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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459


Twitter: @CharlieFrago

  1. One less candidate for St. Pete's District 6


    A crowded field just got a little more space in one St. Petersburg City Council race.

    Eight candidates had announced so far in the district, which covers the eastern part of Midtown and extends through downtown into parts of Old Northeast. 

    But John Johnson, a grant writer for the Universit of South Florida St. Petersburg decided last week to call it quits. He withdrew from the race after raising $100 dollars, half of which was a donation from himself....

  2. St. Petersburg City Council signs off on solar panels for new police headquarters


    ST. PETERSBURG — A lower than expected bid and better return on investment persuaded St. Petersburg City Council members on Thursday to support a solar panel project for the new police headquarters.

    City staff presented a bid from Miller Electric for $2.3 million, about $400,000 less than previous estimates. The company is also offering a 25-year-warranty on the panels.

    The panels would be paid off with reduced energy costs after 27 years, about six years faster than previous estimates....

  3. Baker wants to talk about the Rowdies, but Tiger Bay was interested in if he's running for mayor


    Former Mayor Rick Baker came to the Tiger Bay luncheon Wednesday to talk about the Tampa Bay Rowdies' bid to join soccer’s big leagues.

    Pretty much everyone else wanted to know if he plans to run for mayor of St. Petersburg against incumbent Rick Kriseman.

    “Which would you rather be? The president of a major-league soccer franchise based in Tampa Bay? The governor of Florida? Or the mayor of St. Petersburg,” asked Peter Schorsch, a political consultant and owner of SaintPetersblog who also introduced Baker to the smallish crowd at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club....

    Rick Baker has been the point man on the push for a May 2 referendum to negotiate a longterm lease for the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium to boost their bid for the MLS
  4. One St. Pete council member endorses possible successor, another prefers to wait


    For nearly a decade, City Council member Jim Kennedy avoided endorsing candidates in other council races, saying that he didn't think it was appropriate and could damage working relationships on the council.

    Now Kennedy, who is stepping down as District 2 council member at the end of year, has endorsed one of two candidates vying to replace him: Barclay Harless.

    So far, Harless and Realtor Brandi Gabbard are the only two candiates in the race to represent the northeastern neighborhoods of the city. ...

    Council member Jim Kennedy endorsed Barclay Harless to follow him in District 2
  5. St. Petersburg's sidewalks have safety flaws for pedestrians and cyclists


    ST. PETERSBURG — A group of advocates for pedestrian safety recently strolled through the city and found themselves dodging distracted drivers, navigating sidewalks that petered out and traversing darkened thoroughfares lacking proper lighting.

    The Florida Consumer Action Network presented its findings from those excursions to the St. Petersburg City Council last week. They rated the city's streets as fair-to-middling overall but in need of improvement — especially for disabled residents....

    A crosswalk at the intersection of 22nd Avenue S and 49th Street runs into a light pole, a store sign and parked vehicles, leaving pedestrians with little room to exit the road safely.
  6. Florida's top court green lights voting right for felons ballot question

    State Roundup

    Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE — Voting rights advocates and civil rights attorneys cheered the Florida Supreme Court's unanimous ruling Thursday approving language of a proposed amendment that would restore voting rights for convicted felons, saying the decision is a major step toward erasing a lingering vestige of Jim Crow.

    "It's a game changer," said Daniel Smith, a University of Florida political scientist who said the ruling could alter the state's political landscape by opening elections up for hundreds of thousands of new voters. If supporters collect the needed signatures to get on the measure on the 2018 ballot, it could energize Democratic-leaning voters in a year when Florida will elect a new governor and a U.S. senator....

    The Florida Supreme Court's ruling that approved the language of a proposed amendment restoring voting rights for convicted felons was hailed by advocates on Thursday.  [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  7. Creative Loafing, craft rum distillery could be the tenants for new 'town square' in St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — How does sipping a craft locally sourced rum in the city's artistic epicenter sound? A proposed "town square" built to green specs and designed to bring together artists, hipsters and journalists in a cluster is being discussed for the Warehouse Arts District.

    The city is negotiating to sell vacant, city-owned industrial land at 600 26th St. S to a development group that wants to buy it for $150,000 and build a "town square" within toasting distance of the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail....

    A proposed "town square" has been proposed for St. Petersburg's Warehouse Arts District by the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail. The city is negotiating a $150,000 sale of city-owned vacant industrial land at 600 26th St. S to developer Orange Belt Station LLC. [Google Maps]
  8. James Scott is 8th candidate in crowded St. Pete Council race


    James Scott, a 29-year-old graduate student and community organizer, told about a dozen supporters Tuesday on the steps of City Hall that he had done his homework and was ready for City Council.

    Active in the city’s Sustainability Council and local Sierra Club, Scott said the city needed to prioritize sustainability and resilience in the face of climate change and rising seas that threaten a city surrounded on three sides by water....

    James Scott says sustainability and resilience should be top city priority
  9. $33,000 lawnmower blows St. Pete council member Ed Montanari's mind


    St. Petersburg Council member Ed Montanari has a keen eye for items tucked away on the City Council's consent agenda, a document usually containing dozens of purchases, contracts, and other city business.

    Consent agendas are usually approved in full; usually without discussion.

    It's called consent, after all, because the items on it are not considered to be controversial....

    St. Petersburg Council member Ed Montanari
  10. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says South Florida problems shouldn't affect his city's CRA


    Mayor Rick Kriseman stood in front of a modest home in Midtown Thursday, saying progress fighting poverty in St. Petersburg would be reversed if state Legislature and federal government's plans to cut poverty funding and limit the power of local community renewal areas becomes law.

    The mayor, running for reelection, singled out House Bill 13 and Senate Bill 1770 as threatening the city's two-year-old South St. Petersburg CRA....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says poverty in St. Pete will rise if federal and state governments enact cuts to CDBG grants and limit power of local governments in CRA zones
  11. Solar panels on new police headquarters would take 1/3 of a century to make good on cost, council hits pause button


    Faced with estimates that placing solar panels on the roof of the new police headquarters would take 32 years to start making good on the $2.7 million cost, St. Petersburg City Council members decided to hit the pause button Thursday.

    Several council members questioned whether it made better sense to wait for technology to produce more efficient panels in a few years.

    “Thirty two year rate of return. That’s not impressive to me,” said council member Jim Kennedy, chairman of the Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee....

  12. St. Petersburg debates public solutions for fixing private sewage lines

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — City officials believe the waste flowing through private lines into the city's public wastewater system is a big part of the Sunshine City's sewage crisis.

    Officials don't know how big of a problem, though, partly because the city doesn't have an ordinance to require private homes and businesses to allow their lines to be inspected.

    At Thursday's St. Petersburg City Council meeting, council members and city attorneys wrestled with how to get on (or under) private property to assess how many private pipes are rotting away, allowing storm and groundwater to leak into the system and overwhelm St. Petersburg's three sewer plants....

    Warning signs adorned St. Petersburg's coastline in September while the city dumped tens of millions of gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay after Hurricane Hermine's rains overwhelmed its sewer system. The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday debated ways to get homeowners to fix their private sewer lines, which may be contributing to the city's sewage crisis. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  13. Justin Bean jumps in St. Pete City Council race


    Justin Bean has been active in city politics for the past several years.

    Appointed by Mayor Rick Kriseman to the Pier Uplands Selection Committee, Bean is also part of the Complete Streets Committee, which seeks to make the city’s streets safer for bikers and pedestrians.

    He worked as a consultant on a proposal to redevelop Tropicana Field.

    Bean, 30, is also spearheading a fledgling business district for the downtown Williams Park area. He also recently served as chairman of the St. Petersburg Young Professionals....

    Justin Bean jumps in St. Pete City Council race
  14. Back to square one: Mayor Rick Kriseman rejects proposals for historic Manhattan Casino


    ST. PETERSBURG — The historic Manhattan Casino has sat empty for nearly a year.

    And it will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future now that Mayor Rick Kriseman has rejected two proposals to turn the page on the iconic two-story structure which once hosted Ray Charles, Nat King Cole and Cab Calloway.

    The city took over the property in June, after former tenant Larry Newsome struggled to establish a Florida outpost for the Harlem soul food mecca Sylvia's and fell behind in rent. Once the city's foreclosure was upheld in court in October, officials sought formal proposals for the space....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman rejected two proposals seeking to turn the iconic Manhattan Casino into soul-food restaurants. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]

  15. Criminal charges dropped against Congemi


    Paul Congemi has run for mayor a lot. The perennial candidate has never received more than a handful of votes in his previous runs in 2009 and 2013.

    Congemi's latest mayoral bid was marred in January when he was charged with felony elder abuse. Police said his elderly mother ended up in intensive care in the hospital because of bed sores. Congemi said his mother had been without home care for three days while he changed providers. ...

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Paul Congemi