Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer

Craig Pittman

Tampa Bay Times reporter Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. He graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him "the most destructive force on campus." Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998 he has reported on environmental issues for the Times. He is a four-time winner of the Waldo Proffitt Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism in Florida and a series of stories on Florida's vanishing wetlands that he wrote with Matthew Waite won the top investigative reporting award in both 2006 and 2007 from the Society of Environmental Journalists. He is the author of three books: "The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World's Most Beautiful Orchid" (2012); "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," (2010); and, co-written with Waite, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," (2009), all published by the University Press of Florida. He lives in St. Petersburg with his wife and two children.

Phone: (727) 893-8530


Twitter: @CraigTimes

  1. Charlie Crist endorses Greenlight Pinellas in visit to St. Pete church


    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin spent about 20 minutes campaigning at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Sunday morning.

    Tomalin urged the congregation to vote for the Greenlight Pinellas transit issue because of the jobs it would create -- and then Crist endorsed the ballot item as well.

    "Greenlight is good -- good for transportation," Crist told the congregation....

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist and St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin spent about 20 minutes campaigning at Bethel Community Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Sunday morning.
  2. What about the manatees? Group targets two U.S. agencies for dock permits


    An environmental group that frequently sues the government over endangered species issues has taken aim at the federal permitting of thousands of boat docks in Florida and how that affects manatees.

    The Florida office of the Center for Biological Diversity contends that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service aren't keeping track of how many permits they approve for waterfront access throughout the state....

    The Center for Biological Diversity says two federal agencies are not considering the cumulative impact on manatees from the high number of Florida docks they are approving.
  3. U.S. Sugar plans development on land Florida wanted for Everglades restoration


    For the past two years, as its executives were taking Florida politicians on secret hunting trips to the King Ranch in Texas, U.S. Sugar was planning for a massive change in its business plan.

    The company, which has been growing and processing sugar cane in South Florida since the 1930s, has mapped out a way to turn itself into one of Florida's biggest developers.

    On 67 square miles of sugar land southwest of Lake Okeechobee in Hendry County, U.S. Sugar and Hilliard Brothers of Florida, another sugar company with adjoining property, have joined forces on a project that would plop down 18,000 homes and 25 million square feet of stores, offices, warehouses and other commercial buildings amid the rural landscape....

    Sugar cane grows in a field owned by U.S. Sugar as a storm rolls in over Clewiston on Aug. 13. Developing land owned by the company could greatly benefit Hendry County, which is looking for ways to revive its sagging economy.
  4. After dismantling land programs, Scott now wants funds for them


    When Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a proposal this month to revive Florida's popular environmental land-buying program, to the tune of $150 million a year, the news caught Greg Brock off guard.

    "I was kind of shocked," said Brock, who recently retired from the Division of State Lands.

    That's because Scott's administration has spent the past three years dismantling the division of the Department of Environmental Protection that's in charge of assessing and acquiring environmental land, according to Brock and other former DEP employees. ...

    Mosaic — as part of a legal settlement — offered last year to hand over to the state for free the Peaceful Horse Ranch along the Peace River. The DEP said no thanks. 
  5. Scott and Putnam disclose a few more details on King Ranch trips


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam this week provided the most detail yet on his hunting trips to King Ranch in Texas, saying he did not discuss state business, such as water policy, while visiting hunting land leased by U.S. Sugar.

    However, Putnam still won't answer key questions about his trips to King Ranch, where he and other top Florida Republican elected officials have visited since U.S. Sugar leased land there in 2011....

    Adam Putnam says his last trip to the Texas ranch was in 2012.
  6. Touting prosugar bill, Southerland first U.S. congressman to confirm King Ranch trip


    TALLAHASSEE — Standing alongside Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and representatives from business groups, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland on Monday touted federal legislation to block federal oversight of waterways and wetlands in favor of state and local government agencies.

    "If the big government bullies are successful, it will mean higher costs for doing business, more uncertainty in the workplace, and fewer jobs," the Panama City Republican said during a news conference in the state Capitol. "States and local governments are sometimes better able to manage waters within their boundaries than the D.C. bureaucrats a thousand miles away."...

    Rep. Steve Southerland wants states to oversee waterways.
  7. With close ties to sugar, next House speaker admits King Ranch trip

    State Roundup

    To say that Steve Crisafulli is comfortable working with the sugar industry is an understatement.

    Crisafulli, who becomes the most powerful man in the Florida House of Representatives this fall, has been a major beneficiary of the state's sugar industry. During the last two election cycles, agricultural interests have contributed at least $200,000 to Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and his political action committees. U.S. Sugar contributed nearly half of that total, $94,500....

    Associated Industries lobbyist Brewster B. Bevis posted this photo of himself on Facebook that he said was taken at King Ranch in 2012. The date is the same as when House Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli acquired a Texas hunting license for that year. Bevis later removed it from the site.
  8. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge, Group 35


    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 35

    The race for this seat on the Pinellas-Pasco bench pits a first-time candidate named Jon Newlon, a family law attorney with a solo practice, against an incumbent with nearly a quarter century of experience, Circuit Judge Bruce Boyer. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer


    Bruce Boyer, 67


    Jon Newlon
  9. Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge, Group 16


    Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 16

    Brian Battaglia and Kimberly Sharpe have taken different paths through the legal system, but both say their experience has prepared them for taking the bench as a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer

    Brian Battaglia, 53


    Kimberly Sharpe, 33...

    Kimberly Sharpe
  10. Clean Tampa Bay worth $22 billion to bay area, study says


    One in every five jobs in the Tampa Bay watershed depends on keeping the bay itself healthy, according to a new study unveiled Tuesday.

    A clean bay also contributes about $22 billion to the bay area's total economic activity over the larger, six-county region, according to the study conducted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.

    The survey — the first look at the bay's economic impact since 1999 — looked at employment, real estate, food services and lodging in an area that includes all or parts of counties from Hernando to Sarasota. The two agencies also sent a detailed survey to 76 professionals working in industries affiliated with the bay....

  11. Shark Week's biggest critic sharpening his Twitter harpoon


    Cue the theme song. You know the one — the one with all that foreboding bass, the one that kids who haven't seen the movie like to hum when they're splashing at the beach and pretending there's a deadly predator nearby.

    Shark Week, by far the most popular week of programming on the Discovery Channel, is lurking, ready to chomp down on the nation's TV screens again this week.

    And that means David Shiffman is sharpening his harpoon....

    University of Miami graduate student David Shiffman, a critic of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, tags a lemon shark in the Everglades with the assistance of Stacy Assael.
  12. Gov. Scott's environmental plan promises big bucks, lacks details


    Amid mounting criticism of his stance on climate change and his secret hunting trip to Texas with sugar industry officials, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday unveiled an eight-page plan for how he will improve Florida's environment if the voters give him four more years in office.

    Scott, speaking before the Martin County Chamber of Commerce and the Loxahatchee River Environmental Center in Jupiter, pledged to spend $1 billion on restoring the Everglades, cleaning up the polluted Indian River Lagoon, saving the state's declining springs and providing more water for the state's continued growth....

    Gov. Rick Scott’s plan does not say where money would come from to pay for its proposals.
  13. King Ranch Trivia: Who is Mitch Hutchcraft?


    A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

    A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft....

  14. After Scott's secret trip to King Ranch, he tapped ranch employee for state regulatory board


    TALLAHASSEE — A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.

    A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft. ...

    mug of Mitch Hutchcraft , for the next installment of our King Ranch scandal saga.
  15. U.S. Sugar support no longer "disgusting" to Scott


    Before he was governor, Rick Scott attacked another Florida politician for accepting campaign funds from U.S. Sugar. He even said Bill McCollum, his opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, had been "bought and paid for.''

    Four years later, Scott has received at least $534,000 for his reelection campaign from the corporate giant, and went on a 2013 hunting trip to its hunting lodge at King Ranch in Texas....