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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Cross-bay bromance: Mayors tout regionalism, cooperation — yes, even on baseball

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the need for regional cooperation at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Tuesday.

Times files

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn emphasized the need for regional cooperation at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club Tuesday.

Two or three decades ago, the politics of the Tampa Bay area was parochial enough that the idea of bringing the mayors of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater together for a lunch would not have been quite so plausible, and the discussion might have been more strained than cordial.

But Clearwater’s George Cretekos, St. Petersburg’s Rick Kriseman and Tampa’s Bob Buckhorn have already met for working lunches of their own over the past couple of years, so it wasn’t out of their comfort zone Tuesday to open their latest to 175 members of the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.

“Some would say we have a bromance,” Kriseman said. They said officials and residents on both sides of the bay ought to celebrate the victories of their neighbor communities, and need to look for opportunities to team up.

“We have been friends for a lot of years,” Buckhorn said during the Tiger Bay lunch at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater on Roosevelt Boulevard. “What you are seeing in that friendship is the growth of this area as a region, not as separate entities. … Those bridges, for the three of us, will never be barriers. They will always be conduits to cooperation.”

So, baseball. …

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St. Pete mayoral candidate Paul Congemi charged with felony elder abuse

Paul Congemi was arrested Jan. 24 for felony elder abuse

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Paul Congemi was arrested Jan. 24 for felony elder abuse

Paul Congemi is running for mayor for the third time. And it hasn’t started out well for him or his family.

Last week, Congemi was charged with felony elder abuse after his 87-year-old mother ended up in intensive care for bed sores. She remains in the hospital, he said.

BayNews9 reported last week that Congemi’s mother was in intensive care at Bayfront Medical Center. Congemi said Tuesday she had improved. Hosptial officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Congemi, 60, didn’t want to talk much about what happened, but was insistent that the city’s voters know that a charge of neglecting his mother won’t deter him from the mayoral race.

“I want the people of St. Petersburg to know that I’m not dropping out,” Congemi said.

After posting a $10,000 bond last week, Congemi said his lawyer is working to get the charges dropped. He said he is innocent of the charges. 

The charges, according to a Jan. 24 arrest affidavit, are gruesome. Congemi’s mother had sores on her tailbone so neglected that the bone was visible. …

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USL execs support Rowdies' MLS bid, think Tampa Bay will remain second-tier for now

Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team owner Bill Edwards and Rick Baker, president of the Edwards Group, appealed in person for Rowdies ticket support from the hundreds of St. Petersburg businesses attending the annual meeting of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, held Jan. 23, 2017 at the Mahaffey Theater.

ROBERT TRIGAUX | Times

Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team owner Bill Edwards and Rick Baker, president of the Edwards Group, appealed in person for Rowdies ticket support from the hundreds of St. Petersburg businesses attending the annual meeting of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce, held Jan. 23, 2017 at the Mahaffey Theater.

Bill Edwards, former Mayor Rick Baker and a swarm of Ralph’s Mob, the fervent fans of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, delivered the team’s Major League Soccer application Monday to league executives in New York.

Considering the Rowdies haven’t played their first game in their current league, the newly-ordained second-tier United Soccer League, how do USL officials feel about being a stepping stone before the Rowdies have even placed a toe in the league?

Surprisingly good.

“We’re all behind the Rowdies. It’s great for the city. I think that’s the way it should work,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis in an interview in the leagues’ hip, open-space headquarters on Tampa’s Westshore Boulevard earlier this month.

Edwards left the faltering North American Soccer League for the USL after last season, saying he wanted more stability and greater competition.

The 30-team USL takes pride in vaulting teams like the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers ,Vancouver White Caps and Orlando SC to the MLS. Currently, 10 MLS second or reserve teams play in the league.

The Rowdies will benefit from the USL’s growth and new TV deal with ESPN, Papadakis said. …

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Tampa City Attorney Julia Mandell leaving for private practice; Sal Territo promoted to succeed her

Sal Territo is Mayor Bob Buckhorn's choice to replace outgoing City Attorney Julia Mandell.

City of Tampa

Sal Territo is Mayor Bob Buckhorn's choice to replace outgoing City Attorney Julia Mandell.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday promoted chief assistant city attorney Salvatore Territo to replace City Attorney Julia Mandell, who is leaving City Hall for a job with the law firm of Carlton Fields.

Territo has worked for the city on and off since 1972, initially as a planner. In 1980, he joined the city attorney’s office after graduating from the Stetson University College of Law.

Over the years, Territo, 74, also has worked in the private sector and served as a planning commissioner and hearing examiner in Lee County and as an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida.

In 2005, he returned to City Hall where he’s served as chief assistant city attorney and as head of the office’s transactional and administrative section. A regular presence at City Council meetings, he has a direct, matter-of-fact style of speaking and tends to be a calming influence during tense discussions. …

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St. Petersburg Mayor Kriseman launches re-election bid

Mayor Rick Kriseman addresses the crowd at his campaign kick-off Wednesday evening.

CHARLIE FRAGO | Times

Mayor Rick Kriseman addresses the crowd at his campaign kick-off Wednesday evening.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman kicked off his re-election campaign Wednesday with a fundraiser at the Three Birds Tavern, promising to take the Sunshine City to “the next level” if he gets a second term.

So far, only perennial long-shot candidate Paul Congemi has filed to run against Kriseman. But heavyweight former mayors, and Republicans, Rick Baker, Bill Foster are rumored to be considering a political return.

About 150 people over the two-hour reception in the tavern’s outdoor beer garden on Fourth Street N attended the event, said Tom Alte, Kriseman’s campaign manager.

Kriseman spoke for a few minutes, saying the city “was kind of stuck in neutral” when he took office three years ago. He told his supporters it’s “so important we don’t forget to keep our foot on the gas pedal.”

The Democratic mayor said he wanted to make sure all parts of the city thrive and looked forward to a second four-year term that would honor the city’s past while pursuing a brighter future. …

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