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Kirby Wilson, Times Staff Writer

Kirby Wilson

Kirby Wilson, a native Floridian, is the newest member of the Tampa Bay Times political team. He can be read on a variety of Times platforms in addition to the newspaper, including the Buzz blog and the Daily Buzz on Florida Politics newsletter. A junior at Duke University and contributor to the student independent daily The Chronicle, his passion for writing is dwarfed only by his love for the Blue Devils.

Phone: (727) 893-8092

Email: [email protected]

  1. Here are our favorite Tom Petty tributes from the past week


    The passing of Tom Petty robbed us all of a transcendent musical talent. But, as these tragedies have the power to do, it also brought us together this week as we remembered the various ways Petty's music moved us. We traded stories about the first time we heard "American Girl," or the last time we saw the Heartbreakers grace the stage. We belted out "Free Fallin'" and remembered the iconic Traveling Wilburys years....

    Gainesville native Tom Petty, whose indelible heartland anthems about outsiders striving for the American dream, died Monday. [Getty Images]
  2. Florida pols not big on Graham-Cassidy bill

    State Roundup

    After failing numerous times this summer to fulfill their nearly decade-long promise to repeal former President Barack Obama's signature health care bill, Senate Republicans pushed once more.

    The proposal sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana would overhaul the current system under the Affordable Care Act by sending revenue from ACA taxes to the 50 states in block grants. The states would be allowed to apply for waivers of current ACA regulations that require all health plans to cover certain "essential health benefits" such as maternity care....

     Florida Governor Rick Scott Addresses joint session of the Florida Legislature, 3/7/17 in Tallahassee.
  3. Looking to clear post-Irma debris? Here's what you need to know about waste pickup.


    In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, countless bay area residents have reported debris on their property. Here's what you need to know as you look to clear waste from around your home.

    Pinellas County

    The county tweeted these instructions to Pinellas County residents Sunday:

    A satellite photo shows Hurricane Irma as it closed in on Florida. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via The New York Times)
  4. Who to contact if you need help during Hurricane Irma


    Hurricane Irma is poised to affect nearly every Floridian in some way. Here are some key phone numbers that might come in handy as the storm approaches.

    For citizens all over Florida:

    FL Emergency Information Hotline: 1-800-342-3557

    Florida Division of Emergency Management: Text FLPREPARES to 888777

    Insurance consumer help line: 1-877-693-5236

    United Way's information service: call 2-1-1 or text "Irma" to 898-211 ...

    Homeowners along Bayshore Boulevard take precautions by boarding up windows against Hurricane Irma as Tampa Bay is under a hurricane warning on Sat., September 9, 2017. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  5. Five Irma memes we laughed at because the internet never stops


    Publix has closed locations all over the state. Officials have asked almost 7 million people to leave their homes. Highways are clogged. Bottled water is hard to find. But one local institution is chugging along even as Hurricane Irma menaces the Sunshine State: the internet.

    As Floridians all over the state batten down the proverbial hatches (whatever that means) for Hurricane Irma — which has already left a trail of devastation in the Caribbean — memelords from Twitter to Reddit have set out to poke fun at the monster storm....

    Hurricane Irma memes like this one are spreading on the internet.
  6. Hurricane Irma: Pasco to open shelter for sex offenders


    Registered sex offenders who need to evacuate because of Hurricane Irma now have an option: The Pasco County Sheriff's Office will set up a space for them in the shelter at Wiregrass Ranch High School in Wesley Chapel.

    "They need someplace to go just like any other citizen," sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said.

    LIVE BLOG: The latest on Hurricane Irma...

    Hurricane Irma, at center in this NASA photo from Friday morning, has prompted Pasco to open county shelters. [Getty Images]
  7. Hurricane Irma: Polk sheriff warns IDs will be checked at evacuation shelters


    Hurricane Irma's potential landfall is still days away, but the Polk County Sheriff's Office made minor online waves Wednesday morning with a pair of tweets warning sex offenders and citizens with arrest warrants against seeking refuge in local storm shelters.

    In the event that a serious storm event causes local shelters to open, the account tweeted, "If you go to a shelter for #Irma, be advised: sworn LEOs will be at every shelter, checking IDs. Sex offenders/predators will not be allowed."...

    Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. [Times (2016)]
  8. Nonprofit wellness center offers safe haven for those in need of hormone replacement therapy


    A St. Petersburg-based nonprofit that helps the Tampa Bay area's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities has begun offering hormone replacement therapy for transgender patients.

    Metro Wellness & Community Centers, which has locations in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, provided the first treatments early this month at its primary care facility at 3251 Third Ave. N in St. Petersburg. ...

  9. Breaking down the GOP debate

    State Roundup

    The first GOP presidential debate for the 2016 race was Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, moderated by Fox News' Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace. In case you didn't stay up to watch the full two hours, here's your water-cooler recap.

    The candidate Quote Best moment Biggest misstep Rating the performance
    Jeb Bush, 62, former governor of Florida (1999-2007), son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush. "I am my own man. I governed as a conservative, and I governed effectively. And the net effect was, during my eight years, 1.3 million jobs were created. We left the state better off because I applied conservative principles in a purple state the right way, and people rose up." He effectively defended his conservatism when faced with sticky questions about education, immigration and his family's record. He struggled with explaining his involvement with Michael Bloomberg's foundation and how it funded Planned Parenthood. Fine, not great. No memorable moments, but that's far better than creating still more memorable gaffes.
    Ben Carson, 63, retired neurosurgeon born in Michigan. Resident of Florida. "The thing that is probably most important is having a brain, and to be able to figure things out and learn things very rapidly." Carson had a clever closing statement, quipping that as a surgeon he was the only candidate to have taken out half of someone's brain, "although if you went to Washington, D.C., you'd think someone beat me to it." It's nice not to sound like a typical politician, but Carson sometimes spoke so slowly he sucked the energy out of the room. ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz. Better suited for the JV debate next time.
    Chris Christie, 52, governor of New Jersey, elected in 2009. "We have a lot of work to do in New Jersey, but I am darn proud of how we've brought our state back." Focusing attention on the impact of entitlement spending on the federal budget. Looking rattled and livid when Rand Paul hammered him for hugging President Barack Obama. Thursday offered a great opportunity for Christie to pull his campaign out of the cellar. He did not succeed.
    Ted Cruz, 44, U.S. senator from Texas elected in 2012. "If you're looking for someone to go to Washington, to go along to get along, to get — to agree with the career politicians in both parties who get in bed with the lobbyists and special interests, then I ain't your guy." Responding to Trump, but saying it's not stupidity that's keeping Washington leaders from coming to grips with illegal immigration, it's sheer unwillingness. Never had a big moment. Surprisingly, the Texas senator seemed nearly invisible for much of the night.
    Mike Huckabee, 59, former governor of Arkansas (1996-2007). Former Southern Baptist pastor. Resident of Florida. "It's time that we recognize the Supreme Court is not the supreme being, and we change the policy to be pro-life and protect children instead of rip up their body parts and sell them like they're parts to a Buick."


    FILE- In this July 29, 2015, file photo, Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, questions Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen on Capitol Hill in Washington. A super PAC aiming to help Cruz win the Republican presidential nomination raised from a single donor nearly as much as the candidate's formal campaign raised in three months. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) NY125
  10. Could the Iran nuclear deal help Republicans win Florida in 2016?


    President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal was dealt a blow Tuesday when Rep. Ted Deutch, a liberal Jewish Florida congressman, said he could not support the agreement.

    “Too many issues I have long raised as essential to any nuclear deal with Iran are not adequately addressed in this agreement,” Deutch wrote in a Sun Sentinel Op-ed. I will vote against it when Congress reconvenes in September.”...

  11. Pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPac nets just $250K in Florida money


    When the pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPAC Priorities USA Action released its half-year contribution summary late Friday, there was understandably little fanfare.

    The pro-Jeb Bush Right to Rise SuperPAC had already blown the doors off of any other campaign entity earlier that day, disclosing its astounding $103 haul Priorities USA netted barely more than 15 percent of that, at $15.6 million. ...

  12. Hillary Clinton in Miami: Lift the embargo against Cuba


    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for the lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba Friday. 

    A crowd of mostly enthusiastic supporters greeted Clinton as she gave a speech at Miami's Florida International University, although a few dozen protesters also demonstrated outside the event.

    The Miami Herald has the story here. ...

  13. Anti-Democrat Super PAC: Clinton flip flopped on Cuba embargo


    When Hillary Clinton advocated for the lifting of half-century-old trade and travel sanctions on Cuba Friday, the Democratic presidential candidate didn't pull punches.

    In a speech at Florida International University in Miami, long the home city of anti-Castro sanction supporters, Clinton called for an end to the "failed policies" of embargo....

  14. Gov. Rick Scott touts Forbes naming six Florida cities as top job growers


    Gov. Rick Scott never misses an opportunity to tout Florida's economy. 

    In a Thursday press release, Scott celebrated a Forbes article that named six Florida cities — Cape Coral, Orlando, Ocala, Port St. Lucie, North Port and Naples — to its top 10 "best cities for future job growth."...

  15. Poll: 68 percent of Floridians favor clean energy goal


    An environmental advocacy group touted new poll numbers Thursday that show the vast majority of Floridians favor making clean energy a priority.

    A survey conducted by Hart Research and commissioned by NextGen Climate showed that 68 percent of likely Florida voters have either a favorable or a very favorable view of committing to a national goal of 50 percent clean energy by 2030. Just 5 percent of state voters held an unfavorable view....