Daystarter: The Bucs draft LSU linebacker Devin White; learn about the victims of serial killer Bobby Joe Long; could Florida finally ban texting while driving?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Published April 26
Updated April 26

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

• A front will come in today that will raise the chance of rain to up to 80 percent, according to the National Weather Service. And to make it even better, temperatures will reach the 80s. The rain should clear out by the evening as temps drop to the 60s. By Saturday the sun should return with highs in the mid to upper 80s and it might stay that way at night. Sunday could be even hotter.

• 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.

• Two Tampa Bay Times reporters were named finalists for a Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for their stories exposing major problems in the heart surgery unit at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Read the series “Heartbroken” by Deputy Investigations Editor Kathleen McGrory and investigative reporter Neil Bedi.

• Heartbroken: Johns Hopkins promised to elevate All Children’s Heart Institute. Then patients started to die at an alarming rate.

• Warning signs were ignored: State, federal officials missed warnings at All Children’s heart unit.

• Reputation, not results: Johns Hopkins wrote the rules on patient safety. But its hospitals don’t always follow them.

Florida could have fined All Children’s millions for late reports. It went with $4,500.

All Children’s works to restore faith, but families struggle to forgive.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including comedian Margaret Cho at the Improv, the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair taking over the Coliseum this weekend and Dream Theater at Mahaffey Theater.

• LSU is also known as Linebacker State University. In Tampa Bay, Kown Alexander, Kendell Beckwith and Kevin Minter were all former LSU backers on the Bucs roster last season. But after losing Alexander to the 49ers in free agency, the Bucs headed back to Linebacker State U to replace him: Tampa Bay drafted the middle linebacker with the fifth overall pick in Thursday night’s NFL draft in a move that surprised no one. Bucs’ beat writer Rick Stroud writes that White might be the best LSU linebacker on the Bucs’ roster, and the best drafted in a long time.

• Catch up on the NFL draft by reading the Times’ live blog.

Read the latest reaction on Twitter about the Bucs’ newest linebacker, Devin White.

• He’s 6-foot, 237 pounds. He had 123 total tackles in 13 games as a junior in 2018, including 12 tackles for a loss. He also had three sacks, six pass breakouts and three forced fumbles. Eduardo A. Encina has all the numbers you need to know about the Bucs’ newest linebacker.

• Devin White is a great kid, a good player and the wrong pick, writes columnist John Romano. Chances are, White is going to be a fine NFL football player and, 10 years from now, may be celebrated as a Tampa Bay icon, but Romano wonders if an inside linebacker can change a game the way a defensive lineman or outside linebacker could. Did the Bucs settle for the safest pick?

• The first Florida college football player off the board on Thursday night was Florida State defensive end Brian Burns, who Matt Baker reports will continue his football career in the South after the Carolina Panthers selected the former Seminole with the No. 16 overall pick.

• As Avengers: Endgame prepares to dominate the box office this weekend (and likely this summer) we take a look back at our part in this. It has taken 11 years, 22 movies and thousands of people to tell this story set inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Writer Paul Guzzo, who is also a filmmaker himself, found 12 locals who played a role in creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe,. That includes Dave Bautista, the WWE Superstar-turned-thespian who hit it big as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy. Also, St. Petersburg native and Gibbs High grad, Angela Bassett, the heroic queen mother of Wakanda in Black Panther. There’s also writers, special effects and makeup artists that call Tampa Bay home. It’s a fun read here on our Arts and Entertainment page.

• This week Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Bobby Joe Long’s death warrant. The serial killer behind the murders of nine Tampa Bay women is scheduled to die May 23 at Florida State Prison, wrote Times reporter Dan Sullivan. It has been 35 years since Long killed these women during a horrifying eight-month period in 1984. We know a lot about Long. But what about the women he abducted, raped and killed? Gabrielle Calise profiles the serial killer’s victims.

• The Florida Senate on Thursday passed a bill allowing police to stop motorists for texting while driving, bringing it closer than ever to becoming law. The bill is an apparent compromise with the House, following years of failed efforts to crack down on distracted driving. Currently, texting while driving is illegal in Florida. But police can’t stop you for it and lawmakers have tried for years to change that. But this time it might actually happen, reports Lawrence Mower.

• The Legislature might finally ban texting while driving this session, but what exactly does that mean? Here are five things you need to know about Florida’s crackdown on texting while driving from Allison Graves.

The Florida House advanced its first counteroffer on how to reimburse hospitals for Medicaid cases late Wednesday night, suggesting that it and the state Senate were moving toward a potential compromise on one of the thorniest disputes between the chambers sooner than expected, reports Elizabeth Koh.

• Silent so far on new information that Russian hackers may have phished their way into a local elections office, the FBI has agreed to meet next month with Florida officials to brief them on the topic, reports David Smiley.

Florida State University could be able to strip from its law-school building the name of a former Florida Supreme Court justice who left behind a racially charged legacy. The Senate passed legislation on Thursday that would allow FSU to rename a building that lawmakers named 46 years ago after Justice B.K. Roberts. The lone vote against the measure (SB 7076) was by Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican who in the past said he is not in favor of the Legislature rewriting history.

• Hemp is a form of the cannabis plant that contains trace amounts of THC and has been cultivated by humans for about 10,000 years or so. So the Florida Legislature just got around to trying to set up a state hemp program, reports Elizabeth Koh. The Florida Senate unanimously approved a bill to create a state hemp program Thursday. Hemp can be used for fiber, building materials, animal feed and pain relief but the bill won’t allow Floridians to grow hemp for individual use.

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

• More than 51,000 people moved into the Tampa Bay area last year, ranking the region ninth in the nation for something called Numeric Growth. Columnist Joe Henderson wonders how we’re all going to squeeze into an increasingly crowded bay area if local politicians lack the will to do something about the runaway sprawl and traffic afflicting our home.

• As the Florida Legislature continued haggling over various items in the state budget from school scholarships to hospital funding late into Thursday night, one item emerged settled: a new plane for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

• For eight years, Bob Buckhorn has channeled his priorities, passion and pugnaciousness into a narrative about how Tampa has risen after the Great Recession knocked it flat.

• 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.

• When voters choose to hike their local property taxes to help schools in their county, that money would need to be shared between districts and charter schools under a bill passed by the Florida House. The bill would apply to roughly 20 districts in the state which have voted to increase their local property taxes to benefit public schools.

Tampa Bay Times’ Newspaper in Education program serves more than 400,000 Florida students. The newspaper and digital edition are part of the curriculum at more than 500 schools in the Tampa Bay area. “The newspaper especially, one like the Times, makes it easier to bring civics into the context of today’s society with what’s going on in the world,” Whitaker said.

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

T. Rowe Price is scheduled to shut down its 400-person Tampa office, as planned, on June 30 and said this week it expects to eliminate a total of 169 jobs after about 200 workers take transfers to the firm’s offices in Maryland and Colorado.

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

‘Giraffes on Horseback Salad’: Salvador Dali and Harpo Marx make a movie, with a little help. “It was a deeply lost story,” says Frank, an author, producer, director and composer who calls himself a “pop culture archaeologist.”

• Life of the Party podcast: An intern’s work is never done. Journey back to the start of your career — fetching coffee, ushering mail around, carrying an oversized fish tank through a busy New York City street.

• 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.

• NFL draft: Bucs picks, round by round. The Buccaneers fill a hole in the middle of their defense with their first-round draft choice. As the Bucs transition to a 3-4 defense, they like the idea of teaming a rare talent like White with veteran Lavonte David in the middle of the field.

• NFL draft: First-round picks, team by team. This year’s draft has been called one of the deepest in years for defensive-line talent. Here’s who went where with the first 32 picks.

• NFL draft: The silver lining in the Florida Gators’ first-round shutout. For the first time since 2012, no Gators were chosen in the first round of the NFL draft.

What do you think of the Bucs’ first-round pick, LSU LB Devin White. Is he the right fit, or did Kentucky DE Josh Allen offer greater reward. Some fans are applying John Tortorella’s famous “Safe is Death” adage to the situation. Should the team employed a higher-risk philosophy to net a player with potentially higher reward? To figure out if Devin is dynamic, or White is just alright, we convene The Roundtable.

• Five things to know about Bucs first-round pick Devin White. White said that head coach Bruce Arians told him if he was still available at No. 5, the Bucs would take him. “He was a man of his word,” White said. “I knew the call was coming in.

• Where do the Lightning go being swept out of the first-round of the NHL Playoffs. Check out the Times throughout the offseason to see how Tampa Bay puts the pieces back together and follow beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

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

Celtics great John Havlicek dies. The “Havlicek stole the ball!” Hall of Famer was an eight-time NBA champion with Boston. The Celtics said Mr. Havlicek died Thursday in Jupiter. He was 79.

• The NFL draft is days away. What will new coach Bruce Arians do? 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 on the Gators and Seminoles this spring from Times college football beat writer Matt Baker and follow him on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.

Advertisement