Clear76° FULL FORECASTClear76° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Tony Marrero, Times Staff Writer

Tony Marrero

Tony Marrero covers Pinellas County government and politics. A Baltimore native, he joined the Times in 2009.

Phone: (352) 848-1431

Email: tmarrero@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TMarreroTimes

link
  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn open to idea of civil citations for pot possession

    Blog

    Add Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to the list of Tampa Bay officials open to the idea of a local ordinance allowing law enforcement to issue civil citations to people caught with a small amount of marijuana. 

    We reported last week that several elected officials and law enforcement leaders on both sides of Tampa Bay are willing to consider following the lead of the Miami-Dade County Commission, which last week passed ordinance allowing police there to issue a civil citation that brings a $100 fine but no criminal record, for possession of 20 grams — about three-fourths of an ounce — or less. Pot possession is still illegal in Miami-Dade but police have the option to issue a citation to keep minor drug offenses from clogging up the judicial system and avoid inflicting long-term damage to a person's ability to get a job, serve in the military and secure a student loan....

  2. St. Petersburg installs cameras along problematic stretch of Pinellas Trail

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Alex Gallegos rolls along the Pinellas Trail on his green Schwinn, he does not ride in fear.

    But the 26-year-old St. Petersburg resident hasn't forgotten that a friend of his was robbed at knifepoint a few years ago while walking along a stretch of trail that Gallegos rides a few times a week. So he was glad to see that the city installed cameras between 43rd and 49th streets S. ...

    St. Petersburg has installed 16 video cameras between 43rd and 49th streets S.
  3. Pinellas Commissioner Long earns certification from county association

    Blog

    Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long has earned the a special certification for county commissioners from the Florida Association of Counties. 

    Long, a Democrat elected to the board in 2012, recently completed 45 hours of coursework "designed to provide information and enhance skills relevant to a commissioner’s duties and responsibilities as an elected official," according to a news release from Long's office....

  4. Rep. David Jolly ties the knot

    Blog

    INDIAN SHORES -- U.S. Rep. David Jolly got hitched Friday.

    Jolly, R-Indian Shores, married girlfriend Laura Donahoe on the steps of Indian Shores Town Hall in a ceremony attended by family and friends, according to Jolly's office. Donohoe's father accompanied her to the steps and Jolly's father officiated.

    "The Jollys wish to sincerely thank the many friends and well wishers who so graciously offered their congratulations, encouragement, and God's blessings on their marriage," Jolly's communications director, Preston Rudie, said in a statement. ...

    U.S. Rep. David Jolly and Laura Donahoe married Friday in Indian Shores. Photo by Ryan Joseph
  5. Rep. Darryl Rouson: Shameful that St. Pete doesn't have active NAACP branch

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG -- State Rep. Darryl Rouson is none too pleased that St. Petersburg doesn't have an active NAACP branch. 

    Nearly 10 months ago, the national NAACP office shut down the St. Petersburg branch at 1501 16th St. Some have tried to continue the traditions of the branch, but without the backing of the national organization, there’s only so much that can be done, Rouson told Tampa Bay Times staff writer Ayana Stewart....

  6. For Times editor, the recycling struggle is real

    Blog

    St. Petersburg officials have fielded lots of complaints from folks in neighborhoods like the Old Northeast since the rollout of the city's recycling program. Residents are demanding alley pickup because it's too difficult to get the big blue bins from the alley to the curb. The city says its recycling trucks are too large to navigate the alleys.

    If you had any doubt that the struggle is real, check out this editorial notebook video by Elizabeth Djinis. It chronicles the sweaty trek that Tampa Bay Times editor Jim Verhulst has to make to get his bin to the curb in front of his Old Northeast abode. And Jim is a fit guy (though unfortunately for him, he's also wearing a tie)....

  7. St. Petersburg still waiting for financial details from MLK event organizer

    Blog

    After turning in a city sponsorship application earlier this year, the organizer of an annual event in St. Petersburg to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was supposed to be back with more details on how the city's money would be spent.

    So far, Sevell Brown has not returned, yet he appears on the verge of receiving more funding, despite a Tampa Bay Times investigation earlier this year that found the city officials have been nonchalant or haven't asked for a detailed accounting of more than $500,000 in city funds or services directed at the MLK events in the past....

  8. Clearwater Police Chief Slaughter "flat blank" against civil citations for pot possession

    Blog

    Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter didn't equivocate when asked where he stands on handing out civil citations instead of criminal charges for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

    "I'll tell you flat blank, I'm not in favor of that at all," Slaughter said. "Clearwater is -- we want it to be -- a family-friendly destination."

    Slaughter also said he thinks it's inappropriate to support an ordinance that undermines the Legislature's role in crafting drug laws....

  9. Former Tampa cop gets a top job in Pinellas County government

    Local Government

    It was one of the most memorable protest-related moments of the 2012 Republican National Convention.

    John Bennett, then a Tampa assistant police chief, kneeled in front of a group of protesters and, as they blew smoke and tossed insults, he patiently explained that they were blocking a main route to the hospital. Eventually, they moved to the sidewalk.

    When Bennett retired in February at the age of 51 after a 30-year career at the department then-Chief Jane Castor called him "my own personal superhero."...

    In this photo from 2012, then Assistant Chief John Bennett of the Tampa Police Dept. talks with protesters as they decide to disperce at the corner of Kennedy and Tampa Street in downtown Tampa during the March For Your Life rally.  [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  10. PSTA hires Washington lobbyist

    Local Government

    Pinellas County's transit agency is looking to bring in money by spending money — on a Washington lobbyist.

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors voted last week to hire D.C.-based lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates for a five-year contract not to exceed $420,000. It's the first time PSTA has retained a federal lobbyist and is needed to land its fair share of federal funding, finance committee chairman Joseph Barkley III told fellow board members....

  11. Peer pressure: What will Tampa Bay do now that Miami-Dade made pot possession a civil infraction?

    Local Government

    Starting this month, people caught with small amounts of marijuana in Miami-Dade County could walk away with a civil citation and no criminal charge.

    The Miami-Dade Commission passed an ordinance Tuesday giving police the option to issue a civil citation, which brings a $100 fine but no criminal record, for possession of 20 grams — about three-fourths of an ounce — or less.

    In Tampa Bay, local governments aren't close to taking that step, though several local leaders — including a majority of Pinellas County commissioners — are up for discussing it....

    Miami-Dade police have the option of issuing citations for small amounts of marijuana.
  12. Retired assistant Tampa police chief tapped for assistant Pinellas administrator post

    Blog

    It was one of the most memorable protest-related moments of the 2012 Republican National Convention

    Then-assistant Tampa police Chief John Bennett kneeled in front of a group of protesters and, as they blew smoke and tossed insults, he patiently explained that they were blocking a main route to the hospital. Eventually, they moved to the sidewalk.

    When Bennett retired at the age of 51 after a 30-year career at the department then-Chief Jane Castor called him "my own personal superhero."...

  13. PSTA hires first federal lobbyist

    Blog

    Pinellas County's transit agency is looking to bring in money by spending money -- on a Washington, D.C. lobbyist.

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors voted last week to hire D.C.-based lobbying firm Van Scoyoc Associates, Inc. for a five year contract not to exceed $420,000. It's the first time PSTA has retained a federal lobbyist and is needed to land its fair share of federal funding, finance committee chairman Joseph Barkley III told fellow board members....

  14. For the record: Jolly on Friday's same sex marriage ruling

    Blog

    We're a few days late, but we wanted to be sure to get U.S. Rep. David Jolly on the record about Friday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.

    The Indian Shores Republican announced his support for gay marriage last summer, so one thing is clear: Jolly's Democratic opponent, whomever that turns out to be, won't be able to use marriage equality as a wedge issue against him. Jolly has said he's considering a bid for Marco Rubio's Senate seat and plans to announce next month whether he'll do so or go for a second term in the District 13 seat he won in a special election last year. Democrat Eric Lynn is in the House race and has made a strong fundraising showing, but both St. Petersburg City Council member Darden Rice and former Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern are seriously looking at jumping in. ...

  15. State's court clerks slash services, personnel, to deal with budget cuts

    Local Government

    Starting next week, Pinellas County residents will have five fewer hours a week to pay traffic tickets, get a marriage license or request domestic violence injunctions.

    Broward Clerk of Courts Howard Forman says layoffs, furloughs and office-hour reductions are all on the table. In Pasco, Clerk of Courts Paula O'Neil has already laid off two employees.

    Clerks of courts throughout Florida say fewer office hours and layoffs are just two consequences from a budget dispute between their offices and state lawmakers....

    Jason Mells, 36, of St. Petersburg is helped by Maryann Londo at the Pinellas County clerk’s branch office in St. Petersburg on Monday. Clerks of courts throughout Florida say fewer office hours and layoffs are just two consequences from a budget dispute between their offices and state lawmakers.