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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. Merry Christmas to your ears: Pile driving to cease over holiday

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Downtown residents and businesses are about to enjoy a gift that even the Grinch could appreciate —a brief Christmas reprieve from the gloomy, clamorous clangs of a pile driver.

    After steadily pounding through most of 2014, the big hammer will fall silent today through Friday, the city's top building official, Rick Dunn, said Tuesday.

    DPR Construction of Tampa offered the olive branch during a Dec. 5 meeting with residents and business owners, Dunn said....

    A pile driver’s constant hammering during construction at 330 Third St. S in St. Petersburg has frayed the nerves of people who live nearby. It will shut down for Christmas and New Year’s Day.
  2. Rays' president strikes cooperative tone on stadium deal with St. Petersburg

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A day after the City Council slammed the stadium door on the Tampa Bay Rays, two main players made pointed overtures toward reconciliation.

    "Despite the tally last night there seems to be good momentum toward reaching an agreement,'' Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said Friday, referring to the council's 5-3 vote against a plan to let the team explore stadium sites in Hillsborough County....

    Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill just across the street from the Trop, says the deal wasn’t good enough and he’s happy the council didn’t accept it.
  3. Rays attitude irks Council

    Blog

     

    ST. PETERSBURG----City Council members clearly remained irked Friday at Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld a day after they voted down a deal to allow the team to look for stadium sites in Tampa. 

    Several said that  Auld's brusque responses at Thursday's meeting played a big role in the no vote.   ...

  4. Rays' Matt Silverman: Talks with St. Petersburg will continue despite failed vote on stadium deal

    Local Government

    UPDATE 2:20 p.m.: Matt Silverman, baseball operations president for the Tampa Bay Rays, said Friday afternoon there is "good momentum" toward reaching stadium deal, despite a failed City Council vote.

    Silverman said he expects talks with the city to continue "as we work toward an agreeable outcome."

    ...

    ST. PETERSBURG — The morning after the Tampa Bays Rays lost a huge opportunity to explore new stadium sites in Tampa, the man whose question led to a meltdown in City Council chambers and squelched the deal offered some advice. ...

    To the city, to the Rays, and to his colleagues, Karl Nurse said this on Friday: take a time out.  "My hope is everyone takes a deep breath. Cool off," Nurse told the Tampa Bay Times. "It is in everyone's interest to move away." [Times (2013)]
  5. St. Petersburg City Council rejects Rays stadium search deal

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The stadium standoff continues. Baseball's uncertain future in Tampa Bay has grown more complicated and — if possible — more testy.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday rejected an agreement negotiated by Mayor Rick Kriseman that would have given the Tampa Bay Rays three years to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

    Council members got their backs up when Rays president Brian Auld refused to yield an iota on development rights on Tropicana Field and other issues....

    Rays president Brian Auld addresses the St. Petersburg City Council as Mayor Rick Kriseman listens before the council voted on an agreement to let the team explore possible stadium sites in Hillsborough County.
  6. No rubber stamp from City Council for St. Petersburg's deal with Rays

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rubber stamps appear to be scarce at City Hall.

    A week after delaying a vote so that council members could get comfortable with a deal to allow the Tampa Bay Rays to look across the bay for a new stadium, Mayor Rick Kriseman still might not have the five votes he needs to secure the deal.

    Going into today's council meeting, at least three of the eight council members still have serious reservations about the memorandum of understanding negotiated by Kriseman and the team. Some of the others say they are still undecided....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman’s deal lets the Rays look in Hillsborough. The City Council will vote the plan tonight.
  7. St. Petersburg announces parental leave benefit

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG---Come 2015, city employees will get six weeks of paid parental leave after the birth, adoption or foster-care intake of a child, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Wednesday. 

    The policy applies to both men and women who are full-time employees. ...

  8. Warehouse Arts District gets needed city cash for affordable studio space

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A fledgling effort to create affordable studio space for artists in a neighborhood under intense development pressure got a crucial bit of cash Thursday from the City Council.

    The proposed Warehouse Arts Enclave would convert a 50,000-square-foot collection of six aging warehouses and industrial space on nearly 3 acres into studio and teaching space.

    The council gave $25,000 to the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association, a nonprofit group that will adapt the property at the corner of 22nd Street and Fifth Avenue S in the Warehouse Arts District for artists' use....

    Warehouse District Association president Mark Aeling poses in front of the old Ace Recycling complex in St. Petersburg. The Association has a contract on the 50,000-square-foot complex to create affordable artists spaces, to be called the Warehouse Arts District Enclave.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  9. Council moved Rays vote, Newton objects

    Blog

    St. Petersburg---The City Council approved Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to delay a vote on a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to look at possible stadium sites across the bay, but not without some grumbling from Wengay Newton.
    In brief remarks at the beginning of the meeting Thursday, Kriseman told the council that he expected an up or down vote on the agreement that would pay the city between $2 million and $4 million a year if the Rays leave before their contract expires in 2027.
    City Attorney John Wolfe told the council that the Rays wouldn't accept anything more than minor changes in the agreement.
    "If you do change it, it's probably the same as voting it down," Wolfe said.
    Council member Wengay Newton said he thought that was unhappy with those terms, saying it constricted council's input and duty to its voters.
    The agreement will now be voted on at the Dec. 18 meeting, which begins at 3 p.m. in the second-floor council chamber at City Hall....

  10. Vote on Rays stadium deal is delayed a week

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A day after announcing what he called an unprecedented agreement to let the Tampa Bay Rays look for stadium sites in Hillsborough County, Mayor Rick Kriseman asked the City Council on Wednesday to delay a vote on the deal for a week.

    A vigorous lobbying effort by Kriseman and Rays executives fell short of persuading uneasy council members to support the complex deal right away. ...

    Brian Auld, president of the Tampa Bay Rays, right, and St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, left, on Tuesday announced an agreement which allows the Rays to look at potential new stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas. [MAURICE RIVENBARK | Times]
  11. Kriseman-Rays stadium deal is in the works, but meets complications (w/video)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday announced a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays to let the team explore new stadium sites in Hills­borough County to keep them in the region and even — Kriseman hopes — in St. Petersburg.

    The deal next goes to the City Council for a vote on Thursday. But within moments of Kriseman's news conference Tuesday, complications emerged....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman speaks to reporters gathered at Tropicana Field on Tuesday morning as Rays president Brian Auld listens on. The city of St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays announced an agreement which allows the Rays to look at potential new stadium sites outside the city.
  12. Rays and Kriseman reach agreement to allow Hillsborough stadium search

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays have negotiated an agreement to let the team search for new stadium sites in Hillsborough County in exchange for payments to the city if the team leaves before its contract at Tropicana Field expires in 2027.

    Kriseman wants the City Council to approve the "memorandum of understanding" at its meeting on Thursday.

    Payments would be based on how many years remain on the Trop lease if the Rays leave, starting at $4 million a season until December 2018, dropping to $3 million a season from 2019 to 2022 and $2 million from 2023 through 2026....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, left, on the field at the Trop for a Sept. 3 game, stands with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, center, and Rays operations president Matt Silverman. 
  13. New program pays to build community, one pizza slice at a time

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — In a nondescript game room at the Roberts Recreation Center one recent evening, Jasmina Kuljanac strung holiday lights while Diana Fusco readied a large map of the Euclid Heights neighborhood, complete with green dots for partygoers to mark where they lived.

    They hoped 50 people or more would soon walk through the door to eat pizza, meet their neighbors and — fingers crossed — decide to stick around to help revive a neighborhood association that had withered after the former president moved away a few years ago....

  14. Drinking on St. Pete streets to support the arts gets more study

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Supporters of drinking on the street in certain parts of St. Petersburg moved closer to their goal Thursday after the City Council agreed to discuss it further.

    Council member Jim Kennedy's idea to bolster arts funding by allowing some neighborhoods to allow drinking on the street has met silence so far from police, but Mayor Rick Kriseman says he's intrigued.

    Artist-designed cups, buttons or bracelets would allow police to keep track of who paid to legally quaff beer, wine or liquor in public places like Beach Drive, Grand Central or other neighborhoods, Kennedy said....

  15. Midtown development gains St. Pete city council approval

    Blog

     

    Former mayoral candidate Deveron Gibbons received City Council's stamp of approval Thursday to build a Circle K gas station and convenience store in Midtown. 

    The project, part of the Tangerine redevelopment area in Midtown, has been ushered by Mayor Rick Kriseman, who selected Gibbons' proposal over an out-of-state bidder late this summer. ...