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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. Uncertain future for St. Petersburg's sewage plant next to Albert Whitted

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — When the city pumped more than 16 million gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays this month, it thrust a coveted piece of waterfront property back into the public eye.

    Nestled next to Albert Whitted Airport is the city's oldest sewage treatment plant, closed since April. The decision to shutter the plant, made several years ago, was triggered by a state regulatory change that made the plant obsolete....

  2. Kriseman returns early from Cuba because of storm

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman's trip to Cuba ended early.

    The mayor is heading back to St. Petersburg with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, City Council chairman Charlie Gerdes and Chief of Staff Kevin King this morning. They should be back in the city by lunchtime, said Kriseman's spokesman Ben Kirby.

    Tropical Storm Erika is approaching Cuba and Kriseman has said that he would return early if severe weather threatened. Forecasts show the storm reaching Tampa Bay early Tuesday....

  3. St. Petersburg grills wastewater staff on recent sewage dumps

    Blog

    It wasn't an easy first public appearance for Tom Gibson, the city's interim public works administrator.

    Gibson replaced Mike Connors, who abruptly retired on Monday, after months of controversy, the most recent episode being the city's dumping of more than 16 million gallons into Tampa and Boca Ciega bays this month.

    On Thursday, Gibson faced council members that demanded answers and solutions. Gibson and Water Resources Director Steve Leavitt held to their position that the dumping was due to an extraordinary weather event from mid-July to early August....

  4. Kriseman leaves for Cuba with hopes of bringing consulate office to St. Petersburg

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman heads to Cuba this morning in hopes of establishing economic and cultural ties with the island nation.

    The three-day trip comes nearly two months after President Barack Obama announced the United States was re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba after 54 years. Kriseman said he will make a pitch that Cuba should pass over rival Florida cities Tampa and Miami and open a consulate office in St. Petersburg....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says he will make a pitch that Cuba should pass over rival Florida cities Tampa and Miami and open a consulate office in St. Petersburg. [SCOTT KEELER | Times (2014)]
  5. Kriseman, Gerdes and other St. Petersburg officials to visit Cuba

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman will visit Cuba, leaving early Thursday morning for three-day visit to the island.

    Accompanying the mayor will be Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes and Kriseman's chief of staff Kevin King. 

    The group will fly from Tampa to Havana on a chartered flight. The entire trip will be paid for by the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation, said Ben Kirby, Kriseman's spokesman....

  6. Dem congressional candidate Eric Lynn debuts campaign policy videos — or ads, by another name

    Blog

    He's still the only declared candidate in the 13th Congressional District and Democrat Eric Lynn is determined to claim his share of a political stage currently crowded with speculation about Charlie Crist's intentions.

    On Wednesday, Lynn, whose campaign handlers who complained hasn't received adequate coverage from the media on policy issues, took matters — and some of his considerable war chest (more than $400,000) — into his own hands. ...

  7. St. Petersburg moves to protect Boyd Hill Nature Preserve

    Blog

    The hawk screeching and fluttering on the arm of a handler was the only one who wasn't seemingly thrilled Wednesday as city officials, environmental activists and Lakewood Estates residents cheered the news that the city has reached an agreement to buy nearly 35 acres in a thin band along the southern perimeter of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.

    The $1.1 million purchase is meant to ensure development---like a controversial town home plan a few years ago---won't threaten the sanctity of the preserve or the character of the neighborhood....

    Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin speaks at press conference announcing plans to spend $1.1 million to acquire nearly 35 acres near Boyd Hill Nature Preserve
  8. Wheeler-Brown, Newton win District 7 primary, will face off Nov. 3

    Blog

    A paltry number of primary voters in District 7 picked Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Will Newton to advance to the general election, setting up a November showdown that could determine the future home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Of the 2,749 people who voted, which was 14.5 percent of those eligible, Wheeler-Brown won 37.4 percent. Newton was close behind, trailing by 79 votes with 34.5 percent.

    Sheila Scott Griffin won 17.7 percent, Aaron Sharpe won 6.7 percent and Lewis Stephens Jr. won 3.7 percent. At Sylvia’s Restaurant in Midtown, Newton celebrated Tuesday night with two dozen supporters, including Council member Amy Foster and Democratic congressional candidate Eric Lynn....

  9. Wheeler-Brown, Newton top St. Petersburg City Council primary, head to Nov. 3 showdown

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — A paltry number of primary voters in District 7 picked Lisa Wheeler-Brown and Will Newton to advance to the general election, setting up a November City Council showdown that could determine the future home of the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Of the 2,749 people who voted, which was 14.5 percent of those eligible, Wheeler-Brown won with 37.4 percent. Newton was close behind, trailing by 79 votes with 34.5 percent....

    Will Newton grabbed 34.5 percent of the vote in the District 7 primary. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  10. St. Petersburg Council primary cash flows in final days

    Blog

    Within a few hours, the two winners in the District 7 primary will be known. 

    While we wait for the results in the district that covers Midtown, Childs Park and other southern neighborhoods, here are the latest campaign filings. They show the amount of money raised and spent through Aug. 16.

    Lisa Wheeler-Brown leads with $33,032. Next is Will Newton with $26,615. Sheila Scott Griffin finished strong with $3,480 raisd from Aug. 3 to Aug. 16, second only to Newton's $5,050. Griffin has raised $10, 598....

  11. Low turnout so far in St. Petersburg City Council race

    Blog

    A lot of candidates, five to be exact, and, at least on Election Day, not so many voters. So far. 

    A unscientific lunchtime tour of polling places in the district revealed empty voting booths and lonely poll watchers. The primary election in District 7, which coves Midtown, Childs Park and other southern neighborhoods, has five candidates: Will Newton, Lisa Wheeler-Brown, Sheila Scott Griffin, Aaron Sharpe and Lewis Stephens. ...

    It's primary day in District 7
  12. Under new administrator, St Petersburg's recycling program considers alley pickups

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Since taking over the city's fledgling recycling program three weeks ago, Mike Dove has spent at least three hours a day in the hundreds of miles of alleys that crisscross the city.

    He videotapes them, trying to assess if the city's fleet of recycling trucks can squeeze through alleys often tangled with overgrowth and debris.

    He has hopped into cabs of garbage trucks to figure how drivers make it through some alley to pick up the trash. ...

    Anthony Brown moves a bin after Mayor Rick Kriseman’s news conference in front of a resident’s home on Monday.
  13. St. Petersburg's embattled public works administrator Mike Connors retires abruptly

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Public Works Administrator Mike Connors abruptly retired Monday, ending a 28-year career at the fulcrum of City Hall, where he pulled the levers on a broad range of high-profile projects.

    His sudden departure came after a morning meeting with the fourth consecutive strong mayor Connors has advised: Rick Kriseman. In a statement, Connors said he and Kriseman mutually agreed that he will retire — "effective immediately." ...

    Public Works Administrator Mike Connors, far right, seen here in March, abruptly retired Monday after a series of city missteps on the Pier, recycling, and sewage discharges into Boca Ciega and Tampa bays earlier this month. (Scott Keeler I Times)
  14. St. Petersburg's Connors retires abruptly

    Blog

    Public Works Administrator Mike Connors, under fire for months for city missteps on the Pier, the recycling rollout and recent sewage dischages into Boca Ciega and Tampa bays, has resigned.

    He's retirement takes effect immediately:

    Here's the release:

    Public Works Administrator Mike Connors announced his retirement today, effective immediately....

  15. St. Petersburg councilman to seek Pinellas School Board seat

    Blog

    St. Petersburg City Council member Bill Dudley said Thursday he plans to challenge Janet Clark for a seat on the Pinellas County School Board.

    Dudley, a retired teacher who taught for 38 years, most of them at Northeast High School, said he wanted to direct more money to the classroom and move away from a curriculum based on standardized tests.

    "If you teach the kids to learn, they can pass the test," said Dudley, a longtime wrestling coach whose nickname on council is "Coach."...