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

  1. Jack Latvala got hip surgery on eve of primary election


    CLEARWATER -- Sen. Jack Latvala gets a pass for leaving his primary election night party early on Tuesday night. He was recovering from hip replacement surgery that he underwent the previous Friday.

    Latvala, R-Clearwater, shared a victory party with fellow legislator Ed Hooper, who won the Republican primary for Pinellas County Commission District 2.

    Hooper was marveling that Latvala had even shown up, given that he'd a hip replaced a few days prior. "He's a tough guy," Hooper said....

  2. Republicans coast to victories in Pinellas legislative races


    Republican Chris Latvala and Democrat Steve Sarnoff will face off on Nov. 4 for a Clearwater-Largo state House seat, after scoring victories Tuesday in the only Pinellas County legislative race that had contested primaries for both major parties.

    In most other Pinellas legislative races, candidates easily glided to primary victories, with wins by Republicans Chris Sprowls, Bill Young and Jack Latvala. The exception was House District 64, where votes were not even counted because of an ongoing lawsuit. The district covers Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and parts of Hillsborough County. ...

    Democratic candidate for state House District 67 Steve Sarnoff, left, his wife, Tina Sarnoff, and friends celebrate.
  3. Clearwater Marine Aquarium unveils dramatically different plans



    In a dramatic shift in tone, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's updated plans for a new aquarium downtown feature less showmanship and more rehab and rescue.

    Gone from the plans is a proposed stadium with 2,000 seats for tourists to take in dolphin shows. Instead, the updated plans, unveiled Friday, feature dolphin habitats and behind-the-scenes tours of animal operating rooms....

    Rendering of main dolphin tank in new Clearwater Marine Aquarium facility. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium released its final downtown project plans based on designs from a new architect. [Clearwater Marine Aquarium]
  4. Clearwater approves new beach parking garage

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — A plan that has been floating around for 15 years will finally come to fruition. A large new public parking garage is coming to north Clearwater Beach after elected officials approved a hard-fought agreement with the garage's developer Wednesday night.

    The seven-story garage could be built as early as next year at Pelican Walk Plaza, a shopping center in the beach's Mandalay Avenue business district....

    A seven-story, 642-space parking garage that was unanimously approved by Clearwater’s City Council for the Pelican Walk Plaza on Clearwater Beach’s Mandalay Avenue.
  5. Beach parking garage goes to Clearwater council — with changes

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater's elected leaders are poised to approve a seven-story parking garage at the north end of Clearwater Beach's tourist district — with some last-minute changes to the deal.

    The 642-space garage is to be built at Pelican Walk Plaza, a shopping center on the busy beach thoroughfare of Mandalay Avenue.

    On Wednesday night, the City Council is to vote on a legally binding development agreement with developer Michael Connor to build the garage. A crowd of opponents is expected....

  6. State Senate, District 20


    State Senate | District 20

    The District 20 Republican primary race pits veteran lawmaker Jack Latvala against Zahid Roy, a Clearwater small-business owner who lost a lopsided race to Latvala two years ago. The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Tony Caso in the Nov. 4 general election. Mike Brassfield, Times staff writer


    Jack Latvala, 62


  7. Should Clearwater spend budget windfall on pools or employees?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — For the first time in many years, Clearwater will have a little extra money in its pocket when it's time to craft a budget.

    What to spend that money on? Should Clearwater keep its neighborhood pools and libraries open longer, as residents are requesting, or should it give city employees a raise? Is there money for both?

    These are the questions that Clearwater leaders will take up beginning next week....

    Some residents want the windfall to be used to keep the four city pools open on weekends through September.
  8. Dan Slaughter chosen as Clearwater's new police chief

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Last time Clearwater chose a new police chief, City Manager Bill Horne launched a national search, sifted through more than 100 applications and conducted about a dozen interviews in a span of roughly five months.

    This time around, Horne found the new chief among the Police Department's command staff within a week.

    Horne's announcement Tuesday that patrol operations Maj. Dan Slaughter would lead the department beginning next month was widely praised by city and police officials....

    New Clearwater police Chief Dan Slaughter, right, talks with City Manager Bill Horne before his promotion was announced Tuesday at a news conference at the Police Department.
  9. Pregnant woman dies after accidentally being shot in head

    Public Safety

    BROOKSVILLE — Katherine Lynn Bryan grew up in New Port Richey, the youngest in a tight-knit group of four siblings. She recently got married and became Katherine Hoover. At the age of 25, she was five months pregnant. The new baby was going to be her second son.

    Instead, a tragic gun accident at a friend's house left the young mother and her unborn child dead Sunday.

    "What has happened is truly a tragic shock," said a distraught Gary Bryan, one of her brothers. "My sister was a wonderful and special woman. She was a wonderful wife and mother. She had just gotten married and was getting herself established."...

    Hoover was 5 months pregnant.
  10. Frenchy's rooftop bar opening at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre


    CLEARWATER — When the renovated Capitol Theatre reopened for business last December, concertgoers were wowed by its acoustics, its lineup of shows, its state-of-the-art sound system, its wraparound exterior balcony and the cool bars in its lobby and mezzanine.

    But one promised piece was missing on opening night — Frenchy's Rooftop Terrace, a bar on the theater's roof.

    "We just wanted to get the building ready so the performances could begin. The construction was completed so quickly, we had no time to plan beyond that," said Zev Buffman, president and CEO of Ruth Eckerd Hall, which manages the city-owned Capitol Theatre....

    Frenchy’s Rooftop Terrace, at the newly renovated Capitol Theatre, will offer drinks and free hors d’oeuvres on show nights.
  11. Clearwater to look internally to fill police chief job

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — The last time Clearwater looked for a new police chief, it had to replace Sid Klein, a legendary figure who retired after nearly three decades as chief. So the city launched a national search and chose Tony Holloway from 100 candidates.

    Now, four years later, Holloway is the one who's leaving. This time, the city manager is looking to fill the job from within the Clearwater Police Department....

  12. Clearwater Beach parking garage approved despite opposition

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — A seven-story parking garage at the north end of Clearwater Beach's tourist district keeps moving closer to reality despite persistent opposition by an assortment of nearby residents.

    The 642-space garage is to be built at the Pelican Walk Plaza on Mandalay Avenue at Baymont Street. It cleared a significant legal obstacle this week when its design, size and location were unanimously approved by Clearwater's Community Development Board....

    The proposed seven-story, 642-space parking garage, shown in this rendering, would be built at the Pelican Walk Plaza on Mandalay Avenue. Many spaces would be set aside for local workers.
  13. Plans for Clearwater Beach hotels keep popping up


    CLEARWATER — It's hard to miss the big construction crane that's building a new hotel right alongside the sand on Clearwater Beach.

    If the activity at City Hall is any indication, more construction cranes will be heading to the beach to join that one.

    The Clearwater City Council has approved plans for two more beach hotels. Those two join a flurry of other big-ticket hotel projects that were already planned for the beach's tourist district....

    The 10-story, 155-room Clearwater Beach Guesthouse approved for 521 S Gulfview Blvd. will have a West Indies look.
  14. Malnourished baby dolphin being nursed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium


    CLEARWATER — A weak and malnourished baby dolphin that was rescued on a local beach on the Fourth of July is being nursed back to health at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

    Beachgoers noticed a small, young dolphin struggling ashore Friday on Redington Beach. Aquarium workers helped the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in rescuing the animal, identified as a female Atlantic spotted dolphin....

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium workers Hada Herring, left, and Abby Stone tend to an Atlantic spotted dolphin calf rescued Friday at Redington Beach. Staffers at the aquarium have been providing medical care to the calf, which couldn’t swim on its own Friday but was able to swim for a few minutes at a time Monday. Experts think the dolphin was without its mother for about a week when beachgoers found it.
  15. Does Clearwater still need a downtown?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Is there any hope for sleepy downtown Clearwater? Is it worth saving? And in the year 2014, in these decentralized, disconnected times, does a city even need a downtown anymore?

    These are questions that leaders and residents of Tampa Bay's third-largest city will have to grapple with in the near future.

    When experts from the nonprofit Urban Land Institute recently made a slew of recommendations for reviving downtown Clearwater, their suggestion that the city and the Church of Scientology work together got all the attention....

    Scientologists line up for the Friday (11/15/13) opening night of the Church of Scientology's week of celebration surrounding the dedication of its new Flag Building (right) where church leader David Miscavige is expected to announce the release of new church auditing technology in a celebration at the 150,000-square-foot tent in downtown Clearwater. The dedication of the massive Flag Building, a seven-story, $145 million neo-Mediterreanean structure that occupies an entire downtown block, is planned for early Sunday afternoon, and is a private event the church says will draw 10,000 Scientologists and highlights more than a week of celebrations, including seminars, banquets and presentations, for the church which has requested street and sidewalk closures, police protection and other city services.