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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. In bid for $40 million federal grant, St. Pete looks to gondolas, Tampa to smart technology


    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg is going for the unconventional and fanciful: gondolas.

    Tampa chose a more earthbound approach: infusing projects with gadgetry.

    Both cities are among 70 applicants vying for the $40 million "Smart City Challenge" federal grant that emphasizes alternative and innovative transportation.

    Close on the heels of Clearwater's flirtation with a mode of transportation commonly associated with amusement parks or the Alps, St. Petersburg's application dubs its sky-crawling proposal Aerial Cable Propelled Transit....

  2. Clock is ticking: As Tampa Bay Rays look in Tampa, St. Pete bides time on Trop plans


    ST. PETERSBURG — When the City Council took a historic vote to let the Tampa Bay Rays look outside the city for a new home last month, Mayor Rick Kriseman touted a clause in the agreement preventing the club from making any decision until at least July.

    That delay would give the city time to build a case for keeping the Rays in St. Petersburg, Kriseman said.

    The mechanism for pulling off that coup would be a master plan that would show how Tropicana Field's 85 acres could be developed with or without a baseball stadium. ...

  3. Allegiant flight from St. Pete-Clearwater makes emergency landing in Birmingham


    Passenger Nick Janovsky realized something was amiss with Allegiant Air Flight 872 when he witnessed a scene that seldom occurs on a commercial aircraft cruising at 30,000 feet:

    Flight attendants, looking upset, running in the cabin.

    The crew told passengers they were making an emergency landing. Within minutes, the aircraft descended so abruptly and rapidly that children in the cabin began to wail. "Everybody was just freaking out," Janovsky said....

    An investment group is calling on Allegiant Air, which has had a series of emergency landings over the last several months, to form a safety committee. Here, a plane sits at St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, where the discount airline accounts for 95 percent of traffic.  [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  4. Kriseman picks Tampa firm to operate Pier District


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has picked the firm he wants to manage the new $66 million Pier District when it opens in 2018.

    In a memo Thursday, Kriseman said Colliers International Tampa gives the city the "greatest opportunity for successful operation and management" of the district.

    Colliers International, a commercial real estate services firm, already manages John's Pass Marina at Madeira Beach....

  5. After Flint, St. Petersburg mulls more tests for lead in water supply


    ST. PETERSBURG — Despite assurances from St. Petersburg's top water official that the city's drinking supply is safe, City Council members said Thursday that more testing should be done to ease the minds of worried residents.

    The specter of lead contamination in Flint, Mich. — which has raised concerns nationally about the overall quality in drinking water — haunted a 23-minute presentation by Water Resources director Steve Leavitt....

  6. Montanari to have heart surgery, out of St. Petersburg council mix for few months

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — One of the City Council's newest members will be missing from the dais for the next few months.

    Ed Montanari said Thursday he will have heart surgery this month. The Feb. 23 procedure will repair his mitral valve and will be done at the Cleveland Clinic.

    "Our city has been blessed with a great staff and I am confident that the issues that need to be addressed in my absence will be covered," Montanari said in a memo to his council colleagues and Mayor Rick Kriseman. ...

    “Get checked out even if you don’t have any symptoms,” said council member Ed Montanari.
  7. Kriseman says canceled "Arts in Transit" project wasn't orphaned


    When a much-touted project bites the dust, the natural question to ask is why?

    City officials said they canceled negotiations with the artistic team of Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse because the team didn't have the technical expertise to pull off the $2.3 million project that would transform bus shelters along Central Avenue from ho-hum places to escape the rain to works of art....

  8. Montanari needs heart surgery, will miss a few months of City Council


    Ed Montanari announced Thursday that he is scheduled for heart surgery later this month, which will remove him from City Council duties for until the spring.

    The newly-minted council member was elected without an opponent to replace term-limited Bill Dudley in January.

    An airline pilot, Montanari recently learned he needed surgery to repair a heart valve. The Feb. 23 surgery will be performed at the Cleveland Clinic....

  9. Back to the drawing board for St. Petersburg's Arts in Transit project


    ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly eighteen months ago, the City Council applauded an ambitious plan to transform bus shelters and stops along Central Avenue into a unified artistic vision.

    That plan is now headed back to the drawing board.

    The city staff was authorized in July 2014 to begin negotiations on the $2.3 million "Arts in Transit" project with the artistic team of Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse. ...

    Ex-official Jeff Danner says the project became an orphan.
  10. Divestment v. Dividends: St. Petersburg Council debates trade offs


    Ideology mixed it up with bread-and-butter politics at St. Petersburg's City Hall on Thursday.

    At issue was the city's investment strategy, particularly in the parts of the  Weeki-Wachee and Water Cost Stablization funds that have been invested in the stock market.

    That money has been put in stocks in to gain dividend revenue and help offset the cost to the consumer of the city's ever-increasing water rates and pay for parks and recreation projects....

  11. Atlanta Braves might be fading from view in Toytown spring training plans


    ST. PETERSBURG — A plan to bring Atlanta Braves spring training to Toytown might be tanking.

    Pinellas County staffers and SportsPark Partners LLC, a consortium that incudes the Braves, former major-league star Gary Sheffield and St. Petersburg developer Darryl LeClair, met Tuesday.

    Representatives for LeClair and Sheffield attended.

    But no Braves officials did.

    Are the Braves still part of the ambitious project to build a spring training facility and amateur sports complex on the 240-acre former Pinellas County landfill?...

    Are the Braves still part of the ambitious project to build a spring training facility and amateur sports complex on the 240-acre former Pinellas County landfill? [SportsPark Partners LLC]
  12. In effort to boost Midtown, City Council approves anti-poverty program

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg City Council approved an assistance program aimed at alleviating poverty in Midtown and other southern neighborhoods Thursday, but not without two hours of debate.

    The local NAACP president urged the council to scrap the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area plan, which would distribute nearly $500,000 over a 7.5-square-mile area where a third of its 34,000 residents live in poverty....

  13. WANTED: New home for American League baseball team


    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball's version of House Hunters premiered Thursday when the Tampa Bay Rays released a one-page wish list for what the club wants in a new stadium.

    Forget Camden Yards and all those retro, old-timey ballparks.

    That's soooo 1990s. Yuck.

    The Rays instead want a "next-generation" stadium for the "evolving fan." The new digs have to be "authentic" and "fan forward" and "smart" and "sustainable" and "flexible." ...

  14. Video: Uhuru protest briefly shuts down St. Petersburg City Hall


    In the midst of a zoning presentation Thursday, a slumbering City Council chamber jolted to life as a group interrupted the meeting to protest a city-planned replacement for a mural that was ripped down nearly 50 years ago by the group's leader.

    About a dozen members of the International People's Democratic People's Uhuru Movement  stood in unison and chanted slogans before being removed by security....

    Joseph Waller, who later changed his name to Omali Yeshitela, walks along Central Avenue with the mural he ripped down inside St. Petersburg City Hall in 1966.
  15. Tampa Bay Rays release description of their dream stadium site


    Easy access to interstates (and someday mass transit). About 20 acres in size. Near Tampa Bay's principal business centers.

    You have some land that fits that description? The Tampa Bay Rays might be interested.

    On Thursday, nearly six weeks before the deadline, the team sent St. Petersburg a required "process document" outlining what they're looking for in their new digs....

    Of all rumored sites across Tampa Bay (Tropicana Field, downtown Tampa, Tampa Park apartments, Channelside, Westshore, etc.) only the Tampa Fairgrounds might not meet the admittedly general, even vague, requirements.