Make us your home page

Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459


Twitter: @CharlieFrago

  1. Rick Baker's radio ad said Rick Kriseman missed NAACP event---but he didn't.


    A radio ad narrated by St. Petersburg civil rights activist Sevell Brown and paid for by a political-action committee supporting Rick Baker asserts that Mayor Rick Kriseman "couldn't be bothered to show up" for a recent NAACP event.

    Except Kriseman did show up. And his supporters were livid on social media Wednesday as news of the Seamless Florida PAC radio spot spread around Facebook and Twitter. ...

    Rick Kriseman didn't skip recent NAACP event, but Rick Baker radio ad claims he did
  2. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.

    Elihu Brayboy, who owns Chief's Creole Cafe, wants to build a 30,000-square-foot, three-story building on the 900 block of 22nd Street S. The ground floor would be retail and the top two floors would have 20 apartment units....

    Prominent African-American resident Elihu Brayboy says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S. [CHARLIE FRAGO | Times]
  3. Rick v. Rick: How have they handled St. Pete's homeless problem?


    ST. PETERSBURG — The homeless issue used to be front and center in city politics.

    That was never more true than in 2007, when the city garnered national attention after police officers slashed the tents of more than 20 homeless people living in a tent city at 15th Street and Fifth Avenue N — days after two homeless men were shot and killed.

    The backlash against then-Mayor Rick Baker was intense. He said the situation was mishandled, that police commanders ordered the operation without his knowledge. He promised a new direction for the city's homeless policy....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman (left) is being challenged by former former Mayor Rick Baker. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  4. New Baker ad labels Kriseman as incompetent


    Rick Baker's campaign unveiled a new TV ad Thursday. Unlike some recent ads seeking to rebrand the former mayor, this one has Mayor Rick Kriseman squarely in its sights.

    The ad, complete with the stantard attack-ad voice narrator, presents of laundry list of alleged Kriseman failures including spending too much money on the new pier, a bloated mayor's office staff, the slow pace of hurricane debris removal and, you guessed it, sewage. ...

    Former mayor Rick Baker unleashes a negative ad questioning Mayor Rick Kriseman
  5. St. Petersburg City Council pushes ahead on living wage ordinance


    ST. PETERSBURG — City Council members on Thursday set the stage for adopting what may be the most significant “living wage” measure in the Tampa Bay area.

    The proposal would require businesses seeking city contracts of more than $100,000 to pay their workers a living wage, which after some discussion was set at $12 an hour. Four council members meeting as the budget, finance & taxation committee unanimously approved the idea at the behest of Council member Karl Nurse, who is term-limited and serving his last weeks in office....

    Council member Karl Nurse had been pushing for the city to require contractors to pay workers $13 an hour for months.
  6. In fundraising arms race, Rays donate another $50,000 to Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays have donated another $50,000 to Mayor Rick Kriseman's re-election campaign, the latest major donation in a mayoral race that long ago reached the fundraising stratosphere.

    The Rays, both as a team and through individual donations by owner Stu Sternberg and executives, have donated at least $81,500 to Kriseman. Their latest and largest contribution on Sept. 22 went to Kriseman's Sunrise political action committee....

    State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, left, Tampa Bay Rays spokeswoman Rafaela Amador, center, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman talk with reporters during a press conference at Signature Flight Support in Tampa on Wednesday after returning from a flight delivering aid to Puerto Rico. A partnership between Rays Baseball, Moffitt Cancer Center, and several other organizations facilitated the delivery of aid for the island as well as provided evacuation for several cancer patients, some Rays organization family members, and about 3,000 tissue samples in an effort to protect over a decade of research at PHSU in cancer treatment. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  7. Rays give $50,000 to Rick Kriseman's campaign


    A $50,000 contribution to Mayor Rick Kriseman’s releection campaign from the Tampa Bay Rays is the latest monster donation in a mayoral race that long ago pierced stratospheric heights in spending, obliterating previous records for Sunshine City elections by an exponential amount.

    The Rays, both as a team and through individual donations by owner Stu Sternberg and executives, have donated at least $81,500 to Kriseman. Their latest, and largest, contribution on Sept. 22 went to Kriseman's Sunrise political action committee....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has received at least $81,500 from Rays owner Stu Sternberg (right) and other team executives.
  8. Rick vs. Rick: Who is most fiscally prudent?


    ST. PETERSBURG — The battle of the two Ricks plunged into the fiscal nitty-gritty Tuesday as Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker tussled over spending.

    Baker repeatedly criticized Kriseman for borrowing $7.6 million from the city's reserves to balance this year's budget.

    "That is a bad omen moving forward," Baker said, adding later that Kriseman's plan involved paying back the money through a bond issue early next year....

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman (left) and former Mayor Rick Baker, who are opposing each other in the 2017 mayoral race, appear at a candidate forum Tuesday night sponsored by the Disston Heights Civic Association. [CHARLIE FRAGO  |  Times]
  9. Immigrant coalition seeks to boost voter turnout in St. Pete election


    A statewide immigrant rights group launched a get-out-the-vote effort in St. Petersburg Tuesday with the aim of educating voters about a range of issues affecting immigrant communities.

    Ten paid canvassers plan to knock on 7,000 doors, said Francesca Menes, policy director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition, a Miami-based group, which has a regional office in Tampa.

    The coalition won’t formally endorse anyone, but will talk about positions of elected officials that support immigrants, she said....

  10. Drunken driving is about to get more expensive in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — Drunken drivers beware: St. Petersburg has made it even more expensive and onerous to face a charge of driving under the influence.

    The City Council recently approved an ordinance change that will allow police to charge a $500 fine along with towing and storage fees to drunken drivers if they want to get their vehicle back from the impound lot after they've been arrested....

    St. Petersburg will have the region’s first major law enforcement agency that’s allowed to fine vehicles linked to drunken driving.
  11. Anthony Cates endorses Rick Kriseman for mayor


    Two-time mayoral candidate Anthony Cates netted 388 votes in the Aug. 29 mayoral primary, finishing fifth out of six candidates on the ballot with 0.69% of the 56,509 ballots cast.

    On Monday, Cates threw his support in the Nov. 7 election behind incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    In a statement, Cates said Kriseman was the better choice for the city over former mayor Rick Baker.

    "Over the past month, I have seen firsthand the perspectives and agendas of both candidates in the upcoming election. Mayor Kriseman's honest, pragmatic, and hopeful insight into our community's most pressing issues—such as affordable housing, infrastructure, and economic development—is reassuring. Mayor Kriseman's determination to understand and correct wrongs in our community sets him apart from his opponent....

    Anthony Cates, who finished fifth out of six candidates in the St. Petersburg August mayoral primary has endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman
  12. Lisa Wheeler-Bowman to appear on Tamron Hall's crime show


    St. Petersburg City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman has a local reputation for her fearless search for her son's killers.

    On Sunday, a national audience will learn the story of how Wheeler-Bowman found justice for her murdered son, Cabretti, a feat that sparked a civic engagement that led with her election to City Council in 2015.

    Wheeler-Bowman taped the show in March, leading Hall through the events before and after her son Cabretti's 2008 murder....

    St. Petersburg City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman (left) will be featured on Tamron Hall's true crime show on Investigative Discovery on Sunday
  13. Know Your Mayoral Candidates: Rick Kriseman vs. Rick Baker


    Mayor Rick Kriseman edged out former Mayor Rick Baker by 70 votes out of 56,509 cast in the Aug. 29 primary. Kriseman, a Democrat, is serving his first term. Baker, a Republican, served as mayor from 2001 to 2010.

    The race is officially non-partisan and has shattered all previous fundraising records for a mayor's race in the Sunshine City, already raising a combined $2 million.

    About the job: St. Petersburg's mayor is elected citywide to run Florida's fifth-largest city. The mayor earns about $180,895 a year and serves a four-year term....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman (left) is being challenged by former former Mayor Rick Baker. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  14. Is the Sunshine City headed to the U.S. Supreme Court? St. Pete passes historic campaign finance limits, faces likely legal challenge


    ST. PETERSBURG — Seeking to stem the influence of big-money interests in local elections, St. Petersburg became the first city in the nation Thursday to limit contributions to political action committees.

    It also may have opened residents to millions in legal costs, city attorneys warned.

    The 6-2 vote by the City Council serves as a rebuke to Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission, the controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that removed restrictions on how much outside groups can spend to influence elections. The council’s vote instead seeks to limit how much money individuals can give to PACs that seek to influence city elections....

    St. Petersburg City Council members spent hours debating a historic campaign finance ordinance before approving it by a 6-2 vote.
  15. Rick Kriseman says he wants big money out of St. Pete elections


    A large crowd cheered Mayor Rick Kriseman and several council members Thursday morning as they vowed to rid St. Petersburg of big money influencing local elections.

    Kriseman, who has raised nearly $1 million for his reelection effort, praised a proposed ordinance that would limit donations to political action committees to $5,000 and ban contributions from corporations with significant foreign ownership in city elections was a “righteous” cause....

    League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area gathered outside City Hall Thursday morning in support of an ordinance limiting PAC and foreign money in city elections