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Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero, a native of Baltimore, joined the Times in 2009. He covers breaking news, crime and courts in Hernando County.

Phone: (352) 848-1431

Email: tmarrero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

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  1. PSTA bus may have been tampered with

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Every bus that leaves the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority headquarters is getting a visual inspection after a driver discovered loose and missing lug nuts last week, raising suspicions that someone had tampered with the wheel.

    A Sheriff's Office investigation found no evidence of criminal activity, so it's unclear if the Nov. 13 incident was an act of sabotage or negligence, chief executive officer Brad Miller said. At least two employees, including a maintenance supervisor, have been placed on paid administrative leave while the PSTA investigates....

  2. Poll: Voters disliked Greenlight Pinellas' tax structure

    Elections

    This month's crushing defeat of the Greenlight Pinellas plan led many proponents to wonder: Were the critics right? Was the vote a mandate against light rail in Pinellas County?

    Survey results released Thursday cast doubt on the theory that the light rail component doomed the plan.

    More than 90 percent of the voters who rejected Greenlight Pinellas did so because of the sales tax increase, according to a survey commissioned by the Tampa Bay Partnership. They would not have voted yes even if the light rail had been excluded, said the 400 voters surveyed Nov. 5 and 6....

    Stuart Rogel is CEO of the eight-county Tampa Bay Partnership.
  3. Susan Latvala leaves local government after 22 years of issues, controversy

    Blog

    For one of the last times, Susan Latvala took in the view from her fifth-floor office in the Pinellas County Courthouse.

    The desk that former County Commissioner Sallie Parks left for her had already been moved to her Palm Harbor home. But Latvala had yet to pack up other mementos, including a framed news story reporting her election to the commission in 2000.

    After 22 years in public office — eight on the School Board and 14 on the County Commission — the self-described "country girl" from Kentucky who helped make "Latvala" one of the biggest names in Pinellas County politics is moving into private life after deciding not to run for re-election. Her last official day is Monday....

    Outgoing Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who spent 14 years on the board, will officially leave office on Monday.
  4. Susan Latvala leaves local government after 22 years of issues, controversy

    Local

    CLEARWATER

    For one of the last times, Susan Latvala took in the view from her fifth-floor office in the Pinellas County Courthouse.

    The desk that former County Commissioner Sallie Parks left for her had already been moved to her Palm Harbor home. But Latvala had yet to pack up other mementos, including a framed news story reporting her election to the commission in 2000.

    After 22 years in public office — eight on the School Board and 14 on the County Commission — the self-described "country girl" from Kentucky who helped make "Latvala" one of the biggest names in Pinellas County politics is moving into private life after deciding not to run for re-election. Her last official day is Monday....

    Outgoing Pinellas County Commissioner Susan Latvala, who spent 14 years on the board, will officially leave office on Monday. The 65-year-old, who also served eight years on the School Board, said she has no plans to run for higher office.
  5. Transit backers consider coordinating across counties in 2016

    Mass Transit

    Hillsborough County tried to pass a transit tax four years ago and failed. Similar efforts in Pinellas and Polk counties crashed even harder last week. Could they try again at the same time and succeed together?

    Transit advocates on both sides of the bay say it's a question worth considering.

    Tuesday's defeat of the Greenlight Pinellas ballot measure and Polk's My Ride/My Road referendum sets up a possible scenario in which all three counties try to pass transit taxes two years from now. Hillsborough leaders have been laying the groundwork for a proposed 2016 referendum asking for a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for a combination of road construction and bus service....

  6. Leshawn Williams surprises Northeast teammates before Friday's game

    Footballpreps

    After their warmup before the last game of the season, the Northeast High School Vikings returned to their locker room to find a surprise waiting for them.

    Sitting in a wheelchair was their teammate, Leshawn Williams.

    "There was a lot of excitement and a few tears," said Northeast principal Kevin Hendricks.

    Moments later, Williams' family wheeled him out to a concrete pad in the west end zone to watch the game against the Lakewood Spartans. ...

    Leshawn Williams, left, with mother Bonita Copeland, attends his first Northeast game since being injured a few weeks ago.
  7. Greenlight backers ponder what went wrong and what's next

    Elections

    As the shock of the margin of defeat wore off Wednesday, it was time for Greenlight Pinellas supporters to begin the post-mortem and start thinking about where to go from here.

    The transit referendum needed a simple majority and failed miserably, garnering just 38 percent of the vote. If approved, Greenlight would have increased the sales tax by a penny to expand bus service and build a light rail line between Clearwater and St. Petersburg....

  8. Voters reject Greenlight Pinellas

    Elections

    Standing at a historic crossroads, an overwhelming majority of Pinellas County voters chose the status quo, rejecting a plan that would have transformed the county's transportation network and given momentum to a similar effort across Tampa Bay.

    Sixty-two percent voted no on the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, refusing to pay an extra penny in sales tax to expand the county's bus service and build a 24-mile light rail system connecting St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The sales tax would have increased to 8 cents on the dollar, eliminated the bus system's property tax and brought in about $130 million annually for the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority to make the $2.2 billion plan a reality....

    Friends for Greenlight Advisory Committee members, from left, Anne McMullen, Neil McMullen and Jeff Danner react to bad news as early poll numbers are released putting their cause out of reach.
  9. Pinellas approves new contract for waste-to-energy plant

    Local Government

    Pinellas County could spend up to $477 million to run its waste-to-energy plant over the next decade, under a contract awarded Monday.

    The County Commission voted 6-1 to approve a 10-year contract that will pay Covanta Projects $19.49 for every ton of garbage processed at the plant on 114th Avenue N in St. Petersburg. That portion of the contract is expected to yield the New Jersey-based company at least $158 million in revenue....

  10. St. Petersburg man now faces murder charge in 2012 home invasion

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — A 32-year-old St. Petersburg man long suspected in a home invasion killing in Meadowlawn in 2012 was arrested Friday on a first-degree murder charge.

    Christopher Roberson was arrested at his residence on 27th Avenue S after being indicted on the murder charge earlier in the day, St. Petersburg police said.

    Investigators say Roberson is one of four men who burst into 41-year-old Rick Lamar Shaw's home at 7014 Orpine Drive about 5 a.m. June 19, 2012....

    Christopher Roberson, 32, is one of three men charged in the home invasion in St. Petersburg.
  11. Political sign removal leads Hernando man to be arrested, charged

    Crime

    SPRING HILL — John Stephen Good was proud of his campaign against campaign signs.

    Good, 50, of Spring Hill posted photos of the political signs he'd plucked from the ground in Hernando County on his Facebook page, authorities say. He wrote on Facebook that he was "cleaning up" the county by "removing political signs from vacant lots."

    On Friday, Good's civic crusade resulted in a criminal charge....

    John Stephen Good, 50, of Spring Hill was arrested Friday and charged with seven counts of petty theft.
  12. Greenlight a leading issue in crowded race for north Pinellas commission seat

    Elections

    From the start, backers of the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum have battled a perception that the plan lacks value for residents north of Dunedin.

    So it's no surprise that Greenlight has become a top issue in the race for the District 4 County Commission seat, a post held since 2000 by Republican Susan Latvala. The referendum on Tuesday's ballot divides the four-man field down the middle. And, though its fate depends on voters, the winner of this north county seat would help oversee the project or have a voice in what happens if it fails....

  13. Woman hit by tow truck gives birth to 'miracle' baby

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was Wednesday afternoon and the exhausted dad-to-be had gone home to rest and recharge. Angel Quiles thought about his pregnant wife and the two weeks she had lain unconscious but fighting. He thought about the Oct. 15 accident that got her there, when a tow truck slammed into Jenny Noemi Quiles as she walked to a doctor's appointment for their baby.

    He thought about the relief he felt when she finally woke up and how, for now, their little girl was safe in his wife's womb. ...

    Angel Noemi Quiles, born Wednesday evening after her mother woke from a coma, is being called a miracle baby. [Quiles family photo]
  14. Q and A: How would light rail work in Pinellas?

    Elections

    In the fight over the Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum, the light-rail piece of the plan has drawn the most ire.

    Critics say the 24-mile line in one area of Pinellas County would be a boondoggle and few would use it. Proponents call it the spine of a transportation network that would transform the county.

    Still have questions ahead of Election Day? Here are some answers.

    ...

  15. Church of Scientology resists Clearwater aquarium's plans to move downtown

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — It can be argued that the two biggest names in Clearwater are Winter the dolphin and L. Ron Hubbard. Now a behind-the-scenes dispute between their followers has broken out into the open.

    Officials from the Church of Scientology, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are quietly lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voi­cing their opposition to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium's plans to relocate downtown....

    Members of the Church of Scientology walk along Fort Harrison last year after the dedication of its massive new Flag Building. Officials from the church, the biggest property owner in downtown Clearwater, are lobbying Pinellas County commissioners, voicing opposition to a plan to relocate the Clearwater Marine Aquarium downtown.