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. Electric Fence has political jolt in St. Petersburg

    Blog

    The electric fence around Tibbetts Lumber Co. has been unplugged for months. Politically, though, the lumberyard partially owned by powerful State Sen. Jeff Brandes is still buzzing. ...

  2. Downtown St. Petersburg about to become officially friendly to skateboards

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG— Many of the skateboarding enthusiasts who arrive at the Local Longboard Company on Central Avenue are breaking the law.

    They arrive via skateboard — which is illegal downtown. But it's so common that co-owner Travis Hise moved a sales rack near the door as a "parking area."

    Police officers rarely enforce the decades-old ban that prohibits skateboarding downtown. In fact, one officer, Hise said, told him that he wants to be first cop on a longboard — a type of skateboard that's usually bigger with wider, sturdier wheels. ...

    Friends Steven Belisle, 24, and Eva Manzo, 20, both of St. Petersburg, skate board home along North Shore Drive NE from North Shore Park in St. Petersburg on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  3. Downtown St. Petersburg about to become officially friendly to skateboards

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG— Many of the skateboarding enthusiasts who arrive at the Local Longboard Company on Central Avenue are breaking the law.

    They arrive via skateboard, which is illegal downtown. But it's so common that co-owner Travis Hise moved a sales rack near the door as a "parking area."

    Police officers rarely enforce the decades-old ban that prohibits skateboarding downtown. In fact, one officer, Hise said, told him that he wants to be the first cop on a longboard — a type of skateboard that's usually bigger with wider, sturdier wheels. ...

    Friends Steven Belisle, 24, and Eva Manzo, 20, both of St. Petersburg, skate board home along North Shore Drive NE from North Shore Park in St. Petersburg on Thursday. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  4. St. Petersburg City Council eyes extra property tax cash

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — With nearly $1 million in unexpected revenue in next year's budget, the City Council is pushing for a say in how it's spent.

    Despite some pushback from city administrators, the council has scheduled a budget workshop next month to hash out competing demands for the money.

    "With nearly a million dollars of new revenue, the council should have a discussion about that. It just shouldn't be do what you want with the money," said council Vice Chairman Steve Kornell. "Council deserves a chance to be a part of it."...

  5. MLS in St. Petersburg? Much depends on Al Lang Field

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Orlando will have a Major League Soccer franchise next year. Miami has an inside track for one. And cities across the country, from Minneapolis to San Antonio to Las Vegas, are eyeing one.

    In the afterglow of a World Cup that captivated Americans, Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is also considering capitalizing on the wave of soccer enthusiasm. He has entertained the possibility that his team — playing in the second-tier North American Soccer League — can move up to the big time. ...

    St. Petersburg businessman Bill Edwards announced he has purchased controlling interest in the North American Soccer League's Tampa Bay Rowdies during a press conference at the Mahaffey Theater Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013.
  6. Artistic lighting planned for Central Avenue in St. Petersburg

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A group of artists unveiled a plan Thursday to visually remake Central Avenue into an illuminated unifying symbol of the city.

    Employing lighted glass columns along the city's dividing thoroughfare would connect the sprawling avenue and encourage people to use the Central Avenue Trolley, said Carol Mickett of Mickett/Stackhouse Studio.

    The columns would also play as metaphor: concrete examples of Central's role as the city's spine, she said....

  7. St. Petersburg mayor wants to plump up reserves with $1 million

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's reserves are poised to get a $1 million infusion in Mayor Rick Kriseman's proposed budget, the first replenishment in seven years.

    It's a sign of good economic times and would boost the city's various reserve funds to nearly $40 million.

    It also would help keep the city in good standing with credit-rating agencies, said Tom Greene, the city's budget director. That will be important when the city looks to borrow money to build a new police station or revamp the Pier....

  8. St. Petersburg City Council approves mayor's pick for city clerk

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council on Thursday unanimously approved Mayor Rick Kriseman's recommended pick to replace retiring City Clerk Eva Andujar.

    Praising Andujar's peformance, council members said they had high hopes for her successor, Chan Srinivasa.

    Andujar has served as clerk since 2001. She has worked for the city for 32 years.

    After the council's vote and its effusive praise of the mayor's pick, council member Karl Nurse asked Kriseman: "It's not so painful, is it?"...

  9. St. Petersburg planning $750,000 to preserve Indian mounds

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Four city parks containing American Indian mounds are being primed for a digital upgrade and heightened protection status.

    City officials, archaeologists and digital mappers from the University of South Florida publicly unveiled the results of a master plan Tuesday.

    One highlight: By using 3-D mapping technology, visitors could point smartphones at interpretive signs, triggering videos depicting how Native American societies looked centuries ago....

    An Indian mound at Maximo Park in St. Petersburg is one of several in four city parks that are threatened by erosion, vandalism, artifact collectors and normal park use, such as foot traffic.
  10. Rowdies' soccer success in St. Pete leads to legal tussle

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Steve Nadel remembers clearly when he first thought of luring the Tampa Bay Rowdies away from George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

    The director of the St. Petersburg Baseball Commission was sick in bed when the idea of enticing the struggling soccer franchise to play at Al Lang Field occurred to him, he told the St. Petersburg City Council last month.

    Nadel might now regret that flash of inspiration....

  11. City Council wants to weigh in on mayor's hires — with impunity

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman hasn't named a new police chief yet, but his search process has prompted an unforeseen result: a council attempt to change the city charter.

    Irked by what they called "heavy-handed" rhetoric by City Attorney John Wolfe, the City Council moved forward Thursday with plans to draft a plan to eliminate language in the city charter that would allow council members to be removed for weighing in on mayoral appointments....

  12. Electric fence near Gibbs High School zapped by City Council

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tibbetts Lumber Co. had been plundered by thieves so often that the company decided to erect a 10-foot-high electrified fence.

    That pretty much ended the wood swiping.

    A small problem: City code bans electrified fencing.

    So company officials asked the city Thursday to legalize the fence by changing its land development regulations. City planners agreed, and recommended allowing such fences only in industrial zones....

  13. Man falls into 25-foot hole at St. Petersburg construction site

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — A construction worker fell into a 25-foot hole on Wednesday morning while working at a city wastewater treatment facility at 92nd Avenue North and Third Street.

    St. Petersburg Fire Rescue officials used a rescue basket to retrieve the 57-year-old man, who was trapped for more than an hour, said Lt. Steven Lawrence.

    The man, whose identity was not released, suffered multiple fractures, Lawrence said. ...

  14. St. Petersburg says they can't afford 'living wage' raise for workers

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city's response Friday to union requests for raising the base pay to a $15 an hour "living wage" for more than 300 city workers was succinct: Not this year.

    The city instead offered a 2 percent raise to city union workers, which will cost about $915,000, said Kristen Mory, the city's labor relations and compensation manager. After the meeting, she said that amount was all the city can afford....