03/06/14 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — Voters here have a chance to put two new faces on the council and change the direction of town government.
Political newcomers Ellen Dalbo and Barbara Roberts are facing off against incumbent Phil Redisch for the two available seats on the Town Council. The two top vote-getters in Tuesday's election will take office.
Dalbo and Roberts are campaigning on platforms of change while Redisch says he's happy with things the way they are....
03/06/14 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Voters here have a choice of three candidates for the open seat on the City Council in Tuesday's election — two who tout their experience and one who seems to have disappeared from the campaign trail.
The three include two first-time candidates, Keith V. Sabiel and Eugene F. Hendry, and an incumbent, Patricia F. Johnson.
Hendry, 28, is a Pennsylvania native who worked for six years with the Pittston department of public works, then for two years as a corrections officer with the Luzerne County prison. After that, he spent two years in security with the Reading Medical Center. He was a parks maintenance worker with the city of Pinellas Park from June 2011 until Oct. 12, 2011, when city records show he was discharged during his probationary period for absenteeism. ...
02/28/14 Local Government
A historic transition to a new form of government will be complete Monday morning when the first town manager shows up for his first day of work.
Matthew Campbell's job would be tough at the best of times — it's his first time as a manager (he was assistant to the city manager in Dunedin) and he has to help transition Town Council members who are used to running things. But Campbell is starting his job during a time of turmoil in the town, with council members hurling accusations at and arguing with each other, an election that could change the face of the council just a week away, and controversies over the Police Department dividing residents and council members alike....
02/28/14 Local Government
The heavy equipment felling trees in the Gandy Boulevard median signals the beginning of a yearslong, multimillion dollar project designed to improve traffic flow along one of Pinellas County's busiest roads.
The project is the first phase in a larger plan to transform the entire stretch of Gandy from just east of Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg to just west of U.S. 19 in Pinellas Park....
02/28/14 Human Interest
LARGO — Plans to build a bird hospital and rehabilitation center at George C. McGough Nature Park have fallen through, according to the leader of a group that wanted to run the facility.
The parting of ways between the city and Gulf Coast Bird Rescue was friendly, said Robin Vergara, executive director and cofounder of the rescue. The problem, he said, was that McGough did not have enough space to accommodate the organization's future plans, which would include a hospital and rehabilitation flight pens, as well as educational facilities. ...
Pinellas Park | City Council
Pinellas Park, with a population of about 49,000, is the fourth-largest city in Pinellas County. It has 513 employees and a $50 million operating budget. It has a council-manager form of government in which a mayor and four council members set policy. They are also responsible for hiring the city manager, city clerk, city attorney and passing the budget. They generally hold two meetings and two workshops a month. The mayor serves a two-year term and earns $19,950 a year. Council members serve four-year terms and earn $17,290 a year. The top vote-getter will take office. Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer...
02/25/14 Local Government
02/18/14 Local Government
Local fire chiefs say services will be decreased if Pinellas County follows through with a proposal to cut funding for emergency medical treatment. Among the cuts is a plan to trim the number of paramedics for which the county pays.
"One thing is for sure, while county staff's . . . proposal may change the EMS system in a way that complies with an arbitrary standard, you will no longer have the system that we, the citizens of Pinellas County, have come to expect," wrote Pinellas Suncoast fire Chief Robert Polk, head of the Pinellas County Fire Chiefs Association, in a letter sent Friday to county commissioners....
02/14/14 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Faces are changing at the top levels of this city's government with employees being promoted in many cases to take the place of retiring workers.
Patrick Murphy has been named assistant city manager. Murphy, 58, of Largo, has worked for Pinellas Park since January 1996 when he was hired as a building inspector. He most recently served as community development administrator earning about $104,881 annually. As assistant city manager, he will earn about $110,881 a year....
02/13/14 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — Town Council members have settled on the details concerning the pay and benefits their first town manager will receive.
It is expected that Matt Campbell, 42, of Crystal Beach will accept the package worked out in negotiations with Mayor Teresa Zemaitis before coming to the council for approval on Wednesday. Provided Campbell still agrees, he is expected to begin work no later than March 3. He will be paid $81,000 a year and will have access to a car while working but it will not be a take-home vehicle. It is unclear what the total package is worth. Officials had not computed the cost....
02/11/14 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — When it comes to evaluating the job performance of department heads in this town's government, the usual practice is for the council member in charge to rate the quality of work and have the mayor sign the document.
But the most recent job evaluation for Kenneth City police Chief Mike Rossi has been anything but usual.
The procedure began normally enough with council member Joanne DeSimone, who oversees the Police Department, writing an evaluation praising Rossi late last year. But, in an apparent first, Mayor Teresa Zemaitis refused to sign it and instead wrote her own evaluation criticizing the chief's performance....
02/08/14 Local Government
Pinellas man picked as first town manager
Council members on Saturday chose Matthew Campbell to be Kenneth City's first town manager. Campbell, 42, of Crystal Beach is the former assistant to the Dunedin city manager. Campbell was the only one of the six finalists who lived and worked in Pinellas, factors that helped earn him the job.
"I like his vitality and the connections," Kenneth City council member Joanne DeSimone said. Campbell has a bachelor's in geography and management from Georgia State University in Atlanta and 17 years' experience in government and private sector jobs....
02/05/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The city stands to lose about $1.1 million annually under a county proposal to change the way Pinellas' emergency medical services system is funded.
But Mayor Rick Kriseman said the county is already paying St. Petersburg less than the city is entitled to under a 2009 county ordinance. If the county would use the money St. Petersburg is entitled to receive under that ordinance as a starting point, Kriseman said he's willing to embrace the new system....
02/04/14 Local Government
Pinellas County commissioners unanimously agreed Tuesday to change the way the emergency medical services system is funded, a move that County Administrator Bob LaSala says could save as much as $60 million over the next 10 years.
That's more than three times the savings that LaSala estimated last week. He said Tuesday that the previous estimate of $18 million in savings had been given on the fly and had not taken into account the cumulative effect of the savings....
02/03/14 Local Government
County Administrator Bob LaSala says he has a plan that could save up to $18 million in Pinellas' emergency medical services system.
It's a 10-year plan LaSala says will not only save money but also maintain the quality of EMS service and fix inequities in the system.
"We think we have arrived at a thoughtful (approach that has) accomplished that," LaSala said Friday to the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times. "I think we've been extremely, extremely reasonable in this approach."...