Mike Brassfield, Times Staff Writer

Mike Brassfield

Mike Brassfield has been with the Tampa Bay Times as a reporter and editor since 1998. He currently covers Clearwater and a variety of other subjects. Previously, he covered crime in St. Petersburg as well as Tampa Bay transportation issues. He also has worked as a Times editor in the Tampa and Clearwater newsrooms.

Phone: (727) 445-4151

Email: brassfield@tampabay.com

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  1. Church of Scientology resists Clearwater aquarium's plans to move downtown

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — It can be argued that the two biggest names in Clearwater are Winter the dolphin and L. Ron Hubbard. Now a behind-the-scenes dispute between their followers has broken out into the open.

    Officials from the Church of Scientology, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are quietly lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voi­cing their opposition to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's plans to relocate downtown....

    Members of the Church of Scientology walk along Fort Harrison last year after the dedication of its massive new Flag Building. Officials from the church, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voicing opposition to a plan to relocate the Clearwater Marine Aquarium downtown.
  2. Clearwater considers switch to once-a-week trash collection

    Blog

    CLEARWATER — Last year, a flurry of angry phone calls prompted Clearwater to cancel a pilot program to reduce trash collection from twice a week to once a week in a couple of neighborhoods.

    Now the issue is back. Clearwater leaders are strongly considering switching to once-a-week garbage collection citywide. They know they would take some heat for it, too — especially because residents’ trash pickup bills wouldn’t go down....

  3. Clearwater considers switch to once-a-week trash collection

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Last year, a flurry of angry phone calls prompted Clearwater to cancel a pilot program to reduce trash collection from twice a week to once a week in a couple of neighborhoods.

    Now the issue is back. Clearwater leaders are strongly considering switching to once-a-week garbage collection citywide. They know they would take some heat for it, too — especially because residents' trash pickup bills wouldn't go down....

  4. Clearwater Jazz Holiday kicks off with Earth, Wind and Fire

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — By the time Earth, Wind and Fire took the stage on the opening night of this year's Clearwater Jazz Holiday, downtown Clearwater's Coachman Park was jam-packed with music lovers looking to get their groove on.

    The long-running Chicago-based group cranked out their familiar blend of funk, soul and R&B. They're a big draw to be sure, but they're no one's idea of a jazz act....

    Earth, Wind and Fire founding members (from left) Verdine White, Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson take the stage on Thursday as the headline act for the opening night of the 35th Anniversary Clearwater Jazz Holiday at Coachman Park in Clearwater. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  5. Clearwater Marine Aquarium launches campaign to save near-extinct porpoise species

    Wildlife

    CLEARWATER — Seeking to harness the fame of its dolphins, Winter and Hope, for a worthy cause, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a campaign to save a near-extinct species of porpoise.

    The aquarium announced Friday that it's spearheading an effort to save the vaquita, a rare species of porpoise that lives in the northern part of the Gulf of California in Mexican territory.

    The estimated number of vaquita dropped below 100 this year, putting it in danger of extinction. It's the most endangered marine mammal species in the world, according to the National Academy of Sciences....

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium's CEO David Yates accompanied by Bob Talbot (not pictured), world renowned photographer, film maker, and environmentalist, announced a Major Global Conservation Effort Clearwater Marine Aquarium is spearheading to try and save the Vaquita.  -  Looking to capitalize on the fame of Winter the dolphin and her companion Hope, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Friday launched a campaign to save a near-extinct porpoise species. The aquarium is spearheading an effort to save the Vaquita, a rare species of porpoise that lives in the northern part of the Gulf of California. The estimated number of Vaquita dropped below 100 this year, putting it in imminent danger of extinction. It is considered the most endangered dolphin species in the world, according to conservation experts. The Clearwater aquarium is encouraging fans of Winter and Hope to go to the aquarium's website, seewinter.com, and sign a petition that will be sent to the president of Mexico. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  6. State Senate: District 20

    Kyc

    State Senate | District 20

    In this North Pinellas Senate race, well-funded veteran lawmaker Jack Latvala is considered such a strong favorite for re-election that he doesn't face a Democratic challenger. Instead, the moderate Republican from Clearwater is facing a long-shot challenge from the right in Tony Caso, a tea party activist who quit the Republican party to run as a Libertarian. By Mike Brassfield, Times staff writer...

    Caso
  7. McDonald's, vacant on U.S. 19 for 14 years, gets a deadline

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — At U.S. 19 and Sunset Point Road, there's a well-known eyesore — a dead McDonald's that has been vacant for 14 years.

    The building has long been known for its boarded-up windows, peeling paint, overgrown planters, graffiti-covered walls, trash bags dumped in the parking lot and crumbling remains of an outdoor play area.

    Now, under pressure from the city of Clearwater, the owner has fixed it up with a fresh coat of paint, new windows, a major cleanup and assorted repairs. But the city has given him a deadline to get the vacant building occupied or face fines of up to $250 a day....

    The McDonald’s at 23837 U.S. 19 has been vacant for 14 years. Optometrist Gilbert Jannelli owns the property.
  8. Chased out of Israel, international windsurfing event lands on Clearwater Beach

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — The best young windsurfers on the planet had a big problem.

    This year's youth world championships were all set to be held in Israel. But that was before violence erupted on the Gaza Strip, before weeks of death and destruction wrought by rockets and mortar fire. All that turmoil was scaring away competitors.

    Where else could they go on such short notice?

    That's when a couple of people in Clearwater basically said, Hey, bring the party over to our house....

    Windsurfers practice Wednesday near Sand Key Park in Clearwater. Opening ceremonies for the RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships are Sunday.
  9. Talking dog doo-doo in Clearwater

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- An item recently appeared on the Clearwater City Council’s agenda: “Pooper Scooper Ordinance.”

    It turns out that in Clearwater, you’re not actually required to pick up your dog’s poop. Mayor George Cretekos would like to change that.

    “A couple of people have approached me about, why doesn’t Clearwater have an ordinance that says you really are supposed to pick up after your pets when you walk them on public property or even on somebody else’s private property,” Cretekos said....

  10. Clearwater public art debate indirectly caused by former city employee's feud over a fire station

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Call it the final revenge of the spurned employee.

    A former city worker's anger at Clearwater helped lead to the current situation in which the city is spending more than $100,000 on a piece of public artwork that few members of the public might actually get to see.

    It's a convoluted story, involving a chain reaction of events over several years.

    It starts with Helen Davis, 76. She spent 20 years as a Clearwater city employee, mostly processing water bills. She says she felt mistreated and underpaid....

    Accumulate will be installed inside the fire station at a cost of more than $100,000.
  11. Clearwater community leaders endorse Greenlight Pinellas plan

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- If light rail comes to Pinellas County, it will run north to a transportation hub in downtown Clearwater, where trolleys and buses would whisk passengers to the beach or Dunedin or elsewhere.

    That transportation hub would likely be located at a city-owned lot at Court Street and Myrtle Avenue. On Wednesday, a group of Clearwater business and community leaders gathered there to publicly endorse the Greenlight Pinellas plan....

  12. Clearwater community leaders endorse Greenlight Pinellas plan

    Mass Transit

    CLEARWATER — If light rail comes to Pinellas County, it will run north to a transportation hub in downtown Clearwater, where trolleys and buses would whisk passengers to the beach or Dunedin or elsewhere.

    That transportation hub would likely be located at a city-owned lot at Court Street and Myrtle Avenue. On Wednesday, a group of Clearwater business and community leaders gathered there to publicly endorse the Greenlight Pinellas plan....

  13. Sen. Jack Latvala faces long-shot challenge from the right

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — As Pinellas County's most powerful legislator, Sen. Jack Latvala keeps making headlines.

    Watch him blast Duke Energy, threatening legislation to end its controversial billing practices. See him win passage of in-state tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. Hear him come out publicly in favor of the Greenlight Pinellas light rail plan.

    Some constituents in his north Pinellas district may disagree, but it's not like he has to worry about political opposition. The well-known, well-funded Latvala is considered such a shoo-in for re-election that no Democrat is bothering to run against him on Nov. 4....

    Sen. Jack Latvala, a moderate Republican, is facing a long-shot challenge from the right. [Times files]
  14. Hulk Hogan's son latest victim of hackers leaking celebs' nude pics

    Human Interest

    Gossip websites are abuzz with news that the hackers who have been leaking nude photos of celebrities online have claimed their first male victim — Nick Hogan, son of famed wrestler and Tampa Bay celebrity Hulk Hogan.

    "The photos that were hacked are voluminous and graphic," the gossip website TMZ reports. "There are pics going back to his high school escapades, various girlfriends in various states of undress."...

    Nick Bollea, left, who deejays under the name Nick Hogan, with his father, professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, right, at Hogan's Beach in April. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
  15. 55-year-old man drowns in rip currents off Treasure Island

    Accidents

    TREASURE ISLAND — Unusually strong rip currents may have contributed to the death of a 55-year-old man who drowned while swimming off Treasure Island on Saturday, police said.

    The man had been swimming in the area with friends shortly before passersby saw his body in the water just off the beach. Beachgoers pulled the unconscious man from the water and called 911.

    Police performed CPR on the man until emergency medical workers arrived, but they couldn't save him....