Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
• It’s going to start warming up today and through the weekend. Expect a cool morning with temps in the 40 to 50 range. Then it’ll warm up into the mid 70s, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday will be dry with highs in the upper 70s to low 80s. But Sunday is going to be wet. Expect a cloudy day with up to a 90 percent chance of rain and thundershowers across the bay area. It will clear out in the evening as another cold front moves in.
• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including Barry Manilow bringing his Christmas show and there’s snow in Tarpon Springs.
• How can you tell it’s Christmas in balmy Florida? We have a dozen boat parades, a snow play area at Tyrone Mall and so many light displays you could go blind. Here’s 100 holiday things to do for the holidays in Tampa Bay.
• Here’s an interesting tidbit about Hillsborough County’s proposal to build the Rays a $900 million baseball stadium: The county believes the Ybor City ballpark could spur the construction of 4 million square feet of surrounding development, according to a study commissioned by the team. The revenue generated by that development is part of the county’s plan to help pay for the stadium. But officials also appealed to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and Rays owner Stu Sternberg to accept their proposal.
• Two million gallons. That's how much wastewater has leaked from the St. Petersburg infrastructure over the last three months, Josh Solomon reports. A vast majority of that ended up polluting a pond in Walter Fuller Park. The spills — six in total — happened amid the city backing off a commitment it made to notify the public after every single spill.
• The party might be over at Pine Key, the popular boating and camping destination better known by locals as Beer Can Island. It was a year ago that four friends purchased the island located between Apollo Beach and MacDill Air Force Base and implemented rules for visitors, installed portable toilets and trash cans, hosted concerts on a small stage, added investors and, at the beach’s edge, anchored what they label as floating structures. They said it followed government guidelines, but Paul Guzzo writes that Hillsborough County Code Enforcement says otherwise.
• Florida wrongly issued concealed weapons licenses to more people than previously disclosed and allowed contract workers with a documented history of errors to process thousands of gun applications, according to a new audit of the Department of Agriculture. Steve Contorno writes about the state auditor general report that raises new questions about whether the agency’s leader, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, was entirely forthcoming this summer when concerns first arose about his department’s handling of concealed weapons permits.
• In March 2016, residents voted Jay Polglaze off the council after one term when he lost his seat to political newcomer Bob Cundiff by 1,299 votes. On Thursday night, three votes put Polglaze back in. The City Council voted 3-1 to appoint Polglaze to finish the last 15 months of Doreen Caudell's term following her abrupt Nov. 30 resignation. Mayor George Cretekos voted no and delivered a searing condemnation of his colleagues for disregarding diversity by appointing a fifth man to the council over who he said was a more qualified woman. Read more from Tracey McManus.
• The best journalism in the bay area is all in one place. Check out all the Tampa Bay Times investigations and special reports.
• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.
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Read the Tampa Bay Times new online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.
• Tampa Bay has one of the NHL's point leaders in Nikita Kucherov. It has one of the league's top goal scorers in Brayden Point. It has two top defensemen in Victor Hedman and Ryan McDonagh. But it's the depth that makes this Lightning team truly dangerous. It's the depth that has this team in contention for a Stanley Cup once again. And it's the depth that sparked the Lightning late against the Bruins. Third and fourth liners in Mathieu Joseph and Anthony Cirelli scored two third-period goals to give Tampa Bay a 3-2 victory over Boston at Amalie Arena. The Lightning (22-7-1) remains atop the NHL with 45 points.
• Armwood will battle Miami Northwestern in Saturday’s Class 6A state football championship game in Orlando, and leading the Hawks will be twins Jamal and Malik Nash. At first glance, the fraternal twins could not be more different. They play on opposite sides of the ball and do not resemble each other in stature. Jamal is 6-foot-1, 195 pounds. Malik is 6-3, 265. But as Bob Putnam explains, their brotherly bond has helped Armwood return to the state title game.
• Wondering what the Rays’ plans are for next season? Who they are looking to add or trade as they seek to build on their solid 2018 season and make to the playoffs next year? In advance of the winter meetings that open Sunday in Las Vegas, baseball writer Marc Topkin will take your questions today, starting at noon, right here. So bring your best questions and spend your lunch hour with us talking baseball. And to get the latest Rays’ news from the Times this offseason, click here and follow Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.
• Jameis Winston is a running quarterback — often able to extend plays by moving around in the pocket as he tries to find a receiver downfield — but he hasn’t been a rushing quarterback. Eduardo Encina explains that by using his feet over the past two weeks, Winston’s yards on the ground have become a key facet of playing mistake-free football and winning two straight games. The latest Times coverage of the Bucs is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow beat writers Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and Encina at @EddieInTheYard.
• Less than two weeks before USF faces Marshall in one of the program’s most critical bowl games, coach Charlie Strong still hasn’t determined who will call the offensive plays. But Joey Knight reports that Bulls’ fans may soon have the answer as to who will replace offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, who left to become McNeese State’s new coach. Strong said he’ll meet with his staff today to decide who will call the plays in the Dec. 20 Gasparilla Bowl against Marshall. For 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.
• 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. For the latest updates on @Twitter, follow Lightning beat writers Diana C. Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Nick Kelly at @_NickKelly.
• Check out the latest episode of the Times sports podcast Sports Day Tampa Bay led by veteran sportswriter Rick Stroud.
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The Tampa Bay Times onine Arts and Entertainment page tells you everything you need to know about what to do, see, eat and experience around town.
• Why was 2018 a record-setting year for foodborne illness outbreaks? There’s good news and bad news, food critic Laura Reiley writes.
• Listen to our new podcast, Life of the Party, that keeps you caught up just enough to get by in small talk. Times staffers Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk will discuss what’s going on, from celebrity news to movies and music, plus offbeat info that will make you the most interesting person in the room.
• 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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Check out the Tampa Bay Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.
• Less than a month ago, an investor paid $511,200 for a unit in Tampa Bay’s newest condo tower, ONE St. Petersburg. This week, she sold it — for $702,000. Real estate reporter Susan Taylor Martin reports that while the 41-story tower in downtown St. Petersburg is not yet finished, several buyers already have moved in while others hope to quickly flip their units — at hefty profits — as the bay area’s luxury condo boom continues unabated.
• Business columnist Graham Brink writes about a legal nightmare coming out of New York where disreputable lenders have found a way to turn that state’s courts into a high-speed debt-collection machine using an arcane legal document called a “confessions of judgment.” Never sign one, Brink warns, and writes about one Tampa Bay couple that regrets doing so.
• St. Petersburg’s “Great Driveway Flap” has been resolved — almost. After some confusion, the city’s Development Review Commission agreed Wednesday that Larry and Dana Cremo can park in their new $15,000 driveway as long as they remove a small portion close to city-owned property.
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The Tampa Bay Times online Opinion page has the latest editorials, columns and letters to the editor.