05/21/13 Local Government
KENNETH CITY — Almost 20 years ago, a Pinellas grand jury released a scathing report that condemned this town's government for bickering, infighting, lack of leadership and overall dysfunction.
One improvement the grand jury suggested was to redesign the Kenneth City government by hiring a professional city manager to run the town's daily activities. But the council ignored that and other grand jury recommendations....
SEMINOLE — It's what neighbors have expected and dreaded for months: A developer has officially asked the county to clear the way for building up to 170 homes on the Tides golf course.
Neighbors have been organizing for months to oppose any redevelopment to the 150-acre course at 11832 66th Ave. N in the unincorporated Seminole area. It's bounded on the west by the Intracoastal Waterway. A portion of the course's northern border abuts Boca Ciega Millennium Park. The rest is surrounded by subdivisions with single-family homes....
05/07/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Officials here pride themselves on trying creative, out-of-the-box solutions to issues facing the city.
But their latest innovation — to let a police captain and the fire chief train and compete for the job of city manager — may have collided with the state Constitution, which forbids dual office holding.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi ruled on April 18 that the dual-office-holding clause prohibited a Miami police officer from simultaneously serving as acting city manager, The ban applies, Bondi said in the opinion, even if the "appointment is of a limited and finite duration, without tenure or additional remuneration."...
05/04/13 Human Interest
PINELLAS PARK — Julian Rosario-Valentin was typical of many 5-year-old boys: He adored Buzz Lightyear. He loved to play T-ball. And he wanted to make people laugh.
In September, he complained of a headache. Two days later, on Sept. 8, Julian died of a heart ailment.
Now Pinellas Park officials have agreed to do something they've never done before. They're letting his mother erect a life-sized bronze statue of Julian in one of their parks....
04/30/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — Council members here are ready to ban synthetic drugs and herbs that mimic the effects of marijuana and illegal narcotics.
The ban would include the use, possession and sale by businesses as well as individuals and would carry a potentially hefty penalty, especially for retailers: $500 plus court costs and attorney fees per violation. Each package would count as one violation. Police would also seize the drugs....
04/27/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — No solid redevelopment plans are on the drawing board, but council members here say they're already seeing a good return on the hundreds of thousands they spent buying almost a block of Park Boulevard.
They've also had their first success with two houses they built a block away from the Park Boulevard property. They're renting one to Rick Incorvia, owner of Sign Doctor. Incorvia, who lives in Odessa, wants a more central location to be nearer his customers. He plans to live upstairs and run his business out of the ground floor of one house. ...
PINELLAS PARK — Construction is set to begin on an upscale apartment complex in the Gateway Centre.
The complex will be built on about 39 acres formerly owned by Hardy Huntley's Gateway LLC. Huntley sold the land in October to Apartments at Gateway of West Palm Beach for about $8.64 million, according to Pinellas property appraiser records. Apartments at Gateway is a corporation registered in Delaware whose registered agent is the Richman Group of Florida, according to state corporate records....
04/20/13 Local Government
Saying the savings would not be dramatic, Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala has rejected a Pinellas Park proposal to reduce the cost of fire service in the unincorporated High Point area.
The county is instead forging ahead with its original plan to ask Pinellas Park, Largo, Clearwater and St. Petersburg for formal bids to provide service to the area, east of Largo. The county currently pays Largo and Pinellas Park about $2.4 million a year to provide fire coverage there....
04/13/13 Local Government
LARGO — City Commission members here have taken the first step to building a bird hospital and rehabilitation center at George C. McGough Nature Park.
The proposed complex would be a partnership between the newly formed Suncoast Bird Rescue and the city. Under the plan, the city would provide space. The rescue would provide all funding and oversee the operation of the center, which would be open to the public. The rescue would pay $1 annually to lease the park land....
04/13/13 Human Interest
SEMINOLE — Homeowners who oppose the redevelopment of the Tides golf course may have found a powerful ally — the USEM Community Association.
The unincorporated Seminole association has scheduled a public meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the possible development of the Tides into a community of single-family homes and condominiums. The meeting will be 7 p.m. Thursday at the Seminole Library, 9200 113th St., on the St. Petersburg College campus....
As many as 19 Pinellas Park firefighters, almost a fourth of the fire department's frontline force, could lose their jobs as Pinellas County looks for ways to save money in the unincorporated High Point area near Largo.
County officials, who pay about $2.4 million to Pinellas Park and Largo for fire coverage there, say they want to give those cities, in addition to St. Petersburg and Clearwater, a chance to come up with new, cheaper ideas for providing fire service to High Point. ...
04/06/13 Local Government
SEMINOLE — Some neighbors want to know if the city will agree to block redevelopment of the Tides Golf Club if they agree to annex into Seminole.
It's a deal the city won't make.
Seminole officials say they don't offer special incentives to entice people to come into the city. Property owners who annex in do so because they want to be part of the city. They also get a free membership card to Seminole's recreation center....
When City Manager Mike Gustafson announced he was eyeing retirement, two employees told him they're eyeing his job.
Now Gustafson has figured out a way for them — and the City Council — to decide if they'd do well. He has made them co-interim assistant city managers. The two — fire Chief Doug Lewis and police Capt. Mike Haworth — will spend the next year or so overseeing city departments and completing projects and other tasks. The idea is to let them "test drive" the job to see if they truly want it and to provide on-the-job training....
04/02/13 Local Government
PINELLAS PARK — When City Manager Mike Gustafson announced he was eyeing retirement, two employees told him they're eyeing his job.
Now Gustafson has figured out a way for them — and the City Council — to decide if they'd do well. He has made them co-interim assistant city managers. The two — fire Chief Doug Lewis and police Capt. Mike Haworth — will spend the next year or so overseeing city departments and completing projects and other tasks. The idea is to let them "test drive" the job to see if they truly want it and to provide on-the-job training. ...
03/30/13 Local Government
LARGO — Fire Chief Mike Wallace's final days in office were defined by significant leadership problems and low department morale, according to the conclusions of an internal investigation.
The report makes no suggestions of discipline or corrective action. Wallace announced his retirement, effective Monday, in the midst of the investigation. Had he not done so, one of the options for Wallace would have been termination, said Susan Sinz, director of Largo's human resources department....