Local government agency implements plan to “shape what the public thinks”

Hillsborough County Independent Oversight Committee (IOC) staff have developed a media plan that includes “key messages” for committee members and staff to advance to the public. The media plan says that those key messages “shape what you want the public to think and do.” First reported on by TampaBayBeat.Info yesterday, the effort to use tax…

Sheriff Chad Chronister seeks out criminal pastor he arrested – lunch with no social distancing

Last Wednesday, Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister sought out and visited Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne for lunch at his house. Chronister’s initiative took place a month after he had Howard-Browne arrested for allegedly violating a county order during over a church service that practiced social distancing. Howard-Browne’s arrest on March 30th made national and international news. We…

Gualtieri’s coronavirus arrest of “jerk” biz owner results in no prosecution

“He wanted to become unreasonable, frankly, he was being a jerk about it, so he went to jail,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told (video) county commissioners in a meeting on Tuesday about Pinellas Park business owner Galen Wood. Gualtieri’s deputies had arrested Wood twelve days earlier for allegedly violating the governor’s “Safer At Home”…

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,…