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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. Lawsuits from public records group are a nuisance, Florida cities say

    Human Interest

    It starts with a demand that a low-level city employee produce a public record on the spot. Or with an email to a private company demanding invoices relating to a public agency.

    Often, it ends with a lawsuit.

    For more than a year, government officials all over Florida and the vendors they do business with have complained about a nonprofit group called the Citizens Awareness Foundation....

    Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, proposed a five-day notice for records lawsuits.
  2. Clearwater faces a delay in crackdown on nuisance motels

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Painted pink and turquoise, the cheap motel sits right on the main route to the tourist mecca of Clearwater Beach.

    Why pay more on beach, its sign says. Good rates.

    But neighbors have repeatedly complained that the Budget Inn has been a haven for prostitutes, illegal drugs and criminal activity. Bad publicity surrounding this motel and others like it led Clearwater's elected officials to enact a nuisance abatement law in March to crack down on businesses that appear to be magnets for crime....

    A review of police records from 2015 shows that officers have been to the Budget Inn about 120 times so far this year. About 30 police encounters at the property this year were labeled “suspicious person” or “drug call” in the city’s records.
  3. Scientology critics bringing book tour to Clearwater

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — Paulette Cooper is a legendary name among people who watch the Church of Scientology.

    After she wrote a book in the 1970s that was critical of Scientology, the church's security agents framed her for bomb threats.

    Now Tony Ortega, a journalist who runs a blog criticizing Scientology, has written a book about Cooper. The two are on a book tour, and on Sunday, they will come to Scientology Central — the city of Clearwater....

    Paulette Cooper
  4. What to do with Clearwater's Harborview Center?

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER

    It's a mantra that's been repeated at a number of public meetings regarding the future of downtown Clearwater.

    Knock down the Harborview Center, citizens are saying. Demolish it already. The view-blocking building perched on the bluff of Clearwater Harbor is a white elephant that ought to be bulldozed.

    "Tear it down. Everyone agrees it has to come down. It's symbolic of everything that's wrong with our downtown and its waterfront," Jack Mortimer, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, recently said to loud applause at a crowded public forum....

    A young visitor plants a kiss on a recorded moving image of Winter the dolphin in the Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure inside the Harborview Center in downtown Clearwater.
  5. Gus Bilirakis staffer is for Confederate flag, but Bilirakis isn't

    National

    TAMPA — Bob Hatfield is a proud member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the group that oversees the controversial Tampa site where a huge Confederate battle flag towers over Interstate 75.

    "It's a historical marker. It's a reminder to all of us who had ancestors in the war," said Hatfield, who added he's upset the flag has been "hijacked" as a symbol by racist groups.

    Hatfield also happens to be a staffer for a local congressman, Gus Bilirakis. That leads to an obvious question: What does Hatfield's boss think of the Confederate flag?...

    A Confederate honor guard fires a volley as re-enactors lift a 30- by 60-foot Confederate flag skyward during the dedication of the Confederate Memorial Park at 10418 E U.S. 92 in Tampa. The 139-foot tall flagpole is the centerpiece of the park, organized by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
  6. Bedbugs appear in Tampa Bay libraries

    Human Interest

    Overdue books are one thing, but these days local libraries are dealing with a creepier problem:

    Bedbugs.

    The bloodsucking little critters have cropped up in libraries in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Pinellas Park.

    The libraries stress that the recent bedbug incidents were small in scale and the pests have been taken care of. They're quick to emphasize that this has not been a problem for the general public....

    A bedbug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington. [Associated Press (2011)]
  7. Plan for Clearwater history museum runs into costly problem

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — One year ago, when a group of local history buffs got a lease for the vacant South Ward Elementary School, they got a step closer to their dream: opening a Clearwater history museum.

    The Pinellas County School District agreed to lease the empty campus to the Clearwater Historical Society for the sum of $1 per year. In return, the group would put the site to good use, filling it with artifacts, photographs, documents and exhibits about the area's history....

    The School Board voted to lease the former South Ward Elementary to the Clearwater Historical Society for $1 per year. 
  8. Alma Bridges, president of Clearwater-Upper Pinellas NAACP, dies at 80

    Obituaries

    CLEARWATER — Alma Bridges wasn't a woman who took no for an answer.

    The president of the Clearwater-Upper Pinellas NAACP was a strong-willed perfectionist who wore many hats and touched a lot of lives. Friends say she left a lasting legacy when she died last week at the age of 80.

    "She was real. She didn't hold back," her friend Madra Bell said. "She told the truth. She spoke it."...

    Alma Bridges was also
a dedicated teacher for many years.
  9. Clearwater's elected leaders kill U.S. 19 building moratorium

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — That was quick.

    Clearwater's City Council gave a thumbs-down Monday to a proposed building moratorium on U.S. 19, days before it was scheduled to vote on it Thursday at a public meeting.

    A majority of council members voiced their opposition to the idea during a work session Monday at City Hall. Although the elected officials technically weren't going to vote until Thursday, their position led city staffers to immediately cancel the request for a moratorium. The measure would have halted development along 7 miles of U.S. 19 for up to a year....

  10. Clearwater considers building moratorium along U.S. 19

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Property owners on a 7-mile stretch of U.S. 19 in Clearwater are up in arms over a building moratorium that would halt development there for up to a year.

    Business heavyweights are lining up to call the building freeze "unprecedented," "draconian" and an unwise overreaction by the city of Clearwater. The moratorium has already quietly started, and the city's elected officials will decide next week whether to keep it going....

    Clearwater is considering a yearlong building moratorium along U.S. 19 near major intersections to buy time to create new zoning rules. This is looking south on U.S. 19 south of Enterprise.JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  11. What's next for waterfront Clearwater Christian College site?

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — At first glance, the property looks like a condo developer's dream.

    After nearly five decades in operation, Clearwater Christian College is shutting its doors. The small liberal arts college will no longer be using its nearly 50 acres of waterfront land on Upper Tampa Bay at the foot of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

    It looks like a prime development opportunity. Look closer, though, and it turns out to be more complicated than that....

    The college and its property, bottom center, is appraised at nearly $8.9 million, according to Pinellas County records.
  12. 'Captain Rosie' was Clearwater's first female charter boat skipper

    Obituaries

    CLEARWATER — Newly divorced in the 1970s, Rosalie Holland decided to change her life. The small blond shed her panty hose, walked away from her job as a secretary and signed on as a first mate on a charter fishing boat.

    Her family and friends thought she was crazy. The mother of four had always worked behind a typewriter, and here she was cutting up bait and untangling fishing lines....

    Rosalie Holland, also known as Rosalie Stribling or Rosalie Mulder, was Clearwater's first female charter boat captain.
  13. Clearwater mulls continued use of red light cameras

    Accidents

    CLEARWATER — St. Petersburg got rid of its red light cameras. So did Brooksville and Kenneth City. So, what should Clearwater do with its cameras, especially now that the devices are under legal assault in Florida's courts?

    Clearwater's elected officials are being forced to make a decision. Should they kill the camera program, expand it, adjust it or keep it the same?

    A decision is required because the time has come to renew Clearwater's contract with the red light camera vendor that the city has been doing business with since 2012. In a commonly used arrangement, a private company owns and operates the cameras that Clearwater uses to monitor two intersections....

    RedFlex Traffic Systems has run Clearwater’s red light camera program since 2012.
  14. Clearwater parade steps up centennial celebration

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — Everybody loves a parade, but it's been a while since the city had a big one.

    Sure, the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade is still going strong. But two big annual parades that the city used to sponsor — a Fun 'N Sun parade and a holiday parade — fell by the wayside years ago and never came back.

    The city will get its parade fix on Saturday, though, as Clearwater is organizing a big one to celebrate its 100th anniversary. The original goal was to have 100 entries marching down Drew Street, but organizers have surpassed that....

    Anne Unger, left, and Peggy Seweirt work on “Bringing Back Butterflies to Clearwater,” their neighborhood float.
  15. Clearwater set to celebrate city's centennial

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — The first humans who lived in this place, the bronze-skinned Timucuan Indians, called it Pocotopaug, meaning "clear water."

    The name stuck when white settlers arrived here in the 18th century, building pioneer homes along a bluff overseeing what they called Clear Water Harbor. They chartered a city government on May 27, 1915 — exactly a century ago today.

    Happy 100th, Clearwater....

    Sunbathers enjoy Clearwater Beach in the 1920s. They likely took the “rickety bridge,” the first to the beach, built in 1917. Today, the sugar-sand beach is alive with activity.