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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. Derby Lane as Rays new home?

    Blog

    St. Petersburg-- Early in the long slog of another City Council workshop Thursday in the endless cul-de-sac of what has become the soap opera of the Tampa Bay Rays' destiny, council member Karl Nurse injected an intriguing nugget.

    Nurse said he happend to know that the owners of Derby Lane, the dog track and gambling mecca on Gandy Boulevard, would be interested in talking about becoming the new home of the Rays. ...

  2. Another defeat for Rays at St. Pete City Council

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It took nearly five hours of often heated debate Thursday for the City Council to end up where it had started: deadlocked on reaching a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.

    More than six months after rejecting a deal that would have allowed the team to explore stadium sites in Hillsborough County and guaranteed millions of dollars in payments if the team decided to leave, another nonbinding vote showed a council still divided over how to proceed....

  3. St. Pete Homeless Change initiative building momentum

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG---You might have noticed the vintage parking meters painted yellow near the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club, the Museum of Fine Arts or, more recently, Tropicana Field.

    The city began repurposing old meters last fall and placing them strategically as part of their "Power of Change" campaign. So far, a dozen meters are operating in high-traffic pedestrian spots, bringing in about $200 a month in loose change. The meters don't accept bills, although the city is working on a phone app similar to its popular online parking option....

  4. Rays stadium: Trop redevelopment cash to nearby neighborhoods?

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than half a year of debate, discord and drift, the City Council will meet again today to discuss the Tampa Bay Rays stadium stalemate.

    Rays officials won't be there. But Mayor Rick Kriseman will attend the workshop, looking to "move the issue forward," in the words of his chief of staff, Kevin King.

    One new possible wrinkle in the saga? Somehow tying the potentially lucrative future of the Tropicana Field property to the economically distressed poor neighborhoods to its south....

    Tropicana Field is just outside the newly created Southside Community Redevelopment Area. If it were inside, the influx of cash to the community would be considerable.
  5. 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 planned to move to John's Pass at Madeira Beach. That plan, however, fell through. Meanwhile, the port has struggled for years to find a moneymaking role....

  6. 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. ...

  7. 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....

  8. 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. ...

  9. 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] 

  10. 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....

  11. 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.
  12. 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....

  13. 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....

  14. 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....

  15. 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