1. News

Daystarter: How David Straz might repair his image; Hillsborough's affordable housing crisis; Florida pushes for Census citizenship question; sweep revenge for Rays

Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published Apr. 29

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

• We'll have mostly sunny skies today, according to the National Weather Service. Highs will be in the upper 80s to lower 90s, slightly cooler along the coast.

• It costs money to produce quality journalism. Please support the Tampa Bay Times by buying a digital subscription to Florida's best newspaper and its redesigned website

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay.

• As the Florida Legislature moves toward creating a program to import prescription drugs from Canada, an opponent's TV ad says the legislation could have deadly consequences. "State senators are pushing a new government program that allows prescription drugs from China without FDA inspection," says the narrator in the April ad. "An FDA commissioner warned these drugs come from 'unreliable parties and counterfeiters.' The Wall Street Journal calls it 'impractical, unsafe and unlikely to reduce prices.' Too many have already died from counterfeit drugs — are you willing to take that risk?" The ad directs viewers to tell their senators to vote against Senate Bill 1528. The message is from The Partnership for Safe Medicines, comprised of dozens of groups including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the lobbying group that includes major drug companies.

• In the minutes after the gunman fled the scene of a shooting that killed a woman inside a Southern California synagogue, a wounded Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein wrapped his bloodied hand in a prayer shawl and addressed the panicked congregation, vowing to stay strong in the face of yet another deadly attack in a house of worship. "We are a Jewish nation that will stand tall. We will not let anyone take us down. Terrorism like this will not take us down," Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein recalled telling his congregants.

• Catching you up on the biggest stories you may have missed over the weekend: Parents killed in Florida crash where their children survived; 'Avengers: Endgame' obliterates records; and more.

Florida's new chief science officer didn't start out as a scientist. Instead, he was a surfer dude. Thomas Frazer, named to the post created by Gov. Ron DeSantis last month, was born and raised in the quintessential surf city of San Diego. When he was 8, he bought his first board — a Lightning Bolt — and spent as much time riding the waves as he could. That's what led him to become an expert on water pollution.

• An upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling on whether a citizenship question should be included on the Census questionnaire could depress the population count in Florida as much as anywhere. Yet state officials are among those pushing hardest for it to be included.

• Maryann Ferenc, Carolyn House Stewart and Joanna Tokely are the newest inductees of the Hillsborough County Women's Hall of Fame. When you're talking about three women who radiate so much love — love of their chosen professions, love for others, love for community — their beauty cannot be denied.

How is it going at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg? City officials have questions. While patient admissions to the hospital were down, the amount spent on charity care was up. Bayfront had spent more than $100 million since 2013 on facility upgrades, and soon planned to cut ribbons for an expanded trauma center and other improvements, including a satellite emergency department in Pinellas Park.

The retired banker David Straz lost big in a Tampa mayor's race where he chose to go negative. But the way back may be right in his wheelhouse: Doing good works. His name is stamped on the city's performing arts center and a University of Tampa dormitory. He bankrolled a manatee care center for Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park and contributes every year, often anonymously, to hospitals and charities.

• Workers restoring habitat for gopher tortoises have used mechanical shredding, chemical treatment and burning at the Lake Townsen Preserve off Lake Lindsey Road in recent years. And the next part of their plan involves cutting timber on more than 200 acres. Neighbors of Lake Townsen Preserve are not happy about it. Therefore, Hernando County officials push the pause button to learn more about the project.

• Following a stolen-vehicle chase that spanned three counties and included shots fired at police, a 22-year-old suspect was airlifted to receive critical medical care at Bayonet Point Hospital before being transferred to Tampa General Hospital on Sunday after he was ejected from the stolen truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

• After another few weeks in physical rehab, Bernie Herman and one of his daughters went over his setlist. In his 90s, he was mostly blind from macular degeneration and hard of hearing from being in his 90s. But he knew his jokes were good, and he knew his audience needed them. Former lawyer embraced second career, then kept the jokes coming.

• Political battle is reheating over a federal program that was designed to cancel student loans for certain public workers but has largely failed to deliver that promise. And that's left lawmakers questioning whether to end the program or try to fix it. The Trump administration and some Republican legislators see it as a lost cause, arguing that the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program is misguided and has proved too complicated for borrowers to navigate.

• The Florida Legislature is in session. The Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau has the latest coverage from the state capital at the The Buzz.

• Martha Louise Haeusler never thought about the cost of housing until she fell and dislocated her shoulder. Suddenly the 75-year-old was unable to play the church organ, which was her job as music director at Grace Episcopal Church in Tampa Palms. She would have to downsize, and in doing so joined Hillsborough County's growing affordable housing crisis. Anastasia Dawson reports that the county commission has committed to spending an additional $10 million a year on affordable housing — but the need is great, and they don't yet know where the money will come from.

• President Donald Trump's pick to run the federal agency in charge of weather forecasting and water monitoring hit a snag this month. A federal report alleged widespread sexual harassment at AccuWeather, the former company of his nominee, Barry Myers. It's the second time this year AccuWeather has faced accusations of a hostile work environment.

• The rise and fall and rise of the bay area housing market is dramatically reflected in figures released this month by ATTOM Data Solutions, a California-based firm that tracks sales and prices of more than 155 million U.S. properties. The data show just how frothy Tampa Bay's market was in the mid-2000s, how swiftly it tanked and how long it took to recover from one of the worst housing crashes ever.

• A READING RIDDLE: Students are struggling to read everywhere, but why does Hillsborough County have so many of them? Read the Tampa Bay Times special report by education reporter Marlene Sokol on why Hillsborough school children are struggling to read. For more coverage click below:

• Hillsborough students say their love for reading waned over time. 'I'd rather go outside.'

• Listen to a special edition of the Gradebook podcast: When reading becomes a requirement, can kids love doing it?

• 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.

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

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

• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.

• Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports. Times sportswriter Rick Stroud has the latest reaction and analysis from the whole team via our Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast.

• Tyler Glasnow led the way as the Rays beat the Red Sox again on Sunday for a sweep of the rain-shortened series.

• In Sunday's St. Anthony's Triathlon, Sarah Haskins-Kortuem won her record eighth in St. Pete.

• The Lightning face a long, painful offseason. Follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari to see how Tampa Bay puts the pieces back together.

• Land O'Lakes High softball ace Callie Turner one of the top pitchers in the nation begins her lesson. She individually tailors her tutelage to each student. An oversized garage becomes Turner's classroom.

• Get the latest Bucs news as coach Bruce Arians gets ready for the 2019 season and follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD on Twitter and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.

• The draft provided more tools for the Bucs' remodeling project on defense. Six of the Tampa Bay's eight picks came on defense, which allowed 29 points per game last season.

• For Jason Licht, the end of the draft means more work. Signing undrafted free agents and shoring up areas that went unaddressed now becomes the priority for Bucs GM.

• 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 on the Gators and Seminoles this spring from Times college football beat writer Matt Baker and follow him on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.


  1. Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey.    (ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times) Special to the Times
    Overhaul of the Gloria Swanson parking lot will expanding parking options downton.
  2. A federal jury in Tampa found Christopher Brian Cosimano, left, and Michael Dominick Mencher guilty in the Pasco County shooting death of a motorcycle club leader. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
    Christopher “Durty” Cosimano and Michael “Pumpkin” Mencher were members of the 69′ers Motorcycle Club. Prosecutors said they were responsible for the rush-hour assassination of Paul Anderson, a...
  3. Hundreds of demonstrators protest a Trump administration announcement that reversed an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, outside of The Stonewall Inn in New York, Feb. 23, 2017. Activists in the LGBTQ community mobilized a fast and fierce campaign on Oct. 21, 2018, to say transgender people cannot be expunged from society, in response to an unreleased Trump administration memo that proposes a strict definition of gender based on a person's genitalia at birth. [Times Files] YANA PASKOVA  |  NYT
    Local vigils will be held in Tampa on Nov. 20 to honor those who lost their lives due to violence against the transgender community.
  4. U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland talks about holding a cell phone to his ear as he talks with President Donald Trump as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, during a public impeachment hearing of Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Gordon Sondland told House impeachment investigators he pushed a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine because it was what the President wanted.
  5. The Florida Supreme Court building in Tallahassee. SCOTT KEELER  |  Times
    Department of Education attorneys say the lower courts ruled properly in tossing the case.
  6. Bob Larson, 81, from St. Petersburg, raises his hand to indicate he has a match while playing Bingo during a meal with fellow seniors in Langer Hall at the Sunshine Senior Center in St. Petersburg. Also present (but not pictured) is his wife, Janet Larson, 74. The Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas funds 15 congregate dining sites in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The sites offer hot meals and socialization for 6,000 seniors. The Sunshine Center is one of those sites. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Seniors are happy in their communities, but have concerns about health care, housing, transportation and support for caregivers
  7. Scott Purcell, a senior geophysicist with GeoView, left, and Mike Wightman, president of GeoView use ground penetrating radar technology to scan a portion of King High campus in search for Ridgewood Cemetery in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.  OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times
    The mid-20th century Ridgewood Cemetery for the indigent and unknown was located on property later used to develop King High.
  8. Authorities say Rocky Ali Beamon strangled and stabbed 27-year-old Nicholas Anderson in January 2017 when they shared a cell at the Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton. Florida Department of Corrections
    Rocky Ali Beamon previously had been sentenced to life in prison for a 2005 murder in Hillsborough County.
  9. The tenth annual Shopaplooza returns to St. Petersburg for the Thanksgiving Day weekend, but this time at the Vinoy Park and with major changes. LocalShops1
    The annual festival highlighting everything local was previously held at Straub Park. But that’s not the only change this year.
  10. Photo of the sign of the Skyway Marina District in St. Petersburg. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
    The newest is being built on the site of the former Flamingo Resort.