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. For some, Greenlight debate is about getting to work, school

    Elections

    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....

    Barbara Solan, left, and Bill Miller ride in a PSTA North County Connector bus on Tuesday. Miller plans to vote for Greenlight, though he isn’t sure about the light rail part 
of the proposal.
  2. Pinellas County Commission: District 4

    Kyc

    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...

    Harrison
  3. Pinellas County Commission: District 2

    Kyc

    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...

    Gerard
  4. Greenlight Pinellas campaign surpasses $1 million fundraising mark

    Elections

    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....

  5. Pinellas commission open to more arts funding — next year

    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."...

  6. Father of nine found fatally shot in his truck

    Crime

    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....

    Francis “Frankie” McDermott, 36, was going fishing.
  7. Amid a flash mob, a surprise proposal (w/video)

    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. ...

    Friends, relatives, and professional dancers took part in the short choreographed dance that led to the proposal. They were urged to “look incognito” for the surprise.
  8. Oldsmar City Council refuses to endorse Greenlight Pinellas resolution

    Blog

    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....

  9. Hillsborough transit advocates hope for wins in Pinellas, Polk

    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."...

  10. Scott: Florida prepared for Ebola cases; Sarasota patient 'highly unlikely' to have virus

    Health

    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....

  11. Greenlight supporters tout benefits for Midtown residents

    Elections

    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....

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor announces support for the Greenlight Pinellas initiative Thursday in St. Petersburg’s Midtown area, saying an improved transportation system will benefit residents looking for affordable ways to get to work and school. 
  12. Pinellas elections supervisor sends 250,000 mail ballots

    Blog

    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. ...

  13. Minimum wage advocates want eventual increase to $15

    Politics

    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."...

  14. Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board reaffirms confidence in CEO Brad Miller

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG -- Six weeks before the most important vote in the agency's history, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors has reaffirmed its confidence in chief executive officer Brad Miller.

    The board on Thursday heaped praise on Miller's leadership despite some controversies in recent weeks. The sentiments were a refrain of the comments board members made last month, when a few critics of PSTA and opponents of the looming Greenlight Pinellas transit referendum demanded Miller's resignation for the agency's mishandling of a federal grant. The authority had to return $354,000 to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after officials decided that the feel-good commercials promoting PSTA paid for by the grant didn't focus enough on safety and security....

  15. Sen. Jack Latvala endorses Greenlight Pinellas transit tax

    Transportation

    DUNEDIN — The fight for the Greenlight Pinellas referendum may be won or lost in north county.

    Supporters of the 1-cent transit tax are battling a perception among skeptical north county residents who don't think the plan offers enough benefits for them.

    On Thursday, Yes on Greenlight trotted out a prominent Clearwater Republican who told them it does.

    Standing in downtown Dunedin, state Sen. Jack Latvala announced he will be voting yes on Nov. 4....

    “Frankly, if we’re going to be a major-league county, we need to have some sort of better mass transit.”
Jack Latvala, Republican state senator