Kriseman donates zero to city’s own relief fund, Montanari donates $1,000

Twelve days in to St. Pete’s Fighting Chance Fund (FCF) program, Mayor Rick Kriseman had not made a donation to the fund. Kriseman called the fund recipients “the backbone of this city” when he announced the FCF program. District 3 City Council Member Ed Montanari donated $1,000, and District 4 City Council member Darden Rice…

Castor mixed city resources with her political campaign and political committee

In an e-mail Thursday morning announcing a City of Tampa pandemic relief program, Mayor Jane Castor wrote “We will get through this together. We are one city, one community, and One Tampa.” The city named its pandemic relief program “One Tampa” and is allegedly aimed at residents and businesses “most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”…

CONFIRMED: airport violated own policy in hiring Cintron for $223,000

Tampa International Airport (TPA) violated its own hiring procedure in at least two ways when it hired former Bay News 9 news anchor Veronica Cintron for $223,000 per year. Cintron’s husband is Preston Rudie, founder and CEO of Catalyst Communications Group. The company says it has “strong relationships with officials at the local, state and…

Hillsborough County commission re-kills sales tax hike to fund transit

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. After the commission voted two weeks ago to not schedule a public hearing on a sales tax hike to fund transit, Smith wanted a second bite at the apple. For today’s commission meeting, Smith inserted this agenda item to rescind the previous decision. Smith’s…

TPA didn’t advertise $223,000 job, then hires local TV personality

It isn’t often that a position paying $223,000 per year opens up at the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA), a public agency using public funds. Yet the HCAA didn’t post that highly paid opening for the job as Vice President of Communications on Taleo, where it normally posts jobs. The HCAA, which operates Tampa Airport,…

Pinellas County’s state of local emergency ends due to politicians’ mistake

Pinellas County’s Thursday press release stated that “Commission Chair Pat Gerard extended Pinellas County’s state of local emergency [SLE] another 7 days.” Chair Gerard cited as authority for her action county commission resolution 20-22. That resolution in turn cites “Pinellas County Code Section 34-27” as authority for letting the chair extend the SLE, as opposed…

Let the shell games begin: Pinellas County violates governor’s exec order

“You had me at hello,” said no sane person ever to a telemarketer. Yet “telemarketing” is one of the types of businesses that Pinellas County government designated as an “essential service” on April 7th. However, county staff didn’t obtain approval from the state before doing so, making their action a violation of Governor Ron DeSantis…

Helter Skelter Handout? The City of St. Petersburg’s “Fighting Chance Fund”

On April 3rd, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman announced the creation of the city’s “Fightning Chance Fund” (FCF) pursuant to the mayor’s emergency authority under section 2-426(i) of the City Code. The city  says that the FCF was created to “provide capital for St. Petersburg’s most vulnerable businesses” during the  pandemic. However, many important questions…

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri indicates that 77% of arrests are unnecessary

OPINION The coronavirus outbreak has caused police agencies across the nation to rethink how they enforce laws. Thousands of officers from New York to Los Angeles are contracting the disease, many are dying, and every jail is a potential incubator.  Law enforcement is learning the necessity of social distancing, leading to fewer citations, fewer arrests…

Pinellas County: you must close your business, but we’re hiring – including 25 beach lifeguards

Irony meters all over Pinellas County are melting down, China Syndrome-style. The reason?  After the politicians on the county commission voted on Wednesday to close down all “non-essential” businesses, the county website still says “NOW HIRING.” The county is even hiring 25 lifeguards for the public beaches they’ve closed. Hurry, though, because applications for those lifeguard…