Make us your home page

Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

Richard Danielson

Richard Danielson covers city government and politics in Tampa. He joined the Times in 1987. He is the main contributor to PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter, which tracks Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's performance on 34 campaign promises.

Phone: (813) 226-3403


Twitter: @Danielson_Times

  1. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposes $974 million budget for 2018

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Thursday proposed a $974.2 million budget for next year that would raise the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989 and use the additional revenue to improve parks, expand fire service and prepare for looming financial challenges.

    "I will not be here in two years," the term-limited mayor told the City Council. "It's incumbent on me to leave this city in good shape and to have made the appropriate decisions to prepare for what is coming over the next couple of years....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his proposed $974.2 million budget for 2018 to the City Council on Thursday. RICHARD DANIELSON | Times (2016)
  2. Tampa to discuss raising property tax rate for first time in 29 years

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The last time Tampa raised its property tax rate, the president was George H.W. Bush (the dad) and gasoline cost 97 cents a gallon.

    Since then, not raising the tax rate has been an article of faith at City Hall.

    But that could change this year.

    On Thursday, Mayor Bob Buckhorn will present a proposed 2018 budget to the City Council that could total $900 million or more. He also will ask the council to consider raising the city's property tax rate for the first time since 1989....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will discuss raising the city's property tax rate for the first time in 29 years when he presents his proposed 2018 budget to the City Council on Thursday. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times (2016)
  3. Tampa sets 120-day moratorium on permits for 5G wireless antennas on city rights of way

    Local Government

    TAMPA — With wireless companies saying time is of the essence, the City Council voted Thursday to enact a 120-day moratorium on accepting new applications to put 5G wireless antennas on city rights of way.

    The moratorium affects distributed antenna systems and micro antennas that, while smaller than previous generations of technology, can still be about as big as a small refrigerator....

    Tampa officials expect the spread of 5G wireless technology to result in a a flood of applications to put new small cell antennas and other equipment on poles like this one, many of them in the city's right of way. This pole is in Orlando, and the equipment shown here did not meet the city of Orlando's code for small cell antennaes at the time it was installed. It later was changed to meet the code.
  4. Tampa's Arthenia Joyner, Mike Suarez sign on to ACLU lawsuit challenging Trump election commission


    Two Tampa politicians are part of a new American Civil Liberties Union of Florida lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

    Former Florida Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner and Tampa City Council member Mike Suarez, both Democrats, are among seven plaintiffs who filed the suit in federal court in Miami and are the only two from outside South Florida. The other plaintiffs include a Broward County activist, a South Florida longshoreman's union official, a Miami attorney who has chaired that city's community relations and police review boards, the nonprofit Florida Immigrant Coalition and the ACLU....

    Former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner is one of seven plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami challenging President Donald Trump's commission on voter fraud.
  5. Homelessness down by 15 percent in Hillsborough County, annual count finds.


    TAMPA — After several years with barely a dent in the number of people living on the street, the homeless count in Hillsborough County fell by 15 percent in a single year, reports the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.

    The count, conducted in February, identified roughly 1,550 people living either on the street or in temporary shelters, down from 1,817 the previous year.

    The biggest drop, some 26 percent, was in the number of unsheltered people, a group that includes those battling poor mental health and substance abuse who often refuse help. Homelessness was also down 5 percent among veterans....

    U.S. Navy hats are seen in the Tampa apartment of Mike Dorman, a veteran who was homeless until 2014. Dorman got off the streets on Veterans Day of 2014, after attending  "Operation Reveille," an event organized by the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative to connect homeless veterans with housing and sicial services.    [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  6. Taxable property values growing 8 percent or better for much of Tampa Bay area

    Local Government

    Fueled by new construction and rising home sales, the total value of taxable property around the Tampa Bay area is projected to grow 8 percent or more this year.

    In Hillsborough County, that growth is expected to bring taxable values — that is, the total value of property minus homestead and other exemptions — back above 2008 levels for the first time since the precarious highs of the real estate bubble. Still, they remain under the precrash peak in 2007....

    New construction is helping  drive an 8 percent increase in taxable property values around much of the Tampa Bay area, according to property appraisers in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]
  7. Four Green Fields proposal offered Tampa the most rent for Curtis Hixon Park restaurant site

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall received seven proposals in response to its invitation to put a restaurant next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, and the company it picked — Irish pub Four Green Fields — offered the most money.

    "I'm happy with the selection we got at Curtis Hixon," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who had indicated before this week's announcement that price would probably drive the city's choice. "They were creative. Some financially were better for the city than others. ... There were some legitimate, credible and serious folks who bid."...

    Four Green Fields offered the city of Tampa the most rent for a space next to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, according to a city spreadsheet of the seven proposals submitted to put a restaurant in an existing city building overlooking the park. This rendering shows the proposed restaurant.
  8. Tampa Police Chief Eric Ward leaving for private sector job; national search expected

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Police Chief Eric Ward unexpectedly announced his retirement Thursday morning, a little more than two years after Mayor Bob Buckhorn named him chief and more than a year before his scheduled retirement.

    Ward, 50, told his senior staff and TPD's rank and file he's leaving later this month for a job as director of security with Tampa-based Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, the third largest privately held and fifth largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the nation....

    Tampa police Chief Eric Ward, shown here discussing preparations for last January's College Football Playoff Championship, announced he is leaving the post he assumed in May 2015. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  9. Tampa Bay residents say Obamacare repeal would threaten lives and livelihoods


    TAMPA — A St. Petersburg woman who couldn't get insurance while a sinus tumor and associated infections ruined her health for three years.

    A Sarasota woman born without arms who could lose health care and prescription coverage for autoimmune disorders that developed after she was seriously hurt in a car crash.

    A Sun City Center business owner whose breast cancer treatments were paid for by Obamacare....

    U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson talks to local residents about the Affordable Care Act that could be repealed by  the Republican-controlled Senate and House. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
  10. In an instant, molten slag gushed over workers at Tampa Electric power plant

    Public Safety

    APOLLO BEACH — It was the kind of job that workers at the Big Bend power plant do routinely, and one done countless times in the nearly 35 years that senior plant operator Michael McCort had worked at Tampa Electric.

    But company executives said something went tragically wrong Thursday as McCort, 60, and at least five employees working for outside contractors tried to unplug a tank containing molten slag that can reach temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees....

    Two people were killed and four people were seriously injured June 29, 2017, in what is being described as a "major incident'' at the Tampa Electric Company power plant in Apollo Beach. [TONY MARRERO | Times]
  11. Downtown residents press for upgrades to Tampa's Herman Massey Park

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Changes are almost certainly coming to downtown Tampa's all-but-forgotten Herman Massey Park.

    The question is when.

    City officials say they expect to upgrade the park after they know more about what's coming to two neighboring properties and how those plans will affect the half-acre park. Officials are talking to prospective developers who would likely want a better and maybe bigger park to complement their plans....

    The Downtown River Arts Neighborhood Association is asking the city of Tampa to make improvements to Herman Massey Park located at 1002 N Franklin St. Over the years, the park has seen problems associated with homelessness and is ringed by a metal picket fence. 
  12. Tampa moves to pause permits for 5G wireless equipment to assess impact of new Florida law


    To business groups, the bill that Gov. Rick Scott signed Friday will clear the way for superfast 5G wireless communications and give Florida an edge in attracting high-tech companies.

    But city officials on both sides of Tampa Bay worry that House Bill 687 will lead to clutter along roads as charming as Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard. There, they fear, utility poles could be topped by new so-called “micro antennas” that, at 6 cubic feet, would be the size of small refrigerators....

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local officials have worried that a new state law aimed at facilitating the installation of 5G wireless technology could clutter scenic corridors like Tampa's Riverwalk.
  13. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador


    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    “If it is appropriate,” he wrote, “the Cuban government and the Cuban people would welcome an official delegation of the Tampa City Council to visit Cuba. This would be an opportunity for you and your colleagues to learn firsthand what Cuba is doing regarding drug interdiction, illegal immigration, collaborative marine biology and tourism, among other issues....

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  14. Bob Buckhorn and Tampa council say county vote on Confederate statue doesn't speak for them


    TAMPA — It was the Hillsborough County Commission that voted not to remove a statue honoring the Confederacy, but Tampa officials are worried that the city, not the county, will pay the price.

    "One of the things that is disturbing is that the national media is reporting that it is Tampa that did not remove the monument," City Council member Harry Cohen said.

    "These decisions can have all sorts of unintended consequences," he said. "Businesses can decline to come here. People can decline to visit here. Conventions can decline to bring their business here because they see the community as acting in a nonwelcoming way. It's bad enough that we have a Confederate flag flying above I-75. This adds insult to injury."...

    Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin on Thursday criticized a Hillsborough County Commission vote not to remove a Confederate memorial from outside the old county courthouse downtown. "I cannot reiterate enough: This was a war that was fought in order to enslave people and the right to enslave people, and that we cannot honor, nor should we honor," she said. "It's shameful that it is part of our history, but it is. We have to recognize that it is part of our history, but we don't have to put up monuments to it." [Photo courtesy city of Tampa]
  15. Poll: Jane Castor leads field of possibles for 2019 Tampa mayor race


    The election is still nearly two years away, but a poll of the 2019 Tampa mayor's race this week found that a plurality of voters with an opinion liked former police chief Jane Castor more five other prospective candidates.

    The automated telephone poll, commissioned by Tampa insurance executive Guy King and done by, surveyed 647 registered voters in Tampa on Monday. It had a 3.9 percent margin of error and a 95 percent confidence level....

    Jane Castor