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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. Kriseman's latest effort to let Tampa Bay Rays look for a new stadium site

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — A revised agreement between Mayor Rick Kriseman and the Tampa Bay Rays was sent on Friday to the City Council, but hopes are dimming a deal will be reached any time soon.

    A memo from Kriseman, attached to the nine-page document, urged council members to support the proposal.

    "Failing to support this (memorandum of understanding) will almost certainly assure that the team will likely leave St. Petersburg and the region," Kriseman wrote, adding he "remains hopeful that a majority of you will join me in showing confidence in our city."...

    Mayor Rick Kriseman thinks the Rays may leave the region if his plan doesn’t get support.
  2. St. Petersburg Council decides to go slow on historic preservation changes

    Blog

    The St. Petersburg City Council has decided it will take its time on a controversial historic preservation ordinance that has riled some property owners and discomfited the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

    The measure, approved by a city board last month, would offer a potentially easier route for neighborhoods to apply for historic status among other things. That has worried some residents who think it might cost them more to renovate or expand their homes and businesses. Historic preservationists point to studies showing neighborhoods with local landmark status have higher property values. They also say that St. Petersburg is in the minority of cities that even require a vote by neighborhood residents to kickstart a move toward historic status....

  3. St. Petersburg Council considers muting late-night music at downtown bars

    Blog

    Some bars in downtown St. Petersburg attract patrons by putting speakers on the sidewalk blaring music. That advertising strategy has perturbed high-rise condo owners and spurred Council member Karl Nurse to figure out a way to mute the noise.

    At Thursday's Public Services and Infrastructure Committee, the normally empty conference room at City Hall was full of those residents who listened to a new idea: force the bar owners to bring the speakers inside after 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on the weekend. ...

  4. Kriseman to send revised Rays stadium search deal to City Council on Friday

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG —Mayor Rick Kriseman will send a revised memorandum of understanding with the Tampa Bay Rays to City Council this week. But he is still unsure when he'll ask the council to reconsider the request to allow the team to look throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough counties for a new stadium site, his chief of staff said Wednesday.

    The revised proposal, which the Rays support, addresses what will happen if the team finds a new site outside St. Petersburg but in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties. It would guarantee the city collects 100 percent of the revenue from any sale of redevelopment rights if they are sold between the time when the team announces plans to vacate Tropicana Field and when it actually leaves the site, said Kevin King, Kriseman's chief of staff....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman will send a revised memorandum of understanding with the Tampa Bay Rays on terms of a stadium search to the City Council this week. 
  5. St. Petersburg council member wants to pump the brake on historical preservation changes

    Blog

    A proposal to revamp historic preservation efforts in St. Petersburg has worried some Old Northeast neighborhood residents who have started on online petition to delay an expected April vote by City Council.

    On Tuesday, council member Darden Rice said she also wants the city to slow down.

    Instead of a council vote in April, she suggested a series of four public meetings across the city to vet the complicated issue, which seeks to lower the voting threshold to submit an application to declare a neighborhood historic among a multitude of other changes....

  6. Push for more historic St. Petersburg neighborhoods hits resistance

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pushback over Mayor Rick Kriseman's plan to make it easier to designate historic neighborhoods has led to an online petition and at least one City Council member's call for a delay in a vote next month.

    More than 130 people so far have signed onto an online petition started by residents of the Old Northeast neighborhood. Now council member Darden Rice is pushing to hold off on a vote until after a series of public meetings....

    City Council member Darden Rice wants to delay a vote on the plan.
  7. St. Petersburg curbside recycling starts in May for some

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Universal curbside recycling will start for some city residents as early as May — two months earlier than originally planned after criticism from a City Council member.

    Now, within two weeks of receiving a blue 95-gallon recycling bin, residents can expect the city to begin picking up recyclables on an every-two-week schedule. Since it will take several weeks to distribute all 80,000 95-gallon bins, it will be July before all qualified properties begin service....

    The city hopes wraps featuring cartoon characters on new recycling trucks spread the word about recycling.
  8. No drones allowed at St. Petersburg Grand Prix

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Cars will be flying around downtown starting next week, but no drones should be.

    The St. Petersburg City Council voted 7-1 Thursday to ban drones from operating at the March 29 race.

    "Drones are becoming a problem everywhere. We wouldn't want one hovering over the race and dropping on a car going 80 miles per hour," said City Attorney John Wolfe.

    If the U.S. Coast Guard hears that a drone is in the area, it won't do a planned flyover that's part of the race festivities, city officials said....

  9. St. Pete grounds drones at Grand Prix

    Blog

    Any drone hobbyist hoping to capture some dramatic footage at the Grand Prix later this month might consider staking out a prime ground-level spot for a camera instead.

    The St. Petersburg City Council voted 7-1 Thursday to ban drones from operating at the March 29 race.

    "Drones are becoming a problem everywhere. We wouldn't want one hovering over the race and dropping on a car going 80 miles-per-hour," said City Attorney John Wolfe. ...

  10. Kriseman doles out raises to nonunion city workers in midst of union drive

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — About 2,000 nonunion city employees received 2.5 percent raises Wednesday in the midst of a drive to unionize some of those workers.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the wage increase in a memorandum, casting it as a rollback of a salary cut of the same amount that nonunion employees endured in the dark days of the 2009 recession.

    The raises will cost about $332,000 and will show up in employees' paychecks on April 3....

  11. St. Petersburg Nuisance Board decides it's better for public to keep mum

    Blog

    St. Petersburg's Nuisance Abatement Board doesn't always have a long line of people waiting to weigh on an problem properties around the city. At a special meeting Wednesday, only two people spoke up to urge the board to consider allowing public comment during its proceedings, during which board members decide whether to sanction, fine or even close down businesses that allow drugs, prostitution or other crimes on their premises. ...

  12. Tampa Bay Democrats ramping up wage theft laws

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG— Local Tampa Bay Democrats, supported by unions, are pushing ordinances to intervene when employees say an employer has shorted their pay. The proposals are the exact kind of local "wage theft" ordinances that Republicans and retail groups have sought unsuccessfully to outlaw in Tallahassee, saying they place an unfair burden on business.

    "Wage theft" (or, from an employer's perspective, "wage disputes") is shorthand for a wide range of workplace misery, including employers who don't pay overtime, who force employees to perform work off the clock or, sometimes, who don't pay them at all. Undocumented workers, for example, are often targeted, as are other low-wage workers in fast-food and other restaurants, and retailers. ...

    “Bad businesses will have to think twice about stealing wages in St. Petersburg,” City Council member Darden Rice says.
  13. New St. Petersburg task force to hear noise issues

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Noise: the irritating underbelly of urban development.

    And lately — with construction at a record-breaking pace — the clang of the pile driver, the drone of rooftop air conditioning units and music blaring from a booming nightlife scene have generated a cacophony of complaint.

    Fed-up residents have caught the ear of City Council member Karl Nurse who has advocated for a solution to the problem. On Thursday, the city staff announced it would form a task force made up of residents, developers, geologists and other experts to figure out the best way to handle noise issues....

    Pile driving at the construction site at 330 Third St. S in downtown St. Petersburg exasperated residents for nearly nine months last year.
  14. St. Petersburg announces 1,800-seat baseball stadium at Walter Fuller complex

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman announced plans Wednesday to build an 1,800-seat stadium at the Walter Fuller baseball complex in western part of the city.

    But he said he didn't know how much it would cost to build or when construction would start.

    "We don't have an idea yet. We are working on finalizing those numbers," Kriseman said.

    The price tag largely depends on how many tourist tax dollars the mayor is able to wrangle from the Tourist Development Council. In recent months, some TDC members have said they would like to see more money used for marketing Pinellas County beaches and attractions, and fewer dollars spent on capital projects....

    An artist’s rendering of the proposed Walter Fuller Championship Field. 
  15. Wheeler-Brown speaks about 1990s misdemeanors

    Blog

    Lisa Wheeler-Brown wants to put the rumors to rest. 

    The 46-year-old community activist who is running for the seat of term-limited Wengay Newton on the St. Petersburg City Council wants to put a stop to "whispers,"  including postings on a message board at leoaffairs.com--- a public safety web site---about her criminal record.

    In 1990, Wheeler-Brown, listed in court records as Telisha Tanniele Wheeler, pleaded guilty to retail theft. In 1997, she pleaded guilty to writing a worthless check. Both crimes were misdemeanors. ...