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Published Sep. 9, 2009


Ruth Eckerd Hall laid off eight employees on Tuesday. "It is not a good day," said Holly Brown, the hall's director of marketing and public relations, in making the announcement. Those let go were in the development, house management, accounting, security and food and beverage departments. That leaves the Clearwater performing arts hall with a full-time staff of 58 or 59, Brown said, along with about 200 part-time employees and volunteers. Brown said the hall has been streamlining its management structure. "With that has come some consolidation of positions," she said. "That is the primary reason (for the layoffs). But the economy has not helped the situation." Tuesday's layoffs cut $300,000 from the payroll. Faced with an uncertain performing arts and entertainment market, Ruth Eckerd Hall has been doing other belt tightening, with staff members being asked to take off one unpaid day a month over the past five months. There also have been salary reductions and a freeze on travel. Brown said total savings in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, have amounted to $1 million.

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Another restaurant to close at BayWalk

Downtown St. Petersburg's BayWalk dining and entertainment complex is likely to lose another restaurant on Saturday. According to manager Aaron Van Dora, restaurant director Dominic D'Angelo has said that "if nothing shy of a miracle" happens, Gratzzi's Ristorante will close its doors on Sept. 12, leaving between 20 and 25 people without a job. On the heels of the closure of Banbu, Grill 121 and TooJay's, Gratzzi's closure will mean that only three restaurants remain in the complex: Ammazza Pizza, Tokyo Sushi and Johnny Rockets. Meanwhile, in the Plaza Tower & Courtyard Shops adjacent to BayWalk, Zapata's has closed. Olivier Cuevas has retooled his L'Olivier at 111 Second Ave. NE, joining with Ybor City restaurateur Sidney Sakho, co-owner of the now defunct the Nest, to reopen the Second Avenue space as Oasis.

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$100,000 offered to settle White case

Hillsborough County commissioners offered to settle the sexual discrimination suit against colleague Kevin White Tuesday - for $100,000. That's less than half of what the attorney for former aide Alyssa Ogden, who sued White and the county, says he is owed. The county intends its offer to be payment for that legal bill along with the $75,000 a jury awarded Ogden in damages.

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Investigation is over for radio show host

The Secret Service said Tuesday that it had officially closed its investigation into conservative radio talk show host Bob Haa without criminal charges or other action. The investigation dates to Haa's show on July 31, when some of his listeners allegedly heard him have a conversation with a caller who mentioned ammunition, target practice and President Barack Obama. But without a tape of the broadcast or witnesses willing to come forward and identify themselves, Agent John Joyce said, the agency was unable to prove threats against Obama had been made on Haa's show.