02/24/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The cost of creating a "quiet zone" for train horns in downtown Tampa started at $2.7 million, but now has risen to more like $3.17 million.
And City Hall is covering much of the difference.
The City Council recently approved spending $320,000 more for the project. The money comes from downtown redevelopment funds, a slice of property taxes created by new downtown development and reserved for projects to support more growth there....
02/24/17 Local Government
TAMPA — Six weeks after police stopped a Food Not Bombs event and arrested seven volunteers feeding the poor in a downtown park, the City Council wants to try a more hands-off approach to regulating such efforts.
The council voted Thursday to consider an ordinance that would mirror the rule in St. Petersburg, where groups can distribute food without having to get a city permit or obtain liability insurance as long as the event attracts fewer than 50 people. Council members said they would review how the change works in practice after six months....
02/23/17 Public Safety
TAMPA — After a run of trouble with prostitution and drug violations, the Playpen nude dance club this week was told to make a series of changes if it wants to stay open.
During a hearing with Tampa's Public Nuisance Abatement Board, club operator Joseph Alessandro agreed to tear out the club's VIP booths, improve lighting, install surveillance cameras with video available to police, hire armed security guards and increase security and use metal detectors to screen patrons during the club's busiest hours....
02/16/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council voted Thursday to repeal its longtime 5-minute parking rule for neighborhoods, but it's not clear what the city will do next to regulate parking in residential areas.
"This entire episode has seemed like a lightning bolt out of the blue," said Harry Cohen, whose South Tampa council district includes many neighborhoods where residents have used 5-minute parking signs to make sure that outsiders don't take up all the parking in front of their homes....
TAMPA — Nobody knows how many Tampa homeowners have posted signs saying "5 minute parking, City Code 15-43," but there are a lot of them.
The 5-minute rule has been in the city's code since at least 1989. Some of the signs are plain. Some are fancy. City Hall doesn't approve where they go, or track where they are.
Instead, residents pay for the signs themselves, with no permit needed....
TAMPA — Sunday night, after a weekend of tumult following President Donald Trump's temporary ban on entry visas for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the executive director of the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area sent a text asking Mayor Bob Buckhorn to come to his mosque.
"Many in our community are living in fear for nothing that they have done or caused," wrote Mahmoud Elkasaby. "Your visit would for sure comfort and ease these people's pain and distress."...
State Sen. Dana Young on Friday weighed in on the side of taxicab company that complained this week of paying a $35,000-per-month charge to pick up fares at Tampa International Airport while ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft pay nothing.
“That’s just really unfair,” Young, R-Tampa, told 70 people at the Café con Tampa breakfast discussion group. “The cab companies are in a really tough situation right now. We shouldn’t make it worse by making rules on them tougher. So you’ll probably be seeing me stepping out on that issue.”...
Dana Young says Tallahassee's angry tone doesn't help; opposes killing Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida02/03/17 Blog
Florida’s constitution gives the Legislature one job — passing a balanced budget — so it shouldn’t be that hard, right?
“Sounds pretty easy, but this year it doesn’t feel that way,” state Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, told about 70 people Friday at Café con Tampa, a weekly discussion group that meets near downtown Tampa. “There is this angry, shrill tone tone coming out of Tallahassee and I truly don’t understand why, because I feel like we’re all on the same team and should be working together to get a budget passed. But this shrill screaming is discouraging.”...
02/02/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The City Council on Thursday agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a federal lawsuit accusing it of discriminating against people with drug- and alcohol-related disabilities by denying a permit to a group treatment home in Oakford Park.
Bernard Rock and his company, Lincoln Rock LLC, proposed putting a 21-bed residential treatment facility for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction in an 8,900-square-foot home at 3303 W Lemon St....
02/01/17 Local Government
TAMPA — With the clock ticking down on the annex at Hillsborough County's main library, Tampa Heights activists — and their kids — have made a pitch to move children's materials from the annex to the historic Free Library on E Seventh Avenue.
"Instead of going outside, they could come to this library and study more," 9-year-old Jazmine Eubanks told the board of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library Board during its meeting last week at the Free Library....
Chloe Coney is retiring at the end of this month after 10 years as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's district director and more than 40 years' work locally in housing and economic development.
“Chloe’s passion and expertise have served our neighbors, families and businesses well,” Castor, D-Tampa, said Wednesday in a statement released through her office. “She is revered by Tampa’s community for her lifetime of service."...
After seeing Leah Remini's show, George Cretekos says Scientology should re-think policy on families02/01/17 Blog
The questions at Tuesday’s Suncoast Tiger Bay lunch covered everything from the future of the Tampa Bay Rays to President Donald Trump’s immigration policies to the TV show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, featuring the former Scientologist and King of Queens star....
TAMPA — City Hall will begin offering paid parental leave to full-time employees who have a baby, adopt or take in a foster child starting this month.
Primary caregivers will get eight weeks of paid time off after the arrival of a new member of the family. City-employed spouses or partners of a primary caregiver will be eligible for two weeks of paid leave.
"Tampa is competing with cities around the world," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in a YouTube message to city employees Wednesday. "Attracting and retaining the most talented requires providing a 21st century workplace for our families."...
Two or three decades ago, the politics of the Tampa Bay area was parochial enough that the idea of bringing the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater together for a lunch would not have been quite so plausible, and the discussion might have been more strained than cordial.
But Clearwater’s George Cretekos, St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman and Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn have already met for working lunches of their own over the past couple of years, so it wasn’t out of their comfort zone Tuesday to open their latest to 175 members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club....
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday promoted chief assistant city attorney Salvatore Territo to replace City Attorney Julia Mandell, who is leaving City Hall for a job with the law firm of Carlton Fields.
Territo has worked for the city on and off since 1972, initially as a planner. In 1980, he joined the city attorney’s office after graduating from the Stetson University College of Law....