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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. Sykes puzzled that he didn't qualify for HD70

    Blog

    Pastor Manuel Sykes wasn't going to drop out of this time. The influential St. Petersburg Baptist minister and civil rights activist told the Tampa Bay Times last week that nothing would dissuade him from exiting a crowded field of Democrats vying for the nod in House District 70. 

    In 2014, Sykes considered jumping in the 13th Congressional District race before a voice mail message from the then-county party chairman --telling Sykes he'd be "persona non grata" if he got in---touched off an intraparty squabble....

  2. Tight Tampa Bay area primary races will divide Democrats this summer

    Elections

    It's looking to be a long, hot summer for a number of mostly Democratic Tampa Bay politicians battling it out in the Aug. 30 primary.

    House District 68, which covers much of St. Petersburg and Pinellas Park, Lealman and Feather Sound, pits two well-funded, well-connected 30-something candidates, Eric Lynn and Ben Diamond, against one another in a race that has local Democrats divided.

    All by himself, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman shows just how split Democrats are. He endorsed Lynn when he was in the Democratic 13th Congressional District primary against Charlie Crist. Kriseman then endorsed Diamond for the House seat before Lynn jumped into the race in early May. ...

    Kevin Beckner, one of the party’s young stars, and Pat Frank, a legendary longtime Democratic politician, are locked in Hillsborough County’s most contentious race, for clerk of the Circuit Court.
  3. It's not just St. Petersburg: Largo had big sewage spill during Tropical Storm Colin, too

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman got plenty of raspberries from the public after his city dumped nearly 10 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay after Tropical Storm Colin passed through early this month.

    But St. Petersburg wasn't the only city whose wastewater systems couldn't handle the foot of rain dropped by the storm.

    •Tampa dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into the Hillsborough River....

    Officials with the City of Gulfport put out signs to close Shore Blvd due to flooding at high tide as rains from Tropical Storm Colin roll in at Gulfport Beach Monday afternoon (06/06/16).
  4. HD70 Democrat Fiorini gets local NOW backing

    Blog

    Dan Fiorini, running against three other Democrats in the four-county House District 70 race, has netted some impressive endorsements, including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and City Council members Karl Nurse and Lisa Wheeler-Brown.

    On Thursday, he added another: the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. 

    Fiorini said in a news release that the latest endorsement shows the confidence of community leaders in his ability to serve in the Legislature....

  5. Initial meeting with DEP goes well, says St. Pete public works chief

    Blog

    Tropical Storm Colin's deluges and the subsequent dumping and spilling 10 million gallons of mostly partially-treated sewage prompted a state investigation of St. Petersburg's wastewater system.

    Last week's initial gathering of five state Department of Environmental Protection officials and city staff lasted about 90 minutes and mostly involved a reshash of what happened in early June and what the city plans to do about it, said Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley on Tuesday....

  6. Baker to chair Jolly campaign

    Blog

    Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will chair David Jolly's quest to retain his 13th District Congressional seat, a political perch Baker eyed himself earlier this year. 

    “David Jolly’s heart belongs to Pinellas, it always has, and his experience in knowing how to get things done has never been more critical for all of us,” said Baker in a news release Tuesday....

  7. House District 70 race gets more crowded with Sykes announcement

    Legislature

    ST. PETERSBURG — A well-known St. Petersburg pastor and civil rights leader says he'll squeeze into an already crowded Democratic primary field in state House District 70.

    During his Sunday sermon at Bethel Community Baptist Church, Pastor Manuel Sykes announced his decision to run for the seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Darryl Rouson.

    It's not the first time Sykes has contemplated a run for office....

    Pastor Manuel Sykes announced his decision to run for the seat being vacated by term-limited Rep. Darryl Rouson. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times (2015)] 
  8. Sykes announces he'll enter crowded HD 70 field

    Blog

    Pastor Manuel Sykes announced his decision to run for a state House being vacated by term-limited Rep. Darryl Rouson during a Sunday service at Bethel Community Baptist Church.

    Sykes' brief flirtation with a run for Congress in 2014 caused political fight with the county Democratic party when then county chairman Mark Hanisee left him a voice mail saying he would be "persona non grata" if he stayed in the race. ...

  9. Tampa Bay water agencies change suggestions for home-testing of lead

    Water

    Call it an abundance of caution in the aftermath of Flint's lead in the water catastrophe.

    With municipalities around the country scrambling to reassure residents worried about lead in their drinking water after the massive contamination in that Michigan city, St. Petersburg decided this week to update its instructions for residents who want to test their own water for lead.

    At issue? Whether to instruct residents who draw their own water samples to "gently open" or to turn the faucet like they were filling a glass of water....

  10. St. Petersburg Council to Mayor Rick Kriseman: No more dumping

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Petersburg City Council delivered a clear message Thursday: whatever can be done to avoid future sewage spills and dumps needs to be done — quickly.

    Last week, the city dumped nearly 10 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay. Another 230,000 gallons of untreated sewage surged out of manholes.

    "We don't want any more of these discharges," said Council member Ed Montanari. "We want to do more than just study the problem."...

  11. Sewage woes not confined to St. Pete

    Blog

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman got plenty of raspberries from the public after his city dumped nearly 10 million gallons of partially-treated sewage into Tampa Bay last week after Tropical Storm Colin passed through.

    But St. Pete wasn't the only city whose wastewater systems couldn't handle the foot of rain dropped by the storm.

    --Tampa dumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage into the Hillsborough River....

  12. St. Petersburg's budget discussions so far quiet, absent discord of previous years

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — This year, it was a quiet — and short — affair.

    A small crowd of a few dozen residents, much sparser than in previous years, attended a city budget forum Tuesday. And in contrast with large, often vocal, crowds that turned out for similar events during Mayor Rick Kriseman's first two budget cycles, union members and calls for higher pay and improved working conditions weren't part of the discussion. ...

  13. State to begin investigation of St. Petersburg sewage dump

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — State and city officials will meet Friday afternoon to determine if the city violated its wastewater permit when heavy rains forced St. Petersburg to pump nearly 10 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay.

    The discharge began Wednesday and ended Thursday evening. The city said the storm filled leaky pipes with water, doubling the normal amount of flow into the city's sewer plants. The city's director of water resources told the City Council last week that the 2011 decision to close one of the city's four sewer plants last year exacerbated the problem....

    St. Petersburg had spills of untreated sewage from popped manhole covers in the Perry Bayview neighborhood. A warning sign is posted at a playground at 27th Avenue S and 38th Street.
  14. State investigation launched into St. Pete sewage dumps

    Blog

    The state Department of Environmental Protection will meet with St. Petersburg city officials early this week to determine if the city violated the "bypass" or dumping provisions of its wastewater permit when it pumped nearly 10 million gallons of partially-treated sewage into Tampa Bay last week.

    In a  letter dated Thursday and sent to Public Works Adminstrator Claude Tankersley by DEP Southwest District Director Mary Yeargan raises concerns about a "pattern between rainfall events and discharges/bypasses."...

  15. As sewage dumping ends, Kriseman reverses course on BP money

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — By late Thursday, the city had pumped nearly 10 million gallons of partially treated sewage into Tampa Bay — five times initial estimates.

    The pumping stopped about 3 p.m., ending a two-day wastewater emergency caused by Tropical Storm Colin. It could take days to assess the damage.

    City tests showed bacteria levels in what was dumped into Tampa Bay to be 60 times above what environmental standards consider safe, according to the city's public works administrator, Claude Tankersley....

    “The administration is absolutely committed to addressing this issue. We’re in the same place as you as far as this being a priority.”
Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg mayor