08/20/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Ed Turanchik told Hillsborough County commissioners in February that his clients had examined 14 potential spots for their proposed high-speed ferry's terminal. Only one worked: the Fred and Idah Schultz Preserve near Gibsonton.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Sandy Murman made a surprise move that Turanchik said could jeopardize the ferry: She asked county staff to start looking for a different spot....
TAMPA — A Hillsborough County shelter may soon become the second Tampa Bay area nonprofit organization to house Central and South American children from this year's deluge of immigrants illegally crossing the border, federal officials confirmed Monday.
The Children's Home near Tampa has been approved to house 27 children, according to Kenneth Wolfe, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families....
TAMPA — The mail advertisement depicts a hand, wearing a white surgical glove, about to snatch a wad of $100 bills from the back pocket of an unsuspecting man.
"Flaming Liberal STACY WHITE," it says in bold white letters about the staunchly conservative Hillsborough County School Board member. "He's a doctor of surgically removing taxpayer dollars and transplanting the cash to bureaucrats."...
TAMPA — When Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Mark Sharpe leaves office in November because of term limits, local transit advocates will lose their biggest ally on the county's governing body.
Sharpe, a Republican, was the commission's most vocal supporter of a 1-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements that voters turned down in 2010. Four years later, he's poised to leave office while local leaders are still working out the details to try again, perhaps in 2016....
County Commission | District 7
Commissioner Al Higginbotham, forced out of conservative District 4 by term limits, is instead running countywide for the first time. Political newcomers Robin Lester and Tim Schock are standing in his way in the Republican primary, as is former candidate Don Kruse. Current District 7 Commissioner Mark Sharpe, a Republican, is leaving due to term limits. Will Hobson, Times staff writer...
County Commission | District 7
Two Democratic former County Commission aides are vying to replace Republican Mark Sharpe, leaving due to term limits. Mark Nash worked for current Commissioner Kevin Beckner, while Pat Kemp worked for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor when she was a commissioner. Both argue it's important to replace outspoken transit advocate Sharpe with a Democrat, as some Republican candidates oppose more taxes for transportation. Will Hobson, Times staff writer...
08/06/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Two years into a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of a 39-year-old nurse and mother of three killed after her car slammed into the back of a disabled Hillsborough County semitrailer truck, county lawyers aren't liking their case.
One thing stands in the way of the family of Darcia Dominguez collecting a settlement of up to $2 million for her death, though: the county's insurance company....
07/26/14 Human Interest
TAMPA — The last Bollywood star left town months ago but the legal battle behind the "Bollywood Oscars" continues to roil the bay area's most prominent Indian family.
Chetan "Jason" Shah, 48, filed a fresh set of allegations in Hillsborough Circuit Court this month about his wealthy health care entrepreneur and philanthropist brother-in-law, Dr. Kiran Patel, and demanded a jury trial in the lawsuit Patel had filed against him in May. ...
07/25/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Hillsborough County might have misspent more than $1 million in grant money between 2010 and 2013, according to a federal audit, and needs to either come up with documents showing it was properly spent or pay it back.
The audit, released July 9 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of the Inspector General, criticized Hillsborough's code enforcement and affordable housing departments for incorrectly spending money intended for fixing up blighted areas....
A department director being forced out of Hillsborough County government is a finalist for a similar job in Virginia.
Venerria "Ven" Thomas is a one of two finalists to be director of human services at the city of Newport News, the city announced Tuesday. Thomas and one other candidate are interviewing with city officials this week. ...
07/21/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Former Hillsborough County Commissioner James "Big Jim" Selvey — an oversized man known for gregariousness, Southern witticisms and questionable ethical decisions — died suddenly Sunday afternoon. He was 77.
Mr. Selvey, a Tampa native who worked in farming and real estate, served on the commission from 1985 to 1992. He was in good health, family members said, but came home to Brandon early from a grandson's Boy Scout camping trip Wednesday, complaining he didn't feel well....
07/18/14 Local Government
TAMPA — Before last year, the Hillsborough County Commission was known as a bastion of social conservatism, a body that banned gay pride displays and dismissed efforts to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination.
Now that reputation is in jeopardy.
This week's unanimous vote to move forward with a local human rights ordinance is the latest in a series of events marking a new era for Hillsborough County. While the law isn't finalized — the county attorney needs to write it, and the commission will have to approve it — eventual passage is likely. Five of seven commissioners have expressed support....
TAMPA — In many ways, it was a replay of a scene that had happened before. Religious people, some of them holding Bibles, some quoting from them, warning Hillsborough County commissioners what would happen if they outlaw discrimination against gay and transgender people.
The dissolving of religious liberty in America. Founding Fathers rolling in their graves. The wrath of a vengeful God....
07/15/14 Local Government
TAMPA — The Museum of Science and Industry is in financial decline, according to a consultant's report, and needs to overhaul an accounting system that is based more on "wishful thinking" than reality.
Longtime CEO Wit Ostrenko has done a great job, though, says the report, which will be presented today to Hillsborough County commissioners.
That is the dichotomy apparent in the report, which Hillsborough officials ordered in February to analyze operations at the financially struggling museum, which operates rent-free on county property on E Fowler Avenue. County officials grew concerned when MOSI management asked the county for a $250,000 loan in 2013 when the museum still owed $250,000 from a 2012 loan....
07/14/14 Local Government
TAMPA — In years past, a proposed county law barring discrimination against gay or transgender people would have been dead on arrival at the Hillsborough County Commission boardroom.
Not in 2014.
A majority of the commissioners — four of the seven — have expressed to the Tampa Bay Times their qualified support for expanding Hillsborough's human rights ordinance to also ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in hiring, housing and public accommodations....