So this local lawyer who got in hot water with the Florida Bar while running for judge now has the ear of the highest court in the land.
And what the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately decides in her case could change the way judges run for office — and not for the better.
Lawyer Lanell Williams-Yulee did not win her race five years ago against Dick Greco Jr., a longtime Hillsborough County judge who has a family name that's big in Tampa to boot....
Interesting fact about Sally Harris, the brand-new Hillsborough County School Board member who cast this week's deciding and explosive vote to oust schools superintendent MaryEllen Elia:
Absolutely no one thought Harris would win her race in the first place.
How could she? Her opponent, Michelle Shimberg, carries a very big name in this town. She got endorsements and/or donations from no less than (deep breath) the mayor, the sheriff, the state attorney, Florida's attorney general, the classroom teachers association and members of the City Council, County Commission and, oh yeah, Congress. She also raised five times more money than Harris....
Congratulations to Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner on his recent marriage. Sort of.
The county's first openly gay commissioner was one of only a few elected officials to show up for a mass wedding near the courthouse on the day same-sex marriage became legal in Florida. Later, Beckner and his longtime partner — Hillsborough sheriff's Sgt. Gil Sainz — were seen celebrating with couples who married on that historic day....
Okay, it's no longer amusing.
What's happening, or may be about to happen, over at the Hillsborough County school district has officially stopped seeming like petty squabbles and turned into a full-blown game-changer.
And not in a good way.
Maybe you've read past headlines regarding certain members of the school board who seem perpetually at odds with the powerful superintendent, MaryEllen Elia. Who, program note here, was just named Florida's superintendent of the year and is a finalist for top in the nation....
Being a judge in Florida can be a pretty sweet gig.
You get the robe, the good parking space, and the authority over an entire courtroom in which a lot of interesting and important things tend to happen. And how's this for a perk: You have no real day-to-day boss and pretty much come and go as you please. Sure, voters could oust you, should you get an actual rare challenger. Or if things are really bad, you might find yourself getting a look from the state agency that polices the judiciary....
She had trouble with hearts, but she was determined.
She was 5 and in kindergarten and loved, loved, loved to draw, loved it since her first box of dollar store crayons. She drew kitty cats and tracings of her own hand and declarations of love with the Ks and Js backward, and she gave them to grownups she cared about.
But hearts, for which she had as much enthusiasm as the colors pink and purple — stay in the box, you sad black and browns — eluded her, the way you had to get both sides even....
In Florida, we do have our dubious distinctions — like the paltry amount we're willing to spend on each student in our schools. Or our penchant for killing pedestrians. Or the fact that, unlike most other states, we do not require a unanimous jury vote in favor of putting someone to death.
Florida is a state that apparently does not believe in giving criminals a second chance even after they've done their time....
I rode Tampa's historic streetcar the other day. And it was …
It wasn't sad just because only a few silver-haired tourists and I rumbled along the 2.7-mile stretch between the southern edge of downtown east and north to the Latin Quarter of Ybor City. Yep, just us — even though it was a sunny workday, when downtowners pour out of tall buildings in droves to lunch at a bevy of restaurants....
As Pam Iorio officially announced Wednesday what the Tampa Bay Times reported last month — that she’s coming home and bringing the headquarters of Big Brothers Big Sisters with her — Tampa’s former mayor could barely speak....
01/06/15 Human Interest
They poured into Room 140 of the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Tuesday morning two by two, some with friends and family in tow, exhilarated, bearing bouquets, holding hands, filling the place with their energy. This day was big and unstoppable and happening at last.
In their midst stood Pat Frank, the petite 85-year-old clerk of the court, cheered by the crowd like a rock star. She wore the somber black robes of her late husband, Judge Richard Frank, and posed obligingly with her arms around couples for wedding photos. "This is a wonderful day for America," she told everyone, but you could tell they already knew it....
If you have ever had a close encounter with a manatee, you probably get it.
Maybe you were in a boat when this giant gray potato of a creature glided by, close enough to see the scars criss-crossing his hide. (Chances are he had scars.)
Or you were on a beach when a manatee raised its whiskery snout from the water's surface. Or you stood on a dock or a bridge and — look, a manatee, one of the most interesting animals you'll ever get to see, just trying to make its way in a world that has not been kind to it....
Medical marijuana, battling governors and Bollywood Oscars, oh my. What a year it was. And so here for you is the not-especially-true year in review for the first half of 2014:
• With the Florida Supreme Court's approval of language that will appear on the ballot, voters officially get to decide whether medical marijuana should be legal in the Sunshine State.
Immediately, lawyer John You-Will-Not-Turn-Your-TV-On-Without-Seeing-Me Morgan launches his statewide, unofficially named Free Cheetos If You Vote Yes, Dude bus tour....
On gay marriage, we are a state on the brink of something inevitable, with our unlikeliest elected officials in the thick of it.
A federal judge struck down Florida's ban on same-sex marriage, then stayed his decision until after Jan. 5. So now everyone's in a scramble: Did his ruling apply only in the rural Panhandle county where one of the couples challenging the ban lives? If court clerks in other counties issue marriage licenses to gay couples beginning Jan. 6, could they face criminal prosecution? Seriously?...
TAMPA — For 14 years, criminal cases involving accused rapists, molesters and child abusers in Hillsborough County have been heard by a single judge in the sex offender division.
Advocates of this highly specialized court for pedophiles and predators call it a smart, efficient way to handle difficult cases with unique sensitivities. But critics say no judge can hear the horrifying details of rape and abuse day after day without becoming biased — particularly when children are victims....
12/22/14 Public Safety
When you hear about another police officer killed, everything stops for a minute. Maybe that's especially true if you know cops — if you work alongside them as a reporter, or if they're in your family. My nephew never wanted to be anything else.
The headlines from this weekend were horrifying: The shooter in New York who turned the questions raised across America about the deaths of unarmed black men into madness, ambushing two officers in their patrol car. ...