Ugly and expensive.
The race for the Pinellas County Commission's countywide District 2 seat has been both. For months, Largo Mayor Pat Gerard and state Rep. Ed Hooper have hurled accusations at one another and spent tens of thousands of dollars on attack ads and direct-mail pieces.
Hooper, a Clearwater Republican, had raised nearly $230,000 by last week and spent about $180,000. Democrat Gerard had spent all but $8,000 of the $180,000 she collected....
10/22/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Facing another round of calls for their chief executive's resignation, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board members on Wednesday again stood by Brad Miller.
In the last meeting before a critical Nov. 4 vote on the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, a half dozen frequent PSTA critics and Greenlight opponents demanded Miller step down after a news report that claimed he deliberately misused a grant from the Department of Homeland Security to promote the Greenlight plan....
Cindy Dawson misses her Mazda.
The 66-year-old retired vacation saleswoman loved to zip around in her sporty gold RX-7. It was freedom in the form of a sporty stick shift.
Then, three years ago, a heart condition forced the Gulfport resident to give up the keys and sell her car. Now she relies on the county's bus system to shop, get to the doctor and visit friends.
"I had to learn to just chill out because it takes quite a bit of time to get around," said Dawson, one of thousands who struggle each day with limited offerings from the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority and are now caught in the middle of a fierce debate over the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum....
County Commission | District 4
Longtime commissioner Susan Latvala decided not to run again for this north county seat, prompting a bevy of interest. Dave Eggers beat six other contenders in the Republican primary. He now faces Democrat Mark Weinkrantz and no-party candidates Carl Folkman and Marcus Harrison in a district that leans Republican. Only voters in the district can make a selection in this race. By Tony Marrero, Times staff writer...
County Commission | District 2
State Rep. Ed Hooper made incumbent Norm Roche a one-term commissioner with a decisive victory in August's GOP primary. Now Hooper, who must leave the Legislature due to term limits, is locked in an ugly battle with Largo Mayor Pat Gerard for the countywide seat. All registered voters can make a selection in this race. By Tony Marrero, Times staff writer...
ST. PETERSBURG — The backers of the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum have hit their million-dollar goal.
The Friends of Greenlight political committee filed a financial disclosure report Wednesday showing $1.03 million in contributions through Oct. 10. It's the magic number that supporters have said would allow the Yes on Greenlight campaign to mount an effective effort to pass the 1-cent sales tax to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail line connecting St. Petersburg and Clearwater....
10/14/14 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A parade of arts advocates pleaded with the Pinellas County Commission to restore funding to restore arts funding wiped out during the recession.
The board's reply: Come up with a plan and we'll consider it for next year.
"Please get more people involved with the ask," Commissioner John Morroni said near the end of the three-hour workshop dedicated to an overview of funding and arts and culture. "I'd like to hear from people from Tarpon Springs all the way down to Gulfport. I think we got the message today that we need to do more than we're doing right now."...
ST. PETERSBURG — The 6-year-old boy, shirtless and tanned, plopped down into the lawn chair next to his grandmother.
"I miss Daddy," the boy said, his thin legs swinging.
His grandmother, Janet Gonyer, sat in another chair Saturday morning. Her son, the boy's father, had left Friday afternoon for an overnight fishing trip. Three hours later, police found Francis "Frankie" McDermott fatally shot....
10/11/14 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — The sounds of a synthesizer filled the air as Nelson Flores and the man he wanted to spend the rest of his life with strolled by the massive banyan trees in North Straub Park.
Betty Who's Somebody Loves You blared from a single speaker a man had rolled onto the sidewalk a moment earlier, at precisely noon on Saturday. Three men then joined in to the choreographed routine. ...
OLDSMAR -- Backers of the Greenlight Pinellas plan suffered a setback Tuesday night when the Oldsmar City Council refused to officially endorse the transit referendum.
The council voted 4 to 1 against a resolution supporting the plan that would raise the sales tax by a penny, to 8 cents, to expand bus service and build a light rail system between Clearwater and St. Petersburg by way of the Gateway area....
10/04/14 Mass Transit
TAMPA — Hillsborough County leaders are carefully eyeing neighbors to the east and west as they prepare a potential 1-cent sales tax of their own to pay for transportation improvements.
County officials have time and again said the fate of any initiative in Hillsborough is linked to the votes Pinellas and Polk county residents cast in November.
"In no uncertain terms, all of us need to do whatever we can to help these two counties pass," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said at a recent transportation forum sponsored by the Tampa Bay Partnership. "The successful passage (of these referendums) will allow us moving into 2016 to really come into that environment with a lot of positive support."...
TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott huddled with state health officials Saturday in a closed-door meeting to discuss Florida's readiness in case of an Ebola outbreak.
In Sarasota, meanwhile, doctors said Saturday that it is "highly unlikely" that a hospital patient who had recently been to West Africa has the deadly virus. The male patient was taken out of isolation.
After the governor's meeting in a downtown Tampa hotel, Scott said there were no confirmed cases of Ebola in Florida. But if one is found, the governor said, the state is ready....
ST. PETERSBURG — Backers of the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum put the focus on St. Petersburg's Midtown area Thursday, casting the plan as a surefire way to boost redevelopment there.
Under a steamy midmorning sun, U.S. Rep Kathy Castor joined Midtown business owners on St. Petersburg College's 22nd Street S campus to tout Greenlight's potential to transport workers, students and visitors in and out of a poor area optimistic about the rebirth of its business district....
Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark on Tuesday mailed 250,563 ballots to domestic voters for the Nov. 4 general election.
That's about 40 percent of the 622,092 total registered voters in Pinellas.
Clark mailed 2,696 ballots on Sep. 19 to absent military and overseas voters.
For the Aug. 26 primary, Clark's office mailed 252,498 ballots and about 45 percent of those were returned. ...
ST. PETERSBURG — Jeff Roby stood on the third step of City Hall, the lush fronds of a palm tree swaying above his head. He and fellow members of a fledgling movement are pushing for a $15 minimum wage, and they figured this would a good place to start.
"We're not calling on the St. Petersburg City Council, as it said in the Declaration of Independence, to risk their lives, or even their fortunes," said Roby, 66, of Gulfport. "We're not asking them, not right now, to spend any money, meaning our tax money. But we are wondering about their sacred honor."...