08/28/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Pushed by black residents, civil rights groups and an assertive City Council, Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Friday created a Citizens Review Board to recommend ways to improve police relationships with the community it serves.
"We can always do better," Buckhorn said. "We have heard the voices at City Council, and we respect those voices. But we are going to create a solution that works for us, not that works for some other outside group."...
08/27/15 Local Government
TAMPA — After 90 minutes of impassioned pleas on both sides of the question, the City Council paused Thursday to get more information before voting whether to raise stormwater fees.
Most of the three dozen speakers agreed Tampa has chronic problems with flooding, but differed on whether and how to address them.
"I thought I would never say this, but here it goes: City Council, please raise my taxes," said Marlin Anderson, president of the Sunset Park Area Homeowners Association. "Please raise my taxes to pay for this stormwater improvement that is so desperately needed."...
The 150-member Tampa Bay Young Republicans this week elected its first all-female executive board. Its members are:
• President Janine Kiray, who was re-elected to a second term. She is a Florida native, University of South Florida graduate and legislative assistant to state Rep. Chris Latvala, R-Clearwater.
• Vice president Holly Holobyn, an Indiana native, Indiana University graduate and a casualty adjuster for USAA in Tampa. She previously was the group’s secretary....
08/27/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Is it any surprise Tampa floods, considering how settlers didn't hesitate to pave over creeks to put down roads?
An 1887 city map shows a stream bed with the note "Creek (Dry in summer)" right down the middle of Jackson Street.
A 1903 map shows a creek flowing from the northwest through present-day Hyde Park and emptying into Hillsborough Bay.
"We built on a swamp," says City Council member Mike Suarez, who heard about the old maps, "and we get swampy sometimes."...
TAMPA — Since its launch last December, most people who have rented bicycles through Coast Bike Share have been tourists, conventioneers, cruise ship passengers and other out-of-towners.
And, not surprisingly, most of those visitors have paid $5 for a one-day Coast membership.
But here's the thing: Most of the locals who ride the sky-blue bikes also buy one-day memberships, even when they ride a few times a month....
08/23/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Water-logged Tampanians might be ready to pay more for better drainage.
After some of the city's heaviest rain since the Nixon administration, the City Council will hold a public hearing Thursday on the idea of raising the city's stormwater fee for the first time in a decade. It is one of Tampa's biggest checkbook issues in years.
But while council members have gotten plenty of complaints about flooding this summer, they have heard less about the proposed increase....
08/21/15 Local Government
TAMPA — With its five decks of sun-bleached concrete, downtown's William F. Poe Parking Garage is nothing to look at — at least not yet.
But City Hall and two local artists plan to change that.
Starting in October, Leon "Tes One" Bedore of Tampa and Ales "Bask" Hostomsky of St. Petersburg will spend eight weeks covering the outside of the 932-space garage with murals — some fluid with motion, some child-like in their whimsy, all in colors that pop and all with the theme "Stay Curious."...
08/19/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — What Port Tampa Bay wants to do in a big way, a South Florida developer is doing on a smaller scale nearby in the Channel District.
On a block south of E Kennedy Boulevard between 11th and 12th streets, FCI Residential is spending $60 million to replace an unused warehouse that once served the shipping industry with an Art Deco-inspired apartment house teeming with young professionals....
08/18/15 Public Safety
TAMPA — Tampa police dramatically decreased their bicycle ticketing after a Tampa Bay Times investigation this spring found stark racial disparities in the long-standing practice.
Police gave out 59 bike tickets from May through July, fewer than any other summer in more than a decade, according to department records. A Times analysis found Tampa police wrote three times more tickets in the same period last year....
08/18/15 Local Government
TAMPA — With school starting next week, City Hall plans to spend $100,000 to keep recreation centers open on weekends and provide teens with free recreation cards.
The city extended its "Stay and Play" recreation program, which started in June in response to an outbreak of gun-related violence that resulted in 18 homicides, four of them of teenagers, in the first half of the year. The number of killings has since risen to 23....
08/16/15 Local Government
TAMPA — The death of Antonio Lang in a crash with a man charged with fleeing police at more than 80 mph and blowing through a red light will cost Tampa taxpayers $125,000.
That's because although Delvin D. Williams is charged in the fatal wreck, Lang's widow blamed someone else.
Taina Serrano Lang filed a negligence and wrongful death claim over the actions of Tampa officers in the moments before the crash the night of Feb. 19, 2014....
08/14/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn is losing a second top aide to Jeff Vinik.
Ali Glisson, City Hall's director of public affairs for nearly four years, is leaving to become director of communications for Strategic Property Partners, the Vinik company planning a $1 billion development near Amalie Arena.
Glisson's last day at the city is Friday. She starts her new job Monday.
"It's been a really great experience, but I was looking for new challenges," she said. "This is just an amazing opportunity, one that I could not turn down. To be able to stay in Tampa, which is my hometown, and be a part of that project — I could not say 'no' to that."...
08/13/15 Real Estate
TAMPA — The land that Port Tampa Bay owns near downtown is now 45 acres of sun-beaten asphalt.
But what could it be 15 years from now?
How about $1.7 billion worth of apartments, hotels, offices and stores, with a bigger cruise ship terminal, one of Tampa's largest urban waterfront parks, a marina and two 75-story high-rises?
If the port can pull off the project it unveiled Thursday, it would have a profound impact on downtown Tampa, raising a second billion-dollar development within sight of one being planned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik....
08/12/15 Local Government
TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Wednesday that if City Hall sets up a civilian board to review police actions, it might not take shape as envisioned by the City Council.
"Is there room for improvement? Sure," Buckhorn said in an interview at his office. "Is more transparency a good thing? Absolutely."
But the mayor said the "path that we could go down" would be a "middle ground that's not going to subject our police officers to a kangaroo court but at the same time can give advice to the chief and advice to the administration as to issues that are out there."...
Before the Hillsborough School Board ousted MaryEllen Elia, no one was more vocal in support of the hard-charging superintendent than Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
"Terminating Mary Ellen's contract would be a huge mistake," Buckhorn said the week before the board voted 4-3 to fire her in January....