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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

  1. Cost rising to create 'quiet zone' in downtown Tampa for train horns

    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....

    A CSX train leaves downtown Tampa along the tracks under the William F. Poe Parking Garage. The sound of train horns warning motorists has become a bigger problem as the number of people living in downtown Tampa has grown in recent years. [Times file, 2015]
  2. Tampa City Council wants to make Food Not Bombs feedings legal

    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....

    Tampa police arrested seven volunteers on Jan. 7 as the group Food Not Bombs fed homeless people without a city permit at Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa.
  3. Trouble leads to stringent controls for Tampa's Playpen nude dance club

    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....

    The owner of the Playpen nude dance club on N 50th Street agreed to a lengthy list of changes at the club during a hearing this week before the Tampa Public Nuisance Abatement Board.
  4. Tampa repeals 5-minute parking rule, starts search for new approach

    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....

    For years, Tampa residents have been posting "5-minute parking" signs, like this one on S Desoto Avenue near Bayshore Boulevard, to keep people from parking for extended periods in front of their homes or businesses. Now, however, the Florida Department of Transportation has told the city that the ordinance that allows residents to put up the signs is unenforceable under state law, so on Thursday the City Council voted to repeal it and look for an alternative. BRIAN CASSELLA  |  Times (2008)
  5. Tampa's 5-minute parking rule for neighborhoods deemed unenforceable


    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 attorneys will discuss options next week with the City Council after being told the 5-minute rule doesn’t meet state law.
  6. Bob Buckhorn to Tampa Muslims: 'We will stand with you forever'


    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."...

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn greets members inside the mosque Friday afternoon at the Islamic Society of Tampa Bay.
  7. Airport charge on taxicabs unfair, senator says


    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.”...

    State Sen. Dana Young spoke to the group Café con Tampa on Friday morning.
  8. Dana Young says Tallahassee's angry tone doesn't help; opposes killing Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida


    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.”...

    State Sen. Dana Young spoke to the group Café con Tampa on Friday morning.
  9. Council's denial of drug and alcohol treatment home costs Tampa taxpayers $250,000

    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....

    The Tampa City Council agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a federal lawsuit brought by a company that wanted to open a home to treat people with alcohol and drug addictions in Oakford Park but was denied at a council hearing in 2013.
  10. Tampa Heights makes pitch for children's library

    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....

    During a library board meeting, cChildren brought in by the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association urged the opening of a children's library at the Free Library in Tampa. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  11. Chloe Coney retiring as U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's district director


    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."...

    U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, left, puts her arm around district director Chloe Coney during a press conference at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church on March 2, 2015.
  12. After seeing Leah Remini's show, George Cretekos says Scientology should re-think policy on families


    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....

    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos
  13. Tampa City Hall to begin offering employees paid parental leave


    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."...

    Tampa City Hall plans to begin offering paid parental leave to full-time employees beginning this month.
  14. Cross-bay bromance: Mayors tout regionalism, cooperation — yes, even on baseball


    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....

    Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the need for regional cooperation at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Tuesday.
  15. Tampa City Attorney Julia Mandell leaving for private practice; Sal Territo promoted to succeed her


    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....

    Julia Mandell is leaving Tampa City Hall after three years as city attorney for a job with the law firm of Carlton Fields.