The Daystarter: Another Howard Frankland wrong-way crash; Trump hammers Gillum in Florida appearance; why Floridians still have to roll their clocks back an hour

Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published October 31 2018
Updated November 1 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• The unseasonably warm streak continues into November, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures today will be in the mid to upper 80s. And there is only a slight chance of rain. So take advantage, because Friday could be a washout as storms move through ahead of a cold front.

• Mail ballots have already gone out for the 2018 election. Find out everything you wanted to know about local, state and federal candidates, where they stand on issues such as gun rights, opioids and education using the Tampa Bay Times handy-dandy "Know Your Candidate" voter guide. Remember: Election day is Nov. 6.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including a free production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Williams Park, a Led Zeppelin tribute show and a selection of Broadway favorites from a Florida Orchestra coffee concert.

• It’s time to plan your weekend! Our critics and writers have laid out their top picks for concerts, plays and family fun on our Weekend Planner page

• A wrong-way crash involving a suspected drunk driver has closed all northbound lanes of the Howard Frankland Bridge early this morning. It comesjust less than two weeks after a Pinellas Park man was killed on the Howard Frankland Bridge when he had a U-Turn near the center of the bridge and drove in the wrong direction for two to three miles before colliding with another vehicle. Stay with for updates.

• Armed with ominous hyperbole and the aura of "winning," President Donald Trump flew into Southwest Florida on Wednesday night to whip the Republican vote ahead of Tuesday’s elections and save America from the Democrats. Less than a week from an election that could propel him toward reelection in 2020 or ensnare him in a fight for political survival, Trump warned the Sunshine State faithful that an Andrew Gillum governorship would take Florida’s purring economy and turn it into a Venezuela-like recession.

• Ever heard of ballot fatigue? It’s a real phenomenon and it could be in play this election season. Add all the races and the 12 constitutional amendments together and that’s a long ballot. It’s even worse in Hillsborough County, where the transportation and school tax sit at the end of a four-page ballot. Christopher O’Donnell explains why voters face such long ballots and the best strategies for getting voters to fill it out to the very end.

• Cheering, clapping, Florida 20-somethings of all races screamed their approval of a white septuagenarian from Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a rally for Andrew Gillum and the Democratic ticket at the University of South Florida on Wednesday. William March reports on the enthusiasm generated by the 2016 presidential candidate (and for some reason a woman decided to run topless through the rally.

• If Andrew Gillum beats Ron DeSantis for governor Tuesday — anything but a sure thing — it won’t merely be the first time Democrats have won a governor’s race in 24 years. Adam C. Smith reports that many Democrats would see it as everything from a "tsunami" to an "earthquake" to a "game-changer."

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• Columnist John Romano writes about a constitutional amendment on Florida’s ballot that could undo an old injustice: Amendment 11 would remove an archaic section of the constitution, known as the savings clause, that prohibits criminal statute changes to be applied retroactively. Romano writes about how that would help those serving longer, harsher sentences than if they were convicted today.

• In the "Why we can’t have nice things" department, Lawrence Mower reports on why Floridians still have to roll their clocks back an hour on Sunday even though the Florida Legislature recently adopt permanent daylight savings time: Blame Congress.

• Open enrollment begins today for the Affordable Care Act. Justine Griffin reports that local advocates worry that health insurance changes this year might confuse consumers and keep them from selecting the best plans for their health. That’s because of confusing changes made by the Trump administration that will leave consumers with cheaper, less comprehensive plans that may not cover the same expenses as their old plans did.

• The Cross-Bay Ferry returns to Tampa and St. Petersburg today and will run Tuesdays through Sundays for the next six months. But Richard Danielson reports that organizers and local officials want something more far-reaching and regular than just a season service that took last year off.

• The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the drowning of 37-year-old Blaise Gamba, who died two years ago after a boating trip with her husband. But Kathryn Varn reports that the woman’s mother has filed a lawsuit accusing husband William Gamba, 39, of concocting an elaborate coverup to make money off his wife’s $1 million life insurance policies and their joint assets, including a waterfront home in Madeira Beach he sold last year for $1.5 million.

• Don’t click on this story while eating breakfast: Imagine coming back from your tropical vacation with a maggot embedded in your groin. Justine Griffin reports that’s what happened to a 36-year-old Tampa woman who ended up at Tampa General Hospital two months after a trip to Belize. Read about her medical ordeal.

• Check out the Times coverage of the Gators throughout the season and keep up with beat writer Matt Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

• All the Bulls news you can use is just one click away and Times beat writer Joey Knight has the latest on Twitter at @TBTimes_Bulls.

• Bucks kicker Chandler Catanzaro can’t pinpoint why he has struggled to convert extra-point opportunities this season, especially given the fact that last season he didn’t miss a single extra-point attempt. But while the Bucs have other glaring issues — including a league-high 19 turnovers — football writer Eduardo Encina reports that Catanzaro’s misses have still put the Bucs at a disadvantage.

• The latest Bucs news is just a few clicks away. Check out the Times coverage all season long. And on @Twitter follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard for the latest updates.

• Was that really 340-pound defensive tackle Vita Vea dropping back into coverage during last weekend’s loss at Cincinnati? Thomas Bassinger explains that was not your imagination.

• He’s on TV. He likes costumes. He sings. He’s everywhere. Nick Kelly explains why Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban has become one of the NHL’s most charismatic and popular stars on and off the ice.

• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, just click here throughout the season. And for the latest updates on @Twitter, follow Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.

• The Tampa Bay Times has teamed up with ProPublica to track anything that goes wrong at the polls this year: Voting abnormalities? Election misinformation? Unusually long lines? Malfunctioning voting machines? Robocalls? Social media rumors? Here’s how to reach out to us:

Text message: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).

WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 1-850-909-8683.

Facebook Messenger: Go to

Twitter: Tag @Electionland.

• Check out the latest episode of the Tampa Bay Times podcast Sports Day Tampa Bay led by veteran sportswriter Rick Stroud.

• Listen to our new podcast, Life of the Party, that keeps you caught up just enough to get by in small talk. Times staffers Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk will discuss what’s going on, from celebrity news to movies and music, plus offbeat info that will make you the most interesting person in the room.