ST. PETERSBURG — Supporters of the Greenlight Pinellas transit plan promise the expanded bus service and light rail system between St. Petersburg and Clearwater would transform the county and the region.
For plenty of voters, though, the decision will come down to one question: How much is it going to cost me?
The answer: It depends.
If approved on Nov. 4, the plan would increase the county sales tax by a penny, to 8 cents on the dollar. The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's existing property tax levy would be eliminated....
Smoking is not allowed in airports anymore but selfies still are and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman took full advantage Saturday in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Kriseman tweeted out a pic taken with a sunglass-wearing Richard "Cheech" Marin and sleepy-eyed Tommy Chong, the veritable stoner comedy duo.
A subtle smoke signal on the upcoming statewide medical marijuana referendum, perhaps? ...
09/19/14 Local Government
Contract talks between Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and Pinellas County broke down this year after hospital officials disputed figures that showed it was caring for far fewer indigent patients than in previous years.
The county uses the numbers to decide how much to reimburse Bayfront for caring for patients in the county's health plan.
The dispute will officially end Tuesday, when the County Commission considers a deal that pays Bayfront $570,000 in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 to provide inpatient care for uninsured adults ages 18 to 64....
ST. PETERSBURG — The Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum got much of the microphone time when Pinellas County Commission candidates stepped into the Tigers' Den on Thursday.
The six hopefuls running for two seats on the commission took questions from Suncoast Tiger Bay political club members on a variety of subjects at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. But talk of the transit tax dominated the about-40-minute session and highlighted the division among the candidates....
The chairman of the Pinellas Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission against County Commission candidate Pat Gerard, accusing her of running an illegal raffle for campaign signs.
Michael Guju, a Palm Harbor attorney, said he filed the complaint Sept. 9 after someone told him about the raffle. He declined to identify the person.
"It's so manifestly obvious that it violates the law, any competent candidate or their campaign should know better than to do that," Guju said. ...
Another week, another testy exchange between Pinellas Commission candidates Pat Gerard and Ed Hooper09/16/14 Blog
Pinellas County Commission candidate Pat Gerard has called on her opponent, Ed Hooper, to give back the money his consulting firm was paid by the Clearwater Aquarium while he served in the Legislature.
Gerard, a Democrat running for the District 2 seat currently held by Norm Roche, accused Hooper last week of being untruthful when he said that none of the clients of the Consus Group benefited from his work as a lawmaker. She noted the company was paid several thousand dollars in 2011 to represent the aquarium as it sought a development permit from the city for an expansion project. Hooper's partner, Joe Burdette, was listed in city filings as one of the aquarium's "agents." ...
ST. PETERSBURG — The company that canceled this year's edition of the Rock 'n' Roll half marathon in St. Petersburg has scrubbed another event.
The starting gun will not sound for the Women's Running Half Marathon & 5K slated for Nov. 23 in downtown St. Petersburg. In a letter posted on its website, California-based Competitor Group Inc. said the event has been "postponed until further notice."...
09/11/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission is bringing its next budget in for a landing after the smoothest ride in years.
The Commission held the first of two budget hearings Thursday and tentatively approved a $1.95 billion spending plan for 2015.
Higher-than-expected property values helped turn a projected deficit into a cushion of about $4 million. The board also used an $11 million rainy day fund to deal with neglected areas now that economic clouds have cleared a bit....
09/11/14 Local Government
CLEARWATER — The Pinellas County Commission will consider requiring more rigorous financial disclosure requirements for applicants to at least some county boards.
Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to put the issue on their Sept. 23 agenda and directed county attorney Jim Bennett to research what kind of information the county can legally require an applicant to disclose.
The move comes in the wake of a Tampa Bay Times story published last month that revealed Roger Broderick, a volunteer member of the county's Housing Finance Authority, owed nearly $90,000 in delinquent county property taxes and had more than two dozen properties in foreclosure, including land once slated for a county affordable housing project. ...
Pinellas County Commission candidate Pat Gerard is back on the attack, accusing state Rep. Ed Hooper of lying when he said clients of his consulting business didn't benefit from his work as a state legislator.
"We now know for a fact that wasn't true," said Gerard, a Democrat and mayor of Largo. "The simple fact is that his clients signed a contract with him, and then they received millions as a direct result of his action in Tallahassee."...
ST. PETERSBURG — If light rail opponents had a rock star, Randal O'Toole would probably be him.
The senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, has written extensively on the subject, arguing that there has never been a successful light rail project.
O'Toole will be in St. Petersburg this week to campaign against the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, which seeks a one-cent sales tax increase to expand bus service and build a 24-mile light rail line between St. Petersburg and Clearwater. It goes before voters on Nov. 4....
HUDSON — Their last Pennsylvania winter behind them, Maggie and Greg Brown packed up the RV and set out for Florida.
Paradise, Maggie told her friends. Shopping in Miami. The Keys in winter. Beaches and sunsets in between.
After the long trip south, they moved two months ago to a rented Hudson home with a swimming pool and a hot tub and a boat dock. They settled in with daughter Megan, grandson Tristan, and Megan's former boyfriend, Adam, the boy's father....
The two candidates gunning for vanquished County Commissioner Norm Roche's seat are hurling allegations at each other.
Democrat Pat Gerard on Tuesday accused Republican state Rep. Ed Hooper of peddling his influence as a state legislator through his ownership of a Clearwater-based consulting firm.
Hooper denied that clients of the Consus Group LLC have benefited from action he has taken as a state lawmaker. He then accused Gerard, who serves as Largo's mayor, of soliciting campaign donations while representing her city at a Florida League of Cities event in Tallahassee in April....
To anyone with a long memory in Pinellas County politics, there's a question worth asking about three young Republican state House candidates.
Could the trio — Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls and Bill Young — be the start of a new "ICY machine?"
The nickname doesn't resonate much today, but in the 1960s, three men — Jack Insco, William C. Cramer, and Young's father, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young — led Pinellas County Republicans to unprecedented victories in this formerly Democratic stronghold. Because their last names started with I, C and Y, this group of Republican insurgents became known as ICY....
BROOKSVILLE — George Mason III spent a lot of time at the little cream-colored house at 820 Peach St.
His half-brother Gabriel "Bo" Taylor lived there with their mother Tracy Taylor and their 81-year-old grandmother, Jannie V. Taylor. So did Tracey's other son, Ralph Peyton.
"He was here every day," Donna Stanley, who lives across the street, said about Mason as she stood in the middle of the road Saturday morning. "He'd be here right now."...