Daystarter: The lawmaker who dressed in blackface is pushing an ethics bill today; Straz calls for investigation of Jeff Vinik; and why the Bucs took a pass on running back Kareem Hunt.

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
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Published Feb. 12, 2019

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

• A cold front rolling in will increase the chances of rain today, with about a 40 percent chance of showers in the afternoon and evening hours, according to the National Weather Service. Wake-up temperatures will be in the 60s then reach the low 80s, just a tad cooler than usual of late. Beware of sea fog rolling in.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including the band Walk the Mook, an Abba tribute and the Florida State Fair continues.

• A team of reporters at the Tampa Bay Times found that children were dying at an alarming rate inside a venerable local hospital, in spite of internal warnings that heart-surgery procedures were putting kids at risk. Tampa Bay Times introducing pay meter to support local journalism. Readers will be asked to pay for content on starting Feb. 12.

The lawmaker who dressed in blackface is pushing an ethics bill today. Does it matter? Over the last week, no Florida lawmaker has been more embroiled in controversy than Republican state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who has been making national headlines for wearing blackface in a grade school prank 14 years ago.

• The arrival of red roses and heart-shaped candies in grocery stores and retailers means Valentine's Day is just around the corner. But in Parkland, the arrival of February 14 eclipses the Hallmark holiday. Thursday marks one year since a former student shot and killed 17 and injured 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The day is forever seared in the memory of South Florida.

• Before she takes the stage in Clearwater tonight, we talked to comedy legend Carol Burnett about her recent tribute at the Golden Globes and who she thinks should get the next Carol Burnett Award for lifetime achievement in television.

• Rick Scott was the richest governor in the history of Florida, and critics long complained that placing his now-estimated $232 million fortune in a so-called blind trust didn't really eliminate questions about conflicts of interest during his eight years in office. Steve Contorno writes that, now that Scott is a U.S. senator, he will no longer use a blind trust and instead report his assets to the public in the manner required of all members of Congress.

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

• Pinellas County is considering a new proposal — already implemented in Hillsborough County and across the country — that would reduce the times paramedics and ambulances are sent to certain minor medical issues. Josh Solomon reports that it's a way for first-responders to stave off increasing demand for their services and focus on high-priority emergencies. But the fire unions aren't on board with that idea.

• The Broadway smash Hamilton arrives in Tampa at last tonight, for a four-week run. We have a beginner's guide on what to expect if you've never seen this show. And we have tips on how to score tickets as cheap as $10. And once you get them, check out the fun ways chefs at the Straz are incorporating our Founding Fathers into the food and drink menus.

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• Pop music critic Jay Cridlin talked with Herbie Hancock, who is coming to Clearwater to perform on Friday. He talked about working with Kendrick Lamar and his big Grammy upset and what that felt like.

• The Times online Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.

• She was a classroom teacher, a writer, a model and a preservationist. Most knew June Hurley Young for just one of her pursuits — as "Miss June," host of the Tampa Bay area's version of the children's weekday television show Romper Room from 1965-1980. Paul Guzzo profiles Mrs. Young, a longtime St. Petersburg resident who died Feb. 2.

• Tampa mayoral candidate and philanthropist David Straz continued to make waves on the campaign trail, saying Monday the next mayor should investigate just how much influence Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik wields in Florida's third-largest city. Charlie Frago reports on the latest mayoral forum.

• Why, according to an Internal Revenue Service report released Friday, are the number of income tax refunds down by almost a quarter and the dollar amounts by nearly 9 percent compared to the same period last year? Times columnist Graham Brink has the explanation.

• You want to know how rare a Beck show in Florida is? The dude hasn't played the Sunshine State since 2003, and he hasn't played Tampa since 1997 — all the way back during the "Odelay" era. But now Jay Cridlin reports that Beck is scheduled to appear at the Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Aug. 29 with fellow alternative and indie rockers Cage the Elephant, Spoon and up-and-comers Sunflower Bean.

• Meet R2-D2's Florida cousin: robots that roam the aisles of Walmarts looking for empty spaces on shelves and prices that need to be updated. Sara DiNatale writes about the robot revolution coming to a retail store near you.

• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.

• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.

• Spring training is almost here. Plan your spring training trips by using the Times' handy 2019 spring training guide for Grapefruit League schedules, maps and daily planners.

• Kareem Hunt was always expected to get another chance to play in the NFL, but it wasn't going to be the Bucs that gave it to him. Hunt, who signed with the Browns, could still face a six-game suspension by the NFL.

• The Rays don't formally start spring training until Wednesday morning's first session for pitchers and catchers, but there was plenty of activity Monday at the Charlotte Sports Park with around 40 players on the fields working out. Follow baseball writer Marc Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays and get all the latest Rays' spring training news.

• When the Lightning went looking for a defenseman at the trade deadline last year, they obtained Ryan McDonagh instead of two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. A year later, John Romano looks back at that acquisition and writes that Tampa Bay got the player this team needed in McDonagh.

• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup: Click here for the latest news throughout the season and get the updates on @Twitter from beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• The difference between the fifth pick and the ninth pick of the NFL is like the difference between $100 and $120. Thomas Bassinger writes about how much draft position matters and the lessons of the 1995 draft as the Bucs weigh whether to stay at No. 5 or trade down in April's NFL draft. He also goes through some of the projects picks from draft experts around the league.

• The Bucs have a new head coach. Keep up with all the offseason changes and get ready for the NFL draft by following the Times' Bucs page which is just a click away at For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• Keep up with coverage of Gators' athletics this winter by following beat writer Matt Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.

• Get the latest sports news, reaction and anaylsis from Times sportswriter Rick Stroud and the rest of the crew on the Bucs, Bulls, Lightning, Gators, 'Noles and Rays via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

Don't just write the right way — write the Lane way. Keep up with Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lane DeGregory's podcast, WriteLane, and learn about her approach to the craft of storytelling.