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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. Tampa Bay commuters mired in their cars as other cities find traveling alternatives


    For the first time in 50 years, the percentage of commuters who rely on the automobile, at least in urban areas, is dropping. "Although such shifts in travel behavior are slight, they have captured attention because they represent a disruption in an unequivocal, decades-long pattern of increased automobile travel," states a recent survey of travel habits by the U.S. Census Bureau. But Tampa Bay motorists aren't getting on board this trend. ...

    In 2010, out of the six intersections with traffic cameras, the intersection of Bruce B. Downs and Fletcher Ave had the most red light camera citations with 7,762. With three cameras, it also has the most cameras of the six intersections in Hillsborough County. [BRYAN THOMAS | Times]
  2. Interactive: Where does Tampa Bay rank in affordability?


    It's been pretty clear for a pretty long time just how much of a joke the federal poverty line is.

    In 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau had it at $24,008 for a two-parent, two-child family. Like the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour (which earns a full-time annual wage of $15,080), this doesn't come close to covering real world expenses, nor does it take into account the wild variations in cost of living expenses for different cities....

  3. How very un-Tampa Bay: Light rail wins (again) in Phoenix election


    Phoenix voters on Tuesday approved a sales tax increase that would pay for an expansion of its light rail system....

  4. Santa Rosa mulling the unthinkable in Hillsborough


    It's interesting to watch Hillsborough County commissioners go back and forth on a sales tax referendum next year. Should it be a 1-cent increase or a half-cent?...

  5. Are you listening Tampa Bay? Rail a hit in Phoenix.


    This is becoming a tired and depressing exercise.

    In yet another aftermath of a failed effort to get light rail approved in Tampa Bay, there's been much hand-wringing about what went wrong and why rail just won't work here. It's been five years since Hillsborough County even tried to get voters to approve light rail, and county leaders seem hesitant to renew the struggle. A new $3.5 billion plan to fund transportation projects over the next 30 years scrapped light rail altogether.*...

  6. Economic recovery could depend on where you live


    The National League of Cities has released its annual economic conditions survey that concludes the recovery means different things for different cities.

    'There are two different storylines playing out in cities: economic conditions are improving for some, but worsening for others," states the report. "This is troubling both socially and economically, making an even stronger case for inclusive growth policies that move the needle towards equity in our nations' cities."...

  7. Is rise of high-poverty neighborhoods to blame for police tensions?


    The NYC-based The Century Foundation, a non-partisan think tank founded in 1919, says the spate of police shootings that are drawing protests is no accident.

    It released a new report this week, Architecture of Segregation: Civil Unrest, the Concentration of Poverty, and Public Policy, that posits police-community tensions are worsening because poverty is getting more concentrated in the U.S....

  8. San Francisco considering hefty impact fees for developers


    File this under "IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN HERE".

    San Francisco hasn't been requiring developers to pay impact fees for the congestion their projects create.

    So its planning department is proposing a "transportation sustainability fee" that city officials want to produce money to offset the costs new residential development has on public transit. ...

  9. The density paradox


    In Tampa Bay, you'll often hear officials say that there's not enough density to support transit.

    It's such an abstract concept that it's a conversation ender. Not enough density? Ok. Back to our cars. We'll just wait another 10, 20, 30 years then.

    Gerhard W. Mayer, an architect who was part of Frank O. Gehry's office for eight years, tackles the subject of density in a column he wrote for Planetizen, an aggregation site for urban planners, architects, engineers and developers....

    The city of Muenster, Germany famously illustrates the concept of auto congestion.
  10. Raleigh, a model for Tampa Bay downtowns, passes new noise rules


    As Katherine Snow Smith has recently pointed out, many Tampa Bay leaders are looking at Raleigh, N.C. for inspiration.

    Its downtown has become a "mecca for millenials" with its hip restaurants and clubs.

    So it's worth noting that Raleigh passed new rules this week that restrict the use of downtown sidewalks by bars and restaurants at night because patrons have been getting too noisy....

  11. A BRT cautionary tale


    With rail referendums failing on both sides of the bay, our transit future seems destined for bus rapid transit, or BRT. St. Petersburg is scheduled for a pilot program soon.

    Pushed as the transit of choice by the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida, local officials will often say that BRT is more cost effective and practical than rail....

  12. Tampa Bay fares poorly in survey of largest metro areas


    How’s Tampa Bay doing compared to the nation’s 49 other major metropolitan areas?

    According to one comprehensive report that came out last week, you may not want to know.

    Tampa Bay residents earn less income than the U.S. average. The foreclosure rate is five times the national average. Commutes are longer. Adults smoke and binge drink more. They’re in the top 10 for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental distress, motor vehicle deaths, suicides and drug-related deaths. They have fewer bachelor and advanced degrees and spend fewer dollars on pupils and fewer government dollars per person than the national average....

  13. As technical difficulties with Florida's unemployment system persist, state seeks more money

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Typically, when an agency chief cuts the number of employees, the state saves money.

    Not so with Jesse Panuccio, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed to head the state's Department of Economic Opportunity. He came to lawmakers this spring seeking an extra $6.5 million to reduce the number of employees manning call centers and processing unemployment claims.

    "So increased funding is going to allow you to decrease staffing?" said Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater....

    Jesse Panuccio head of the DEO, requested $6.5 million to help fix CONNECT.
  14. Corcoran and Lee meet all day to discuss budget, but provide few details


    The Legislature’s two budget chiefs met all day Wednesday to discuss ways to compromise on the impasse on Medicaid expansion, but don’t expect any breakthroughs, at least not yet.

    House Appropriations Chair Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes said Wednesday’s meeting in the Capitol with Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, was “super productive.”

    But he also said it was “too early to say” when asked what, if any, common ground was reached. Lee and the Senate want to use federal Medicaid money to expand healthcare coverage; Corcoran and the House oppose that plan. That disagreement has held up a wider agreement on the state’s $80 billion budget. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in the first three weeks of June during a special session to approve a budget. State government isn't threatened with running out of money until July 1, when the new budget year begins....

  15. Rick Scott employs gangster (metaphor) to make a point


    SopranosEvery time Tony Soprano thinks his name won’t be invoked by Gov. Rick Scott as a metaphor for bullying by the federal government on Medicaid expansion, Scott pulls him back in....