Wednesday, June 20, 2018


Tracey McManus, Times staff writer

Tracey McManus, Times staff writer

Tracey covers Clearwater government and general topics in the city. Before joining the Times in August 2015, she spent five years covering everything from education reform to animal welfare for The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was raised in Palm City, Fla., and graduated from University of Florida in 2010 with degrees in journalism and Spanish.

JIM DAMASKE   |   Times 
A Reddish Egret strikes a pose in a rejuvenated wetland area by the boardwalk in the Safety Harbor Waterfront Park. The county's Development Review Services on June 15 denied the Dunedin Community Sailing Foundation a right of way permit for a sidewalk necessary for a sailing center proposed for the Causeway, effectively squashing the project. In his denial, DRS Director Blake Lyon noted the potential loss of the threatened reddish egret's foraging habitat and damage to surrounding seagrasses.

County blocks proposed sailing center on Dunedin Causeway

DUNEDIN —When the city’s local planning agency gave initial approval to a proposed sailing center on the Causeway in December, Kim Begay feared the worst. The sandy beach to the west of the vacant lot at the corner of the Causeway and Woodette...
Published: 06/20/18
Chris Hunter, a former Department of Justice prosecutor and FBI agent who served under Democratic and Republican administrations, called the actions of President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions'

Leading Democrat challenging Bilirakis in Congress calls for investigation into Trump’s policy separating migrant children

The leading Democrat running to unseat Republican congressman Gus Bilirakis in District 12 called on Congress Tuesday to form a joint oversight committee to investigate potential civil violations within the Trump administration's...
Published: 06/19/18
The city of Dunedin is considering whether to ban pharmacies downtown as a means to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from opening there. [PATTY YABLONSKI | Times]

Dunedin considers banning pharmacies downtown to prevent marijuana dispensaries from opening there

DUNEDIN — Lawmakers gave local governments two options after Floridians voted overwhelmingly to legalize medical marijuana in 2016.They could ban dispensaries from opening altogether or approve them under the same zoning rules that apply to...
Published: 06/13/18
JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
Most cities spend about nine months in a charter review process to get a referendum question prepared for the ballot, according to Florida League of Cities Executive Director Lynn Tipton. Clearwater's task force is scheduled to have had seven weekly meetings before submitting proposed changes to the City Council for review on July 19. The Council would have to pass the changes at its two meetings in August in order to make the Supervisor of Elections' deadline to get a question on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Clearwater strong mayor task force racing against the clock

CLEARWATER —The task force charged with designing how a strong mayor would operate if approved by voters is halfway to its deadline for writing proposed charter changes.But hanging over the discussions is a cloud of haste as the group fast...
Published: 06/07/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Fans watch a spring training game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Philadelphia Phillies at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. The Phillies are seeking a $79 million renovation of the stadium and practice facilities.  (MONICA HERNDON   |   Times )

Clearwater is the latest Tampa Bay city to seek public money to keep its baseball team — $69 million of it

CLEARWATER — When Spectrum Field opened to sports fans in 2004, the $34 million venue was lauded as a pristine major league baseball stadium more than equipped to keep the Philadelphia Phillies spring training program going strong.Now amid an...
Published: 06/07/18
Updated: 06/08/18
A program to offer businesses loans to move into downtown Clearwater has not given away a single dollar since its inception a year ago.  DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times

One year later, Clearwater’s downtown incentive program brings no deals

CLEARWATER — It was pitched as the boldest revitalization strategy yet. The city was so serious about bringing business into downtown, it would essentially pay investors to take the chance. The Anchor Tenant Incentive Program unveiled in June...
Updated one month ago

National NAACP head encourages Clearwater branch: ‘We were created for a time like this’

CLEARWATER — They were eager to hear what he had to say, to see if he could make sense of it all.Many of the people who gathered in Ruth Eckerd Hall’s ballroom Friday evening for the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP Branch’s annual banquet felt...
Updated one month ago
EVE EDELHEIT | TimesCongressman Gus Bilirakis seen here at the 2018 Epiphany celebration at Spring Bayou in Tarpon Springs. On June 9, he will host his first Women's Summit in two decades in elected office.

Bilirakis to host his first ever Women’s Summit. Topics like ‘gardening’ and ‘weight loss’ are on the agenda

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, is campaigning for a seventh term in Congress and on June 9 he's holding his first-ever Women's Summit, pitched as "an opportunity for women to learn about relevant topics that have a direct impact on...
Updated one month ago
Leo Caicedo, left, and Lina Teixeira in their new wine bar in downtown Clearwater. The partners hope Pour Yours will encourage other business owners to follow their lead and invest in the struggling downtown core. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]

A wine bar pours its hopes into downtown Clearwater, hoping others will follow

CLEARWATER —The concept behind Pour Yours, the wine bar that had its grand opening on Cleveland Street Thursday, is about taking the intimidation out of ordering a drink.When customers slide their cards into the automated machines, they can...
Updated one month ago
Two of the three parcels Scientology acquired in a land swap with the city Thursday abut the footprint of its proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall auditorium on Court Street.These are renderings of the proposed auditorium along Fort Harrison Avenue and Court Street. 
credit: Freedom Magazine.

Clearwater approves land swap with Scientology after a year of back-and-forth

CLEARWATER — The third time was the charm for the city to close a long-debated real estate deal with the Church of Scientology.After two previous deals were scuttled over more than a year of negotiations, the City Council voted 3-1 on Thursday...
Updated one month ago