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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. St. Petersburg debuts solar-powered charging stations

    Environment

    ST. PETERSBURG — The solar-powered charging stand at Crescent Lake Dog Park was getting plenty of energy Friday morning under a sun already hot enough that Mayor Rick Kriseman's brief remarks were accompanied by thirsty dogs slurping at a nearby water fountain.

    Five stations, capable of charging cellphones and tablets even on cloudy days, thanks to a battery, are now available, including at Vinoy Park (which has two) as well as Lake Vista and Walter Fuller dog parks. ...

    Dogs and their owners mill about near the solar-powered charging stand at Crescent Lake Dog Park on Friday. Five stations, capable of charging cellphones and tablets even on cloudy days, thanks to a battery, are now available, including at Vinoy Park, Lake Vista and Walter Fuller dog parks. The charging stations cost about $2,500 and were built by city workers from a design by St. Petersburg’s Sunsure.
  2. Longtime St. Pete administrator quietly retires

    Blog

    The old guard is changing in St. Petersburg.

    On Friday, news broke that City Attorney John Wolfe was preparing to retire after forty years of working for the city. Two weeks ago, Dave Metz, another four decade veteran retired, but news of his career's end was a quiet affair.

    City Administrator Gary Cornwell said that Metz's last day on April 3 was uneventful for a reason---he wanted it that way....

  3. St. Petersburg city attorney to retire

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — After four decades of legal advocacy for his adopted hometown, City Attorney John Wolfe will step down this summer, Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Friday.

    The mayor has tapped Chief Assistant City Attorney Jacqueline Kovilaritch to replace him on Aug. 1, pending the approval of City Council.

    Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Wolfe said he felt the time was right to retire as he approached his 72nd birthday and felt the office was in good hands with Kovilaritch....

  4. St. Petersburg is first city in state to adopt wage dispute program

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council unanimously approved a measure to create a program to intervene in wage disputes, making it the first city in Florida to do so.

    Council member Darden Rice has pushed the measure as a way for workers who have not been paid what they are owed, forced to work for free or not paid at all to seek redress without having to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit....

    City Council member Darden Rice backed the measure.
  5. St. Petersburg touts app's success for nuts and bolts of city government

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman doesn't always see eye to eye with his often fractious City Council. But Thursday, one of the mayor's intiatives was praised by council.

    The biggest gripe was that not enough people know about it.

    See Click Fix debuted last June as a website and mobile phone app allowing residents to report an array of problems from potholes to illegal dump sites. ...

  6. St. Petersburg's Waterfront Plan clears first hurdle

    Blog

    The city's downtown waterfront master plan--- or DWMP as one consultant recently referrred to it---won the stamp of approval from the Community Planning and Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

    The plan, vetted in series of public meetings and workshops (and plenty of private "stakeholder" gatherings) since August, seeks to create a "conceptual glimpse of the future" (in the words of one city staffer) along the nearly seven-mile stretch of Tampa Bay between Coffee Pot Bayou and Lassing Park. ...

  7. Kriseman throws his support behind wage-dispute ordinance

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman joined City Council member Darden Rice's efforts to advance a proposed ordinance to redress wage disputes on Tuesday, saying it would represent the latest attempt by the city to improve workers' lives.

    Kriseman touted his administration's accomplishments of raising the city's minimum wage to $12.50 an hour, eliminating city job applicants requirement to disclose criminal histories and implementing a parental-leave policy....

  8. Environmental non-profit pulls out of St. Pete Earth Day, citing Duke Energy sponsorship

    Blog

    St. Petersburg's second Earth Day in South Straub Park on April 18 won't include the Center for Biological Diversity.

    The state chapter of the Arizona-based non-profit requested $75 refund of its non-profit fee  after learning that Duke Energy was one of the sponsors of the second-annual event.

    "From multiple instances of air and water contamination events resulting in dozens of Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act violations, to millions of dollars of unpaid property taxes to Citrus County, Duke Energy has proven itself an enemy of the environment," wrote Jaclyn Lopez, the non-profit's state director. ...

  9. St. Petersburg's waterfront plan looks to have smooth sailing ahead

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Unlike the contentious stalemates with the Pier and the Tampa Bay Rays, the city's waterfront master plan appears poised for a smooth landing in City Hall.

    A Friday workshop with City Council members and the Community Planning and Preservation Commission was over in two hours — quick by St. Petersburg standards — with only a few quibbles about the eight-month-old process....

    Council member Bill Dudley put a priority on the Pier uplands.
  10. St. Petersburg City Council races to pass hiring ordinance

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — A years-long effort to create a city program for poor and hard-to-hire workers has shifted into overdrive as the City Council tries to beat brewing state legislation that would squash mandatory hiring practices.

    A council committee unanimously voted Thursday to direct city legal staffers to craft twin ordinances that would require contractors on city projects of more than $10 million to hire a percentage of their workers as apprentices or find jobs for ex-felons and other hard-to-hire job seekers....

    City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes is leading the fight against state bills.
  11. Port to throw party to lure visitors

    Blog

    The city's little-used port is throwing itself a debutante party to show off its new role.

    On Friday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., live music, tours of an oceangoing research vessel and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a bevy of food trucks will welcome visitors to the wharf overlooking Bayboro Harbor, according to a news release.

    The troubled history of the port, which has previous failed cameos as a destination for cruise ships and mega yachts, will get a makeover later this year as a educational and research "experience" center in partneship with the University of South Florida's College of Marine Sciences. ...

    Food Trucks at the Port
  12. Newton says he's just calling media's bluff on Montreal

    Blog

    Wengay Newton says he wasn't wishing the Tampa Bay Rays a fond farewell to Montreal when he called into a WDAE sports show Tuesday. 

    The radio station tweeted that "Councilman Newton is resigned to the fact that the #Rays are moving to Montreal!"

     Newton, one of five St. Petersburg council members who voted in December against a tentative agreement to let the Rays look in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, said he was just addressing the elephant in the room--or large Canadian city--that has shadowed the saga between the city and its baseball team....

  13. Montanari has clout-heavy campaign backers

    Blog

    Ed Montanari, the well-connected civic activist running for Bill Dudley's term-limited District 3 seat has powerful backers, including former mayors Rick Baker and Bill Foster, state senator Jack Latvala and council members Dudley and Amy Foster.

    All of the above co-chair his campaign. No one else has ventured into the race yet. The qualifying period runs from June 9-22. 

    http://edforstpete.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Campaing-Annoucement-Ed-Montanari.pdf...

  14. St. Petersburg City Council schedules Rays workshop

    Blog

    A City Council workshop to discuss Mayor Rick Kriseman’s latest proposal to let the Tampa Bay Rays to explore possible stadium sites in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties has been scheduled for May 7. 
    The council voted unanimously last Thursday to hold the workshop and several council members voiced their desire that the team send a representative to the meeting.
    Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg said earlier this year that team officials wouldn’t attend any more public meetings after the council rejected an earlier plan in December by a 5-3 vote. On Monday, Sternberg said the team wouldn't negotiate with the city on a stadium deal. 
    The Rays haven't commented if anyone from the team would attend the meeting. Council member Karl Nurse proposed the workshop as a way to persuade his colleagues on the merits of the new agreement — which gives full development rights after the Rays announce they are leaving Tropicana Field. The revised memorandum of understanding also requires the team to provide criteria and updates on the stadium search.
    “We’re going to have to educate some council members on what the real value of redeveloping the Trop is,” Nurse said.
    Kriseman has indicated that he or a representative would attend the workshop.
    The mayor’s revised plan hasn’t been brough to the council for a vote because Kriseman couldn’t find five members that would support it. 
    The workshop is scheduled for 2 p.m. at City Hall’s Room 100.  If the regular council meeting, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. that day, runs long, the workshop will start after the regular meeting ends, said City Clerk Chan Srinivasa. ...

  15. Crusading attorney's work for the 'people's business'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Matt Weidner sits in his law office, watching an archived video of the Jan. 13 state Cabinet meeting, trying to explain why he got so angry, so fed up, that he sued the governor.

    On the computer screen, Gov. Rick Scott introduces the new Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Rick Swearingen, replacing the well-respected Gerald Bailey, who had retired a month before. Cabinet members shake his hand....

    St. Petersburg attorney Matt Weidner poses at work, March 24, 2105.