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Alexandra Zayas, Times Staff Writer

Alexandra Zayas

Alexandra Zayas won the 2013 Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting, the Livingston Award for Young Journalists and a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize for her three-part series "In God's Name," which uncovered abuse at unlicensed religious children's homes across Florida. A reporter on the Tampa Bay Times' investigations team, Zayas graduated from the University of Miami and has written for the Miami Herald and the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. She joined the Times in 2005, and lives in Seminole Heights. She has taught classes at the Poynter Institute about finding and telling untold stories.

She's always looking for ideas.

Phone: (727) 893-8413


Twitter: @AlexandraZayas

  1. No conflict here, move along now: Tampa's parks dept. steers no-bid purchases to company that employs director's wife


    The city has purchased tens of thousands of dollars in playground equipment from a company that employs the wife of Tampa's parks and recreation director.

    High-ranking city officials knew about the relationship and approved of it. A city attorney says there is no problem with the arrangement.

    Under Greg Bayor, the city has purchased playground equipment six times from Dominica Recreation Products, where his wife Gini is a territory manager on the sales team....

  2. Tampa buys playground equipment from company that employs parks director's wife

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The city has purchased tens of thousands of dollars in playground equipment from a company that employs the wife of Tampa's parks and recreation director.

    High-ranking city officials knew about the relationship and approved of it. A city attorney says there is no problem with the arrangement.

    Under Greg Bayor, the city has purchased playground equipment six times from Dominica Recreation Products, where his wife, Gini, is a territory manager on the sales team....

    Gametime playground equipment at Henry & Ola Park, 502 W. Henry Avenue in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
  3. Tampa police chief explains decrease in bicycle tickets

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward attributes his department's decrease in bicycle ticketing to a message he communicated to officers after he was installed in May:

    "Education first... Focus on neighborhood relationship building."

    It's his philosophy, he explained Thursday as he presented the numbers to Tampa City Council.

    Bike stops for this month are down 57 percent from last year, 1,054 to 450....

    Renaldo Longstreet, 34, right, and his friend Quinn Hayes ride their bikes on N Rome Avenue in West Tampa on Tuesday, August 18, 2015. The Tampa Police Department has slowed issuing citations for not having proper bike lights after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found a racial disparities among those who received tickets. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   TIMES]
  4. Summer marked by slowdown in bike ticketing by Tampa police

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Tampa police dramatically decreased their bicycle ticketing after a Tampa Bay Times investigation this spring found stark racial disparities in the long-standing practice.

    Police gave out 59 bike tickets from May through July, fewer than any other summer in more than a decade, according to department records. A Times analysis found Tampa police wrote three times more tickets in the same period last year....

    Renaldo Longstreet, 34, right, and his friend Quinn Hayes pedal their bikes Tuesday on N Rome Avenue in West Tampa. “Quinn and I had our bikes flipped by Tampa police three months ago, but we were never given tickets for no lights,’’ Longstreet said. A decline in bicycle tickets comes in the wake of a Times investigation published in April that found Tampa police issued more bike citations than any other law enforcement agency in Florida.
  5. Civil rights groups want new police chief to freeze bike ticketing

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Just after Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the city's new police chief, representatives of social justice organizations gathered in a park across from police headquarters to once again demand officials suspend bike ticketing practices that have led to stark racial disparities.

    The advocates said they are encouraged that the mayor tapped Assistant Chief Eric Ward to lead Tampa police after Chief Jane Castor retires next week....

    Terrance Hyman of Tampa Bay Academy of Hope said Thursday that he has students who’ve been stopped by the police.
  6. Despite civil rights groups' request, Tampa police will keep writing bike tickets


    TAMPA — The Tampa Police Department will not stop writing bicycle tickets, despite a request from a dozen civil rights organizations and faith leaders concerned about racial disparities reported by the Tampa Bay Times.

    On Thursday, local chapters of organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and the NAACP sent a letter to Mayor Bob Buckhorn asking that Tampa police freeze enforcement of bike offenses pending a review by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services....

  7. Mayor, Tampa police ask feds to review enforcement of bike laws

    Public Safety


    The U.S. Department of Justice will review the Tampa Police Department's enforcement of bicycle laws after a Tampa Bay Times investigation found 79 percent of the agency's bike tickets go to black residents.

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday that he and police Chief Jane Castor asked federal officials to review the program because their expertise can "bring clarity to us and to the community and may help evolve our current strategies."...

    Lloyd Brown, a 63-year-old resident of Tampa Heights, said that he has been stopped and searched by officers.
  8. Are Tampa police violating civil rights law with bicycle stops?

    Public Safety

    Tampa City Council Chairman Frank Reddick called Monday for an investigation into whether the Tampa Police Department is violating civil rights law with its long-standing practice of targeting poor, black neighborhoods for bicycle tickets.

    Reddick said he wants police Chief Jane Castor and Mayor Bob Buckhorn to publicly answer questions about how officers are handing out tickets.

    Reddick's call was in response to a Tampa Bay Times report on Sunday that revealed police have been using bicycle law as an excuse to stop, question and search riders in high-crime neighborhoods. ...

    Lloyd Brown, 63, center, of Tampa Heights, shown at the Joe Haskins Bicycle Shop on March 27, was stopped by Tampa police for not having his lights on. He was then searched by the officer, who found a small amount of crack cocaine, leading to his arrest and a charge of felony possession. 
  9. How riding your bike can land you in trouble with the cops — if you're black

    Public Safety

    If the tickets are any indication, Tampa residents must be the lousiest bicyclists in Florida.

    They don't use lights at night. Don't ride close enough to the curb. Can't manage to keep their hands on the handlebars.

    In the past three years, Tampa police have written 2,504 bike tickets — more than Jacksonville, Miami, St. Petersburg and Orlando combined....

    [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  10. 'The Walking Dead' recap: Episode 7, 'Crossed'


    There are two kinds of human evil in The Walking Dead's zombie apocalypse. We're well-acquainted with the obvious breed: the one-eyed Governor, the dreamboat cannibal - both bigger monsters than the corpses limping through the streets. But this season, we've had a brush with a different brand of bad guy: the powerful coward. There's Officer Dawn Lerner, clinging so desperately to her dystopia that she enables lollipop assaults and much, much worse because "the wards keep my officers happy." And there's Father Gabriel, who chose to lock himself in his church with a lifetime supply of Beanee-Weenee while allowing droves of his help-seeking parishioners to become a zombie buffet. Everyone has a weakness. It’s how you deal with that weakness – yours and others'  – that makes all the difference....

  11. Taking children to the wrong trauma center can be a deadly mistake


    One April evening two years ago, 9-year-old Justin Davis dashed into a busy Jacksonville street, headed to a convenience store for snacks.

    When paramedics arrived minutes later, they found the boy lying on the road, unconscious. The impact of a car had fractured his skull and his brain was swelling and bleeding.

    Paramedics knew they had to act fast.

    Instead of taking Justin to the pediatric trauma center 13 miles away — the only place in Jacksonville equipped to handle his injuries — they drove him in the opposite direction, to a new adult trauma center a few miles closer....

    “I thought they knew what they were doing,” Sonya Coleman says of the EMTs who took her son Justin, 9, to Orange Park Medical Center instead of a pediatric-designated trauma center.
  12. Trauma system expansion plan upheld by judge


    Over the objections of long-established Florida hospitals, a judge has upheld a state proposal that paves the way for a costly expansion of the trauma care system.

    The order by Judge R. Bruce McKibben is the latest chapter in a contentious battle for seriously injured patients who can generate high payouts from health and auto insurers.

    A group of longstanding trauma centers, including Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Tampa General and St. Joseph's hospitals in Tampa, had challenged the state's trauma center expansion plans, saying regulators overstepped their authority and the rule is "arbitrary and capricious."...

    Florida has 27 hospitals designated to operate special medical units for traumatically injured pations who need specialized care fast.  [Times files (2013)]
  13. HCA announces it will waive trauma fees for the uninsured


    Hospital Corporation of America, Florida's largest provider of trauma care, announced this week it will stop charging uninsured patients a special trauma fee that can add $30,000 or more to their bills....