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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

Email: scontorno@tampabay.com

The Contorno file: PolitiFact.com

Twitter: @scontorno

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  1. Republican challenger for Hillsborough property appraiser doesn't disclose his assets

    Local

    TAMPA — Todd Jones, the Republican candidate for Hillsborough County property appraiser, lists his net worth at $4.1 million.

    What assets make up that valuation? He won't say.

    Candidates for office in Florida are required to fill out financial disclosure forms with their assets, debt, income and interest in any businesses. The forms are meant to help the public spot potential conflicts of interests....

    Todd Jones is running for property appraiser in Hillsborough.
  2. New transportation plan could affect bond ratings, Hillsborough administrator warns

    Local Government

    TAMPA — A proposal to pay for Hillsborough County's vast transportation needs through tax revenue growth could hurt the county's stellar bond rating.

    That's one of several red flags County Administrator Mike Merrill raised Wednesday as he introduced his recommended budget for 2017.

    The $4.9 billion budget projects a $49 million jump in tax revenues without raising the millage, thanks to increasing property values and growth in the tax base. ...

  3. No LGBT Pride Month in Hillsborough County, commissioners decide

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — A push from Hillsborough County's first openly gay commissioner to officially designate June as LGBT Pride Awareness and History Month was met with silence Wednesday from the full commission.

    Commissioner Kevin Beckner's proposal came in the wake of last month's massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead. He said it would help Hillsborough take another step forward after its own struggles to embrace the LGBT community here....

    Commissioner Kevin Beckner calls it a “slap in the face” to the LGBT community.
  4. LGBT Awareness month rejected by Hillsborough County commissioners

    Blog

    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County commissioners soundly rejected a proposal Wednesday to designate each June as LGBT Pride Awareness and History month in Hillsborough County.

    Despite an impassioned plea from Commissioner Kevin Beckner, who sought the designation in light of last month’s massacre at an Orlando gay night club, none of the commissioners supported his motion with a second and it failed as a result....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner helps raise the LGBT pride flag outside of the county center Wednesday. But Beckner did not convince his colleagues to name each June LGBT Pride Awareness month.
  5. UPDATE: St. Pete asks Tampa, Hillsborough to halt final vote on ferry

    Blog

    St. Petersburg city officials asked Hillsborough County and Tampa to delay final action on the ferry contract Tuesday.

    After asking Hillsborough County to make a last-minute addition to its agenda to consider the ferry contract, St. Peterburg put on the brakes because the contract still isn't finalized, said Ben Kirby, Mayor Rick Kriseman's spokesman.

    The Pinellas County Commission will also delay its vote, he said....

    HMS Ferries would provide this 149-passenger vessel for a pilot project of ferry service between St. Petersburg and Tampa.
  6. Tampa Bay's historic cleanup could serve as blueprint for Lake Okeechobee crisis

    Water

    The putrid, rotten-egg smell that has plagued Lake Okeechobee's neighbors is the same odor Rick Garrity remembers gagging on when he moved to Tampa in 1977.

    "If you stood at the intersection of Bayshore and Bay to Bay in the middle of summer you could not stand the stench," said Garrity, then the city's urban environmental coordinator. "It was horrific."

    The cause was largely the same — blue-green algae blooms. ...

    Blue-green algae coats Hillsborough Bay near Gibsonton in 1970. It’s similar to the algae blooms plaguing the Treasure Coast region today. It took time and money, but Tampa Bay was rescued.
  7. What Tampa Bay can teach Florida in its Lake Okeechobee crisis

    Blog

    The putrid, rotten-egg smell that has plagued Lake Okeechobee's neighbors is the same odor Rick Garrity remembers gagging on when he moved to Tampa in 1977.

    "If you stood at the intersection of Bayshore and Bay to Bay in the middle of summer you could not stand the stench," said Garrity, then the city's urban environmental coordinator. "It was horrific."...

    The Hillsborough Bay near Gibsonton, shown here in 1970 covered in thick, blue green algae similar to what many residents of southeast Florida are seeing today around Lake Okeechobee.
  8. Beckner removes campaign link from county website

    Blog

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner removed from his county-operated website a link to a Facebook page for his campaign Thursday after the Tampa Bay Times asked him questions about it.

    Promoting campaign material from a taxpayer-funded website is a no-no and it apparently has gone on for more than a year. But Beckner said Friday he wasn’t aware it was there and promptly removed it after the Times messaged him about it....

    A screenshot of Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner's county website, which included a link to a Facebook page posting campaign material. The link was removed on Thursday.
  9. Beckner goes after Frank's attendance record in heated Hillsborough clerk's race

    Local

    TAMPA — For months, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner has alleged that Clerk of the Circuit Court Pat Frank doesn't put in a 40-hour workweek.

    Now Beckner, who is challenging Frank in next month's Democratic primary, is posting evidence he says proves it.

    Beckner's campaign has launched a website, PartTimePat.com, that claims Frank averages 20 hours a week in the office and ends her workday before 5 p.m. "98 percent of the time.''...

    Pat Frank is running for re-election as Clerk of the Circuit Court in Hillsborough County.
  10. After Hillsborough nonprofit loses millions in state funding, former executive keeps getting paid

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — After nine foster children died between 2009 and 2011 under the watch of Hillsborough Kids Inc., the embattled nonprofit was stripped of a $65 million state contract to protect the county's most vulnerable children. On June 30, 2012, it closed its doors.

    But the checks kept rolling in for its top executive.

    In the three years after Hills­borough Kids shut down, the nonprofit paid out nearly a half-million dollars in salaries and other compensation. Most of it went to one employee, chief executive officer Karen Maziarz, even though she had already received a severance package and vacation payout of more than $110,000....

    Karen Maziarz is the former CEO of Hillsborough Kids Inc.
  11. Unopposed candidates across Tampa Bay automatically win their races

    Local

    More than a dozen politicians across Tampa Bay won election on Friday without a single voter casting a ballot.

    How did they manage to pull this off?

    No one ran against them.

    Friday marked the filing deadline for candidates to qualify for the November ballot, launching what is expected to be a heated political season.

    But candidates who found themselves unopposed after Friday's noon cutoff don't have to bother ordering campaign signs or knocking on doors. They're automatically the winner of that office....

    Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee automatically won office on Friday because no one opposed him. [Carolina Hidalgo, Times] 
  12. LGBT pride flag does not create hostile work environment, Hillsborough's attorney says

    Blog

    TAMPA — A LGBT pride flag hanging outside the Hillsborough County government center does not create a hostile work environment for Christians.

    That's the legal opinion the county attorney's office shared with commissioners and the administration on Thursday.

    Commissioners voted 5-1 on June 15 to raise the flag for the rest of the month, which is Pride Month, to honor and pay tribute to the victims of the mass shooting of Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando. ...

    The decision last week to hang an LGBT pride flag outside the Hillsborough County government center does not create a hostile work environment, the county attorney's office said Thursday.
  13. #StopTBX activist drops primary challenge to Commissioner Les Miller

    Blog

    TAMPA — It looks like Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller won’t have a primary opponent after all.

    Democrat Kimberly Overman said last week that she planned to challenge Miller for his District 3 commissioner seat and submitted paperwork on June 13 to run....

  14. LISTEN: Complaint about LGBT pride flag honoring Orlando victims outside Hillsborough County center

    Blog

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Times obtained the audio of a voicemail left on Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White's phone line last week complaining about a LGBT pride flag hung outside the county to honor victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting.

    An unidentified woman, who said she is a county employee, said through a choked-up voice that the flag was offensive to her "as a Christian" and she "cannot bear to go into the office."...

    A LGBT pride flag hung outside the Hillsborough County government center garnered an anonymous complaint from a county employee.
  15. LGBT pride flag raised after Orlando shooting 'unbearable' for Christian employee, Hillsborough commissioner says

    Blog

    TAMPA -- A pride flag waving outside the Hillsborough County center was meant to be a sign of respect and remembrance for the victims of the shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando.

    But just a day after it was raised, Commissioner Stacy White said it may be offending Christian employees and questioned whether it should be taken down....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner helps raise the LGBT pride flag outside of the county center Wednesday.