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Tracey McManus - Pinellas County Commission, Scientology and Clearwater Reporter

Pinellas County Commission, Scientology and Clearwater Reporter

I cover Pinellas County with a focus on the workings and impacts of government, environmental issues, the City of Clearwater, the Church of Scientology, animal welfare and other topics. Before joining the Times in 2015, I spent five years with The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. I've wanted to be a journalist pretty much since I was old enough to read the newspapers my dad kept stacked near the kitchen table every day. That's never changed. I was born in Brooklyn but grew up in south Florida and graduated from University of Florida in 2010 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. When not on deadline, I'm usually out running with my two dogs Tiger and Ollie, both strays I found in Georgia.

  1. A group of East Lake residents has erected signs protesting a 44-home development proposed by Tarpon Springs developer Pioneer Homes. Tarpon Springs commissioners recently voted to annex the site into the city.
    The action targets a plan to build 44 homes on land between Keystone Road and Highland Avenue, double what was allowed in the East Lake District.
  2. Gibbs High School drum major Tahlia Trehl leads a performance while participating in St. Petersburg's 34th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Big Parade on Monday.
    An estimated 40,000 attended the annual parade downtown. There were beads and music celebrating the message and mission of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  3. This view from Google Maps shows the overgrown former clubhouse of the long-shuttered Baypointe Golf Course on Commodore Drive in Seminole. The Pinellas County Commission has voted to buy the 42-acre course and preserve it as a recreational park and a regional stormwater management area.
    All 42 acres of the former Baypointe Golf Course in Seminole are slated to be turned into a recreational park and stormwater management area.
  4. A federal judge has ruled that two tigers once housed at Dade City's Wild Things be allowed to move to a sanctuary in Arkansas. The action is part of a federal lawsuit challenging the cub petting business operated by Wild Things' owner Kathy Stearns, above.
    A judge allows the move following a previous ruling that sent 19 former Wild Things tigers to another sanctuary in Colorado.
  5. Three top Clearwater officials met on Monday with Scientology leader David Miscavige at the church's Flag Building on S Fort Harrison Avenue in downtown. It was the second meeting between the parties since late October.
    In a meeting Monday with three top city officials, David Miscavige also said the church still wants to buy a waterfront lot the city acquired in 2017.
  6. State Rep. Wengay Newton, pictured here at a news conference last year with state officials, says he will run to replace Ken Welch on the Pinellas County Commission. The switch from Florida House to county commission would be "a natural progression," he said.
    He will face School Board member Rene Flowers and former lawmaker Frank Peterman Jr. in the Democratic primary to succeed Ken Welch.
  7. David Yates announced Thursday he will step down as chief executive at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in March. In this 2018 photo, during the launch of a campaign to encourage environmental friendly habits, Yates holds up a plastic hair clip found stuck on a sea urchin.
    After 14 years, Yates will leave to pursue public speaking and film production. Longtime executive Frank Dame will succeed him.
  8. Church of Scientology members cross S Garden Avenue at Franklin Street in Clearwater, near the church's Flag Building in July. Ten of the 13 candidates for Clearwater City Council say voters frequently ask them about issues related to Scientology.
    From the church’s downtown holdings to how it’s perceived in the community, 12 of the 13 candidates responded to a Tampa Bay Times survey.
  9. The orange-topped Fort Harrison Hotel, left, and the Flag Building across the street are the Church of Scientology's signature buildings in Clearwater. But, as the city moves forward on a $64 million plan to remake the downtown waterfront, a recent buying spree of downtown properties by companies tied to Scientology is raising questions about the church's intentions.
    Candidates say the church’s influence is a top concern for many voters. But most campaigns are steering clear of the subject.
  10. A trial court ruling barring two women from entering an Orlando strip club without a man has caused a constitutional chain reaction. Miami Beach argues that local human rights ordinances are under attack, and the city is leading an effort to overturn the ruling.
    On Thursday, Miami Beach led a coalition of 21 municipalities, including Tampa, Pinellas County and Dunedin, in filing a brief urging the overturn of a May decision voiding local protections of civil...