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

link
  1. 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....

    Daniel Slaughter has been with the department for 22 years.
  2. 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."...

    Katherine Lynn Hoover
  3. Frenchy's rooftop bar opening at Clearwater's Capitol Theatre

    Business

    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.
  4. 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....

  5. 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.
  6. Plans for Clearwater Beach hotels keep popping up

    Tourism

    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.
  7. Malnourished baby dolphin being nursed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium

    Wildlife

    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 'Aqua Quest' crew returns home after two months in Honduras jail

    World

    TARPON SPRINGS — For 52 days behind bars in a dilapidated Central American jail, the six-man crew of the Aqua Quest suffered through heat, mosquitoes, bad food, isolation, volatile inmates and guards and occasional gunshots.

    No one could say when they would be released, or even if they would. They faced up to 12 years in prison after Honduran authorities found guns aboard their boat and jailed them on weapons charges. The crew said they kept the guns for protection....

    Capt. Robert Mayne, 60, center, is welcomed to land Wednesday by family friend Rachel Gause moments after he and members of his crew arrived home at Gulf Ways Marina in Tarpon Springs after being jailed in Honduras for two months.
  10. Clearwater libraries face changes despite some opposition

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Change is coming to some of Clearwater's libraries, and not everyone is happy about it.

    More than a year after city leaders decided to move the Countryside Library, some residents of Clearwater's northeastern suburbs are mounting an 11th-hour petition drive to oppose the move.

    Meanwhile, a few miles to the south, plans to combine the city's East Branch Library with a new St. Petersburg College library are mired in some gray areas. The city will soon be forced to decide, once and for all, whether to do this....

    Clearwater East Branch Library could be combined with a new SPC Clearwater library.
  11. Judge throws out lawsuit seeking to stop downtown Clearwater aquarium

    Civil

    CLEARWATER — A judge on Tuesday threw out a lawsuit filed by two residents that sought to derail the results of a Nov. 5 voter referendum that approved a new downtown aquarium.

    The plaintiffs, Thomas Petersen and Inge Spatuzzi, argued that the city violated the Florida Constitution by entering into a tentative agreement with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. They argued that the referendum's results should be voided because the ballot's language was defective....

  12. Jailed Tarpon Springs boat crew reportedly to be freed soon

    World

    After seven weeks in captivity, the crew of the Aqua Quest may be coming home.

    Since May 5, the six-member crew of a Tarpon Springs marine salvage boat has been jailed in Honduras, accused of smuggling arms into that Central American country. They have insisted they had a handful of guns on board only for protection against piracy in international waters.

    A number of American lawmakers have been working to free the men, including Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor....

    Six men working for the Tarpon Springs shipwreck salvage company Aqua Quest International are being detained in a jail in Honduras. The Americans are shown in this photograph talking with fellow inmates in the prison yard.
  13. Outside experts call for Clearwater and Scientology to work together

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — For downtown Clearwater to thrive, city leaders and the Church of Scientology should work together and communicate better, a group of outside experts recommended Friday.

    Of course, that might be easier said than done.

    A panel of seven experts with the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research group based in Washington, D.C., spent this week immersing themselves in Clearwater's downtown and meeting with all of its major players....

    The Church of Scientology’s seven-story Flag Building dominates an entire block of downtown Clearwater.
  14. Former Clearwater resident jailed in sex slavery case

    Crime

    Timothy Deegan, the son of a former Clearwater city commissioner who worked with the Catholic church, spent his teen years in a waterfront home on Island Estates. He went to the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he spent the ensuing decades establishing his life as a well-known tax accountant who lived in a well-to-do home complete with a sculpture of St. Francis.

    Now Deegan is in the Alachua County Jail, accused of living a sordid secret life of sexual assault, drugs and terror. The 53-year-old is accused of enslaving three women in his home, prostituting them, videotaping sex acts that he posted online, and feeding them drugs in exchange for sex and housekeeping....

    Timothy Deegan, 53, a Gainesville tax accountant, is in the Alachua County Jail.
  15. Experts explore what to do with downtown Clearwater

    News

    CLEARWATER — The perennial question of what to do with downtown Clearwater is getting another workout this week.

    A group of seven experts with the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research group based in Washington, D.C., has spent the week immersing themselves in the city's downtown.

    They've seen a mix of promising activity and empty storefronts. They've interviewed about 100 people, meeting with all of downtown's major players — business owners, landlords, government officials, the Church of Scientology, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Capitol Theatre....