Amid ongoing scrutiny at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, another investigator has left the agency.
Paul Roberts retired Thursday, the second investigator to leave since late April.
"It was time to retire," Roberts said Friday, declining to comment further.
Interim executive director Gay Lancaster declined to comment.
The board's investigators look into complaints against contractors. The agency is down to one investigator who searches for construction violators....
New storm surge model means new hurricane evacuation maps for Tampa Bay (they're just not ready yet)05/13/17Hurricanes
New, up-to-date storm surge data from the National Hurricane Center has thrown a monkey wrench into Tampa Bay's evacuation planning just two weeks before the start of hurricane season.
More residents are likely to be in evacuation zones than ever before. But at this point, emergency management officials from around the bay area said they do not know yet which residents and which areas will be affected....
Although Hillsborough County enacted a hiring freeze to combat a property tax cut going on the 2018 ballot, Pinellas County isn't doing the same.
The move is a response to the possibility of losing millions every year in property tax revenues if the ballot measure passes. Last week, Hillsborough County administrator Mike Merrill told staff to freeze all hiring immediately "to allow greater flexibility and options" in upcoming budgets....
05/05/17 Local Government
LARGO –– Everything about the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is under scrutiny: the way it treats the public and punishes contractors; the way board members are appointed and employees conduct themselves; and how it handles conflicts of interest and adheres to public records law. The agency is even being investigated by a grand jury.
But now it must confront a new problem: It is running out of money....
05/03/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– Pinellas County's chief information officer has resigned.
Martin Rose, who oversees technology services for county government, plans to leave the Business Technology Services department on May 12.
Rose, who started in November 2013 and earns about $167,000 annually, said Wednesday he will pursue opportunities outside the region. Although he clashed with top county leaders in recent years, Rose said he is leaving on his own terms....
04/28/17 Local Government
State Rep. Larry Ahern's legislation to help reform the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is dead once again.
The agency is under new management after a series of Tampa Bay Times reports raised issues with the way the agency conducts itself and treats residents and contractors. It's also undergoing a grand jury investigation ordered by Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe....
04/27/17 Local Government
PALM HARBOR — An investigator with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board resigned Wednesday after being accused of threatening two people with a baseball bat during a road rage incident on Tampa Road.
Anthony DeBernardi pulled out his licensing board badge during the confrontation, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, even though he is not a sworn law enforcement officer. The board's investigators look into complaints against contractors....
04/26/17 Local Government
Legislation aimed at reforming the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board that died last month has suddenly been resurrected.
State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, has brought the bill back to life as the Florida legislative session winds down. That came as a surprise to the Pinellas County Commission, which wants far stronger reforms, and the agency's interim director, Gay Lancaster, who was appointed to clean up the agency's operations....
04/26/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– As Florida lawmakers debate the regulation of medical marijuana, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday tabled a vote on rules to grow, process and sell medical pot in unincorporated areas of the county.
The decision comes as lawmakers work to implement the voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. There is still no sign of a compromise between competing plans in the Florida House and Senate. Legislators said they have begun closed-door talks to bridge large divides between their bills....
CLEARWATER — After a confusing debate, the Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday voted to help Dunedin move forward with an $81 million upgrade of the Toronto Blue Jays spring training complex.
The vote came amid a broader discussion about a pot of money from the Tourist Development Council bed tax, a 6 percent tax allocated to marketing and capital projects.
Commissioners received a 58-page report from Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, the marketing agency for Pinellas County, outlining requests to spend the money from seven projects, including the pitch to fund $46.5 million of the stadium upgrade....
CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday will discuss the next steps for a plan to help Dunedin upgrade the spring training complex for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The renovation calls for Pinellas County to fund $46.5 million of the $81 million project with money from the Tourist Development Council bed tax, a 6 percent tax allocated to marketing and capital projects....
04/25/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER –– The Pinellas County Commission is slated to vote Tuesday on an ordinance to establish rules for growing, processing and selling medical pot in unincorporated areas of the county.
But before the vote, commissioners could hear passionate pleas from critics and supporters of medical marijuana during a 6 p.m. public hearing.
Under the current proposal, medical marijuana dispensaries would not be able to operate within 500 feet of schools, parks, libraries and religious facilities or within 1,000 feet of another marijuana treatment or dispensing facility....
While the Florida Legislature is still in session, one Pinellas lawmaker is already eyeing another job.
State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, filed paperwork this week to run for the Pinellas County Commission District 6 being vacated next year by commissioner John Morroni.
Ahern won reelection for the third time in November to the Florida House in a rematch against Democratic opponent Lorena Grizzle. This will be his fourth and final term in the House....
CLEARWATER — A diversion program launched in October across Pinellas County has helped more than 450 people avoid criminal records for low-level offenses, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri reported to the County Commission on Tuesday.
The Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion Program, an ambitious criminal justice reform that Gualtieri set up last year, allows adults arrested for low-level crimes to avoid jail by completing community service, counseling or drug treatment. The program is aimed at eliminating arrest records for minor offenses, which make it difficult for people to find jobs and housing....
04/08/17 Local Government
CLEARWATER — The anti-tax foes that helped defeat the Greenlight Pinellas transportation sales tax in 2014 don't believe they can thwart the coming renewal of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. The 30-year tax is coming up for another vote in November.
But critics of the penny tax can still complain about it.
Their latest complaint is that they don't stand a chance against the coordinated campaign under way from elected officials across Pinellas County who are using public funds to highlight to residents what the tax has paid for over past decades....