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Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

Richard Danielson

Richard Danielson covers city government and politics in Tampa. He grew up in Clearwater and joined the Times in 1987. This is his second tour at City Hall (the first was from 1992 to '97). His other reporting assignments at the Times have included covering higher education and local government, politics and courts in Pinellas and Pasco counties. He also has worked as the Times' Palm Harbor bureau chief and Clearwater city editor. In his current assignment, he is the main contributor to PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter, which tracks Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's performance on 34 campaign promises.

Phone: (813) 226-3403

Email: danielson@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Danielson_Times

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  1. Gasparilla, Lightning, 'Book of Mormon' converging in downtown Tampa

    Roads

    TAMPA — Pirates and Mormons and Bolts, oh my!

    Or not.

    Converging on Saturday in downtown Tampa is the Gasparilla pirate parade, matinee and evening performances of The Book of Mormon, and a Tampa Bay Lightning home game — all within about eight hours.

    So, yes, there's potential for congestion, confusion and condemnation.

    But this isn't Tampa's first Gasparilla to go alongside a show at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Nor is it the first pirate invasion to go with a Lightning home game. As Tampa's growing downtown hosts multiple events on more weekends, managers of big venues say City Hall gets better at making sure the public knows what to expect and where to go....

  2. Tampa to charge interest on costs of cleaning up unkempt property

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The cost of being a deadbeat property owner is going up inside the city of Tampa, so watch your mail.

    City Hall is sending about 1,500 notices to property owners who owe the city a total of approximately $3.9 million for cleaning up their real estate.

    In each case, the letters say, property owners allowed nuisance conditions and didn't respond to city notices to correct them. So the city had to mow their uncut grass, haul away junk or secure and even tear down vacant structures on their land....

    The city of Tampa will begin in April to add interest to the cost of cleaning up properties that have fallen into disrepair or have code violations.
  3. Tampa okays traffic signal at dangerous stretch of E Hillsborough Avenue

    Local Government

    TAMPA — A long-sought traffic signal is coming to a spot where two Middleton High School students were killed trying to dash across E Hillsborough Avenue.

    The City Council on Thursday approved a $306,700 project to install the stoplight and crosswalk on the 2500 block of E Hillsborough near the Meridian Pointe Apartments.

    That's where two 15-year-olds heading to school died trying to cross the busy, six-lane state road....

    Authorities look at the car that hit Victoria Velasquez-Cabrera and Norma Velasquez-Cabrera last March when they were walking to Middleton High. Norma died four days later.
  4. Tampa City Council likely to delay 'ban the box' discussion

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The City Council today could draw a crowd ready to support a "ban the box" proposal to help those with criminal records apply for jobs. But council members are expected to postpone that discussion for three months.

    The nonprofit Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality, or HOPE, wants City Hall to ban companies selling goods or services to the city from using a question, or box, on job applications asking whether applicants have a criminal record. ...

  5. Tampa political candidate forums scheduled

    Elections

    TAMPA — Now that the ballot is set, Tampa voters will have a chance to get acquainted with City Council candidates.

    Candidate forums scheduled so far include:

    • A coalition of South Tampa neighborhood associations representing about 20,000 residents will hold a City Council candidates forum on Feb. 11 at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 4311 W San Miguel St.

    Candidates in all five contested council races have been invited. The event starts with a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., followed by a two-hour forum at 6:30 p.m....

  6. Tampa again hosting Obamacare navigators, plus focusing on small business, hospitality industries

    Blog

    For a second year, Tampa is letting healthcare.gov navigators set up desks at city parks and recreation facilities to sign up residents for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

    The city also is expanding its efforts to help navigators reach out to workers at small businesses and in the hospitality industry.

    "We all benefit when residents have access to the care they need,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....

    Health care navigator Ruth Bessant helps residents looking to sign up for health insurance during an Affordable Care Act enrollment event at the Jackson Heights NFL Youth Education Town Center in Tampa in March 2014. The event was organized by the Family Healthcare Foundation in Tampa.
  7. South Tampa neighborhood groups to hold City Council candidate forum

    Blog

    A coalition of South Tampa neighborhood associations representing about 20,000 residents will hold a City Council candidates forum on Feb. 11 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 4311 W San Miguel St.

    Candidates in all five contested council races have been invited. The event starts with a meet-and-greet at 6 p.m., followed by a two-hour forum at 6:30 p.m.

    Sponsoring associations include Sunset Park, Virginia Park, Bayside West, Bayshore Beautiful. Gandy/Sun Bay South, Culbreath Heights, Swann Estates, Port Tampa and the Bayshore Condominium Council....

  8. Bob Buckhorn pings donors after write-in qualifies

    Blog

    How much campaign fundraising is enough? If you are Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and you get opposition — any opposition — $365,000 is not enough.

    At noon Saturday, 24 hours after qualifying closed with Jose Vazquez qualified as a write-in in the mayor's race, Buckhorn sent supporters a fundraising email with the subject line "Not done yet":...

  9. Tampa City Council District 6 endorsements: Mary Mulhern for Guido Maniscalco, Tom Lee for Jackie Toledo

    Blog

    The District 6 race for Tampa City Council promises to be one of the city's most competitive this year, with two candidates touting endorsements from elected officials.

    • Incumbent City Council member Mary Mulhern is backing jewelry retailer and civic activist Guido Maniscalco. "Guido has proven himself to be dedicated to the support of our neighborhoods and is a champion for small businesses," Mulhern said in a statement released by Maniscalco's campaign. "That commitment will serve our city well."...

  10. PolitiFact Florida: Three claims in Buckhorn TV ad miss the full picture

    Elections

    TAMPA — The ad that Mayor Bob Buckhorn's re-election campaign has spent $160,000 running on Tampa cable television is called "Swagger," with Buckhorn cheering an economic rebound.

    But does Buckhorn's pride run ahead of the facts? PolitiFact Florida, the political fact-checking arm of the Tampa Bay Times, looked at three statements from his TV spot about the area's economy and City Hall's finances:...

  11. Reddick, Montelione re-elected to Tampa council, ex-Buc Ahanotu too late for mayor's race

    Elections

    TAMPA — City Council members Frank Reddick and Lisa Montelione were automatically re-elected when no one qualified to run against them by Friday's noon deadline.

    Each had a challenger who had filed the initial paperwork to run but did not follow through and pay the $2,415 qualifying fee to get his name on the March 3 ballot.

    "A tremendous vote of confidence," said Montelione, who represents New Tampa and north Tampa in District 7. "It's a big district with a lot of smart, qualified people in it, so I'm very, very happy."...

  12. Looking at Buckhorn TV ad, PolitiFact Florida rates claims as 'Mostly False' and 'Half True'

    Blog

    Over the last two weeks, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has spent about $160,000 broadcasting a TV ad titled "Tampa's Got Its Swagger Back."

    Now PolitiFact Florida, the political fact-checking initiative of the Tampa Bay Times, scrutinized three claims in the ad....

  13. Write-in candidate qualifies for Tampa mayor's race

    Elections

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn won't cruise unopposed to a second four-year term after all.

    Write-in candidate Jose Vazquez, who once filed to run for the state Legislature while serving time in state prison, qualified late Thursday afternoon for the city's March 3 election.

    That means Buckhorn's name will be on ballots for the election, which will include seven City Council races. Vazquez's name will not appear on the ballot. Instead, there will be a blank space for write-in votes....

  14. Write-in candidate qualifies for Tampa mayor's race

    Blog

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn won’t cruise unopposed to a second four-year term after all.

    Write-in candidate Jose Vazquez, who once filed to run for the Legislature while he was serving time in state prison, qualified late Thursday afternoon for the city’s March 3 election.

    That means Buckhorn’s name will be on city ballots for the election, which will include seven City Council races. Vazquez’s name will not appear on the ballot. Instead, there will be a blank space for write-in votes....

    Write-in candidate Jose Vazquez lives in Sulphur Springs and once filed to run for the Legislature while serving time in state prison.
  15. Tampa council okays estimated $15 million in reimbursements for Jeff Vinik's project

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The City Council on Thursday pledged an estimated $15 million to reimburse Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik for public works improvements as part of his $1 billion transformation of downtown's waterfront.

    That's half the estimated $30 million that Vinik plans to spend upgrading roads, storm sewers, streetscapes and other infrastructure on his 24 acres around Amalie Arena....