Fog73° WeatherFog73° Weather

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

link
  1. Tampa's Coast Bike Share takes to the road

    Life

    TAMPA — Sure, riding a bike is fun, but Tampa's new Coast Bike Share rental program aims to create something more ambitious than that.

    "A new type of urban transportation," said Ryan Rzepecki, founder and CEO of bike manufacturer Social Bicycles, "rather than something that's just purely recreational or something you may have done as a child."

    Organizers want a program for commuters, tourists and those seeking more than a windshield tour of Tampa's neighborhoods....

    Eric Trull, program director for Coast Bike Share checks tags on bikes in a warehouse on Franklin Street north of downtown Tampa. 300 new rental bikes spread across 30 bike racks, that you'll be able to use GPS to find a Coast bike, and a smartphone app or credit card to unlock it and ride in the downtown area and a 10 minute ride to Ybor City GPS computers still have to be installed on the bikes and workers will start installing the bike rack locations later this week. Trull hopes that the citizens will start seeing the bright blue bikes cruising the streets around downtown in  late October to early Novemember. Davis Islands, Ybor City, downtown Tampa and Channelside will have the bikes available.
  2. Tampa's Coast Bike Share takes to the road

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Sure, riding a bike is fun, but Tampa's new Coast Bike Share rental program aims to create something more ambitious.

    "A new type of urban transportation," said Ryan Rzepecki, founder and CEO of bike manufacturer Social Bicycles, "rather than something that's just purely recreational or something you may have done as a child."

    Coast, a partnership between New York-based Social Bicycles and CycleHop of Miami Beach, did a soft launch Monday for its founding members. It's a service aimed at commuters, tourists and those who want more than a windshield tour of Tampa's neighborhoods....

    Eric Trull, program director for Coast Bike Share, checks tags on some of the 300 bikes that are part of the rent to pedal program in September. The blue bikes are starting to show up in downtown Tampa and Ybor City
  3. Photographer sues Tampa over arrest at Occupy Tampa protest

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — A photographer arrested during an Occupy Tampa protest in 2011 is suing the city of Tampa, alleging he was falsely arrested and the victim of excessive force.

    Karel Soucre, 34, said in his lawsuit that he was a photojournalist gathering news for a Miami blog and Patch.com when he was arrested at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park about 3 a.m. on Oct. 28, 2011.

    Soucre's suit said he was making a video of protesters and the arrival of a police cruiser at the park when Tampa police Officer L.J. Miles got out of the cruiser and pushed him to the ground, then walked away....

  4. Tampa considers extending 'ban the box' policy to city vendors

    Local Government

    TAMPA — It has been nearly two years since City Hall decided to stop making applicants check off a box on a job application if they had a criminal past.

    This doesn't mean city officials don't care whether they hire convicts. To the contrary, since January 2013, city job offers have been extended pending background checks that include an applicant's criminal history.

    But advocates for what's known as the "ban the box" movement say it makes a big difference for ex-offenders to at least get a chance to compete for a job and not be knocked out of the running by a single question....

  5. Moody's raises credit rating on Tampa's solid waste bonds

    Local Government

    TAMPA — For the fourth time this year, a major bond-rating agency has smiled on the credit-worthiness of Tampa City Hall.

    Moody's Investors Service this week raised its rating on Tampa's solid waste revenue bonds from A3 to A2.

    A higher rating allows the city to hold down its costs by borrowing money at lower interest rates.

    "Our region's economic stability begins at City Hall," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in an announcement about the upgrade. And that, he added, means creating economic opportunities that will lead to new jobs and foster innovation....

  6. Tampa's Coast Bike to launch for its founding members Nov. 17, everyone else Dec. 7

    Transportation

    TAMPA — After more than two years of work, Tampa's Coast Bike Share program has scheduled a launch for its charter members on Nov. 17 and for everyone else on Dec. 7.

    "It look longer than we had hoped, but I'd rather do it right than hurry it," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Monday.

    Starting Nov. 17, Coast customers who have paid $99 for a founding membership will be able to check out one of the 300 sky-blue bikes from 30 hubs around downtown, Ybor City, Hyde Park and the Channel District....

    Three hundred blue Coast Bike Share bicycles will be available at 30 hubs around the city.
  7. 22-story hotel and apartment tower proposed for downtown Tampa's historic Kress block

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — A team of Tampa and Atlanta developers applied Monday to put a 22-story hotel and apartment tower on the downtown block that's home to the historic S.H. Kress & Co. building.

    A former department store on the National Register of Historic Places, the vacant Kress building has long been a downtown void as glaring as a knocked-out tooth.

    "I've spent 3½ years trying to get that building done," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who spotlighted the building's history by holding his 2013 state-of-the-city address there. "The historical significance, the ambience, the architecture. … It's pretty important."...

    The ground floor of the Kress building would become the hotel lobby, with a hotel and residential tower rising above it.
  8. Tampa mayors remember Rick Olewinski, a vigilant, calming presence

    Obituaries

    If you saw Tampa Mayors Pam Iorio or Bob Buckhorn out in public any time in the past eight years, you might not have noticed police Detective Rick Olewinski standing a little off to the side.

    But know this: He saw you.

    Olewinski, who died Monday at age 58 after a battle with cancer, was bodyguard and driver for both mayors — Iorio in her environmentally friendly Toyota hybrid and Buckhorn in his rumbling black sport utility vehicle....

    Former Tampa police Detective Rick Olewinski died Monday at age 58 after battling cancer.
  9. Tampa okays booze on the Riverwalk, with a few limitations

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Within weeks, a stroll on Tampa's Riverwalk should come with the chance to buy a cold beer or a cocktail to go.

    That's because a City Council majority voted Thursday to allow open containers of beer, wine or liquor on the Riverwalk to enhance the appeal of downtown Tampa's waterfront.

    "It does exactly what we've been trying to do in this community for the last 3 1/2 years, and that is build a downtown that's exciting and that people want to be a part of," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said afterward....

    Alcoholic drinks will be served in plastic cups bearing a Riverwalk logo, such as this proposal, as a safeguard.
  10. Work starts on 21-story Harbour Island apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Developers broke ground Wednesday on another high-rise apartment tower, this one on Harbour Island.

    "This will be a radically different skyline over the next five years," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said.

    In addition to Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's plans for 24 acres around Amalie Arena that could include a medical school building for the University of South Florida, Buckhorn said he expects five new residential towers to be completed or under construction around downtown over the next 12 months....

    An artist’s rendering shows what a new 21-story apartment tower on Tampa’s Harbour Island, which is expected to be complete in 2016, will look like. Developers plan a mix of 235 apartments and townhouses.
  11. On the morning after, Bob Buckhorn riffs on the idea of running for governor in 2018

    Blog

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn wasted no time Wednesday before mentioning and flirting with the idea of running for governor in 2018.

    “Where’s the fan?”

    The joke — a reference to Charlie Crist’s ever-present and controversial fan — was the first thing out of Buckhorn’s mouth at his first public event of the day, a ground-breaking for a 21-story apartment tower on Harbour Island....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn speaks at a news conference on a park project in Tampa this summer.
  12. On the morning after, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn riffs on the idea of running for governor in 2018

    Blog

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn wasted no time Wednesday before mentioning and flirting with the idea of running for governor in 2018.

    “Where’s the fan?”

    The joke — a reference to Charlie Crist’s ever-present and controversial fan — was the first thing out of Buckhorn’s mouth at his first public event of the day, a ground-breaking for a 21-story apartment tower on Harbour Island....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn speaks at a news conference about a park project in Tampa this summer.
  13. On the morning after, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn riffs on the idea of running for governor

    Gubernatorial

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn wasted no time Wednesday before mentioning the idea of running for governor in 2018.

    "Where's the fan?"

    The joke — a reference to Charlie Crist's ever-present and controversial fan — was the first thing out of Buckhorn's mouth at his first public event of the day, a groundbreaking for a 21-story apartment tower on Harbour Island.

    And it didn't stop there....

    “I know the speculation is inevitable,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “The mayors are the bench for the Democratic Party. … There’s an argument that could be made that in this hyper-partisan environment, people are tired of the feud and they want their government to work, they want people who are willing to work with both sides to get it done.” 
  14. Tampa's Kennedy Blvd. reopens to traffic (w/video)

    Roads

    TAMPA — The Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge reopened to traffic Wednesday night.

    "The bridge is safe, and normal operation may resume," the Florida Department of Transportation said in an announcement shortly before 7:30 p.m.

    Earlier on Wednesday, onlookers watched hours of painstaking preparation, then broke into applause when a huge crane fished a 125,000-pound drilling rig out of the Hillsborough River....

    The crane-like equipment that fell halfway off a barge and into the Hillsborough River on Tuesday is still in the water, forcing the Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge to remain in the upright position and closed to traffic.  The 50-ton construction device first identified as a crane is actually a drill rig, according to the City of Tampa. A loop of steel cable on the rig slipped around a bridge beam when a contractor, Johnson Bros. Corp. of Lithia, attempted to bring it by barge to the Tampa Riverwalk project early Tuesday. A nearby crane is not powerful enough to move the drill rig. Tugboats are keeping it stable, preventing further slippage off the barge and into the river. So what's the plan for today? To move the big thing with an even bigger thing. Officials expect to bring in a 225-ton crane to lift the 50-ton crane out of the way, according to the city. Even if that works, it will take a while Ñ and then state engineers need to inspect the drawbridge to make sure it's safe to reopen. That will take more time.  All told, city officials said, commuters will be fortunate to see the drawbridge reopened by late Wednesday.
  15. Crane blunder closes Tampa's Kennedy Blvd. until at least late Wednesday

    Accidents

    TAMPA — If all goes well, the Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge could open late today.

    But that's a big "if."

    First thing today, officials plan to have a massive crane try to lift a smaller crane that toppled halfway off a construction barge early Tuesday.

    It could take much of the day, if not all day.

    "This is going to be a slow process," Tampa public works and utility services administrator Brad Baird said. "Inches at a time."...

    Kennedy Boulevard was closed around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Hillsborough River drawbridge when a crane toppled off a construction barge into the water. [JOSH SOLOMON   |   Times]