Daystarter: Parkland school massacre, one year later; Valentine’s Day ideas for the unprepared; a wet start to Rays spring training

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
Check tampabay.com for the latest news and information.
Check tampabay.com for the latest news and information.
Published February 14
Updated February 14

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

• Our brief brush with the cold is over. Expect sunny skies today and no rain, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures will be around 73 and even the low will warm up a bit to the 50s.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including comedian and Tampa native Bert Krischer performing the first of three shows at the Tampa Theatre, Lewis Black is in Clearwater and the Florida State Fair continues.

• Today is Valentine’s Day, did it sneak up on you? We have you covered. Here’s some overlooked ideas for eating out for Valentine’s Day and we also have 5 unusual date night ideas to show your creative flair. Meanwhile, here’s a list of all the Valentine’s events and parties happening today and through this weekend.

The Parkland school massacre took place one year ago today. We remember the tragic events by examining how the 12-month period since Parkland saw nearly 1,200 lives snuffed out. That’s a Parkland every five days, and the true number is certainly higher because no government agency keeps a real-time tally and funding for research is restricted by law. We also look at where Florida ranks nationally in gun deaths, and present every new gun law in the U.S. since the shooting.

• Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Wednesday putting in place several administrative steps targeted at making Florida’s schools safer and called for a grand jury to look into school districts’ actions relating to school safety and security measures.

• It’s been one of the most enduring mysteries of the last month in Tallahassee: Who’s the drug dealer whose plane the governor is now flying around on? After more than five weeks of wondering, here’s your answer: The governor is not flying around on a drug dealer’s plane seized by state police. But as Lawrence Mower reports, that doesn’t mean its story is any less mysterious.

• Tampa Bay Times Executive Editor Mark Katches has a message for our readers: Quality journalism takes money, and the Times must sustain itself to keep producing the kind of journalism that has informed Tampa Bay residents for decades. That’s why there’s now a pay meter to access tampabay.com, limiting how many stories someone can read without paying. Times subscribers will enjoy unlimited access to our website. But other readers must pay for digital content we can no longer give away. Please consider subscribing — and supporting — Florida’s best newspaper (and its brand-new website) by clicking here.

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

• Every week, Steve and Julie Weintraub glitter on up to 500 TV commercials for the Gold & Diamond Source, reaching more than 100,000 people across Tampa Bay. Every day, their family portrait blankets the bottom of 1,420 bins at Tampa International Airport — smiling at more than 30,000 strangers. They keep it pretty ritzy, and for 14 years they have listened to other couples’ love stories while selling their jewelry. Now Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Lane DeGregory tells the story of their love.

• It can get a bit confusing out in Pasco County figuring out whether one lives in Land O’ Lake, Lutz, Wesley Chapel or New Tampa. But C.T. Bowen reports that confusion is starting to hit Pasco consumers in the pocketbook: Some Pasco businesses are charging them the higher sales tax rate of nearby Hillsborough County. Find out why this consumer confusion is happening along the Hillsborough-Pasco county line and what people can do about it.

• If you were lucky enough to score Hamilton tickets, now what? Here’s 10 places to eat that are within walking distance of the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

• Lately it seems like all the headlines in the Michael Drejka shooting case are being made by his lawyers, not the accused himself. The latest development is Largo criminal defense attorney John Trevena recanting allegations that a woman stole from him and got his wife addicted to drugs. Josh Solomon and Kathryn Varn report that Trevena and his wife are taking back all the salacious details they told the court in protective injunctions — allegations that including recently fired longtime WTSP-CH. 10 news anchor Reginald Roundtree. Varn also writes about the newest lawyer to join the Drejka defense team, which has been beset by drama from the start of the case.

• How did a Tampa man who reported income of $18,497 get back a refund from the IRS of $980,000? Susan Taylor Martin explains how he did it and what the IRS is doing to get the money back.

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

• After nearly 18 years, Donald R. Eastman III, the president credited with transforming St. Petersburg’s Eckerd College, has announced his retirement. Megan Reeves reports that his last day will be June 30, 2020, and that the college is already searching for his replacement.

• 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 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.

• 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.

• Read Rays’ reporter Marc Topkin’s first dispatch from spring training as manager Kevin Cash reports that Tampa Bay put in a good first day of work despite the rain and wet fields.

• Rays ace Blake Snell is excited about a lot of things going into this season coming off the team’s 90 wins and his Cy Young award. But he also said he is frustrated at the collapse of talks to build a new stadium in Ybor City. Topkin has more from the Rays’ star pitcher as a new season starts.

• Topkin also explains why winning the Cy Young will only make Snell work harder.

• For the latest Rays news out of spring training, click here and follow Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

• Lightning fans still wear their Ben Bishop jerseys and “Bish please” T-shirts around Amalie Arena. Bishop’s popularity has not waned much since he was traded in February 2017, but Diana Nearhos reports that it’s one of two trades in 2017 that is helping propel the team forward this season.

• 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 Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.

• 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 tampabay.com. 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.

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

• Crooner Michael Buble swiveled through standards, cracked wise on Sarasota and quoted Cardi B as he opened his tour with charisma and good humor at Amalie Arena. Jay Cridlin reviews the show.

• 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.

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