With all the money in politics, does anyone represent the regular guy?
The three Democratic candidates in the House District 67 race all say they would, and each claims the perspective comes from working-class roots.
Thomas Ryan works at a dairy, was happy when his salary got into the $30,000 range, and said "I think I'd be a voice for the poorer people, for the people who really struggle."...
Shawna Vercher is a poised, articulate businesswoman who in many ways appears an ideal Democratic candidate in a tough battle for a state House seat in Pinellas County.
She's at ease in front of cameras and energetic enough to shake every hand in the room. Although she lost a $1.5 million court case and filed for bankruptcy, she has attempted to turn the setback into an advantage by writing a blistering book on the need to reform Florida's justice system....
U.S. Rep. David Jolly on Monday said that although he's a Christian who believes in traditional marriage, he supports a judge's recent decision striking down Florida's gay marriage ban.
Jolly, R-Indian Shores, described himself as "a 41-year-old less-government conservative," and said same-sex marriage is "an issue of less government and personal liberty."
Therefore, he told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview, "a state that embraces both same-sex marriage and traditional marriage is something that I support."...
U.S. Rep. David Jolly has said it's "fully appropriate" for state's to recognize same-sex marriages as well as traditional marriages.
"As a matter of my Christian faith, I believe in traditional marriage," Jolly said on Monday to the Washington Post. "But as a matter of Constitutional principle I believe in a form of limited government that protects personal liberty. To me, that means that the sanctity of one’s marriage should be defined by their faith and by their church, not by their state. Accordingly, I believe it is fully appropriate for a state to recognize both traditional marriage as well as same-sex marriage, and therefore I support the recent decision by a Monroe County Circuit Judge.” ...
Judicial candidate Brian Battaglia has been ordered to pay a portion of $35,571 in attorney's fees stemming from a case that a judge found "frivolous."
The order comes less than two months before the Aug. 26 election. He is running against attorney Kimberly Sharpe for an open judicial seat in the Pinellas-Pasco circuit.
But Battaglia said in an interview Tuesday he did not think the recent order reflects poorly on his abilities as a lawyer, and he did not expect it to become a major campaign issue....
LARGO — A new $10 million computer system that tracks civil, criminal, traffic and other court records is now online, and officials say it will eventually help make it easier to read many court files from a home or office computer.
The new system, called Odyssey, can be used by the public as well as police, prosecutors, public defenders and others. For the public, it can be used for many tasks, including finding the date of an upcoming court hearing or learning whether a job applicant has an arrest record in Pinellas County. Access it at pinellasclerk.org and click on "search records." ...
They're both Republicans who describe themselves as conservative. They're both single men with roots in Pinellas County. They both pledge to represent all the people.
But it doesn't take much to find the contrasts between Chris Latvala and Christopher Shepard, the GOP candidates for state House District 67. The seat is open because Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater, can't run again because of term limits....
Troy Anthony Charles, who once ran a self-styled but unregulated halfway house for addicts in St. Petersburg, was convicted of first-degree murder this week and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Charles, 50, was accused of firing a bullet into the head of Samuel Harper, whose girlfriend Charles was purportedly trying to help in his program. His attorney maintained it was a case of self-defense....
LARGO — A judge ruled on Friday that an Army major accused of killing his wife's ex-husband can be released from the Pinellas County Jail on $2.5 million bail.
Roman Izzo, 36, faces a first-degree murder charge in the shooting and stabbing death of Vincent Lee, 43.
It's highly unusual locally for a first-degree murder defendant to get a chance to be released on bail. But Izzo's attorney, Steve Romine, successfully argued that prosecutors had not followed the steps necessary to keep Izzo behind bars without bail....
LARGO — Kevin Kyne, convicted in 2012 of murdering his mother in their Seminole home, should get a new trial, a Florida appeals court ruled on Friday.
Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley erred by allowing the jury to hear about Kyne's "prior violent disputes" with his stepfather, William Kyne, according to the ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
"We're pleased with the opinion and look forward to trying the case again," Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger said. "We always said that evidence should not have been admitted."...
Troy Anthony Charles presented himself as a lifeline, a man who helped addicts battle their demons by welcoming them into his St. Petersburg anti-drug program, Back to Life Outreach Recovery Services.
But on April 2, 2012, Charles fired a bullet into Samuel Harper's head. Charles went on trial Monday, accused of murdering Harper, the boyfriend of a woman he was purportedly trying to help in his program....
A massage therapist accused of sexual battery on two clients has been sentenced to five years in prison, followed by five years of probation.
Ronald D. Bruinius, 36, pleaded guilty last week to two counts of sexual battery and will be designated as a sex offender, said Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Doug Ellis. Bruinius also gave up his massage therapy license.
Bruinius was arrested by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in December after a 53-year-old client said he touched her sexually during a massage at his Largo-area business, Ronnie's Body Work Massage. He later was accused of similar behavior on a 28-year-old client....
The owner of a St. Petersburg hotel that markets itself to gay and lesbian guests is suing Pinellas County's property appraiser, claiming its tax bill is too high because of discrimination.
Pinellas Property Appraiser Pam Dubov said Monday she had not seen the lawsuit, but she was familiar with a previous complaint from the hotelier, and sharply disagrees.
"I categorically deny that we have any intent toward discrimination against the gay and lesbian community," Dubov said....
ST. PETERSBURG — Marquice Anderson, wanted in connection with a fiery crash that killed three young women last week, turned himself in Monday at the Pinellas County Jail.
He had worried all weekend, aware he would likely be held without bail and nervous about the "retaliation factor," said Dyril Flanagan, his attorney. "He was worried about who could be a cousin of a cousin and who wants to retaliate."...
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Thane Covert set bail at $100,000 Friday for Robert Tankel after a lengthy court hearing that provided more details about the lewd and lascivious molestation charge lodged against the prominent Pinellas attorney.
And late Friday, after three days in the Pinellas County Jail, Tankel was released in a case that defense attorney Todd Foster had labeled "more than a huge mistake."...