Monday, July 28, 2014

NRA cheers court's upholding of Docs vs. Glocks bill in Florida

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 2:04 PM

The National Rifle Association issued out a press release today, touting Friday's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit Court that will now ban doctors from discussing safety regarding the presence of guns in a patient’s home. 

Calling it "a significant defeat for the gun control lobby and its allies," the NRA released a statement by its Institute for Legislative Action’s Executive Director Chris Cox, who said, "Every gun owner in Florida and across the country is grateful for this common sense ruling. It is not a physician's business whether his or her patient chooses to exercise their fundamental, individual right to own a firearm.”

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D.T. Minich leaving Visit St.Pete/Clearwater for Kissimmee

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 11:31 AM

Minich speaks at a U.S. Senate committee hearing in 2010 on oil spill liability. - C-SPAN
  • C-SPAN
  • Minich speaks at a U.S. Senate committee hearing in 2010 on oil spill liability.

Under the tutelage of D.T. Minich, executive director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, Pinellas County has been enjoying record growth in monthly tax collections on overnight stays in the past three years. So it's all the more surprising that Minich is ditching the Gulf Coast to go do the same job in Kissimmee, Florida.

In a statement issued this morning, Minich writes that "this was not an easy decision to make," but nevertheless he'll begin his new gig at the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau on Aug. 15. The bureau promotes not only activities in Kissimmee and its home county, Osceola, but touts its close proximity to Orlandos' Disney and Universal theme parks and resorts.

Minich announced this spring that revenue from the 5 percent tax levied on hotels and motels was up about 10 percent over last year’s record collections in the first three months of 2013, when the county brought in a record 5,579,900 overnight visitors. That was in turn an increase from 2012.

The Pinellas convention and visitors bureau was rebranded as Visit St. Pete/Clearwater under Minich's tenure.

Minich's letter says he's leaving the bureau in “the incredibly capable hands” of Deputy Director David Downing. Whether that means a change of title for Downing remains to be seen. He's been an integral player in much of the cool stuff the chamber has come up with in recent years to update the county's public image — the slightly snarky ad campaigns in non-sunny climes, the April Fool's “manaphin” hoax — so he'd be a likely choice for the top spot.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mitch Perry Report 7.24.14: House Republicans split on border situation?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 9:20 AM


The Tampa Tribune uses the entire top fold of its editions today to feature the bold headline, "Border crisis hits home" — and then proceeds to inform us of a story that's been known for weeks — that a shelter in Pasco County has applied to expand the number of beds at its facility to house 16 undocumented children who have entered the U.S. illegally in recent months. Not exactly certain why it's the lead story in the paper today, but nevertheless the question of how Congress is going to address this humanitarian crisis is being debated this week. Not surprisingly, not only are the two political parties somewhat at odds about the answer on what to do, but there's discord inside the GOP caucus in the House as well.

If you'll recall, President Obama has called for Congress to approve $3.7 billion to deal with the situation, but he's not going to get that much. The Democratic Senate's plan calls for $2.7 billion to deal with the problem, but it will not include amendments to the 2008 law that says unaccompanied minors coming to the U.S. from Central America must be held humanely by the Department of Health and Human Services until the courts release them to a “suitable family member” in this country.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Group of conservative Pinellas County residents call on David Jolly to "apologize" for supporting same-sex marriage

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Jolly said on Bay News 9 back in February that he supported same-sex marriage.
  • Jolly said on Bay News 9 back in February that he supported same-sex marriage.

You just knew it couldn't be that clean. 

Less than 48 hours after David Jolly made a statement to the Washington Post announcing his support for same-sex marriage in Florida, now comes the conservative backlash in the form of a letter to the CD13 Representative, in which some 60 Pinellas County residents claim his reversal on marriage is "an act of cowardice and a betrayal."

The letter was prepared by the Florida Family Council, the conservative Orlando-based group that has been one of the state's biggest groups opposing same-sex marriage. CL contacted the leader of that organization, John Stemberger, but he did not return our call for comment.

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Study says Clearwater best city in Bay area to live in - 8th best in state

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 9:58 AM

The renaissance that has been blossoming in St. Petersburg in recent years received an official East Coast Establishment imprimatur back in January when the 'Burg landed on the New York Times list of 52 destinations in the world to see in 2014, on the same list as The Vatican, Dubai and the Arctic Circle. So surely any poll of top cities to live in the Sunshine State would include St. Pete, right?

Uh, no, not really. A new survey does include a Pinellas County city in its top ten best cities to live in, but that city would be Clearwater, according to, a credit card comparison and financial education website. The methodology used to determine who is the best includes the following:

Odds of Being a Victim of a Violent Crime
Commute Time
Residents Who Attended Some College
Restaurants Per Capita

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

United for Care gets the message about medical marijuana out in St. Pete

Posted By on Sun, Jul 13, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Sarah Andrews, deputy regional field officer at United For Care and Carl Sandstrom, vice-deputy regional field officer, promoting Amendment 2. - DAINA STANLEY
  • Daina Stanley
  • Sarah Andrews, deputy regional field officer at United For Care and Carl Sandstrom, vice-deputy regional field officer, promoting Amendment 2.
Around two dozen citizens came to hear representatives from organizations raise awareness about medicinal cannabis at Mad Hatters Ethnobotanical Tea Bar in St. Petersburg last week.

The educational meeting consistent of a diverse age group was hosted by Libertarian party congressional candidate Lucas Overby Thursday night. A 60 percent vote is needed to get the Medical Marijuana Act passed, which would legalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the state of Florida.

Representatives from United For Care, the American Cannabis Exchange, and the Libertarian party shared their support for Amendment 2 that will be voted on by Florida residents on the 2014 ballot. Whether personal, political, or economic, each group is intent upon getting as many voters to the booths in November as possible. 

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Gualtieri wants every city in Pinellas to cough up more for Safe Harbor

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:01 AM

When it comes to dealing with homelessness, Pinellas County officials have been considered a leader in the Tampa Bay area by helping to support the creation of Safe Harbor in Clearwater back in January of 2011. The shelter came at a time when cities in Pinellas were passing and enforcing ordinances to stop panhandling and camping in public parks, and it's largely been considered a success. 

But it obviously costs money to keep it running, and the majority of that funding has come from the Pinellas County Sheriffs office, a formula that Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says needs to be adjusted.

"It's a countywide problem. It's a statewide problem. So it requires across the board participation," he told CL Monday morning.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

The empire strikes back: Lou Minardi speaks out on Uber & Lyft in Tampa

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM

The ascendancy of ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber has taken a bit of hit recently. In Pittsburgh earlier this week both companies received an order to cease and desist by the state's Public Utility Commission, and in California, that state's PUC ordered those companies to stop driving or picking up riders at any airport in the state, or they could be shut down completely there as well.

So with all of the hassles he's had to endure since Uber first came to Tampa during the Republican National Convention two years ago, you'd think that Lou Minardi, President of Yellow Cab in Tampa, would also be rooting for regulators to find a way to shut down Uber and Lyft in Hillsborough County. But he says you'd be wrong.

"Not necessarily," Minardi told CL on Wednesday.

"Their platform can work with anyone," he says in particular about Uber. "They've elected not to do that. They could operate legally in Tampa tomorrow without a doubt," he maintains, but says that's not their M.O. "You're either going to do it their way or the highway."

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lisa Montelione skeptical about proposed restructuring of HART

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Count  Lisa Montelione as another Tampa City Council member expressing unease about the proposal for the current HART board to be restructured, with the County Commission and the mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City taking control. 

"Much like the MTA in New York or other transit agencies around the country, it's usually one agency that handles the multimodal buses and trains, trolleys, any of those rail or rubber wheel types of mass transit. They don't do roads," says the New Tampa area councilwoman, referring to the fact that currently the commission deals exclusively with roads while HART handles mass transit. "I'm not sure how that would work."

Montelione has a very active role in transportation in Tampa, as she currently serves as vice chairwoman of the Hillsborough Metropolitan Organization and chairwoman of its livable roadways committee. She also frowns on the idea that the restructured board — at least as outlined in a proposal by County Administrator Mike Merrill last month — would remove members appointed by the Commission. "I like having citizens sitting there," she says, "because you get more representation and they're more accountable because they know they can be replaced at anytime."

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Yes on Greenlight internal poll shows transit measure gaining support

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM

PSTA chair Ken Welch
  • PSTA chair Ken Welch
Is Greenlight Pinellas gaining support some four months before Election Day?

That's what the folks at Yes on Greenlight say. They're the political action committee formed to help pass the Pinellas transit tax, and an internal poll released today says the measure now garners 59 percent of county voters, vs. just 35 percent opposing it — an increase of 4 percent support since a previous poll taken in February. And that increase includes getting over 50 percent in North County, considered a vulnerable spot for the measure.

"The more we get out the fact that it is a property tax elimination, that's bringing a lot of folks in as well," said an unsurprised Ken Welch this afternoon. The Pinellas County Commissioner and PSTA board chair emphasized that the financing factor for the measure, which would eliminate the property tax component of Pinellas homeowners' tax bills in exchange for a one-cent sales tax, is moving voters to support the measure. 

But Barb Haselden with No Tax for Tracks says it's too soon for the advocates to celebrate, noting that the pollsters got a split of 41 percent Democrats to 41 percent Republicans in the survey.

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