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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. Stu Sternberg: Top choices for Rays new stadium are unavailable

    The Heater

    PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg revealed some complications in his team's search for a new stadium on Thursday, yet said he's still confident they will find a new home in the Tampa Bay area.

    What were the Rays' top five choices for a new stadium — three in Tampa and two in St. Petersburg — are unavailable. That may push the team's time line for finding a new site from August to the end of 2017....

    Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks with reporters before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 23, 2017.
  2. St. Pete ponders pot shops


    The St. Petersburg City Council took a baby step toward regulating medical marijuana Thursday, with one eye on pending state legislation and another on preventing a cluster of pot-dealing clinics operating too close together.

    A council committee unanimously approved requesting the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that would prohibit dispensaries from setting up shop within 1,0000 feet of each other or a church or school....

    St. Petersburg is considering zoning regulations for medical marijuana dispensaries
  3. Tangerine Plaza sold at auction, setting stage for St. Petersburg to take control of shopping center


    ST. PETERSBURG — The city is one step closer to taking over ownership of Tangerine Plaza, the Midtown commercial development that has seen two grocery stores fail in the last three years.

    Summit Bridge, a creditor of developer Larry Newsome, on Wednesday bought his leaseholding rights to the plaza for what is believed to be about $2 million at a foreclosure auction, according to mayor's spokesman Ben Kirby. The plaza sits on city-owned land at 22nd Street S and 18th Avenue S....

    The Walmart Neighborhood Market in Midtown's Tangerine Plaza closed Monday in April. On Wednesday, a creditor of the developer bought the leaseholding rights to the plaza for what is believed to be about $2 million. It's the first step of a complicated deal that should see St. Petersburg eventually take control of the troubled plaza. [LAVENDRICK SMITH  |  Times]
  4. Kriseman nets council endorsements


    Mayor Rick Kriseman has raised $260,000 for his reelection and doesn't yet have a major challenger.

    On Wednesday, the good news continued with four City Council members endorsing the mayor.

    Charlie Gerdes, Amy Foster, Darden Rice and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, all Democrats, threw their support behind their Democratic mayor for the upcoming non-partisan race.

    Foster and Rice are up for reelection this year. Rice, the council chairwoman, has already announced her intention to run again. Foster hasn't made it official, but is widely expected to run again....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman has no major challenger yet in his reelection campaign
  5. Inspired by women's march, presidential election, political novice enters St. Pete City Council race


    John Johnson is a relative newcomer to St. Petersburg, arriving about four years ago from Brooklyn.

    But, inspired by recent national political events, the 46-year-old Old Northeast resident decided to enter a crowded field for the District 6 City Council seat being vacated by term-limited Karl Nurse.

    January's women's march, which drew more than 20,000 people to downtown's waterfront and millions worldwide, and November's presidential election persuaded Johnson to get involved politically....

    John Johnson has filed paperwork to run for District 6
  6. Amid sewage crisis, St. Petersburg department must also deal with racial tension

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city agency at the center of last year's sewage crisis is the Water Resources Department. While the city spewed hundreds of millions of gallons of waste into neighborhoods and waterways, the director was fired and the department was beset with questions about accountability, transparency and even competence.

    But in the midst of that emergency, the department faced another crisis: racial tension....

    Dwight Wilson was the highest-ranking black official in St. Petersburg’s Water Resources Department.
  7. Lucky 13th Grand Prix race makes a smooth return to St. Petersburg

    Local Government


    Now in its 13th year, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has settled into a comfortable groove.

    The spinouts of earlier years have quieted. Downtown residents' don't seem to have the same angst over the roar of engines and the noise of spectators pouring into the waterfront. Neighboring businesses are no longer flummoxed by the three-day race's schedule. And the tiff between a City Council member and the race managers is ancient history....

     Wilma Vos, 87, of Clearwater Beach rides behind retired racing legend Mario Andretti in the IndyCar two-seater ride at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg track during Thursday’s Indy Racing Experience.
  8. St. Petersburg City Council approves Pride support

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has formalized a multiyear agreement with St. Pete Pride regarding city financial support for the state's largest Pride event.

    In January, Mayor Rick Kriseman threatened to withhold city money for the June parade, which drew about 220,000 people last year, after Pride organizers announced plans to move the parade to a location along downtown's waterfront.

    A compromise was reached where the parade will relocate downtown, but other festivities during the June 23-25 weekend will stay in the Grand Central neighborhood. ...

    The Pride riders roll down Central ave. during the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg in 2016.
  9. TV crew taping this week for feature on Wheeler-Bowman

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Lisa Wheeler-Bowman scoured some of the toughest spots in St. Petersburg to find her son's killer.

    It eventually paid off when the killer was brought to justice. Now, recently departed Today show host Tamron Hall will tell America about Wheeler-Bowman's quest to solve her son Cabretti's 2008 murder.

    Wheeler-Bowman, 48, who was elected to the City Council in 2015, flew to Manhattan recently with her son, Chris, for the interviews for Hall's show Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall on Investigation Discovery. ...

    [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  10. St. Petersburg's middle-class housing dilemma may have an answer: skinny homes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For years, downtown boosters, the chamber of commerce and City Hall have complained about the shortage of middle-class family housing in the city.

    They said there just aren't enough affordable three-bedroom, two-bath options.

    So maybe it's time, city planners believe, to slim down.

    Enter "skinny homes." It's a new name for an old concept found in many other cities like Chicago, Charleston, New Orleans and Nashville. Think of a two-story gussied-up shotgun house....

    Three-story “skinny homes” are another option to getting more square footage for less.
  11. St. Pete council member's story goes national


    Lisa Wheeler-Bowman scoured some of the toughest spots in St. Petersburg to find her son's killer.

    It eventually paid off when the killer was brought to justice. Now, recently-departed Today show host, Tamron Hall will tell America about Wheeler-Bowman's quest to solve her son Cabretti's 2008 murder....

    St. Petersburg Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman
  12. St. Petersburg spending $16 million to fortify the Northwest sewage plant before rainy season starts


    ST. PETERSBURG — As the city grapples with the aftermath of two consecutive summers of massive sewage overflows, much of the attention has been focused on whether it should reopen the shuttered Albert Whitted waste-water treatment facility.

    City staff, council members and activists have also spent hours vetting the massive expansion under way at the Southwest sewage plant.

    But what about the Northwest plant?...

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city is planning to spend $16 million to upgrade the Northwest sewage plant, which released 58 million gallons of dirty water during the crisis. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  13. Against City Council's wishes, company sued over Flint water crisis helping fix St. Petersburg's sewage woes


    ST. PETERSBURG — A company embroiled in the Flint water crisis in Michigan is now helping to solve St. Petersburg's sewage woes.

    But that troubles some City Council members, who voted to remove the company from being considered for another contract because of its link to the Flint situation.

    Last week a City Council committee voted unanimously to remove Veolia ES Technical Solutions from the running for a contract to evaluate the management of the city's Water Resources Department, the division at the heart of the sewage crisis....

    Old Northeast residents (left to right) Marci Emerson, Arden Katcha, 8, and Arden's mother, Martha Collins, protest the city's handling of its sewage problems in 2016. The St. Petersburg City Council is not happy that a company tied to the Flint water crisis in Michigan, Veolia ES Technical Solutions, has been hired to work on St. Petersburg's sewage woes. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  14. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend $225,000 on 'influencers' to promote city (but not himself)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend big bucks to attract Twitter titans, influential Instagramers and Snapchat stars to the Sunshine City.

    And, in an election year for the mayor, his administration hopes that these "influencers" will write, tweet and post good things about the city's arts, culture and nightlife.

    The "influencers" campaign is part of a $225,000 request to spread the "great things" going on in St. Petersburg to their respective audiences. Another chunk of money would be used to pump up interest in the city's entrepreneurial community. The city would partner with Spark Branding House, a Tampa firm, to build the campaign....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend $225,000 to hire “influencers” to promote the Sunshine City through their various audiences, whether it be on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. The City Council tabled the request Thursday. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  15. Tampa Bay Rowdies get their May 2 vote to expand Al Lang Stadium in MLS bid


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rowdies bid to make the jump to Major League Soccer took a big step forward Thursday when the City Council unanimously approved a citywide vote on the team’s plans to expand their home field to MLS standards.

    The May 2 vote means that residents can weigh in on whether the city could negotiate up to a 25-year lease with Rowdies’ owner Bill Edwards for historic Al Lang Stadium. The Rowdies plan to expand the downtown stadium to 18,000 seats....

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday approved a May 2 referendum that would allow voters to decide whether to let the Tampa Bay Rowdies expand historic Al Lang Stadium to 18,000 seats. This artist's rendering shows a street view of what the expanded and upgraded Al Lang Stadium could look like. The Rowdies' goal is to position the franchise to make the jump to Major League Soccer in the coming years. [Courtesy of Tampa Bay Rowdies]