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. 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]
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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....

    Competative windsurfers Tucker McElwaney, left, 15, Charlotte Samson, 17, and Noah Lyons, 14, surf off Sand Key Park in Clearwater on Wednesday while practicing with the Clearwater Community Sailing Center Windsurf Team team for an upcoming windsurfing event, the RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships that will be held on Clearwater Beach. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
  6. 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....

  7. 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....

    Clearwater’s new fire station was redesigned after the owner of a house next to the finished station refused to sell the house.
  8. 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....

  9. 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....

  10. 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]
  11. 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]
  12. 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....

  13. Two pedestrians killed in Largo accident

    Accidents

    LARGO — Two pedestrians were killed Saturday night after they walked in front of an oncoming sport utility vehicle on 66th Street N, authorities said.

    Troopers named one of the victims, 55-year-old Connie Lynn Carreira of Clearwater, but are withholding the name of the other victim, a 50-year-old Pinellas Park man, until his family is notified.

    The two were walking westbound on the south side of the intersection at 66th Street and 126th Avenue N shortly before 7:45 p.m., according to the Florida Highway Patrol....

  14. Pinellas sobriety checkpoint brings eight arrests

    Crime

    KENNETH CITY

    DUI checkpoint results in arrests of 8 people

    A DUI checkpoint on Friday night and early Saturday led to eight arrests before it had to be called off due to inclement weather, authorities said.

    The sobriety checkpoint near a Kmart at 4501 66th St. in Kenneth City ran from 10 p.m. Friday to 2:45 a.m. Saturday. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office conducted the checkpoint along with a number of other local law enforcement agencies. Of 774 vehicles that passed through the checkpoint, 216 were stopped for assessment by law enforcement officers, the Sheriff's Office said....

  15. Clearwater spends $106,000 on public artwork that much of public may not see

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Over the objections of its mayor, Clearwater will spend more than $100,000 on a piece of public artwork that few members of the public may actually get to see.

    The City Council voted 3-2 Thursday night to approve the art that will be placed inside Clearwater's new main fire station.

    The artwork will be a large orb made of 700 pounds of small, hand-blown glass spheres that will hang from the ceiling of the station's three-story entrance lobby. Titled Accumulate, the artwork is intended to represent a burst of water draining from fire hoses being hung to dry....

    At night, the artwork will be lit inside the new fire station and Fire Department headquarters.