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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. Little-used St. Petersburg port gets new start as marine science center — for now

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — A shuttered aquarium and the city's largely empty port have joined forces in hopes of turning a neglected stretch of waterfront into an international destination for marine research and education.

    Last week, the City Council approved a three-year lease for $10 a year giving the former Pier Aquarium a new space in the port's visitor terminal.

    The Pier Aquarium, housed in the now-shuttered landmark for 25 years, had originally planned to move to John's Pass at Madeira Beach. That plan fell through. Meanwhile, the port has struggled for years to find a money-making role....

  2. Parking study to assess whether St. Petersburg needs another garage

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months, when parking problems have surfaced in public meetings, the reply from city transportation staffers has been consistent: We're going to study that.

    A parking garage near Tropicana Field? How big should the parking garage at the new police headquarters be? What about the waterfront plan's suggestions for moving cars off the water's edge?

    Cue the oft-repeated refrain: There's going to be a study taking all of that into account. ...

  3. St. Pete Council debates, then delays vote on waterfront plan

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG-- The downtown master waterfront plan, for much of its nine-month life, appeared to be the mirror opposite of the Pier debate.

    The public meetings weren't particularly contentious. The City Council appeared satisfied. No significant opposition surfaced.

    But, in January, consultants and city staff added conceptual language and renderings showing a hotel and conference center behind the Mahaffey Theater....

  4. St. Pete City Council approves Southside CRA

    Blog

    The City Council unanimously approved the Southside Community Redevelopment Area on Thursday. 

    Council member Karl Nurse has led the political efffort to create the CRA and use the property tax proceeds generated from the tax-increment-financing district within its boundaries to fund affordable housing and other redevelopment efforts instead of more traditional TIF uses like streelights, utilities and street improvements. ...

  5. St. Petersburg City Council requires city contractors to hire 'disadvantaged' workers

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Contractors on big-ticket city projects will be required to fill 10 percent of their jobs with "disadvantaged workers" after the City Council unanimously approved a hiring ordinance Thursday.

    The ordinance requires contractors to reserve 10 percent of work hours for workers either with criminal records or who have received some form of public assistance in the previous year. ...

    Shaun Knowles, 49, of Spring Hill, a carpenter with Professional Construction Services works to build a home on East Richard Drive in Weeki Wachee on Friday, Janaury 17, 2014. Building permits that are given to build homes in Hernando County are outpacing contractors who are not available to complete constructions jobs. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times] 

  6. Proposal for hotel, conference center on St. Petersburg's waterfront looks dead

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — A controversial proposal to include a hotel and conference center on a long-term plan for waterfront land near the Mahaffey Theater appears to be dead.

    City Council members Steve Kornell, Wengay Newton and Karl Nurse disliked the idea when it was presented by city planners and consultants earlier this month. Now, council member Darden Rice has penned a memo requesting any references to the hotel or conference center be removed from the downtown waterfront master plan....

  7. Anglers and residents uneasily share space along Coffee Pot Bayou waterfront

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — The fishermen who cast their nets and lines over the seawall along Coffee Pot Boulevard NE are either a nuisance or a nonissue, depending on who is talking.

    Reports of long-standing tension between residents of the waterfront street and anglers surfaced after police say 18-year-old Austin Goodner, an avid fisherman, had an altercation with a man on a bike there, ending with the teen shooting 50-year-old Norman Conrad Seibert. Goodner was later killed by police officers at his home near Northeast High School. Police say he pointed a gun at officers and dared them to shoot him....

    Austin Goodner, 18, who was killed Sunday, was an avid fisherman. He is shown in this photo near the Pier in St. Petersburg.
  8. Communication breakdown confuses St. Petersburg residents about new recycling program

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A communication breakdown in Mayor Rick Kriseman's administration has sown confusion in the midst of a massive rollout of a new recycling program.

    As crews deliver thousands of blue 95-gallon containers to homes around the city, public statements about when the first truck will come to collect the recyclable trash have been misleading in some cases and wrong in others....

  9. St. Petersburg City Council weighs in on proposed $221 million budget

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — In their first public chance to assess Mayor Rick Kriseman's draft budget on Thursday, City Council members mostly nibbled around the edges of the $221 million fiscal pie.

    During a marathon seven-hour workshop on the day-to-day operating budget, members questioned a 9 percent spike in health care costs, a $3 million increase in the police budget and the lack of more money for youth programs....

  10. Curbside recycling is coming to St. Petersburg: Here's what you need to know

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's been a long time coming, but big — some say too big— recycling bins are being dropped off around the city in anticipation of universal curbside service starting for some as early as this month.

    Here's some answers to commonly asked questions:

    When will I be able to start recycling?

    The roll-out of the program will be staggered so some neighborhoods will get service as early as this month. City officials have said you can expect to be able to have a pickup within two weeks of receiving your 95-gallon blue cart. Information inside the cart upon delivery will help you figure out which day your recycling will be picked up....

  11. Top U.S. labor official praises Kriseman, Rays and C1 Financial for worker benefits

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez praised local political and business leaders Wednesday for enacting paid leave and raising wages for low-paid workers, saying the country was lagging the rest of the developed world in supporting a flexible work force.

    "We're in this Modern Family world but we've got these Leave it to Beaver rules," Perez said.

    The United States is the only developed country in the world not to have a national paid-leave law. The administration has proposed legislation, but it hasn't made much progress in the Republican-led Congress. Paid leave is defined as maternity and paternity leave, and sick time....

    Perez
  12. The Tampa Rays?

    Blog

    U.S Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez came to St. Petersburg Wednesday to pat Mayor Rick Kriseman and local business leaders- including the Tampa Bay Rays -- on the back for their wage and leave policies.

    But the Obama administration cabinet member inadvertently touched a longstanding Bay Area political nerve when he started talking baseball.

    Moments after saying that he enjoyed nothing more than watching the New York Yankees lose, Perez referred to the local team as the, wait for it, Tampa Rays....

  13. Kriseman's budget calls for new hires, no tax increase

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman's budget has a little more space to breathe thanks to a booming tax base and some pension relief.

    His plan does not include a property tax increase. And several new hires and a "restoration" of police overtime number among the highlights.

    The mayor has until July 1 to submit a completed budget to the City Council, but he sent a draft in advance of Thursday's budget workshop that envisions a modest 2.3 percent increase in the city's day-to-day operating fund, bringing it to $221.3 million....

  14. Rays brass says stadium can spur urban renaissance

    Blog

    Tampa Bay Rays president Brian Auld told a St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce lunch crowd Tuesday that baseball is the only sport that can create "its own sense of place" due to its 81-game home schedule.

    "No other sport can do that," Auld said. 

    Auld touched briefly on the long-running stadium impasse between the team and the St. Petersburg City Council, repeating the Rays' mantra that a new stadium has to be good for the team and the region. ...

  15. St. Pete Fire Station in Fossil Park isn't "sick" after all

    Blog

    St. Petersburg's nascent budget cycle was thrown for a loop last week when council member Bill Dudley announced that firefighters were getting sick at Fire Station #7 in Fossil Park at 6975 Martin Luther King Jr. St. N. 

    Dudley said he had visited the station recently and was shocked at the conditions of the 54-year-old building. He said roaches ran across his feet.

    His colleagues immediately put a new station on top of their capitol improvement list---at a cost of $3.5 million....