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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

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  1. Tropical Storm Erika dissipates, area watches and warnings lifted

    Hurricanes

    Tropical Storm Erika broke up in the Caribbean on Saturday, leaving behind a wave of moisture expected to bring heavy rainfall to the Tampa Bay area in the next few days.

    The National Hurricane Center lifted tropical storm warnings and watches about 9 a.m. after Erika dissipated into a trough of low pressure, a victim of wind shear and high terrain in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba....

    Mirna Gonzalez, left, and Mireya Rodriguez stock up as they prepare for Tropical Storm Erika at a supermarket Friday in Hialeah. Gov. Rick Scott said  that Tropical Storm Erika poses a "severe threat to the entire state" and declared  state of emergency. [Associated Press]
  2. In cost-cutting move, PSTA scraps two bus routes, spares two more

    Transportation

    Faced with a decision to cut four little-used bus routes to save about $2.6 million in operating and capital costs, Pinellas County's transit board opted to end two and save two — at least for now.

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority board of directors voted unanimously Wednesday to eliminate Route 30 in St. Petersburg and the East Lake Connector. The board delayed a decision on Route 58 in the Largo area and the 444 in Pinellas Park after a parade of people pleaded to keep them. ...

    The Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority is in better financial shape than predicted a year ago because of fuel cost savings.
  3. PSTA exploring partnership with Uber for north Pinellas pilot project

    Blog

    Pinellas County’s transit agency is working on a partnership with Uber to get riders to and from bus stops and transfer hubs in north Pinellas County.

    Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority chief executive officer Brad Miller met with Uber representatives Monday to discuss a pilot project that, if successful, could be expanded to other parts of the county, Miller said.

    “We’re very much looking to provide alternatives to as many people in Pinellas County as we can and a partnership with Uber would really fit a niche,” Miller said....

  4. Hundreds gather to reminisce at St. Pete's farewell party for the Pier

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Ciara Dibert stood under a blazing sun, her 8-month-old son, Emerson, boun­cing gently in a carrier on her back.

    It was nearly 5 p.m., and Dibert, 22, had arrived at Spa Beach Park three hours earlier to make sure she got a commemorative paver from the Pier, a memento from the city's farewell party to the iconic structure.

    Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Dibert recalls visiting the inverted pyramid with her grandmother to buy dinosaur-shaped cookies. She spent many more hours there as a teen, visiting friends at Cha Cha Coconuts. ...

    Guests wait in line Friday for brick pavers at Spa Beach Park during a farewell ceremony to the Pier in St. Petersburg. Hundreds came to say goodbye to the inverted pyramid.
  5. Church of Scientology says item on Jolly's upcoming appearance was 'cheap shot'

    Blog

    The church of Scientology was none-too-pleased about Bay Buzz noting that U.S. Rep. David Jolly planned to appear at the church's upcoming concert to celebrate the city of Clearwater's centennial. 

    The item, which was also post on the Buzz with a different headline, noted that the Indian Shores Republican running for U.S. Senate is listed as a guest of honor at the Aug. 29 event titled "Clearwater: A Century in Music." It will take place at the Fort Harrison Hotel, one of the church's signature buildings in the city's downtown. Jolly's spokesman said he is attending to present a proclamation to Mayor George Cretekos to celebrate the city's 100th birthday....

  6. Church of Scientology says item noting David Jolly's upcoming appearance was 'cheap shot'

    Blog

    The church of Scientology was none-too-pleased about the Buzz noting that U.S. Rep. David Jolly planned to appear at the church's upcoming concert to celebrate the city of Clearwater's centennial. 

    The item noted that Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican running for U.S. Senate, is listed as a guest of honor at the Aug. 29 event titled "Clearwater: A Century in Music." It will take place at the Fort Harrison Hotel, one of the church's signature buildings in the city's downtown. Jolly's spokesman said he is attending to present a proclamation to Mayor George Cretekos to celebrate the city's 100th birthday....

  7. Pinellas County leaders warn IT manager: No more drama

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Keep doing your job and quell the drama.

    That was the message for Martin Rose, Pinellas County's chief information officer, courtesy of his high-profile bosses Thursday after a survey found discord among his executive leadership team.

    The Business Technology Services board expressed concern about the survey but told Rose they supported his plan to get the department back on track....

    Pinellas leaders back Martin Rose’s plan to address discord among his team.
  8. David Jolly and his wife to hang with the Scientologists

    Blog

    U.S. Rep. David Jolly will hobnob with some of his most controversial constituents later this month.

    Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican who recently launched a bid for U.S. Senate, is listed as a "guest of honor" at the Church of Scientology's Aug. 29 concert celebrating the city of Clearwater's centennial.

    According to a press release, the semi-formal event titled "Clearwater: A Century in Music" will feature appearances by actress Anne Archer, Grammy-award winning jazz artist Chick Corea and impressionist Jim Meskimen....

    U.S. Rep. David Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican who recently launched a bid for U.S. Senate, is listed as a "guest of honor" at the Church of Scientology's Aug. 29 concert celebrating the city of Clearwater's centennial.
  9. Jolly to appear at Church of Scientology's Clearwater centennial celebration

    Blog

    U.S. Rep. David Jolly will hobnob with some of his most controversial constituents later this month.

    Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican who recently launched a bid for U.S. Senate, is listed as a "guest of honor" at the Church of Scientology's Aug. 29 concert celebrating the city of Clearwater's centennial. 

    According to a press release, the semi-formal event titled "Clearwater: A Century in Music" will feature appearances by actress Anne Archer, Grammy-award winning jazz artist Chick Corea and impressionist Jim Meskimen. It starts with a 7 p.m. reception at the Fort Harrison Hotel, one of Scientology's signature properties in a downtown area that the church has transformed into its spiritual hub. At 8 p.m., Jolly will give "a special presentation to the City of Clearwater."...

  10. Tropical Depression Four is now Tropical Storm Danny

    Hurricanes

    The fourth tropical depression of the 2015 hurricane season became Tropical Storm Danny on Tuesday and likely will strengthen to the first hurricane of the Atlantic season by Thursday, forecasters said.

    Danny was still about five days away from Barbados late Tuesday, still way too early to tell if the storm will affect Florida. But it should snap Floridians to attention, said Robert Garcia, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Ruskin....

    The fourth tropical depression of the 2015 hurricane season is now Tropical Storm Danny and will likely strengthen to a hurricane by Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. [National Hurricane Center]
  11. Pinellas Commission to Legislature: Follow the Constitution when redistricting

    Blog

    Follow the Florida Constitution when considering how to carve out Congressional districts on our "peninsula on a peninsula."

    That’s the message from the Pinellas County Commission to House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner in letters that went out Monday.

    Commissioner Ken Welch last week asked fellow commissioners to pass a resolution or support a letter from Chairman John Morroni supporting a redistricting map that includes all of southern and mid-Pinellas County in a single congressional district. It's an issue that hits home for Welch because he lives in a portion of southern St. Petersburg currently in Rep. Kathy Castor's District 14, which is largely on the Hillsborough County side of Tampa Bay The base map lawmakers drafted by staff takes that area and moves it into Pinellas Rep. David Jolly's District 13, which extends from Fort DeSoto to Dunedin....

  12. Latvala will try again to make wage theft a crime

    Blog

    Sen. Jack Latvala says he will try again next session to make it a crime not to pay an employee.

    As more local governments pass local wage theft ordinances, the pressure grows on the Legislature to take some kind of action, the Clearwater Republican said. (Read more on the rise of local ordinances here.)...

  13. Fired PSTA maintenance supervisor gets job back after lug nut incident

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A maintenance supervisor fired after a driver discovered missing lug nuts on a Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority bus last fall is getting his job back.

    An arbitrator has ruled that the PSTA did not have grounds to fire Angelo Rebetti after the Nov. 13 incident, saying in an order there was no evidence to support the agency's claim that Rebetti "endangered the life, safety and health of PSTA employees, customers and members of the public" by releasing the bus for service....

  14. Legislature's inaction on wage theft problem drives local ordinances

    Local Government

    Holding a smooth wooden cane in one hand and rubbing his scarred knee with the other, Jorge Lopez-Serra sat at a kitchen table covered with unpaid bills.

    Lopez-Serra, 45, recently took a part-time job with a cleaning company to sock away money for knee surgery and was assigned to a diner in St. Petersburg and an American Legion Hall in Clearwater. He said the company never paid the final $700 he was owed....

  15. Pinellas transit workers vote to switch unions

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Pinellas County’s transit workers have switched unions.

    Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority employees voted Wednesday to join the Service Employees International Union, ending the era of an incumbent union plagued by infighting and accusations of financial mismanagement.

    About 52 percent of the 363 bus drivers, mechanics, customer serve reps and maintenance workers opted for SEIU instead of staying with the Tampa Bay Area Transit Workers Union. There are 469 employees covered under the collective bargaining agreement, so the turnout was about 77 percent and the margin of victory was a mere 20 votes. ...