Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sh*t Happened 11/20/2014 — RIP Midtown Sundries, VA whistleblower, Rick Scott's victory lap

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 9:14 AM

Former St. Pete mayor Bill Foster at Midtown Sundries in August 2013. - KEVIN TIGHE
  • Kevin Tighe
  • Former St. Pete mayor Bill Foster at Midtown Sundries in August 2013.

How did you spend your Wednesday? (Preferably in a stylish jacket, naturally.)

Longtime downtown St. Pete bar/restaurant/place to play pool and eat wings while you're pretending to work Midtown Sundries closed Tuesday after more than 15 years of operation; lunch regulars found out Wednesday via locked doors and signs in the windows. "Oh wow, that sucks, I wonder what happened?" said dozens of people who hadn't been there in years, while reading the news on their phones as they waited for lunch at The Avenue.

A former employee of the Department of Veterans Affairs St. Petersburg Regional Office, who was fired after filing a negative report on the department's claims process, has lodged a whistleblower complaint, which holds the potential for special protections. One of the former employee's demands is his job back. Note to all whistleblowers everywhere: YOU DON'T WANT YOUR JOBS BACK.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Feeding Tampa Bay: The working hungry

Posted By on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 1:17 AM

Volunteers sort food into bins at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent in Tampa Heights, which opens to the public Nov. 20. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Volunteers sort food into bins at the Metropolitan Ministries Holiday Tent in Tampa Heights, which opens to the public Nov. 20.

Lawrence Strickland remembers what it was like to be a hungry child in Tampa.

“You do whatever it takes to eat,” he told me. “Whether it’s knocking on a neighbor’s door asking for a pack of chicken, or waking up early in the morning at 9 o’clock or 8 o’clock and going through the phone book list of churches at 9 years old. I had to explain to them our situation and hopefully get assistance.” Strickland’s family hadn’t always been in need of the kindness of strangers. But when his mother went through a bad breakup and, as a result, became addicted to crack cocaine, “we went from stable housing to a trailer with roaches in neighborhoods that we weren’t familiar with.”

When Strickland became an adult, he thought he’d beaten the hunger curse: he had a good job as a corporate trainer, was married to a woman with a position at a local uniform company, and was, he thought, secure. But then he was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and was in and out of hospitals so often that his employer let him go. To make matters worse, Strickland’s wife lost her job when the uniform company relocated to Missouri. Once again, hunger was a part of his life, and though he and his family received SNAP assistance from the government — commonly referred to as food stamps — the allotment for a family of four, of about $10 a day, didn’t meet their most basic needs.

So they learned to make do. “We’re okay with food most of the time,” Strickland told me. “We don’t really have too many issues with that, ’cause we eat within our food stamp assistance. It runs out but we become pretty creative with things. You have to put bread and water together, see what it makes. You have to take powdered milk and eat a potato.”

Fortunately for the Strickland family, their pastor has given them a place to live, and Metropolitan Ministries, the extraordinary anti-poverty organization led by Tim Marks and headquartered in downtown Tampa, has helped them with food, daycare, and other necessities.

But without MetroMin, it’s not clear how this family could sustain itself. That $10 a day is all the government is offering.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feeding Tampa Bay: Help is here

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 8:06 PM


16th Annual Empty Bowls Luncheon Feeding America Tampa Bay hosts this fundraiser at Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa on Nov. 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For a $10 donation, attendees receive a modest lunch that includes bread, an apple and water — and soup served in a bowl handcrafted by local schoolchildren. In addition, local artisans have donated pottery bowls for a silent auction, and Hillsborough County students will create and hand-paint bowls to share with luncheon guests as a take-home memento.

Kind Mouse Fiesta The Junior League of St. Petersburg hosts a family-friendly fundraiser in which 10 percent of all food and drink sales will go to JLSP to purchase food for the Kind Mouse Food Pantry. A donation of $20 buys a Mousequerita, a beer, or a non-alcoholic drink of your choice. Food donations also accepted. Drawings and silent auction. Food purchase or donation. Sat., Nov. 22, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. El Gallo Grande, 1625 Fourth St. S., St. Petersburg. 727-895-5018.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Feeding Tampa Bay: Wood works with Bowls for Good

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM

The author with her bowl. - BEN FARRELL/BOWLS FOR GOOD
  • Ben Farrell/Bowls for Good
  • The author with her bowl.

If you would’ve asked me what a lathe was a week ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you. But last Wednesday night, I found myself standing in front of one, learning the ins and outs of wood-turning.

Why? To help end hunger — one bowl at a time.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

St. Pete's Boyd Hill Nature Preserve at the crossroads of wilderness and progress

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 5:34 PM


St. Pete’s remarkably high level of civic engagement was on full display Tuesday in City Hall, as citizens packed the Community Planning and Preservation Committee public hearing to voice their support for a city staff-initiated application to permanently preserve 157 of Boyd Hill Nature Preserve’s 245 acres in south St. Pete.

The pristine property is home to several endangered species of plants, butterflies and animals (including gopher tortoises and fox squirrels). According to Pat Lambert, a Boyd Hill supporter, it's “a beautiful pocket of natural Old Florida.” Ray Wunderlich III, who manages a community garden at the park, told the commission that the prospect of condo development on the property “raised the temperature [among area residents] quite a bit."

In the fall of 2013, Tampa developer Taylor Morrison sought, but did not receive, city support to build condos on 8 acres of the preserve along the St. Petersburg Country Club golf course. Environmentalists rose up in opposition, including former city council candidate Lorraine Margeson, who revived a 2002 initiative to permanently preserve the land.

Proposed condos to run along St. Petersburg Country Club golf course put the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve at the crossroads of preservation and progress.

“The city dropped the ball in 2002,” said Margeson, who praises the current administration for its support. Jim House, a Friends of Boyd Hill board member,  said, “We have to think in terms of forever, and this code change will give us forever.”

Despite nearly unanimous support for the plan, several citizens (including Wunderlich and Boyd Hill wildlife biologist George Heinrich, who has been studying reptiles and amphibian communities on the preserve for more than 20 years) urged the commission to extend the plan to include fingers of land and the nursery area on the banks of Lake Maggiore. They believe preservation of that area of shoreline is important for continuity and for wildlife corridors.

Asked why the nursery was not included in this current application, city planner Rick MacAulay replied that the site is already developed, but said preservation of that acreage could be pursued in the future.

MacAulay then deferred to Parks and Recreation Director Mike Jeffries, who assured the Commission that there would be no changes and that the land would be kept wild and natural.

Ms. Perrys kindergarten class from Canturbury School participate in one of the many educational programs at the preserve.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the land use change which will now go to City Council for a final vote, which is expected to pass easily.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sh*t happened 11/19/14: All-female school board, nationwide cold, Keystone Pipeline

Posted By on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 9:52 AM


Remember yesterday? You should — it seemed like yesterday took freaking forever.

Albert Scipione, who operated the not-at-all-shady day trading firm Traders Cafe in Tampa with Matthew Ionno, cut a federal plea deal and will admit to defrauding investors to the tune of nearly half a million dollars. Ionno pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud back in July. 

The reign of the first-ever all-female Hillsborough County School Board began, as newly elected members Melissa Snively and Sally Harris were sworn in to join re-elected April Griffin and the rest of the board. Some male lifetime politicians are gonna be in trouble when the women start getting stuff done ...

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Sh*t happened 11/18/2014: Joyner, school bus shooting, Ferguson tension and Metallica somehow still a thing

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 10:04 AM

  • "Activiates."

Holy crap, what was yesterday all about? Let's review:

The weather went to shit.

Tampa Democrat Arthenia Joyner was unanimously elected by the state's Senate Democratic Caucus to be the minority party's leader in Tallahassee. Issues Joyner is said to be planning to unsuccessfully address include raising the minimum wage, expanding Medicaid in the state and — well, pick one, really.

A couple of moronic sociopaths fired shots at a school bus belonging to nonprofit educational program AMIKids Tampa, which works with at-risk youth. That's not what they meant by "at-risk," jackholes.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tampa's Arthenia Joyner will lead Democrats in FL Senate

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 4:53 PM


Sen. Arthenia Joyner will now lead the Democratic Party on the floor of the state Senate, a little more than a half century after spending a couple of weeks in the Leon County Jail as part of local civil-rights struggles.

Joyner, a Tampa Democrat, was unanimously elected Monday by the Senate Democratic Caucus to be the minority party's leader the next two sessions.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , ,

Take a bike: Downtown Tampa launches bicycle sharing

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Even the mayor hopped aboard, though he's looking at his bike somewhat askance.
  • Even the mayor hopped aboard, though he's looking at his bike somewhat askance.

This morning in Ybor City, Coastal Bikes officially kicked off its bike sharing program for urban Tampa.

Spirits were high as Mayor Bob Buckhorn declared Tampa “a connected community offering bike sharing as part of the local transportation offerings.”

After several years of working to realize this program, Karen Kress from the Tampa Downtown Partnership was thrilled.

The bike stations are located on Davis Islands, Hyde Park, and in several locations in downtown Tampa and Ybor City.​ Users can pay $5/hour or $30/month. Founding members (I was one of them) pay $99 and get to ride 90 minutes a day for free — and get a new helmet.

Sign up online at

Tags: , , , , ,

Sh*t Happened 11/17/2014: The weekend report

Posted By on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 10:31 AM


It was hot, then it got cool, then it warmed up again for a bit and it'll be cold before too long.

So, what happened over the weekend?


The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, the journalism school/think tank that somehow is simultaneously a nonprofit and owner of the Tampa Bay Times, reported that it lost $3.5 million in 2013, and expects to lose more this year. In his blurb about the release, journalist Jim Romenesko — a former Poynter employee who left the institute in 2011 in somewhat controversial fashion — relates some of the belt-tightening that's happened there over the past year, and handily provides a list of Poynter's highest-paid employees.

St. Petersburg Police arrested a suspect in the shooting death of a 63-year-old man that took place early Monday morning at venerable Gulfport dive the Stinger Bar. The suspect, 22-year-old Sheldon Tucker, is alleged to have shot James Brown (!) in a robbery gone wrong.


Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , ,

Search Events

Political Animal Top Topics

Elections (100)

Florida (83)

Pinellas (58)

Tampa (54)

The Mitch Perry Report (53)

Hillsborough (50)

National News (41)

St. Petersburg (38)

Transforming Tampa Bay (7)

Cover Story (5)

© 2014 SouthComm, Inc.
Powered by Foundation

Web Analytics