Saturday, October 20, 2018


Sue Carlton

Sue Carlton

Sue Carlton is a native Floridian from a longtime Southern family that her father always said consisted of thieves and cattle rustlers run out of Georgia. She grew up in Miami and joined the Tampa Bay Times in 1988. Over the years she has covered community news, politics, cops, government, and her all-time favorite, criminal courts. For nearly nine years she wrote about the kind of strange cases that only seem to happen here, about intriguing legal issues and courthouse politics. On that beat, she authored a lengthy narrative series on a trooper who killed his wife and co-authored a series on a suburban mother murdered by her teenage daughter and her friends. Sue was the deputy editor of the features section and was the Tampa city editor before she became a columnist in 2005. Three times a week, she writes about politics, outrages, observations, court cases of the day and whatever else comes up. She lives in Tampa with her husband and their very good dog. Phone: (813) 226-3376 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505, ext. 3376

Joe Kotvas, who served time in federal prison for bribery as a Hillsborough County Commissioner, wrote a book on how his career in politics came to abrupt end. He's now running as a no-party candidate for the District 5 commission seast.  [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]

Carlton: How a shortage of candor could tilt a commission race (Bribery scandal? What bribery scandal?)

In one of the most interesting local races around, first-time candidate Mariella Smith, a Democrat, looks like she’s got a longtime politician on the ropes.But forget, for a minute, that Smith’s opponent is veteran Republican Hillsborough...
Published: 10/19/18
Mayor Mel Jurado listens to the public during a City Council meeting at Temple Terrace City Hall on Sept. 4.  [TAILYR IRVINE   |   Times]

Carlton: How about a little mayoral truth-telling about degrees, right here in Temple Terrace?

Just outside Tampa and not far from the University of South Florida, Temple Terrace is a pretty city all its own, an old-school golf course community with shady oaks and a river running through it.This might not be where you’d expect political...
Published: 10/16/18
As Hurricane Michael was gathering strength to become the Category 4 monster that slammed into the Panhandle on Wednesday, people looked to TV for storm tracking and evacuation updates. They also got to see Republican Party of Florida attack ads aimed at Ron DeSantis' gubernatorial opponent, Tallahassee mayor and Democrat Andrew Gillum. [Times files]

Carlton: Playing politics when a hurricane’s coming? There oughta be a law

Maybe Florida needs a new law. The Disaster Decency Bill, we could call it.Because given the current political divide wider than the Gulf of Mexico, we might need it to mandate what has long been a tradition of coming together in the face of...
Published: 10/12/18
OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times (2017)
Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, and Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan last year discuss the arrest of Howell Donaldson III.

Carlton: Murders showed what Seminole Heights is made of

You don’t expect the phrase "killer on the loose" in the national news to be followed by "in Tampa." But that’s what happened, for 51 long days, when a man with a gun stalked ordinary people in the heart of a city. Those days could have changed the...
Published: 10/12/18
David Straz Jr. skipped a candidate forum last week.

Carlton: Job one in Straz campaign to be Tampa’s mayor? Show up

Tampa philanthropist and gazillionaire David Straz has gotten lots of deserved accolades for his acts of generosity over the years.His name graces the downtown performing arts center in lights and adorns the sign at a manatee hospital at...
Published: 10/10/18
Joel Abshier
of Tampa\u2019s trendy Ulele.

Carlton: A little Bucs’ FitzMagic for a bartender with a beard

This is how fame — sudden, perhaps fleeting, fame — can work:You are a journeyman quarterback backing up a talented but controversial starter. Then scandal hits. Suddenly it’s all you.Suddenly you are an NFL phenomenon being...
Updated one month ago
CHRIS URSO   |   Times 
\u201CThe Form of Wander\u201D rises in Julian B. Lane Park along the Hillsborough River. The work cost the county $400,000. \uFEFF

Carlton: That big, freaky, funky green thing on the river, and the latest Tampa ruckus over public art

You know you’re getting to be a sophisticated city when your citizens argue about art — and not just old Confederate monuments and where they do and don’t belong.But this is Tampa, where even art critiques come with a side of politics.In...
Updated one month ago

Carlton: A fight with pugnacious attorney Barry Cohen that didn’t end like you’d think

One day I called Barry Cohen, one of Tampa’s best known attorneys, hoping he might help me understand a point of law I wasn’t getting.He liked such questions, especially if they involved a time he had driven a stake through the heart of a case,...
Updated one month ago
Red Tide is killing fish on Pinellas County beaches, including these last week at Pass-a-Grille beach. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times

Carlton: The siege of Red Tide: No walk on the beach

This week, on one of the last mornings of summer, I went walking on one of our Gulf beaches, the sunrise warming my back. It could not have been prettier — the sky cloudless, the water a quiet blue, a lone Brown Pelican skimming the surface.If...
Updated one month ago
Florida Governor Rick Scott is opposed to the automatic restoration of voting rights for convicted felons who have completed their sentence. Voters can  overrule him in November if they approve Amendment 4.

Carlton: Should felons who have done their time get to vote? Citizens of Florida, it’s in your hands

It’s not often that we citizens — busy with work, paying the bills, living our lives — find ourselves with the power to right a fundamental wrong.But here in Florida, we’re about to get that chance.On the November ballot — among all...
Updated one month ago