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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


Twitter: @CharlieFrago

  1. Is the downtown building boom fueling St. Petersburg's sewage crisis? The answer is no


    ST. PETERSBURG — Cranes dot the downtown skyline as high-rise condominium and apartment towers sprout into the air, the latest sign of the city's renaissance.

    Tropicana Field is also fertile ground for growth. Within 10 years or so, whether the Tampa Bay Rays are still there or not, the 85-acre stadium site will likely be covered with even more development: apartments and condos, bars and restaurants....

    A construction crane is used to build the Bliss condominium project in 2015 in downtown St. Petersburg. Some residents wonder if the downtown building boom has contributed to the city's sewage crisis. The answer, according to consultants, is no. The next four years of downtown development is projected to add about 860,000 gallons a day to the sewage flow to the city's Southwest plant. But the average sewage flow during a typical dry day is about 13 to 14 million gallons. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  2. Crist wonders who will be affected next by Trump's immigration policies


    Congressman Charlie Crist joked Friday that the news coming out of the White House these days is so fast and furious that he has trouble keeping up.

    “It’s challenging for us, your members of Congress,” Crist told several hundred people gathered for the 5th annual St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs at the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. “I don’t get to see this stuff all day because I’m usually in meetings all day or hearings. And so, at the end of the day, I’ve got to find out what in the world went on over there. You know, what order was signed. Or what happened. And if I don’t get it that day I have to watch Saturday Night Live on Saturday night to figure it out.”...

    Congressman Charlie Crist says he supports St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's stance on protecting undocumented immigrants
  3. St. Petersburg City Council moves Rowdies' MLS bid forward


    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council chamber had plenty of soccer aficionados outfitted in green and gold show up Thursday to support the Tampa Bay Rowdies' bid to join Major League Soccer and expand their waterfront home at Al Lang Stadium.

    Those fans also had a former mayor (and potential future mayor if he runs in 2017) in attendance. Edwards Group president Rick Baker, representing Rowdies owner Bill Edwards, was there but did not speak in favor of the ordinance....

  4. St. Petersburg's new police HQ on track to be greener, but also pricier


    ST. PETERSBURG — The potential price tag of a new police headquarters continues to rise as City Council members Thursday tentatively approved spending another $4.2 million more to add energy efficient features and more parking.

    The rising cost of the police headquarters mirrors the recent price hike for the new Pier. Add to that a steadily increasing bill to fix the city’s leaky sewers, soon to be under a state consent order....

    The city's new police heaquarters should be fully operational in two years, but will cost more than $79 million
  5. What's in a name? Bill Edwards hopes to sell naming rights to everything inside, around Mahaffey Theater


    ST. PETERSBURG — The name on the outside of the Mahaffey Theater isn't changing, but the names of nearly everything inside and around it is up for sale.

    St. Petersburg City Council members heard the details of a plan on Feb. 2 to sell naming rights to a dozen spaces on the 98,000-square-foot performing arts venue.

    For $100,000 a year for five years, a company could hang its moniker on the theater's 2,000-seat main hall....

    Michael Francis, Florida Orchestra Music Director, poses in the Mahaffey Theater, 09/15/15. The orchestra's season begins October 2-4 in concerts that will feature Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 Francis plans to do more community outreach programs with the orchestra around the Tampa Bay area.
  6. Wheeler-Bowman free to speak up about gun violence after AG opinion


    Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman plans to start talking about gun violence again.

    A Feb. 6 state attorney general's opinion supports her desire to talk about gun violence. Her son, Cabretti Wheeler, was killed in gun violence in 2008.

    Last year, Wheeler-Bowman sponsored a resolution in support of a League of Women Voter's call for special legislative session on gun violence. She removed her resolution after City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch told her that state law preempting local elected officials from interfering with gun laws put her at risk of fines, lawsuits or even removal from office. ...

    Lisa Wheeler-Bowman is eager to take up gun violence issue again after a favorable attorney general's opinion
  7. Activists call on St. Pete City Council to ask county to grant sanctuary status


    A small group of activists gathered Tuesday on the steps of St. Petersburg's City Hall to call on the City Council to pass a resolution asking the county to seek sanctuary status for undocumented immigrants.

    Recently, Mayor Rick Kriseman sparred with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri over the issue after Kriseman wrote a blog post that some interpreted as making St. Petersburg to be a sanctuary city. Gualtieri said the county has that authority and he would not stop cooperating with federal authorities over the immigration status of prisoners in the county jail....

    A small group gathered at St. Petersburg City Hall Tuesday to ask the City Council to request the county to make Pinellas a sanctuary county
  8. St. Pete mayor and council races are starting to roll


    City politics have begun to stir in advance of this year’s municipal elections.

    So far, only incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman has announced his reelection bid, although former mayors Rick Baker, Bill Foster are rumored to be contemplating bids....

    St. Petersburg's municipal elections are still months away, but the field is taking shape
  9. Midtown grocery store intersects with St. Petersburg's mayoral politics


    ST. PETERSBURG — Reaction to Sunday's Tampa Bay Times story about the troubled history of Tangerine Plaza has elicited strong opinions from current and former mayoral administrations.

    From the tone of the dueling cousins, Kanika Tomalin and Goliath Davis III (Davis officiated at Tomalin's wedding), the fate of the Midtown shopping plaza that has seen two national grocers fold in four years will likely be a campaign issue, especially if former mayor Rick Baker jumps into the race against Mayor Rick Kriseman....

  10. St. Pete Pride parade is moving to the waterfront, but Grand Central is keeping the party going


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city’s annual Pride parade is moving downtown. But the other festivities are staying put in Grand Central, the funky neighborhood where Florida’s largest LGBT parade was born in 2003.

    That’s according to the tentative compromise brokered by Mayor Rick Kriseman this week.

    The St. Pete Pride parade will move from its old route through the Kenwood and Grand Central neighborhoods and relocate to Bayshore Drive NE....

    Marchers and revelers celebrate the 2016 St. Pete Pride Parade. The 2017 parade will take place June 24 and will be moved to Bayshore Boulevard NE along the downtown waterfront. The parade will start at Albert Whitted Park and then run about a mile north to Vinoy Park.
  11. Chasing a Midtown supermarket, St. Pete mayors missed signs of trouble


    ST. PETERSBURG — For the past 15 years, a key issue in mayoral elections has been the success of a single grocery store in the low-income, predominantly black Midtown community.

    In a city where one in four residents is black, no mayor of St. Petersburg can get elected without the black vote. And few things mean more to key black leaders in the city than efforts to improve Midtown.

    Since race riots gripped the area in 1996, there has been no more visible symbol of those efforts than the bids by Mayors Rick Baker, Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman to lure and keep a supermarket there, at 22nd Street and 18th Avenue S....

    Blue Nile Food Store in St. Petersburg on January 26, 2017.[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]

  12. Scruggs in St. Pete City Council race


    Maria Scruggs, the president of St. Petersburg’s NAACP chapter filed Friday for City Council, saying she wanted to make sure Midtown had a say in its own redevelopment and struggling schools.

    Scruggs, 59, is no stranger to political races. She lost to Rick Baker in the 2001 mayoral race. In 2004, she lost to Ken Welch for a seat on the Pinellas County Commission. And in 2005, she finished third in a five-person primary field for a City Council seat eventually won by Earnest Williams....

    Maria Scruggs chats with Mayor Rick Kriseman last month at Kriseman's urban affairs update in Childs Park
  13. Sewage would still have spilled, but St. Pete decisions made it worse, state says


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city still would have discharged sewage into Tampa Bay during the past two summers even if it hadn't shuttered a waterfront sewage plant near downtown.

    But having the plant available would have reduced the spills, a state investigation concluded.

    The report also found a lack of cohesion among sewer officials. It revealed that none of the city's chief sewer plant operators agreed with the decision to close the Albert Whitted plant. ...

  14. St. Pete mayoral candidate Paul Congemi charged with felony elder abuse


    Paul Congemi is running for mayor for the third time. And it hasn’t started out well for him or his family.

    Last week, Congemi was charged with felony elder abuse after his 87-year-old mother ended up in intensive care for bed sores. She remains in the hospital, he said.

    BayNews9 reported last week that Congemi’s mother was in intensive care at Bayfront Medical Center. Congemi said Tuesday she had improved. Hosptial officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment....

    Paul Congemi was arrested Jan. 24 for felony elder abuse
  15. USL execs support Rowdies' MLS bid, think Tampa Bay will remain second-tier for now


    Bill Edwards, former Mayor Rick Baker and a swarm of Ralph’s Mob, the fervent fans of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, delivered the team’s Major League Soccer application Monday to league executives in New York.

    Considering the Rowdies haven’t played their first game in their current league, the newly-ordained second-tier United Soccer League, how do USL officials feel about being a stepping stone before the Rowdies have even placed a toe in the league?...

    Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team owner Bill Edwards and Rick Baker, president of the Edwards Group, appealed in person for Rowdies ticket support from the hundreds of St. Petersburg businesses attending the annual meeting of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, held Jan. 23, 2017 at the Mahaffey Theater.