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. 'You're supposed to laugh at that.'

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- The Clearwater City Council took care of some important business Thursday night, approving a $392 million budget without a tax increase. Council members also had a lengthy discussion about whether a new Clearwater Beach resort should be required to have 7-foot-wide or 10-foot-wide sidewalks.

    But before all that, they had to apologize for the temperature. The council chamber on the top floor of City Hall was pretty steamy....

  2. Despite Clearwater's wishes, Walgreens to replace pitiable Parthenon

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — One of the ugliest, most run-down buildings in Clearwater is in a prominent spot on the well-traveled main route to Clearwater Beach.

    The former Parthenon restaurant at the southwest corner of Court Street and Myrtle Avenue has been vacant for years and has racked up nearly $125,000 in code enforcement fines.

    Now Walgreens wants to put a store there, but the city has been stubbornly fighting that idea. City staffers have repeatedly denied a developer's efforts to build a 16,500-square-foot Walgreens on 1.6 acres between Court and Chestnut streets and between Myrtle and East avenues....

    The closed Parthenon restaurant, a bicycle shop and contracting firm are to be replaced by a Walgreens, with a liquor store. The Walgreens four blocks north, on Cleveland Street, would close. Even the bike shop owner and contractor, who will have to move, support the plan.
  3. The marketing of Winter, the world's most famous dolphin

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — The most famous dolphin in the world spends her days snacking on fish, playing as tourists watch, and getting repeated rounds of physical therapy. Because she swims with a prosthetic tail, her trainers make her do stretches to prevent her spine from curving.

    And it's a good thing that Winter's spine is strong, since she's supporting a multimillion-dollar empire built on her back....

    Since the original Dolphin Tale movie, Winter the dolphin has been the star attraction at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
  4. Blue carpet unrolls for 'Dolphin Tale 2' debut in Clearwater

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER — Dolphin Tale 2, the latest entry in Tampa Bay's very own homegrown film franchise, made a splashy debut Wednesday night in the city where it was filmed.

    The movie opens in theaters nationwide Friday. But a sneak-preview screening on Wednesday had Ruth Eckerd Hall's auditorium filled with hundreds of passionate fans.

    The first Dolphin Tale movie was a sleeper hit, earning $95 million since its release in 2011. Hopes are high for the sequel. Both films were inspired by the true story of Winter, the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium that learned to swim with a prosthetic tail....

    Dolphin Tale 2 stars Cozi Zuehlsdorff, left, and Nathan Gamble arrive at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s blue carpet event Wednesday for the premiere.
  5. Clearwater red-light camera data might lead to expansion

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Even as red-light cameras are in retreat elsewhere in Florida, some elected officials in Clearwater are thinking about spreading the cameras to more intersections.

    And they're looking at U.S. 19.

    They said so after hearing a report from Clearwater's new police chief, Dan Slaughter, about how the cameras are working. The chief says the number of red-light runners and accidents has been dropping at the intersections that are watched by the cameras....

    Clearwater Vice Mayor Doreen Hock-DiPolito says adding cameras is a “great idea.”
  6. Clearwater surgery update

    Blog

    CLEARWATER -- It turns out that Sen. Jack Latvala isn't the only well-known political figure in Clearwater who's had hip surgery recently.

    When we saw former Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard the other day, he was jauntily using a golf club as a cane. He had just had hip surgery.

    Hibbard was also 30 pounds lighter. He lost the weight to make his recovery from surgery go more smoothly. He totally changed his diet. "I'm not on the chicken dinner circuit," said Hibbard, who's not running for office....

  7. World windsurfing championships coming to Clearwater Beach

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER

    Thanks to the turmoil on the Gaza Strip, more than 100 world-class windsurfers from all over the planet will soon head to Clearwater Beach to compete for an international championship.

    The RS:X Youth World Windsurfing Championships were scheduled to be held in Herzliya, Israel. But organizers have decided to move the event due to the continuing unstable situation in that country....

    Charlotte Samson, 17, of Clearwater will be among more than 100 windsurfers from around the world who will compete in the RS:X Youth World Championships out in front of Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach. The event will run from Oct. 18 to 25.
  8. SalonCentric to move; Good 'Burgers named; windsurfers to compete

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    SalonCentric will move HQ to Gateway

    An 87,000-square-foot office building in Gateway that has sat empty for more than three years will soon have a major tenant. SalonCentric, a distributor of hair and nail salon products to professionals, is readying the former Paychex building for its new headquarters.

    The company, which currently has headquarters in Largo, is a subsidiary of cosmetic giant L'Oreal. It will lease 52,500 square feet for its 180 employees. SalonCentric plans to expand over the next several months, but the number of hires isn't set, according to spokeswoman Rebecca Bray. ...

    Windsurfers like Charlotte Samson, 17, practicing near the Clearwater Community Sailing Center, face an October challenge.
  9. Seven weeks in a Honduran prison: The untold story of the 'Aqua Quest'

    Human Interest

    O

    n May 1, as he prepared to leave for a long boat trip, Robert Mayne took a last look around the living room of his house in Tarpon Springs. It's where he keeps mementos from his recent shipwreck diving expeditions. ...

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  10. Jack Latvala got hip surgery on eve of primary election

    Blog

    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....

  11. Republicans coast to victories in Pinellas legislative races

    Elections

    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. ...

    Chris Latvala, left, Republican candidate for state House District 67, poses for a photo with Frank Walker, owner of the Walker Ford dealership, as Latvala celebrates his victory Tuesday.
  12. Clearwater Marine Aquarium unveils dramatically different plans

    Tourism

    CLEARWATER

    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....

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s updated plans feature a community room and a banquet hall with a view of the harbor.
  13. 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.
  14. 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....

  15. State Senate, District 20

    Politics

    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

     ...

    Zahid Roy