Let's just say this latest confusion in an already controversial plan to improve traffic around here is not exactly confidence inspiring.
Already there's been plenty of contention over the $6 billion Tampa Bay Express interstate expansion project known as TBX — as in, "NO TBX," a sentiment posted on yard signs by people who believe it will tear the heart out of neighborhoods.
The plan includes rebuilding what's not-so-affectionately known as Malfunction Junction, the exchange between interstates 275 and 4 at the edge of downtown Tampa. It will replace the 3-mile span of the perpetually congested northbound lanes of the Howard Frankland Bridge. And it will add nearly 100 miles of tolled express lanes for people willing and able to pay to use them while the rest of us schlubs ride in regular traffic....
On a rainy summer afternoon inside the courthouse by the railroad tracks in Plant City, the case is halfway down the crowded docket.
Petitioner: Christine Rose Novak, it reads. Name change.
Weary-looking people fill the benches in family court, most of them here for divorces. But in the third row, wearing a vibrant blue necktie and the beginnings of a beard, sits the petitioner, his girlfriend at his side....
09/23/16 Public Safety
Florida facts: We have earned being called the Gunshine State. The National Rifle Association uses our lawmakers as sock puppets. And no pro-gun proposal is too absurd for these parts.
So why should we be surprised at this latest insanity about Florida, guns and The American Way?
As the world knows, this is loud-and-proud Stand Your Ground territory. Our law essentially says: Back down, hell — if I'm scared enough, I get to shoot. Retreat? Don't have to....
Boy, will I miss Uber.
Goodbye, chatty man who told me he started driving because retirement was boring. Goodbye, college kids and those driver guys who talked about their homelands in Ghana and in Syria on the way to the airport. Goodbye, Fred, who listened as I nervously practiced a speech in the backseat and gave me tips before he dropped me off.
Seriously: Could Uber really be outta here? Could our relatively recent ridesharing option — already bolstering Tampa's rep as a practically legit city — actually have a foot out the door?...
As Tampa officials were again deliberating over what to do about the city's storm-flooded streets, you couldn't help but notice that one concerned citizen stepped up to speak at this week's City Council meeting in a rain-spattered yellow slicker.
Or that one council member declined to show up for the controversial vote on whether to assess a new stormwater fee because of the wicked weather that was yet again flooding city streets even as they spoke....
Probably it was a sign things weren't going so well for would-be comeback kid Jim Norman when he started hollering at a voter.
The once-powerful politician did this at a neighborhood forum days before this week's primary election. It was exactly the kind of gathering where Norman could once count on voters to listen raptly to his conservative causes and then sail him smoothly back into his comfy seat on the Hillsborough County Commission....
His tie red, white and blue and his back military straight, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder stood Wednesday before the Florida Supreme Court to accept a reprimand for his advocacy on behalf of a veteran in his court.
In a case that raised questions about the role of a judge in a court that emphasizes treatment over punishment, Holder was found to have gone too far on behalf of Clay Allred, then a troubled former U.S. Army Green Beret who behaved bizarrely and fired a gun in the air at a Tampa convenience store in 2014....
TALLAHASSEE -- His tie red, white and blue and his back military straight, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Gregory Holder stood before the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday and accepted a reprimand for his advocacy on behalf of a veteran in his court.
In a case that raised questions about the role of a judge in a court that emphasizes treatment over punishment, Holder was accused of crossing the line on behalf of Clay Allred, then a troubled former U.S. Army Green Beret who behaved bizarrely and fired a gun in the air at a Tampa convenience store in 2014....
TAMPA — Calling it "among the most shocking, unethical and unprofessional" conduct they had ever witnessed by lawyers, the justices of the Florida Supreme Court made it both official and unanimous Thursday:
All three Tampa attorneys who set up opposing counsel for a DUI arrest during a bare-knuckles trial in 2013 can never be lawyers in this state again.
Though they hoped for a sentence short of forever, Robert Adams, 47, and Adam Filthaut, 42, are now permanently disbarred. Stephen Diaco, 47, was banned from practicing law for life in January....
Now and again someone comes out with a list that ranks who is least popular in America. Politicians, lawyers, people who sell us cars —and, yes, journalists — usually make the cut.
But we may have a new champion in smokers.
Kicked outdoors by laws to protect those of us who don't care to inhale what they exhale, they gather outside in designated areas as if they were under quarantine. In the rain they huddle under office awnings to puff away as nonsmokers pass by holding their collective breath. At restaurants where ashtrays once shared table space with the salt and pepper, they are sent outside like disobedient dogs....
He hit her on a weekend, when the courthouse where she could file for a restraining order to keep him away was closed.
She had gotten herself somewhere safe. She called the local domestic violence shelter, but no workers deputized as court clerks were available to take her sworn statement about what happened to her. And that was the document a weekend-duty judge would consider in deciding whether to grant her protection....
How kids wind up in the foster care system is pretty much the same across Florida.
Investigators look into allegations of parents who are angry, absent, in trouble or just unable to do the job of parenting. They look into reports of children who are not being cared for, neglected, hurt or worse.
But according to a recent report by the Tampa Bay Times' Christopher O'Donnell, Hillsborough County moves more of those children from their homes and into safe shelter than any other county in the state. That's 1,672 in the last fiscal year, with kids going into foster care 14 times for every 100 investigations. That's compared to a state rate of eight in 100....
Here is the biggest no-brainer in the history of the world, or at least the history of around here.
Okay, that much enthusiasm for ferry service between the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa may be a little over the top. But only a little.
In an unusual show of — wait, can that actually be regional cooperation we're seeing? — the cities and counties necessary to make this happen are sounding downright enthusiastic at the idea of pitching in $350,000 each for a six-month study to see if such a ferry would work....
08/04/16 Human Interest
You do a thing thinking you are being virtuous.
You recycle. You pick up what your dog leaves behind at the park. You put your neighbor's far-flung newspaper on the porch for easier reach.
And you floss.
You floss because you have been told to do so practically since you lost your last baby tooth and the tooth fairy quit showing up. You do it even if it is not especially fun. The first floss I used felt like shoving fishing line between your teeth until a kindhearted hygienist introduced me to the more satiny stuff — still dental floss, but with power steering....
08/02/16 Public Safety
Sometimes if you say a thing often enough, it is widely perceived as truth. (Example: Kale tastes good.)
Last week at a news conference following Florida's latest big shooting — this time, at a Fort Myers nightclub where young people had gathered for a summer bash — Gov. Rick Scott brushed off the matter of whether it's time to take a look at our gun laws.
"I support the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment has never shot anybody," the governor said. "Evil does this."...