Daystarter: Mueller report summary released; Jonchuck trial continues; Casey defends Valspar title

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Daystarter
Daystarter
Published March 25
Updated March 25

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

• We’ll have mostly sunny skies today with morning lows around 60, according to the National Weather Service. Afternoon highs will be in the low to mid 80s.

• 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 tampabay.com.

• Plan your week! Here are the top things to do this week in Tampa Bay including the return of the Tampa Pride Parade, a Cuban Sandwich Festival and John Mellencamp in Clearwater for two sold-out shows.

• The Justice Department said Sunday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation did not find evidence that President Donald Trump’s campaign “conspired or coordinated” with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Mueller also investigated whether Trump obstructed justice but did not come to a definitive answer. In a four-page letter to Congress, Attorney General William Barr said Mueller’s report “does not exonerate” the president on obstruction and instead “sets out evidence on both sides of the question.”

• Attorney General William Barr has made his determination about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation . Now, Democratic lawmakers are demanding a full look at Mueller’s findings and dismissing Attorney General William Barr’s summary as incomplete, at best, and biased, at worst.

• After two years and endless speculation, the Mueller report has landed, and Florida is reacting. Here’s what Florida politicians had to say about the report.

• In 2015, John Jonchuck dropped his dropped his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, off a St. Petersburg bridge. She plunged 62 feet to her death in the cold waters below. His day in court is finally here, and the defense plans to argue that he is not guilty by reason of insanity. Follow the Tampa Bay Times for full coverage of the Jonchuck trial. Here’s the latest developments:

WATCH: Check out the live feed from the courtroom at tampabay.com.

WATCH: The Trial of John Jonchuck, Day 6: Openings statements.

THE FOCUS: The trial of John Jonchuck comes down to one question: Evil or insane?

FULL COVERAGE: Why is the Times covering the Jonchuck trial gavel-to-gavel? Senior Deputy Editor Amy Hollyfield explains why.

GOT QUESTIONS? Follow the Times coverage at tampabay.com/jonchuck and share your questions in the comments. We’ll answer as we go.

READ: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck by Pulitzer-prize winner Lane DeGregory

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

• The Tampa mayor’s race is headed down the stretch. Click here for full coverage of the race and follow Tampa city hall reporter Charlie Frago on Twitter for the latest developments.

• Jane Castor was Tampa’s police chief for nearly six years, giving her plenty of time to acquire a public record. But in the 10 months since she announced her run for mayor, only one issue has received sustained attention from her rivals: the disproportionate ticketing of black bicyclists for minor infractions that has come to be known as “biking while black.” Castor has apologized for that policy, put in place during her time as chief from 2009 to 2015. But other controversial incidents during her tenure haven’t received much scrutiny in the race to the April 23 election.

• Benjamin Limmer, 41, takes the helm at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority during a time of opportunity, public scrutiny, and the biggest budget the agency has ever seen. As the agency’s new CEO, Limmer says he is here to listen.

• The health and financial woes continue for MacDill families dealing with mold in base housing. Some families who left their homes after finding mold are waiting on compensation for moving expenses and damaged belongings. Housing-related health problems have plagued military families nationwide, prompting Congressional hearings and visits to MacDill and other bases by senior military leaders.

• Tampa ranks fifth and St. Petersburg ranks 15th for U.S. cities with the most dog parks per 100,000 residents, in the latest list compiled by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. The trust’s 2019 survey found a total of 810 off-leash dog parks in the nation’s 100 biggest cities, a 74 percent increase over the last decade.

• As the executive director of Florida Housing, Stephen Auger headed an agency unknown to most Floridians but one that plays a significant role in the state’s housing market. It promotes home ownership — hence its involvement with the Hardest Hit Fund, created to help struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. It also administers several highly competitive state and federal programs that finance affordable housing projects. But the state-run agency had one of the nation’s worst records of getting Hardest Hit Fund mortgage help to struggling homeowners. And when Auger resigned, he landed a new job — as CEO of Birdsong Housing Partners, a developer getting millions of dollars in financing through his former employer, Florida Housing.

• For the second time in less than a week, a student who survived last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland has died by apparent suicide, police confirmed Sunday.

The debate over how to carry out Amendment 4 continues today in the Florida Senate, where a committee is scheduled to take up its own bill for the first time.

• Fifty-six years after the sixth grade, Sister Helen Lange’s class wanted a little more time with their teacher. So in 2012, for their 50th high school reunion, they asked her to come, too. Sister Helen was thrilled.

• 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.

• When it comes to great cities for glass art, a few spring to mind. This country’s epicenter for glass is Seattle, where the prestigious Glass Art Society formed in 1971. But the most famous and prestigious is Murano, Italy, known for its rich history of glass making since the 13th century. The Glass Art Society held its 47th conference in Murano last year. And this year, an international community of glass artists and collectors will descend on St. Petersburg this week.

• Catching you up on the biggest stories you may have missed over the weekend.

• Want even more evidence that people care about comics? Nearly 10,000 readers completed our survey to help find a replacement for Non Sequitur. That’s more than the number of people who cast ballots for the runner-up in the Tampa mayoral election.

• 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.

Paul Casey defended his title Sunday at the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook. The 41-year-old from England shot a final round 72 and held off Jason Kokrak and Louis Oosthiuzen by a shot to win the tournament with a four-round total of 8-under.

• Far from the din of March Madness, in a sparsely-filled arena, USF’s men easily could’ve just played out the string Wednesday night. They played out of their minds instead, and a mostly inconspicuous game became an instant classic.

• Among the issues for players at Tropicana Field is losing sight of fly balls, at least, veteran centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said, once a game. The Rays are working on a colorful solution. Taking advantage of the features of a new overall LED illumination system, the Rays are planning to light the inside of the Trop roof blue during games this season.

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

• For the latest on the Lightning’s quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the season and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• Get the latest Rays’ spring training news from Marc Topkin and follow him throughout baseball season on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays .

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

• 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 analysis 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.

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