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Daystarter: Trump falsely tweets that Puerto Rico got $91 billion in hurricane aid; Lightning face Columbus in first round; will college presidential searches get more secret?

Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published Apr. 8, 2019

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

• Today will be hot and humid with highs from the mid 80s to around 90, according to the National Weather Service. We'll see a chance for late afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms, mostly to the east of the Tampa Bay area.

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

• After Democrats and Republicans in the Senate failed to reach an agreement on disaster aid for Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump falsely tweeted about the amount of hurricane aid already distributed. "Puerto Rico got 91 Billion Dollars for the hurricane, more money than has ever been gotten for a hurricane before, & all their local politicians do is complain & ask for more money. The pols are grossly incompetent, spend the money foolishly or corruptly, & only take from USA....," Trump tweeted April 2.

• 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

• 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:

LIVE BLOG: Follow today's courtroom developments.

WATCH: The Trial of John Jonchuck, Day 15: Rebuttal begins in earnest

WATCH: Check out the live freed from the courtroom at

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 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.

• A Florida House committee has introduced a bill late in the legislative session that would make presidential searches for the state's college and university systems even more secret. Names of applicants would be secret, as would interviews with the candidates and most of their names would never be revealed. Supporter say the measure would net better candidates, but others are crying foul. We look at this in the context of USF's recent presidential search.

• 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.

• The problem peaks every day around noon at Tampa's Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, when as many as 100 seagulls flock and splatter poop on the park's five boat slips for non-motorized vessels. The mess is so extensive the city has to power-wash the slips twice a day. These days, pre-recorded bird distress calls, along with the screaming sounds of predator birds like something out of a Jurassic Park movie, are being broadcast from the 23-acre park along the Hillsborough River near Interstate 275. The Bird-X sonic repellent system can be heard along the city's winding Riverwalk.

• Read this week's winner and loser in Florida politics.

• A bill moving through the Legislature has a nice idea: name roads after police officers killed in the line of duty. There's a stretch of I-10 that would be named after Highway Patrol Trooper Sherman Scott, who was shot and killed by an escaped convict in 1965. A part of I-95 in Miami would be named after Trooper Owen Bender, who was struck and killed by a car while manning a roadblock during Hurricane Betsy in 1965.

• As Florida lawmakers debate how to carry out Amendment 4, which aimed to restore the right to vote to more than a million felons who completed their sentences, there is one thing the House and Senate seem to agree on: Restitution, the money that felons have to pay out to the victims of their crimes, must be repaid in full before they're allowed to vote. There's just one small problem, though: No one tracks restitution.

• Last summer, two women were killed in separate murder-suicides that took place just 100 feet from each other. One killer had a history of abuse. The other did not. What led to the same deadly outcome?

• Every other month, a class in St. Petersburg aims to give transgender women and others a safe place to experiment with an unfamiliar task: putting on makeup. The class is part of a larger collection of events called Beautiful TRANSformations, aimed at Tampa Bay's transgender community and hosted by Metro Inclusive Health, a nonprofit that specializes in LGBTQ health care.

• Two years ago, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and officers from three police agencies helped tout the recently opened A Helping Rock transitional housing shelter as a vital community resource and an asset to law enforcement dealing with east Pasco's homeless.

Now Pasco County has a new description for A Helping Rock's shelter: Illegal.

• 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 square table sat four, but Don Barco always made room for more chairs. For years, for hours each day, Don Barco would sit with customers turned brothers near the register at King Corona Cigars in Ybor City. With his back to the window, through the sweet haze of cigar smoke, they'd solve the world's problems. Or talk politics. Or baseball. Or the Beatles. Or books.

• 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.

• Tampa Bay matched the 62-win mark set by the Detroit Red Wings in the final game of the regular season. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos capped their own record-setting regular seasons with two more milestones and were among six Lightning players to score goals in a 6-3 win over Boston.

• First up for the Lightning in the playoffs is John Tortorella's Blue Jackets. The NHL announced Tampa Bay's schedule against Columbus Sunday morning. Here's how to get single-game tickets.

• The Lightning not only shutout the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 8, but its 4-0 victory at Amalie Arena sent the Jackets into a bit of a spin. Tortorella said he's proud of how the team put the Bobrovsky/Panarin issues aside and prevailed in a season where "we have gone a little bit Jekyll and Hyde."

• The Tampa Bay Times will produce a 160-page coffee table book commemorating the Lightning's historic season.

• For the latest on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup, click here throughout the layoffs 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.

• After a 1-for-27 start, Willy Adames got two hits coming off bench Saturday. Here's how thinking less led to more hits for the young Rays shortstop.

• Evan Longoria talked at length Saturday about facing his ex-team, playing in a full stadium, comparing managers and more.

• The Bucs have a new head coach and the NFL draft is almost here. Keep up with the latest offseason changes 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.

• 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.


  1. Some have noted the similarities between President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, even if they're in two different political parties.
  2. A pair of wood storks, left, and a large group of white ibis rest and feed in a wetland area off Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Florida is home to more wetlands than any other state except Alaska. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2008)]
  3. Jarvis Delon West was arrested for child neglect after failing to report an employee at AMI Kids who slammed a boy to the ground, according to police
  4. Patrick Suiters, 10, left, and Gabriel Stanford, 9, both fourth-graders at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin, fill out a survey after tasting falafel tots and nuggets during the 2nd Annual Student Food Connection taste test at Pinellas Technical College. About 120 students tasted and rated 28 new food items that could be added to school breakfast and lunch menus next year.
  5. People fill Community Cafe as drag queen Viktoria Sommers reads a Dr. Seuss book to children during Drag Queen Story Hour.  [Times (2019)]
  6. Tampa Electric Co. announced plans to double its solar capacity over the next three years.  Pictured is a Tampa Electric worker installing a solar panel on the roof of the Tampa International Airport economy parking garage in 2015. [James Borchuck | Times (2015)]
  7. Wawa and Coppertail partnered to create a craft beer that will only be at the gas station's Florida locations.
  8. George Zimmerman, was acquitted of murder in the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, is suing Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg over tweets they posted to commemorate the teenager’s birthday.
  9. The Publix at Channelside (pictured) opened in late August. Now the new store at Westshore in Tampa will open later this month. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  10. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister supports decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
  11. Layla Jade Buchholz was born on Leap Day in 2012, meaning she will only have an 'official' birthday every 4 years. Do you have a Leap Day birthday? Tell us about it.
  12. The Coast Guard said Miami-Dade Fire Rescue divers found the bodies of two women in a car that fell off the Fisher Island Ferry. Police later identified them as Emma Afra and Viviane Brahms.