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. Class-action lawsuit filed in South Florida against red-light camera operator American Traffic Solutions

    Blog

    Two weeks after a South Florida appeals court dealt a setback to red-light cameras in Hollywood, Fla., the Associated Press reports that two motorists have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company that operates red-light camera programs throughout Florida, including for Tampa and a half-dozen other bay area communities....

    Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Fletcher Avenue, one of Hillsborough County's red-light camera intersections.
  2. Free Wi-Fi now available along the river in downtown Tampa

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Nearly two years in the making, free Wi-Fi is now available along Tampa's Riverwalk and in downtown waterfront parks.

    Bright House Networks has launched the service, free of advertisements but limited for Wi-Fi users who aren't Bright House customers. Anyone using a personal computer, tablet, smartphone or other Wi-Fi-enabled device can connect to the Internet free for up to two hours per day, capped at 1 gigabyte per month. After reaching the daily or monthly limit, non-Bright House customers can buy more time online....

    Bright House Networks now offers free Wi-Fi service along the Riverwalk in downtown Tampa, and some parks.
  3. Bob Buckhorn to appoint Kathleen Shanahan to HART board

    Blog

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn plans to appoint business executive and Tallahassee insider Kathleen Shanahan to represent the city on the board of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART).

    "She’s played and served at the highest levels," Buckhorn said Monday. "She brings a level of maturity and gravitas to what I think will be an interesting couple of years in the transportation world. I think she realizes that transportation will be the cutting-edge issue for probably the next decade. So having a person like Kathleen right in the middle of it will bring a lot of value to the board."...

    Bob Buckhorn plans to appoint Kathleen Shanahan to a three-year  term on the board of HART.
  4. Future of main library in downtown Tampa: renovation or something more?

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Talk about showing your age.

    At 47, the John F. Germany Public Library, the flagship library for Tampa and Hillsborough County, is due for an update, according to a consultant's study and facilities master plan. Among other things, the report concludes:

    • Built in 1967 and expanded in 1975, the library needs work on its restrooms, elevators, lights and air conditioning, parts of which are original to the building. It lacks fire sprinklers and has issues with exits, stairs, handrails and glass vulnerable to wind-blown debris....

    The John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa is “an inefficient building,” Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.
  5. Tampa and Cal Ripken foundation to create $1M synthetic-turf baseball field in Sulphur Springs

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall on Thursday unveiled a $1 million partnership with the nonprofit Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to create a synthetic-turf youth baseball field in Sulphur Springs.

    The city has pledged $500,000 toward the new field at Spring­hill Park Community Center south of Busch Boulevard, with the other half coming from the foundation.

    Established by Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.'s family, the organization has built 34 youth development parks in poor neighborhoods. "These kids do not have a safe place to play outside in neighborhood after neighborhood across the country," foundation president Steve Salem said....

  6. Tampa okays deal on downtown redevelopment cash

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners took just 10 minutes last week to approve an agreement renewing Tampa's community redevelopment areas.

    On Thursday, the City Council signed off on the same deal, but spent a lot more time talking about it.

    Several council members disliked the scope, timing, terms or historical background of the agreement, which will limit future county contributions to downtown redevelopment efforts....

  7. Tampa's Riverwalk builder fined $10,000 for illegal concrete dump

    Water

    TAMPA — The contractor building an $8.8 million section of Tampa's Riverwalk will pay $10,000 in fines for dumping concrete waste into the Hillsborough River.

    Johnson Bros. Corp. of Lithia also agreed to cover the investigative costs of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission, which each imposed a $5,000 fine.

    Together, those costs bring the total that Johnson Bros. will pay to slightly more than $11,000....

    A downtown worker had shot video of Johnson Bros. workers washing concrete waste into the Hillsborough River. The company fired at least one worker and disciplined others.
  8. Tampa expands Platt Street plan for parking, bike lane

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall's plan to add parking and a bike lane to Platt Street has met with so much neighborhood support that it's getting bigger.

    After meeting with residents, city officials said last week they plan to add on-street parking and a bike lane to Platt all the way from S Armenia Avenue to Bayshore Boulevard.

    In August, officials first said the south side of Platt could get 54 new metered parking spaces from Armenia to S Dakota Avenue, just west of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway overpass....

  9. Tampa's new police gun range designed to reduce noise

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — The last time Tampa police had ready access to a firing range was 1995, but it closed after nearby houses were peppered with stray 9mm rounds.

    Now the city is building a $5.4 million practice range designed to be convenient for officers and easy on the neighbors.

    The range will be built next to the city's McKay Bay garbage incinerator, with walls and angled sections of roofing to keep bullets inside, plus sound-absorbing materials to reduce the sound of gunfire....

  10. Tampa: South Florida ruling against red-light camera citations won't affect our program

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Tampa plans no changes to its red-light camera program following a legal setback for red-light camera citations in a South Florida city with the same vendor and similar procedures.

    "The bottom line is this: We, at this point, are going to continue to go forward," City Attorney Julia Mandell said Friday.

    In light of a court case out of Hollywood, Fla., City Hall has reviewed its contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and the steps for issuing traffic citations from 23 Tampa intersections monitored by red-light cameras....

  11. Tampa could allow drinks on the Riverwalk

    Local Government

    TAMPA — So how cool would it be to stroll on Tampa's Riverwalk with an ice-cold beer in your hand?

    It could happen.

    The City Council took the first step toward that Thursday by giving its initial approval to a new ordinance allowing open containers of alcohol on the Riverwalk — under certain conditions.

    For one, you couldn't bring your own.

    Instead, you'd have to buy the drink from one of eight places — including hotels, restaurants, museums and the Tampa Convention Center — now licensed to sell alcohol along the Riverwalk....

  12. Tampa Bay area officials studying South Florida ruling in red-light camera case

    Blog

    A South Florida court ruling Wednesday set red-light camera opponents abuzz statewide.

    In a case involving the city of Hollywood, Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeal dismissed a citation against motorist Eric Arem.

    The court, based in West Palm Beach, ruled that Hollywood officials delegated too much authority to the vendor of their system when it came to issuing traffic citations....

    Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and Fletcher Avenue, a red-light camera intersection.
  13. Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will donate land for downtown USF medical school

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik wants the University of South Florida to build a new medical school on his downtown property so badly that he's willing to give the school an acre of his land to seal the deal.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning owner made the offer this week to USF president Judy Genshaft and Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, according to a university spokesman....

    Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has amassed a significant chunk of southern downtown around the team’s home at the Amalie Arena: the Channelside Bay Plaza outdoor mall, the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina and 24 empty acres around the arena. He is set to unveil plans to transform the area into a walkable entertainment district and he also wants to attract major employers in high-end industries to his redevelopment project, including, perhaps, the University of South Florida’s new medical school.
  14. Hillsborough approves deal for $100M in downtown development funds

    Local Government

    TAMPA — One vote down. One to go.

    On Wednesday, Hillsborough County commissioners unanimously approved a proposal designed to do two big things.

    First, it would steer more property tax revenues generated within Tampa's downtown community redevelopment area, or CRA, to county government.

    Also, it would set aside up to $100 million in city and county funds to support high-profile downtown redevelopment projects over the next three decades....

  15. Jeff Vinik hires Tallahassee lobbyists amid talk of USF med school move

    Legislature

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik has hired heavy-hitting lobbyist Brian Ballard and two others to represent his interests in Tallahassee.

    A Lightning spokesman would not comment Tuesday on the goals to be given the lobbyists, who weren't talking much, either.

    But it would come as no surprise for them to lobby the Legislature for millions of dollars for a new downtown medical school for the University of South Florida — a project USF is considering putting on Vinik's land near Amalie Arena....

    Lobbyist Brian Ballard and two others have been hired to represent Jeff Vinik’s interests in Tallahassee.