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Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phone: (813) 226-3433


The Contorno file:

Twitter: @scontorno

  1. Brits want NFL team within 5 years as Bucs push for second 'home' game away from Ray Jay


    Just before the NFL's first London game of the 2015 regular season on Sunday, Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne told reporters Friday that he hopes to bring an American football team across the pond within the next five years. ...

    Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, center, holds a New York Jets shirt, left, and Miami Dolphins shirt, as he poses for pictures with former football players Dan Marino, right, and Curtis Martin, during a media event inside 11 Downing Street in London, on Friday.
  2. How the Raymond James Stadium negotiations between the Buccaneers and the Tampa Sports Authority broke down

    Local Government

    TAMPA — A deal for a multimillion dollar renovation of Raymond James Stadium that could help attract future Super Bowls seemed like a lock in early September.

    After nine months of painstaking but cordial negotiations, Tampa Sports Authority CEO Eric Hart sent Tampa Bay Buccaneers COO Brian Ford what the TSA hoped was the last version of a new contract on Sept. 9.

    "Attached is the final agreement that we discussed," Hart wrote in the email. "I believe we have incorporated in all of our discussed modifications."...

    Tampa Bay fans celebrate before the start of the NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium. Attendance has fallen in recent years.
  3. Bucs, Hillsborough County hit snag in Raymond James Stadium renovation


    TAMPA — The owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have proposed a deal to pay as much as $75 million toward a $100 million makeover of Raymond James Stadium, but Hillsborough County and Tampa Sports Authority officials are balking at some of the stipulations.

    The Bucs seek the right to play an additional "home" game in another city, which has become a major sticking point, because county officials fear it could be used as leverage in future stadium negotiations....

    Tampa Bay fans celebrate before the start of the NFC divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Raymond James Stadium. Attendance has fallen in recent years.
  4. Review of Go Hillsborough contract may not end with sheriff's investigation

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Sheriff David Gee may be an outside-the-box choice to investigate a Go Hillsborough contract and restore public confidence in the county's transportation initiative.

    But the sheriff may not be able to lift every cloud hanging over Go Hillsborough.

    In an unusual request, County Administrator Mike Merrill last week asked the sheriff to look at a $1.35 million contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff, a multinational engineering firm hired to conduct public outreach for the Go Hillsborough transportation referendum....

  5. Rubio to hold lunch fundraiser with Tampa-area GOP insiders on Monday


    Sen. Marco Rubio will be in the Tampa Bay area Monday to meet with some local Republican "VIPs," according to an influential but controversial GOP activist's Facebook page. 

    Valrico businessman Sam Rashid posted this week that he will attend a lunch meeting/fundraiser Monday with Rubio and several well-known Republican insiders, including former Hillsborough County Republican Party chairwoman Deborah Cox-Roush, engineer Hung Mai, former Freedom Works Florida leader Tom Gaitens, real estate investor Andy Scaglione, and "a few other VIPs." ...

  6. Hillsborough Commissioner Sandy Murman calls for a crackdown on lobbying

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Amid an investigation into whether influence played a role in the awarding of a Go Hillsborough contract, the head of the Hillsborough County Commission says it's time to crack down on lobbying "loopholes."

    Commissioner and Chairwoman Sandy Murman announced Wednesday that she will propose a new department, the Office of Professional Lobbyist Registration, to monitor lobbying. Murman also vowed to tighten rules for who is permitted to lobby....

    Commissioner Sandy Murman is working on new rules.
  7. Go Hillsborough referendum losing steam as commissioners waver

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County's transportation referendum is in dire straits.

    The proposal to raise the sales tax to fund transit and road projects suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks that has cast doubt on whether county commissioners will even put it on the ballot next November.

    "If a vote was taken today, the votes aren't there for this thing to pass," Commissioner Al Higginbotham said....

    Community members attend a Go Hillsborough meeting in Town 'N County in May.The proposal to raise the sales tax to fund transit and road construction has suffered a series of setbacks in recent weeks, and it's becoming increasingly unlikely that county commissioners will vote to put it on the ballot next November. [Courtesty of Parsons Brinckerhoff]
  8. Hillsborough sheriff to investigate Go Hillsborough contract

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hoping to quickly restore trust in Go Hillsborough, County Administrator Mike Merrill called for Sheriff David Gee on Monday to investigate the public transportation initiative.

    Merrill hopes a sheriff's investigation will clear up any questions about the $1.35 million contract awarded to engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff to gauge public support for a proposed sales tax that would fund Hillsborough's future transportation needs....

    Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill suspended work on Go Hillsborough.
  9. Hillsborough commissioners pass $4.8 billion budget, raise fees for ambulance rides

    Local Government

    TAMPA — It will mean only a few extra pennies — literally — for most homeowners, but Hillsborough County commissioners can claim they lowered the property tax rate for the 23rd straight year.

    In passing their $4.83 billion 2016 budget Thursday unanimously after almost no debate, commissioners approved a slight decrease of 0.0017 in the countywide millage from last year. It amounts to a savings of about 17 cents for every $100,000 in taxable property value for residents and means about $125,000 less revenue for county coffers than if the millage had stayed the same....

  10. Hillsborough faces hurdles luring big corporations


    TAMPA — Local leaders often paint Hillsborough County as a sun-drenched, low-tax, low-regulation paradise for businesses looking to relocate.

    But on Wednesday, Rick Homans, president and CEO of the Tampa Hills­borough Economic Development Corp., also bluntly described what's holding the region back as it seeks to lure a major corporate headquarters that would transform the area....

    Rick Homans is the president and CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. [SKIP O’ROURKE | Times (2013)] 
  11. Hillsborough County commissioners defend Go Hillsborough but call for audit of contract

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners Wednesday asked for an audit of a $1.35 million contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff, the engineering firm hired to gather public input for the Go Hillsborough transit initiative.

    Commissioners staunchly defended the county's work on Go Hillsborough — a proposed referendum to raise the sales tax by a half cent or a full cent for transportation projects — and said the contract with Parsons Brinckerhoff was transparent and aboveboard....

  12. Gov. Rick Scott 'expects' appointee Sam Rashid to leave Aviation Authority board

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott wants an appointee who called a local public relations consultant a "tax-payer subsidized slut" to resign his seat on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority board, Scott's office said Tuesday.

    But the appointee, influential Republican activist Sam Rashid, said he intends to stay put — for now.

    Rashid's comments, made Sept. 2 on Facebook, were directed at Beth Leytham, a Tampa consultant hired to help win public support for the county transportation sales tax referendum known as Go Hillsborough....

    Sam Rashid is under fire over a Sept. 2 Facebook post.
  13. Hillsborough's cash-strapped environmental lands program gets last-minute boost in 2016 budget

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County's cash-strained environmental lands program could get a $15 million boost next year.

    New bonding for the Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program, one of several last-minute adjustments to the county's 2016 budget, is expected to pass Thursday without much wrangling from commissioners.

    The popular ELAPP program, designed to preserve environmentally sensitive lands, is running dangerously low on funds. There is just $4 million left unallocated from an initial $59.5 million cash infusion....

  14. Charlie Crist backs Pat Frank campaign in Hillsborough clerks race


    Hillsborough County Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank has picked up the backing — at least financially — of former Florida governor and St. Petersburg resident Charlie Crist in her re-election bid.

    Crist donated $500 to Frank's campaign on Aug. 11, according to campaign finance records made available Thursday. It's the first time Crist has donated to a Hillsborough County candidate in four years....

  15. Public meeting set on Hillsborough County's $4.8 billion proposed budget

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County will hold its second-to-last public hearing Thursday night to discuss the 2016 budget.

    Residents are invited to attend and weigh in. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Hillsborough County government building second floor board room.

    The updated budget proposal with new revenue projections includes an additional $25 million in spending. Of that, $6 million will go toward road improvements and $16.3 million for bonds to support the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program....