TAMPA — Meet the team behind the "Bollywood Oscars," a show promising to bring spice, foreign tourists and some of the hottest (and priciest) tickets the Tampa Bay area has ever seen.
It's a company called Wizcraft International Entertainment, owned by Sabbas Joseph, Andre Timmins and Viraf Sarkari — three friends from Mumbai who started small and grew something big.
In the mid 1980s, Joseph was a young newspaper reporter in Mumbai writing about a dazzling new nightclub called Xanadu. He became friends with the club's two 20-something owners. After a couple of years, the three launched Wizcraft in the emerging field of event management....
03/06/14 Local Government
TAMPA — The beer tents will be fenced off from the students, more barriers are on order and extra police will be on duty.
The result is a truce — this year — between the 7,000-student Florida State Thespian Festival and the Gasparilla Criterium and Cycling Festival, both scheduled for March 29.
"We've got a plan that I think is going to work for this year," said Lindsay Painter, a Steinbrenner High School theater teacher and the director of the statewide thespian festival....
Tampa, which says it suffered nearly $60 million in losses to tourism, business and local tax revenues as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, is being encouraged to think about teaming up with other cities that have similar claims.
Together, governments in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama have claims totalling in the billions of dollars, according to a recent letter to Mayor Bob Buckhorn from Steven Yerrid, City Hall's special counsel on its lawsuit against BP over the oil spill....
03/05/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Lawyer Mark Bentley sued the city of Tampa over its noise ordinance Wednesday, saying the local law is unconstitutional and is trumped by county and state law.
In June, the City Council amended the city's noise ordinance to target drivers with stereos that are plainly audible at a distance of 50 feet. The ordinance includes fines of $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second offense and $450 for a third offense....
Air Force reservist Bret Wedding said on his Facebook page Wednesday he is withdrawing from the Republican primary in State House District 63.
"It is with a heavy heart that I share with you my decision to withdraw my candidacy and end my campaign for the Florida Legislature," Wedding wrote, thanking supporters who had "worked tirelessly and given generously to my campaign."
"This is not a decision I have made lightly," he added. "It all comes down to this — you only have one life. And in that one life, we have the opportunity to do great things big and small. However, in the pursuit of doing great things — you can’t lose (sight) of the things that are the foundation of building that great life....
03/03/14 Local Government
TAMPA — After advertising nationwide and getting 129 applications, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Monday he will promote from within, naming Mark Wilfalk as director of solid waste and environmental program management.
Buckhorn described Wilfalk, 43, as a team player who would be able to improve customer service, live within the department's means and handle changes ranging from running more garbage trucks on compressed natural gas to introducing more automation to expanding recycling....
02/28/14 Human Interest
Over three decades, Pam Iorio has earned a reputation as a plain-spoken, unflinching executive who can build up an organization or clean up a mess.
As Hillsborough County supervisor of elections, she helped institute statewide reforms after Florida's voting debacle in 2000. As mayor of Tampa, she tripled City Hall's reserves. As interim head of the Children's Board of Hillsborough County, she cleaned house after a personnel and financial controversy....
TAMPA — The Democratic National Committee has invited Tampa to consider bidding for the party's 2016 national convention, but Mayor Bob Buckhorn said Thursday that he's cool to the idea.
"It's flattering," he said of the DNC's invitation, which also went to a couple of dozen other cities nationwide. "After hosting the Republican National Convention, I think everyone recognizes that we set the standard for how those events should be run."...
Tampa already lets Obamacare navigators hold regular office hours at its busiest rec centers. Its firefighters carry information on insurance options when they roll on 911 calls. And Tuesday City Hall announced plans to host seven "super" enrollment sessions ahead of the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
In a statement announcing the events, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said more than 90,000 of the city's 348,000 residents lack health care and "we all benefit when our community is healthier."...
TAMPA — With U.S. Special Operations Command and Central Command firmly in place, MacDill Air Force Base appears to be spared major cuts in a proposed five-year budget unveiled Monday by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
"I don't think they're going to be affected, but that has yet to be seen," said U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent, R-Spring Hill, who is on the House Armed Services Committee.
Still, when it comes to a base with an annual economic impact estimated at $5 billion, Tampa Bay area leaders have no plans to relax....
02/23/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Tampa's problem used to be not enough people downtown on a weekend.
Times have changed.
Now City Hall is hearing concerns that on March 29, one big event (a bicycle race through downtown) could interfere with another (a statewide convention of high school drama students).
"I'm surprised that it was allowed to be scheduled on the same day," City Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin said....
02/20/14 Local Government
TAMPA — The Outpost Tap House and Tavern — so close to the University of Tampa that an ad for $1 draft beers bold-faces the "UT" in its name — overcame university objections Thursday to win initial approval to add liquor to its menu.
The Outpost, on Kennedy Boulevard just west of North Boulevard, already is zoned to serve beer and wine but wants city approval to pour mixed drinks, too....
TAMPA — For the Tampa Bay area and the Bollywood film awards, word of mouth can be great advertising, especially when A-list movie stars are doing the talking.
"It's really gratifying to hear how these major stars are selling Tampa Bay," Visit Tampa Bay president Santiago Corrada said Thursday, a day after returning from a media blitz of India.
For Corrada, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, it was a short, intense trip: Leave Saturday. Return Wednesday. One part business in Mumbai. Two parts sitting on airplanes....
02/18/14 Local Government
TAMPA — City Hall is getting close to deals to bring a new hotel and apartment complex to two sites in Ybor City.
The hotel site is at the northeast corner of Nick Nuccio Parkway and E Seventh Avenue, the gateway to the historic district.
Tampa-based Liberty Group offered $650,000 — a little less than the appraised value — for about a third of a block the city owns at the corner....
As Air Force considers cuts at MacDill, base's future has not played a big role in race to replace Bill Young02/14/14 Blog
Nearly 900 of the 3,800 military personnel at MacDill Air Force Base have been told they could lose their positions as the Air Force shrinks its ranks, according to a base spokesman.
The notice informed personnel that they were “vulnerable,” though base officials say it’s too early to know with certainty if the positions will be eliminated. The Air Force is cutting more than 22,000 positions this year as the war in Afghanistan winds down. The notice affects personnel in MacDill’s host unit, the 6th Air Mobility Wing....