02/24/17 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG –– After Mayor Rick Kriseman transferred his longtime personal secretary to the Fire Department, his chief of staff ordered the employee to not say anything negative that could hurt the mayor, records show.
In September, Kriseman's closest aides told the Tampa Bay Times that Lisa Brekke, 32, was moved to fire headquarters as a training specialist to enhance her "professional growth" in city government. At the time, Kriseman chief of staff Kevin King and spokesman Ben Kirby stressed that nothing else triggered the transfer....
02/16/17 Local Government
LARGO –– The governing board of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board voted unanimously Thursday to hire an interim executive director and to negotiate the exit of its old executive director.
02/15/17 Local Government
LARGO — Rodney Fischer worked so much from August 2008 through 2011 that the leader of Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board logged only one vacation day, records show.
The latest revelation comes as Fischer waits for members of the licensing board to vote today on his request to stay on the payroll through June to collect 1,168 hours, or about 146 days, of unused vacation time — worth about $66,000....
02/10/17 Local Government
Pinellas County's top prosecutor has decided to open a criminal investigation into the local construction licensing board, which has been embroiled in controversy since a series of Tampa Bay Times reports raised questions about the agency's conduct.
02/09/17 Local Government
LARGO — Sen. Jack Latvala is not happy.
The state lawmaker became incensed Thursday after the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board rejected his plan to bring in new leadership to fix the troubled agency.
02/09/17 Local Government
LARGO — Amid a swirling controversy, the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board will meet today to discuss the former executive director's request to stay on the payroll through June so he can collect about $66,000 in unused vacation time.
The emergency session will be the first time the agency's governing board has met since Rodney Fischer announced his resignation Jan. 31 and asked to collect the 1,168 hours of vacation time he said he stockpiled over 16 years. He could collect only 696 hours if the board rejects his request, according to county policies. That move would cost him about $26,000....
02/07/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission can't do anything to reform the Pinellas County Construction Licensing board, an autonomous agency that operates outside county oversight. Nor could commissioners take action against the agency's longtime executive director, Rodney Fischer, who retired last week.
02/03/17 Local Government
LARGO –– The governing members of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board hope to meet next week to vote on retired executive director Rodney Fischer's request to stay on the payroll through June.
A series of stories in the Tampa Bay Times has raised questions about the way the board disciplines contractors and how Fischer has managed the independent agency, which operates without any government oversight....
02/03/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– State Sen. Jack Latvala shocked Pinellas County commissioners on Thursday when the powerful Republican lawmaker said he would block any attempt to put the county's troubled construction licensing board under government oversight.
01/31/17 Local Government
LARGO — Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board executive director Rodney Fischer said Tuesday that he'll retire — in five months.
But county officials want him gone ASAP.
Fischer shared the news at a morning meeting of the Pinellas legislative delegation, which is assessing the future of his agency. A recent series of reports by the Tampa Bay Times has raised questions about the way the licensing board disciplines contractors and how Fischer has managed the independent agency, which operates without any government oversight....
Pinellas County Attorney Jim Bennett, who spent three decades giving legal advice to county government and its leaders, announced Monday that he will retire in six months.
"My almost 33-year tenure with Pinellas County has been a great adventure," Bennett wrote in a letter to the county's commissioners and constitutional officers, "one of professional satisfaction, inspirational client relationships, and satisfying public service. In two words: a full career."...
Pinellas licensing board leader Rodney Fischer described as a 'bully' and 'suspicious' in clashes with employees and county officials01/30/17 Local Government
Rodney Fischer was fuming.
He ordered his small staff into a conference room at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board to deny a story ricocheting through the office.
"There is a rumor floating around that (I'm) . . . having an affair" with an employee, Fischer barked.
"There's nobody in this office that I'm going to bed with, or planning to go to bed with, or going to go to bed with. I just want to put that to rest right now!"...
01/27/17 Local Government
The executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board says he is working to comply with public records laws by transcribing old recordings of hearings held by his agency.
As candidates wait for the polls to close Tuesday, Mike Twitty can already celebrate his victory to be the next Pinellas County property appraiser.
He won the race Monday after the write-in challenger withdrew from the contest.
Twitty, who won the Republican primary in August, was slated to face write-in challenger Joseph Catalano. He had not raised any campaign contributions and faced a monumental task of beating Twitty....
11/06/16 State Roundup
TAMPA — The last day of early voting in Florida on Sunday saw an outpouring of black voters for Hillary Clinton as Donald Trump clung to a precarious path to victory in the state he needs most to clinch the presidency.
Two days before Election Day, Democrats worked to build an impenetrable Florida firewall for Clinton by activating the pulpits of black churches where a single message rang out: Get out and vote....