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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 local government in Pinellas and Pasco counties, state and federal courts and higher education. 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: rdanielson@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Danielson_Times

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  1. Homeless counts show drop in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties

    Local Government

    Fewer homeless people live in the two largest counties in Tampa Bay — at least if recent volunteer surveys are accurate.

    The drop in Pinellas County was most dramatic. Volunteers counted 2,777 homeless people, down 610 or 18 percent from the previous year.

    The county still has the second-largest homeless population in the state, trailing only Miami-Dade, according to St. Petersburg City Council member Amy Foster...

     Vacant swings hang in a children's playground at Unity Park on 4th Ave. N., St. Petersburg as a homeless person sleeps in the grass, background, 5/11/16. Residents of the nearby Jamestown homes complain children can no longer play in the park due to the homeless. The numbers of homeless in the park have increased since bus shelters were removed from Williams Park. Residents of Uptown and Methodist Town neighborhoods say the management of St. Vincent De Paul Center of Hope homeless shelter need to supervise their clients more closely.
  2. Hillsborough homeless count drops nearly 6 percent from 2015

    Blog

    The total number of homeless people in Hillsborough County dropped nearly 6 percent to 1,817 since last year, according to the county’s annual count of individuals and families on the street or in shelters.

    To do the count, the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative had 330 volunteers fan out across the county, covering streets, alleys, spaces under bridges, wooded campsites and soup kitchens between 5:30 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25....

    Volunteer Melissa Brass interviews Robert Gatlin at a park in downtown Tampa during Hillsborough County's annual homeless count in 2013. This year, the most recent survey found 1,817 homeless individuals, a drop of nearly 6 percent from the 2015 count.
  3. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's $35.5 million legacy project at Riverfront Park moves ahead

    Local Government

    TAMPA — A massive waterfront park project that more than anything else may be Bob Buckhorn's legacy as mayor has won the strong endorsement of the City Council.

    The council voted 6-1 on Thursday to spend $35.5 million to remake Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 23 all-but-forgotten acres just across the Hillsborough River from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

    "This is a great opportunity," said City Council member Frank Reddick, who represents the West Tampa area where the park is located. "Yes, $35 million is a lot of money, but if you look at the last 20 years, when not one dollar was invested in that area, then that community deserves the type of money that's being invested."...

    Tampa's 23-acre Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park is in line for a $35.5 million makeover.
  4. Tampa council members question having ex-Property Appraiser Rob Turner work on city project

    Local

    TAMPA — Rob Turner, defeated in his re-election bid for Hillsborough Property Appraiser after admitting he sent pornographic emails to a subordinate he once dated, could soon work as a subcontractor on a project for the city of Tampa.

    Turner stands to be paid $45,000 through his company, Assessment Services LLC, as part of a project to create a registry of foreclosed properties inside the city. He would provide training and project management services as the local representative for Clear Village, an Orlando government records company....

    Tampa City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said she is "not crazy" about the idea of having former Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Rob Turner work on a city contract. "When I saw the name I was taken aback," she said. "He has many, many years of experience, but I'm not sure we want to put ourselves in his hands."

  5. Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh mayors put beer, cash and their own pride on the line in Lightning-Penguins bet

    Blog

    Cases of craft beer and donations to veterans' charities are the stakes in a mayors' bet on the outcome of the Tampa Bay Lightning's playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    If the Lightning wins the NHL's Eastern Conference finals, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will send East End Brewing Co. beer to his bay area counterparts and make a $1,000 donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, fan.
  6. Vandal smashes tiles depicting black history at Tampa's new Perry Harvey Sr. Park

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — The city's new Perry Harvey Sr. Park was not open a month before a vandal attacked a $100,000 public art installation.

    On May 1, a parks employee told police someone had used a sharp object to fracture one of the handcrafted glass tiles on a mural of Tampa's old Central Avenue black business and entertainment district.

    The attack left a spider-web crack in the 8- by 8-inch tile, part of a mosaic that shows a shimmering succession of enlarged photographs as visitors walk past. Viewed from one angle, the point of impact is directly over the face of a baby at the former Helping Hand Day Nursery and Kindergarten....

    The artwork by Rufus Butler Seder in Perry Harvey Sr. Park in Tampa was damaged by a vandal less than a month after the $6.3?million park opened. The city is looking at putting up video surveillance and keeping park lights on longer. 
  7. Busy weekends in downtown Tampa means crowds, traffic — and now, a search for solutions

    Transportation

    Welcome to downtown Tampa, where the price of success on a busy weekend is gridlock, confusion and delay.

    Take Saturday, April 30, perhaps the most crowded weekend day downtown Tampa has ever seen. Nearly 70,000 people converged on the central business district:

    • 30,000 at RiverFest, which took place at five different parks along the Riverwalk.

    • 20,000 at Amalie Arena for a Tampa Bay Lightning playoff game....

    The doors at Amalie Arena open to fans before Game 2 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders on April 30. The game started at 3 p.m., adding traffic carrying 20,000 hockey fans to downtown Tampa’s busy streets.
  8. Joe Biden: Toxic U.S. politics could undermine Western Hemisphere opportunity and security

    National

    TAMPA — Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday said the Obama administration has worked to foster trade and fight corruption throughout the Americas, but warned that a toxic presidential campaign could hurt relationships between the United States and its Western Hemisphere allies.

    "I understand what it means to be in a heated election," Biden told a crowd of several hundred business, political, educational and military leaders at the University of Tampa....

    Vice President Joe Biden speaks to Tampa business leaders regarding the unification of the Western Hemisphere at the University of Tampa.
  9. Twice-delayed canal project scheduled to close part of S West Shore Boulevard Wednesday

    Roads

    TAMPA — The job has been twice-delayed, but officials say starting Wednesday part of S West Shore Boulevard will be closed for a canal repair project that could last until July.

    And that has homeowners in South Tampa neighborhoods bracing for up to two months of detours.

    "We're very concerned," said John Hudson, president of the Beach Park Homeowners Association, which covers about 1,250 homes....

    Starting Wednesday, the city of Tampa will close part of S West Shore Boulevard while crews do a drainage improvement project on the Watrous Canal. Officials recommend using S Dale Mabry Highway as an alternative north-south route.
  10. Tampa City Council signs off on Yankees spring training stadium upgrades

    Blog

    The Tampa City Council this week approved an agreement between the Tampa Sports Authority, New York Yankees and Hillsborough County for a planned $40 million renovation of George M. Steinbrenner Field.

    The city does not own any of the property involved, is not contributing any money to the project and is not a party to any of the agreements. Still, the state law that enables the sports authority to do the deal required it to get the city’s approval for the plan....

    The Tampa City Council this week approved a plan that would use $26 million from Hillsborough County's tourism tax and the state of Florida to help pay for renovations at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
  11. Tampa police plan outreach in response to federal critique of bike tickets

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Watch for a public outreach campaign soon from the Tampa Police Department in response to a yearlong Justice Department review that pointed to flaws in the agency's bike ticketing practices.

    Police Chief Eric Ward told the City Council on Thursday that in coming months he plans several community meetings and is looking to create an app residents can use to give the department feedback on the report and ways police can improve....

    Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward told the City Council on Thursday that his agency has already made several changes in the wake of a federal report critiquing the department's bike ticketing practices. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  12. Tampa Bay Times borrowed $13.3 million to finance Tribune purchase

    Corporate

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Times took on about $13.3 million in new debt just before it purchased its main competitor, the Tampa Tribune, according to a mortgage filed Wednesday in Pinellas County.

    The mortgage does not say what the Times paid for the Tribune, and Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash said the amount borrowed is not the purchase price.

    That's because the debt includes money for costs such as professional fees associated with the transaction....

    The Tampa Bay Times building in downtown St. Petersburg. (RON BRACKETT  |  Times)
  13. Tampa Bay Times purchases Tampa Tribune

    Business

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Times, Florida's largest newspaper, on Tuesday purchased the Tampa Tribune from Revolution Capital Group, saying it intends to create one financially secure, locally owned daily newspaper in the Tampa Bay region.

    Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash announced the purchase at the Tribune headquarters in downtown Tampa on Tuesday afternoon....

    The Tampa Tribune was sold by longtime owner Media General to California-based Revolution Capital in 2012 for $9.5 million. The investment capital group last July sold the Tribune's headquarters on Parker Street in downtown Tampa for $17.75 million to South Florida developers who plan an apartment complex on the site. [Times (2012)]
  14. St. Petersburg couple active in business and civic leadership die in murder-suicide, police say

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — The American flag flew at half-staff Saturday in front of the Allendale Terrace home of Gary and Marie Stempinski.

    It was a symbol of the loss of the Stempinskis, whom police found inside the house Friday, dead in a murder-suicide. But it also was a sign of community respect for the couple, known for their work in law enforcement, business, journalism and civic affairs....

    The flag flies at half-staff outside the St. Petersburg home of Gerard Joseph Stempinski, 69, and Marie Stempinski, 72.
  15. Yacht Club seeks Tampa okay on alcohol sales, but an influential neighbor objects

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Cocktails have been the custom at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club for 112 years, right down to the milk-and-bourbon punch served to invading pirates the morning of Gasparilla.

    Trouble is, the official record is sketchy when it comes to what local rules say about whether the club can serve alcohol outside — say, by the pool — as well as inside.

    So this week attorneys for the yacht club filed two land-use applications at City Hall in an effort to clear things up....

    The Tampa Yacht & Country Club is on Interbay Boulevard near the south end of Bayshore Boulevard.