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Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phone: (813) 226-3433

Email: scontorno@tampabay.com

The Contorno file: PolitiFact.com

Twitter: @scontorno

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  1. Water Hogs: During drought, hundreds of Tampa Bay homes guzzled a gallon of water a minute

    Drought

    When Amalie Oil president Harry Barkett plunked down $6.75-million for his Bayshore Boulevard mansion, he picked up 12.5 bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, an elevator and a deck bigger than some one-bedroom apartments.

    But the home included one other item: a huge water bill.

    During the first five months of 2017, the 13,000-square foot house used 1.2 million gallons of water, more than any other residence in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater or unincorporated Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Put another way, that's more than 8,000 gallons of water a day, about as much as the average house uses in an entire month....

    During one of the worst droughts in the Tampa Bay region's history, hundreds of houses used more than a gallon of water a minute. ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times

  2. Hillsborough commission votes to move Tampa's Confederate monument to Brandon cemetery

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For 106 years, Memoria in Aeterna, a monument to Confederate soldiers, has stood in downtown Tampa as a reminder of the city's Southern roots and, for many, a history of slavery and oppression.

    But on Wednesday, after 31/2 hours of impassioned pleas from the public and contentious debate from the dais, Hills­borough County commissioners voted 4-2 to remove the statue from its home outside the old county courthouse....

    A man who asked not to be identified holds his hand to his head after Hillsborough County Commissioners voted to limit the amount of time citizens could speak either for or against the moving of a confederate memorial during a Hillsborough County Commission meeting Wednesday,  in Tampa. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Majority of Hillsborough commissioners now support moving Tampa's Confederate statue

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — As they prepare to vote again today on the fate of Tampa's Confederate monument, a majority of Hillsborough County commissioners now say they support removing it from its downtown location.

    Still to be decided is where to put it. But one potential hurdle, the cost of relocating the statue, has been taken care of: A prominent Tampa lawyer has volunteered to cover those expenses, likely to top $100,000....

    Hillsborough Commissioner Sandy Murman has shifted.
  4. Private cemetery agrees to take Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough commissioner says

    Blog

    TAMPA — A private cemetery somewhere in Hillsborough County is willing to take Tampa’s Confederate monument if commissioners vote Wednesday to remove it.

    The cemetery doesn’t want to be named at this time, Commissioner Victor Crist said, but its board unanimously voted to take it and display it on their grounds.

    Crist, who approached the cemetery with the idea, said it’s a 12-acre site that opened in 1911, the same year that officials unveiled Memoria en Aeterna in downtown Tampa. According to Crist, some Civil War veterans are buried there in family plots....

    An unnamed private cemetery in Hillsborough County has agreed to take Tampa's Confederate monument, according to County Commissioner Victor Crist.
  5. MOSI taps CFO Julian Mackenzie to prepare museum for downtown move

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Nine months ago, the Museum of Science and Industry hired Julian Mackenzie to turn around that institution's finances. Now it wants him to turn around the entire museum.

    The museum, known as MOSI, named Mackenzie its new chief executive on Monday. The decision comes a month before MOSI shutters most of its 300,000-square foot building in north Tampa near the University of South Florida and prepares to reopen as a smaller museum in one wing of its campus....

    Fans of the Museum of Science & Industry, MOSI, have only a few more weeks to see the center's 450-plus interactive exhibits before it closes to renovate and downsize on Aug. 14.  The museum will eventually move to downtown Tampa. MOSI recentyl promoted CFO Julian Mackenzie to CEO. SKIP O'ROURKE  |   Times]
  6. Tampa's Confederate memorial could be moved if Hillsborough officials can find a new location

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — There's a growing sense among Hillsborough County officials that it won't be long before Tampa's Confederate monument is moved from its downtown location, as long as there's somewhere to move it.

    But County Commissioner Les Miller will believe it when he sees it.

    "I've been down this road before where I heard something was going to happen and it didn't," Miller said. "I'll be encouraged when I see four votes in favor of moving."...

    Protesters, from left, Mike Reed, Kristen Perry and Dayna Lazarus rally in front of the Confederate monument on June 27.
  7. Hillsborough fire rescue deputy chief resigns during pay investigation

    Fire

    TAMPA — A deputy fire chief with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is retiring in the midst of an investigation into suspected pay fraud in his department.

    Newell "Chip" Branam will retire effective July 28, he informed the county on Friday. He and three shift commanders he oversees have been on paid administrative leave since June 14.

    The county is investigating whether the shift commanders — Michael Guincho, Grant Preseau and Nelson Diez — falsified pay stubs when Branam was on vacation....

    Deputy Chief Newell "Chip" Branam resigned Friday from Hillsborough County in the midst of a county investigation into suspicion of pay fraud in his department. [Times file]
  8. Tampa downtown's confederate monument might be moving after all

    Blog

    Once in favor of keeping Tampa's Confederate monument where it is, Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist now believes it will likely be moved.

    Where the monument ends up remains in the air. But during an appearance Thursday on WMNF-FM 88.5, Crist said he expects the commission will soon find it a new home....

    Former state Rep. Victor Crist had voted to keep the monument.
  9. Crist shift on Tampa's Confederate statue may signal momentum for removal

    Business

    TAMPA — Once in favor of keeping Tampa's Confederate monument where it is, Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist now believes it will likely be moved.

    Where the monument ends up remains in the air. But during an appearance Thursday on WMNF-FM 88.5, Crist said he expects the commission will soon find it a new home.

    "It's realistic to say we're going to move this," Crist told WMNF show host Mitch Perry. "There are too many people out there that see pain and suffering when they look at this, and the board is receptive and sensitive to that."...

    County Commissioner Victor Crist had voted to keep the monument.
  10. 'We're going to move' Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough Commissioner Crist says

    Blog

    TAMPA — Once in favor of keeping Tampa's Confederate monument where it is, Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist now says its likely that it will be moved from its downtown location.

    Where it will end up remains up in the air. But during an appearance Thursday on WMNF-FM 88.5, Crist said he expects the commission will soon find a new home for it....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist now says the Confederate monument will be moved from its current location in downtown Tampa.
  11. Buccaneers join Rays in supporting removal of Confederate monument

    Blog

    TAMPA — Make that two local professional sports teams that want to see Tampa’s Confederate monument moved.

    Responding to a question from the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers said in statement: “We support the removal of the Confederate memorial.”

    “We do not believe it is a true and accurate depiction of the values that make Tampa such a great, progressive city,” the statement said....

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers said in a statement that Tampa's Confederate monument is not a 'true and accurate depiction of the values that make Tampa such a great, progressive city.'
  12. Rays say move Tampa's Confederate monument, Lightning won't weigh in

    Business

    TAMPA

    The Tampa Bay Rays are in favor of removing a 106-year-old Confederate monument from its current location in downtown Tampa, the baseball team told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

    It's a stance that Hillsborough County officials will be forced to consider, as it's no secret many of them want to see the Rays move to Tampa.

    Responding to a Times inquiry, the Rays organization said in a statement that the team has "long supported and are committed to diversity and inclusion."...

    Activists gather last month to protest the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse in Tampa. County commissioners may reconsider the issue.
  13. Alternative site for Tampa's Confederate monument: A cemetery

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — One of the Hillsborough County commissioners who voted last month against removing a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa is now open to relocating it.

    Commissioner Victor Crist said Wednesday he wants to move the statue to Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's oldest public burial ground and the final resting place of the city's pioneers, 13 mayors, Confederate soldiers and slaves....

    Tampa resident Zulema Ramos, 22, holds a protest sign in front of the Confederate monument located at 419 Pierce St. in downtown Tampa. ALESSANDRA DA PRA   |   Times 

  14. Hillsborough Commissioner Miller wants another vote on Tampa's Confederate monument

    Blog

    TAMPA — The debate on Tampa’s Confederate monument isn’t over yet.

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller will once again ask his colleagues to remove the statue from outside the old county courthouse at the board’s next meeting on July 19, he told the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday.

    Commissioners decided 4-3 last month to keep the monument in downtown Tampa, where it has stood since 1932. In the weeks since, Miller said he has seen a “major groundswell of people who want it removed” and he hopes at least one commissioner’s opinion has been swayed....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller said he will try again to get his colleagues to remove the Confederate memorial in downtown Tampa when the board meets later in July.
  15. Two people were killed and four people were seriously injured Thursday in what is being described as a "major incident'' at the Tampa Electric Company power plant in Apollo Beach on Thursday.