Julie Kliegman, Politifact Staff Writer

Julie Kliegman

Julie Kliegman reports for PolitiFact and PolitiFact Florida. The New Jersey native came to the Times in July 2013 after earning a bachelor's degree in journalism and Spanish from Northwestern University.

Phone: (727) 893-8603

The Kliegman file: PolitiFact.com

E-mail: jkliegman@tampabay.com

Twitter: @jmkliegman

  1. Rick Scott awards veterans for service in Pinellas Park


    In January 1951, a year after being deployed to Korea with the first wave of infantrymen, Chinese forces captured William Allen. He and other POWs marched for two months to the Manchurian border, freezing without winter clothing. They released Allen from their camp in a trade after 31 months.

    He's still managing his post-traumatic stress (he won't use the word "disorder") and advocating on behalf of other POWs and MIA soldiers. For the veteran, 82, accepting a medal from Governor Rick Scott wasn't about himself or his experiences. It was about remembering his fellow POWs who couldn't be there....

    Left to Right: Florida Governor Rick Scott chats with US Army Major Deborah McKinney, Clearwater, Thursday at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center, Pinellas Park. Scott visited the center to recognize veterans for their service and to award them Florida Governors Veterans Service Recognition Award medals. McKinney has served in the US Army for fourteen years as a nurse.
  2. Rubio says health care law fell short of signup goal

    State Roundup

    The White House celebrated last week when 7.1 million Americans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces since they opened in October 2013.

    Predictably, the law's critics were not as thrilled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke on Hannity Tuesday night about what he sees as the reform's shortcomings.

    "I mean, the purpose of Obamacare was not to get 7 million people or 6 million people, or whatever the number now is, to sign up on a website," Rubio said. "The purpose of Obamacare, according to them, was to get more people insurance. And by all accounts, it's going to fall woefully short. You're still going to have 30-some-odd million people in this country uninsured."...

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says the purpose of Obamacare was not to get 7 million people, but to get “30-some-odd million people in this country” insured.
  3. Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Florida Legislature, Tuesday, March 4.
  4. Libertarian Lucas Overby eyes Pinellas congressional seat


    Clearwater resident Lucas Overby likes to say he's a U.S. congressional candidate because he never made it as a rock star.

    At 27, the husband and father has ditched the mohawk from his band days, but still shows off more than a handful of tattoos. Overby, a Libertarian, will likely add one to his collection after he faces off against Democrat Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly in the March 11 special election to fill the late C.W. Bill Young's seat....

    Clearwater resident Lucas Overby’s team estimates he has met 150,000 voters. 
  5. After one year, PSTA's North County Connector proves popular

    Mass Transit

    As the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority ushered in the new year, it passed the one-year anniversary for the North County Connector system. That's the service started in December 2012, using small, wheelchair-accessible shuttles to run three designated routes through North Pinellas and the surrounding area.

    The buses deviate from their routes to pick up and drop off passengers from nearby locations such as homes, businesses, malls and movie theaters....

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority’s North County Connector uses small, wheelchair-accessible shuttles to run three designated routes through northern Pinellas and the surrounding area.
  6. David Jolly wins GOP primary in District 13 congressional race


    David Jolly won Pinellas County's nationally watched Republican congressional primary by a wide margin on Tuesday, setting the stage for a costly and intense general election battle with Democrat Alex Sink.

    Jolly, 41, a former congressional aide and Washington lobbyist, won 45 percent of the vote, followed by state Rep. Kathleen Peters with 31 percent and Mark Bircher with 24 percent, according to unofficial results....

    State Rep. Kathleen Peters talks to supporters at her election night party at Bascom’s Chop House on Ulmerton Road. Peters gathered 31 percent of the vote to finish second in the three-candidate Republican primary to replace C.W. Bill Young. Peters attributed her loss largely to Jolly’s campaign money, and all the TV ads it bought.
  7. Three times more people looking than jobs open

    State Roundup

    The statement

    "Our economy still has three people looking for every job (opening)."

    Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, Jan. 5 on CNN's State of the Union

    The ruling

    To check the 3-to-1 ratio claim from Sperling, who's also a top economic adviser to President Barack Obama, we needed to know two things: the number of available jobs and the number of unemployed Americans. A White House spokesman referred us to a couple of Bureau of Labor Statistics reports....

    White House National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, right, speaks with Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., in the White House on Jan. 7, two days after Sperling said on CNN, “Our economy still has three people looking for every job (opening).” PolitiFact notes caveats but rates the claim True. See PolitiFact.com for more.
  8. Old jitney bus may travel Tarpon Springs streets again

    Human Interest

    TARPON SPRINGS — When Hercules Ypsilanti sold his prized possession, he turned down a $5,000 offer in favor of $10 and three avocados.

    The Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society collected his father's 1926 Chevrolet "jitney" bus from his shed the day after Christmas, nearly a century after Kevitos Ypsilanti started shuttling residents around town in it for about a dime per ride.

    It's fitting that Cyndi Tarapani, president of the historical society and original owner of those avocados, commissioned a father-son team, Wayne and Marc Hancock, to restore the bus. It hasn't known life outside a dusty shed since 1951....

    Wayne and Marc Hancock will restore the bus using only parts available in 1926, with a few exceptions required for safety.
  9. Inness paintings to move from sinkhole-plagued Florida church


    The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs closed temporarily in November because of two hidden sinkholes on the property, but the community's spirit is still going strong.

    "The church is still intact, it's just the building that's a little sick right now," church president Ann Rainey said.

    No one is permitted in the historic church building until engineers finish running tests and issue their report, expected in mid January....

    The Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs has sinkholes on the property. Notable artwork will be moved.
  10. Tragedies averted, two lives saved by caring 'angels' in Largo

    Human Interest

    LARGO — The Christmas season brings many gifts, but for two Largo families confronted by the possible death of a loved one, the sweetest gift of all was life. The givers: Strangers who heard a scream and ran toward the sound, not knowing what was wrong, but still ready to help.

    Thanks to them, two families remain whole and the stricken individuals they helped survived to see the new year arrive Wednesday....

    Bill Connell visits with his young neighbor, Matthew Johnson, 3, whom Connell helped save after the boy fell in a pool.
  11. Iowa residents use Christmas vacations in Palm Harbor to cement family bond

    Human Interest

    PALM HARBOR — The Wolfe family, 60 members strong, gets a good exercise in conversational Darwinism each December in Palm Harbor.

    "You've got to talk fast and loud in this family," said Chris Wolfe, one of 10 grown children in the family. He said of the introverts of the bunch, laughing, "I'm sure they get to talk at home."

    Every year since 1973, Kathy Wolfe and her children have left Davenport, Iowa, to spend Christmas at the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club here....

    The Wolfe family, all 60 of them, stay at Innisbrook Resort, as they have every December since 1973. This year, several of them are going to the Outback Bowl.
  12. Largo victim of shark bite heals and forgives



    Largo resident Erik Norrie's trip to the Bahamas in October wasn't exactly a vacation. It was a mission.

    Norrie, 41, looked out at the waters of Abaco Islands, where a shark had taken a bite out of his left calf in August. Now he planned to catch that same shark and release it as a symbol of his forgiveness.

    Norrie, who has been fishing his entire life, wasn't afraid — he had gone back on the water as soon as doctors would let him....

    A blue tie-dyed T-shirt with bright cartoon sharks — a reminder of his attack — is stretched over the desk chair in Erik Norrie’s office.
  13. All aboard! Ride the (miniature) train through Largo Central Park



    This weekend, residents young and old can tour Largo Central Park via train.

    That is, via a one-eighth scale model of a real train that carries passengers on a mile-long journey around the leafy 70-acre park, through a 160-foot-long tunnel, and up and over a man-made lake and waterfall.

    Volunteers from a club called the Largo Central Railroad operate the four to six miniature trains that represent different eras of U.S. railroading. Everything about the design of the trains is authentic, from the engines to the whistles, right down to the paint schemes....

    The Largo Central Railroad’s six miniature trains represent different eras of U.S. railroading.
  14. Pinellas shelter dogs get a home for the holidays

    Human Interest

    LARGO — Karen Altieri's Christmas cheer has four legs and a penchant for carrying her shoes around her Largo back yard. That's Christmas, a 1-year-old female pit bull mix with a short, dark brown coat. She doesn't know it yet, but there's a beef marrow bone from Santa that has her name on it.

    Altieri and her husband, Jan Majewski, both volunteers at Pinellas County Animal Services, took in the dog for two days as part of the shelter's Operation: Home for the Holidays....

    Gene Sanita poses with Dancer, a 2-year-old pit bull mix, that he is fostering for the holiday.
  15. PolitiFact: Shutdown caused some CEOs to delay hiring over next six months


    The statement

    "Half of all CEOs say that the shutdown and the threat of shutdown set back their plans to hire over the next six months."

    President Barack Obama, Oct. 17 in a public address

    The ruling

    The White House pointed us to a recent Business Roundtable survey.

    "Fifty percent of responding CEOs indicated that the ongoing disagreement in Washington over the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling is having a negative impact on their plans for hiring additional employees over the next six months," the report reads....