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Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg City Hall and state government in Tallahassee. He's now assistant metro editor for the paper.

Phone: (727) 580-9650.


Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

  1. Scott returns to Miami for hastily announced Zika news conference


    Early Friday morning, Gov. Rick Scott cancelled an appearance in Tampa at Aero Simulation, where he was to tout the latest Florida jobs numbers (26,000 new jobs in July, according to the Department of Economic Opportunity).

    At the same time the cancellation was announced, Scott's office disclosed that he would hold a news conference at the Miami-Dade County Health Department regarding the Zika virus....

  2. U.S. Senate | Democratic primary, Alan Grayson v. Pam Keith v. Patrick Murphy


    U.S. Senate | Democratic primary

    With control of the U.S. Senate on the line, Democrats are looking to Florida, where they hope to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio. The caustic primary campaign has pitted two congressmen — establishment favorite Patrick Murphy and bombastic Alan Grayson — against each other and a first-time candidate, labor attorney Pam Keith.

    About the job: Statewide representative to the U.S. Senate. Salary: $174,000. Term: six years....

    FILE- In this Sept. 26, 2012 file photo, Patrick Murphy poses at his campaign office in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. For a while it looked like Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy might have a clear shot at earning the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat Republican Marco Rubio is surrendering to run for president. National and state party leaders quickly endorsed him, but fellow Rep. Alan Grayson, an outspoken liberal, seems determined to have a primary few in the party want to see. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
  3. Father of Orlando mass shooter attends Clinton rally (and has a good seat)


    WPTV, the NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach, attended Monday's Hillary Clinton rally in Kissimmee when one of its reporters noticed the man in the red hat sitting behind the stage in full view of the cameras.

    Turns out it was Seddique Mateen, the father of Omar Mateen. As Clinton was talking about the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, just 30 minutes from Kissimmee, the father of the gunman sat in the crowd. Pretty surreal stuff....

  4. News Service of Florida: After Pulse, Rick Scott expressed support for gay rights


    From our friends at The News Service of Florida:

    In the days after 49 people were killed at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Gov. Rick Scott privately expressed some support for gay rights to the state's only openly gay state lawmaker, a Miami Beach House member told a gathering in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

    "We didn't talk about specific laws, but what he said to me privately and in the presence of his staff is that he's a grandfather and if any of his grandchildren happened to be gay he would want them to be treated with dignity and respect and have their rights," state Rep. David Richardson told the News Service after a panel discussion. "And he also told me that for anyone that might be critical of him and having these meetings, that he got elected to represent all 20 million Floridians."

    Richardson, a Democrat, said the Republican governor's office called him after the Pulse nightclub killings, seeking help reaching out to the gay community. Richardson said he responded, "I'm willing to help you but only if you can do this on my terms, and my terms are no press and no photo opportunities."

    "I didn't want to be used to facilitate him after he has not been responsive to our community," Richardson told audience members at Wednesday's event hosted by the Equality Forum at the National Museum of Jewish American History in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention.

    Richardson, who had recently returned from attending a vigil in Orlando, hopped in his car and made the trek northward, holding meetings with faith leaders and representatives of the LGBT community.

    "He respected all my wishes," Richardson said.

    Richardson said the meetings with Scott offered some leverage that he would use depending on what bills reach the governor's desk.

    "I will happily call him up and remind him what he told me in Orlando," said Richardson, who told the audience he was sharing the story as an example of "relationship-building."

    Richardson told the News Service he had no compunction about publicly sharing the meetings because the secrecy was on his terms.

    "I'm not violating any trust by telling a story," said Richardson, who said he doesn't talk about the meetings a lot because he's not a "cheerleader" for Scott.

    The meetings came after Richardson texted Scott's chief of staff, Kim McDougal, complaining about the lack of mention the gay community received in Scott's remarks right after the shooting, which occurred in the early hours of June 12.

    "He didn't say anything about the gay community, the LGBT community. I text her and I said, 'Would you tell him that he has to say the word gay?' " Richardson told the News Service. "He has to say the word gay because the gay community is taking note that he's not acknowledging the community."

    Wednesday's panel, which also included New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, was moderated by Aisha Moodie-Mills, CEO of the Victory Fund, which aims to help elect members of the LGBT community in "low-equality states," including Florida.

    "Florida is absolutely one of those states," Moodie-Mills told the News Service....

    Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, said that Rick Scott privately expressed to him support for gay rights after the Pulse nightclub killings.
  5. Charlie Crist surprised to learn he's in running for Clinton's VP


    Like most political observers, former Florida governor Charlie Crist thought he had a good handle on who Hillary Clinton was considering for her VP, which she's expected to announce soon. 

    But then his phone started ringing from reporters about a tweet from CBC News Alerts claiming that he, Charlie Crist, candidate for U.S. Congress, was in fact on Clinton's short list.
    This guy for Clinton's VP? In a word: "No."
  6. On Trump's big night at RNC, Rubio expected to be at Tampa watch party


    As the Republican National Convention coronates Donald Trump on Thursday night in Cleveland, the man many once considered the GOP's best bet for the job will be 1,100 miles away watching the event on TV in a Tampa bar.

    At least, that's what a flier for a Republican Party of Hillsborough watch party says will happen on the last night of the RNC.

    The "Unifying for America/Trump for President/Convention Watch Party" will have as a very special guest, WFLA 970-AM's Tedd Webb. The master of ceremonies will be retired Lt. Col. Steve Emerson of the U.S. Marine Corps. It starts at 6 p.m. at 81 Bay Brewing Co., 4465 W. Gandy Boulevard, Tampa. ...

    Rubio won't be this close to Trump on Thursday
  7. 538: Tampa Bay is a lot like 'Normal America'


    Tampa Bay is often characterized as just another example of weird Florida. So it was interesting to see a completely different take on our region in Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog. ...

    Think Tampa Bay is weird? It's not.
  8. Toll roads surge in U.S. as rest of infrastructure declines


    Notice how infrastructure spending has lagged in the U.S. compared to other countries?

    Or that the federal gas tax hasn't been raised since 1993?

    How about that the federal share of revenue paying for Florida's roads, once more than 50 percent, is now below 25 percent?...

  9. What the 8 years since the recession torpedoed Florida’s state budget tell us about Gov. Rick Scott’s priorities

    State Roundup

    Gov. Rick Scott vowed to make steep spending cuts upon taking office in 2011. With an assist from state lawmakers, he's done just that in the past six years.

    More than 13,000 state positions have been eliminated, which will save $152 million next year. The state has slashed more than $800 million in its mental health and elderly services. Florida Bright Futures dropped by a third, or $120 million....

  10. St. Pete Pier design wins top award for NYC architects


    The architects for St. Pete's new pier picked up a prestigious design award this week.

    The New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects gave Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers the Merit Award, which recognizes distinguished achievement in urban design....

  11. Think TBX is getting opposition? Check out what's happening outside Seattle


    FDOT's $3.3 billion Tampa Bay Express plan (or is it $6 billion?) has drawn mounting criticism and protests for months for its proposed use of toll lanes....

  12. Post recession: "American Dream" takes a hit in Florida, among older millennials


    How much has the housing market changed since the Great Recession?

    Quite a bit, according to an analysis by Mark Uh, a data scientist at the real estate blog Trulia.

    Of the 50 largest metro regions, Tampa had the fifth largest climb in the percentage of renters from 2006 to 2014. Here are the top 10:...

  13. As Kriseman pushes for bike share, Seattle offers up a cautionary tale


    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has struggled to get City Council members to support his bike-share program. 

    They resisted the idea of using BP settlement money for the program last year. After raising a series of questions about the viability of the program last week, Council members decided to bring it up again next month....

  14. GE brings to light just how far Tampa Bay is slipping behind top tier cities


    It's hard to imagine, but there was a time during the 00's that Tampa Bay leaders really believed suburban office parks would be the future.

    They planned to make Interstate 4 a "High Tech Corridor" lined with massive office parks, from Tampa to Orlando.

    "Economic developers and corridor promoters agree that the coming decade will be the critical time to position Florida's High-Tech Corridor as more high-tech companies nationwide seek out a home base," Florida Trend wrote in 2001. "While not yet on par with the big-league regions, central Florida's manufacturing and high-tech companies have gained real momentum. Says Guy Hagen, assistant director for economic development at USF: 'The (growth) curve is beginning to be visible.'"  ...

  15. New census data reveals economic picture for bay area after collapse of housing market


    We're still making sense of how the Great Recession changed Tampa Bay.

    But make no mistake. This region will never be the same.

    Last month, the U.S. Census Bureau released data that provides one of the best glimpses yet of how the the 2008 housing crash transformed a nation.

    Since 2005, the bureau conducts an ongoing survey that samples about 3.5 million addresses per year.

    The American Community Survey collects data on a wide range of demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics over a 60-month period that are designed to produce critical information previously collected in the decennial (every 10 years) census. ...

    [STEVE MADDEN | Times]