Two Pinellas judges like Kriseman’s Facebook page, but not Baker’s

Lauralee Westine is a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge and also the wife of Pinellas sheriff Bob Gualtieri. On her Facebook page, Westine liked the campaign Facebook page of St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman. However, Westine did not like the campaign Facebook page of his opponent, former mayor Rick Baker. Westine is not alone – Pinellas judge…

Tampa Bay Times won’t deny that local politicians lent them money

In June, Tampa Bay Times CEO Paul Tash announced that a newly formed company called FBN Partners had provided his newspaper with a $12 million loan. FBN in turn had reportedly obtained the fund from eight investors in FBN Partners. Tash’s spokesperson now refuses to confirm that no local politicians are among the FBN investors. First, some…

Sierra Club violates same Florida election law for second time in three years

In June of 2015, the national Sierra Club agreed with the Florida Elections Commission that one of its local clubs had violated Florida law in 2014. Specifically, the Suncoast Sierra Club had violated Florida Statutes 106.071(2), a campaign finance law which mandates disclaimers on paid political advertisements. Notably, that 2015 consent order was signed by Michael…

Kriseman silent on his Interfaith Week role, vocal on his muslim dinner role

The 4th annual “Tampa Bay Interfaith Week” began yesterday, October 1st.  St. Pete mayor Rick Kriseman spoke at the opening ceremony, which took place at the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in downtown St. Pete. Despite mayor Kriseman’s participation, the official mayor’s office website has been silent on Interfaith Week. Instead, the mayor’s website highlights the Tampa…

Fire district caves on tax as property appraiser intervenes and trap closes

After voting to levy a 0.5 mill tax last night, the Pinellas Suncoast Fire Distict (PSFRD) board today gave notice that they will reverse themselves tomorrow. No millage rate tax will be levied after all, only the previously levied flat tax of $260 per home. The PSFRD board’s decision came just hours after property appraiser Mike…

Pinellas Suncoast fire tax hike cremated by court

Ed Hoofnagle is an Indian Rocks Beach city commissioner. Politicians in Pinellas County normally “go along to get along”, so suing another government agency to stop a tax hike would be down right impolite. Suing the Pinellas Suncoast Fire Distict (PSFRD) after their tax hike passed on last fall’s ballot, now that would be downright…

Pinellas County refuses to comply with “redundant” state law

Our investigation found that all 25 municipalities in Pinellas county fail to comply with a state law requiring them to notify the property appraiser’s office of real estate they own. The offending government agencies include the municipality within the county with the largest budget, namely Pinellas County itself. There is no indication that the statutory…

Has St. Pete City Council candidate learned from past admitted mistakes?

Barclay Harless, a banker employed by Bank of the Ozarks, wants a seat on the St. Pete City Council. But has the now 32-year old Harless learned from the mistakes that the 22-year old Harless made a decade ago? Those mistakes led to Harless’ resignation as student body president of USF in 2007. Harless, a former aide…

A year later, Sheriff still misstates post-hurricane reentry requirements

One year ago, the Guardian found that all 12 local government agencies we surveyed incorrectly stated that a special permit would be required for reentry after a hurricane. Many of them still do, including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the agency responsible for the program. At issue is PCSO’s Emergency Access Permit (EAP) program. The EAP program is PCSO’s…

State rep misstates her past, is accused of abandoning her district

State Rep. Kathleen Peters (R – Treasure Island) announced last week that she was running for a seat on the Pinellas county commission in 2018. In covering this announcement, SaintPetersBlog.Com reported that Peters had campaigned for the state house in 2012 on “repairs and improvements to Pinellas County’s failing sewer system.” However, Peters made no mention of…

Van pool program costs 82% less than buses – but does it reduce congestion?

TBARTA, the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Agency, operates a little known commuter van pool program involving about 100 vans. It’s a form of transit that costs much less per passenger mile than other forms of transit, but there is little evidence that it reduces traffic congestion. All transit agencies that receive funds from the Federal Transit…