresses the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club in St. Petersburg. It was the first time Auld spoke publicly to a St. Petersburg audience since the team announced its plans to move to Ybor City in Tampa. STEVE CONTORNO | Times Staff

Rays president explains courtship of Tampa to jilted St. Petersburg crowd

ST. PETERSBURG — After 20 years together, the Tampa Bay Rays and St. Petersburg are poised for a breakup.And on Thursday at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, facing a St. Petersburg crowd for the first time since the Rays announced a desire to move...
Published: 03/08/18
AR-15 style guns are displayed at the In Guns We Trust LLC booth during the Tampa Gun Show on Feb. 24 at the State Fairgrounds. Hillsborough County commissioners rejected a push to ban the sale of these weapons there. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

Assault weapons ban rejected in Hillsborough, but it may take longer to buy a handgun

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners on Wednesday said no to banning the sale of assault-style weapons, but they may be willing to extend the waiting period to purchase a handgun.Commissioner Les Miller made an impassioned pitch for his...
Published: 03/07/18
Blake High School students and community organizers marched from the school to Curtis Hixon Park in downtown Tampa in response to legislators inaction reforming the state's gun laws after the Parkland school shooting. On Wednesday, Hillsborough rejected a local assault weapons ban. MONICA HERNDON | Times

Hillsborough rejects assault weapons ban but may extend waiting period to buy firearms

TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioners advanced a measure on Wednesday to extend the waiting period to buy a firearm from three days to five.But commissioners also rejected a local ban on the sale of assault weapons,
Published: 03/07/18
A proposal to ban local governments from restricting sales from U.S. Department of Agriculture-licensed dog breeders was withdrawn by the lawmaker who submitted it Tuesday.

Proposed Florida ban on local puppy store regulations dies for second time in Tallahassee

For the second time, a legislative proposal to override local bans on commercial dog sales has been killed.Last night, Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, withdrew his amendment that would have nullified any local ordinance that prohibits the...
Published: 03/07/18