03/24/17 Human Interest
The city's oldest cemetery is the final resting place for at least 1,000 early Tampa residents — pioneers, Confederate soldiers, victims of yellow fever, pirates, 13 mayors and slaves — but there might be even more.
So this week, anthropologists and students from the University of South Florida brought ground-penetrating radar and other equipment to Oaklawn Cemetery and the adjacent St. Louis Catholic Cemetery to search for and map unmarked graves....
03/23/17 Local Government
TAMPA — Now that Tampa's longtime 5-minute parking rule is off the books, City Hall is looking at a residential parking permit program to bring order to the vehicular scrum that vexes neighborhoods where homeowners compete with visitors to park on the street.
The rules and the costs won't be set until June 15 or later, but an expansion of residential permits now used in Ybor City and some other neighborhoods appeared likely during a City Council workshop Thursday....
03/23/17 The Heater
PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg revealed some complications in his team's search for a new stadium on Thursday, yet said he's still confident they will find a new home in the Tampa Bay area.
What were the Rays' top five choices for a new stadium — three in Tampa and two in St. Petersburg — are unavailable. That may push the team's time line for finding a new site from August to the end of 2017....
03/23/17 Local Government
Lorain Vila Murias took her 2½-year-old grandson to the playground this week, then yelled herself hoarse as about 200 cars raised plumes of dust driving across a grassy field near the slide.
They were part of a crowd of more than 700 who turned out for an awards lunch at the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center.
Known as the JCC, the center has 229 approved parking spaces — less than half the number the city typically would require — so many visitors must find parking off-site, including at Vila Brothers Park....
It is not a stretch to say that once nearly everybody in Tampa rode the streetcar.
"There was no corner of our community that wasn't accessible to the little yellow streetcars of my youth," 89-year-old artist Ferdie Pacheco writes in his memoir, Ybor City Chronicles.
"We went to school on them, went to work, to dances, to movies, to the downtown shopping areas, to Sulphur Springs to swim and to Ballast Point to enjoy the factory picnics."...
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has named Tampa one of its four finalists to host its annual convention in August 2018.
The other finalists are Austin, Texas, Philadelphia and New Orleans. The convention would need 2,450 hotel rooms. A decision is expected by mid-April.
Hosting the convention would “elevate the entire Tampa Bay community in the eyes of the world as a major LGBTQ destination capable of putting on a significant, high-quality national event,” said Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada said in a statement released through the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce....
03/10/17 Local Government
TAMPA — City Hall could pay $65,000 to settle parts of a lawsuit filed by prominent Cuba activist Albert A. Fox Jr., who contended that his 2013 arrest on a DUI charge was motivated by a quota system for Tampa's DUI squad.
The settlement is headed to the City Council next week. If approved, it would settle Fox's claims against the city and police Officer Dean Uno.
But it would not resolve Fox's claims against a third defendant: fired Tampa police Sgt. Ray Fernandez, the officer who pulled Fox over. Fernandez, who was fired as the result of his involvement in an unrelated arrest about eight months before Fox sued the city, is being represented by a private attorney....
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has decided not to run for governor next year, opting instead to finish his second and last term at City Hall in 2019.
Buckhorn, 58, is giving two reasons for his decision. First, he doesn’t want to miss important family moments with his daughters Grace, 15, and Colleen, 11, to pursue an “all-consuming” 18-month campaign.
“The state of Florida needs a course correction and a new direction,” he said in a statement emailed to supporters and posted on social media at 5 a.m. Thursday. But “the timing for me and my family would be a challenge.”...
TAMPA — No sooner did Mayor Bob Buckhorn opt out of next year's race for governor than he started to hear from other Democrats who suddenly wanted to be his new best friend.
Buckhorn, 58, posted his decision to social media Thursday at 5 a.m. By about 8:30 a.m. he had a telephone message from Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — the first of the remaining Democratic prospects to check in....
03/06/17 Mass Transit
TAMPA — City Hall will hold the first of three public meetings on the future of the TECO Line Streetcar tonight with an eye on expanding and improving the service.
The streetcar should be used more than it is, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in announcing the forum, so, "We are taking a hard look at its future.
"A potential extension of the system through downtown could open up connections to new neighborhoods, jobs and entertainment," said Buckhorn, who, ironically, argued the trolley would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars and cast the lone vote against it when he was on the City Council in the 1990s....
03/03/17 Bizarre News
TAMPA — It's hard to miss Tony Daniel when he heads out for a drive.
His pickup truck cruises through Tampa with a large sign showing a Confederate flag, a Nazi flag, a photo of a lynching, Mayor Bob Buckhorn's photo, references to Home Depot and multiple uses of the word "n-----."
Vote Buckhorn for Florida governor, it says, adding, "Every n----- vote counts." At the top of the sign, the word appears in letters a foot tall....
03/03/17 Real Estate
A three-tower complex with more square footage than International Plaza has won final City Council approval, setting the stage for a huge transformation of the area south of the University of Tampa.
John Avlon, president of the Hillsborough River Realty Corp., which owns the property, said the company can now move to the next stage of design for the project, which does not have an announced start date....
The Tampa City Council on Thursday moved to ban mental health professionals from providing minors with so-called gay conversion therapy, and proposed what could be the highest penalties in Florida for those who do.
State-licensed therapists and counselors could be fined $1,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for repeat offenses under the proposed Tampa ordinance, which is scheduled for the first of two votes on March 16....
02/24/17 Local Government
TAMPA — The cost of creating a "quiet zone" for train horns in downtown Tampa started at $2.7 million, but now has risen to more like $3.17 million.
And City Hall is covering much of the difference.
The City Council recently approved spending $320,000 more for the project. The money comes from downtown redevelopment funds, a slice of property taxes created by new downtown development and reserved for projects to support more growth there....
02/24/17 Local Government
TAMPA — Six weeks after police stopped a Food Not Bombs event and arrested seven volunteers feeding the poor in a downtown park, the City Council wants to try a more hands-off approach to regulating such efforts.
The council voted Thursday to consider an ordinance that would mirror the rule in St. Petersburg, where groups can distribute food without having to get a city permit or obtain liability insurance as long as the event attracts fewer than 50 people. Council members said they would review how the change works in practice after six months....