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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. Kriseman to open campaign office


    Mayor Rick Kriseman will open his campaign office Friday with Congresman Charlie Crist in attendance.

    The new office, 1638 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N, will house campaign staff. The 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. opening will have speeches by Kriseman and Crist among "other special guests," according to a campaign Facebook post Monday.

    Kriseman is in a race against former mayor Rick Baker. ...

  2. St. Petersburg's mayor, police chief promised dashboard cameras, but City Council hits the brakes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Over the objections of the mayor's office, the City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday to delay buying dashboard cameras for new police vehicles.

    City Council member Karl Nurse led the charge, saying the St. Petersburg Police Department is well-trained and doesn't need to keep a visual record of officers doing their job.

    Nurse said an officer hasn't been involved in an "unjustified" shooting since 2013. That's when an officer was fired for shooting at a moving vehicle that did not pose a danger to himself....

    A screen-grab of a dashboard camera mounted in a St. Petersburg Police Department vehicle that shows a cruiser in pursuit of a speeding Dodge Charger on Fourth Avenue N in downtown in 2015. City Council member Karl Nurse on Thursday convinced his fellow council members to delay buying more dashboard cameras for police vehicles. Instead, he wants to spend the money on audio technology that could pinpoint the location of gunfire. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg Police Department]
  3. Here come the "Influencers;" St. Petersburg's new social media marketing stratey approved


    ST. PETERSBURG — The social media marketing strategy that was met with a chilly City Council reception earlier this year, won approval Thursday. The City Council signed off on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s “Influencer” strategy....

  4. St. Petersburg City Council tells Mayor Rick Kriseman to spend Penny for Pinellas money on housing, transit


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration prepared a $326 million wish list for the city's share of proceeds raised by the next decade of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. It includes many priorities long clamored for by the City Council: sewage system fixes and a new Shore Acres Recreation Center.

    But Kriseman’s list didn’t include money for affordable housing or transit. So in front of a room full of Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) members — who last month urged council members to dedicate 10 percent of the city’s portion of the 1 percent countywide sales tax to affordable housing — the council told the mayor's office to tear up that list and come back next month with one dedicating at least $15 million to those needs....

  5. St. Petersburg's sewage problem also a legal issue

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's no secret that federal agents have been looking into St. Petersburg's sewage crisis since at least 2016, when the issue boiled over into the congressional campaign between Charlie Crist and David Jolly.

    Then-congressman Jolly and Sen. Marco Rubio both called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last fall to probe the causes behind the city's discharging 200 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and city streets since August 2015....

  6. It's round two for mayor's idea to hire social media 'influencers' to promote St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The "influencers" are back.

    In early March, Mayor Rick Kriseman was criticized for a last-minute attempt to get the City Council to approve spending $225,000 on influencers — social media stars — to market the Sunshine City's good vibes.

    Council members balked at the request to hire influential individuals who would have promoted the city to their followings on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms. They complained that the mayor's office submitted the proposal too late for them to vet or debate the idea. They tabled the measure....

    Visitors fill the third floor of the Salvador Dali Museum under the museum's Enigma's 75 foot- tall bubble window, which is comprised of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass. Mayor Rick Kriseman wants City Council to approve spending $92,500 to hire "influencers" to promote the city's brand on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  7. Karl Nurse wants to swap Penny money for TIF dollars to free up cash for buses and affordable housing


    Council member Karl Nurse, in his last year in office, has been a dynamo of ideas so far in 2017.

    Zoning revamps. Affordable housing plans. Energy efficiency. Nurse has been busy.

    His latest? Take $21 million in next round of Penny for Pinellas projects slated for St. Petersburg and swap them out into the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Finance district to free up dollars for affordable housing and transit....

  8. Sewer probes deepen: US Attorney's Office requests consent order


    It’s no secret that federal agents have been looking into St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis since at least 2016, when the issue boiled over into the congressional campaign between Charlie Crist and David Jolly.

    Then-congressman Jolly and Sen. Marco Rubio both called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last fall to probe the causes behind the city’s discharging 200 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and city streets since August 2015....

  9. Red Tide linked to pelican deaths, but St. Petersburg still denies any link to sewage dumps



    Earlier this spring, a city-funded study concluded that dozens of pelicans found dead in January had been exposed to botulism while feasting on tilapia carcasses.

    But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said recently that a toxin from Red Tide was found in some of the birds and may have contributed to their deaths.

    Wildlife commission officials would not say if the pelican deaths are part of a criminal inquiry into St. Petersburg's sewage-dumping woes, but Red Tide can be caused by sewage spills....

    Dozens of pelicans turned up dead last fall in Coffee Pot Bayou and Riviera Bay. [Photo submitted by Leo McFee (October 2016)]
  10. Guarding St. Petersburg's cool factor is good policy, says Mayor Rick Kriseman, not playing politics


    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman is trying to find the sweet spot between preserving the funky vibe of Central Avenue and chic charm of Beach Drive while respecting the lucrative property rights of the owners of those sizzling stretches of downtown real estate.

    It is not an easy balance to find.

    An early foray was the mayor's announcement May 3 of an "Independent Corridor" plan that would protect small local businesses from being priced out by chains large and small. By the mayor's own admission, that idea received some raspberries amid the applause....

    Mayor Rick Kriseman’s plan focuses on Central Avenue and Beach Drive.
  11. Old Baker signs cause stir


    The signs lined Dr Martin Luther King Street S by Lake Maggiore Park Saturday when former mayor Rick Baker greeted supporters in his first post-announcement campaign event.

    They've also popped up around other parts of the city in the week since Baker, who was mayor between 2001 and 2010, plunged into his bid for a third term. 

    Problem is, the signs are from his 2005 reeelection campaign and violate state election law by urging voters to "re-elect" Baker, who isn't an incumbent. And they're out too early. Candidates aren't supposed to distribute signs until after qualifying period ends in June....

    An old sign for Rick Baker's 2005 campaign at Pinellas Point Drive and 70th Avenue S on Sunday morning
  12. Baker kicks off campaign with barbeque and conversation


    Rick Baker greeted dozens of supporters Saturday at Lake Maggiore Park, kicking off his quest for a return to the mayor's office by forgoing a stump speech in favor of casual small group chats with supporters at a picnic organized in part by his former deputy mayor Goliath Davis III.

    “There was a rule I had as mayor--some things I won’t do the same---this one I’ll do the same. The whole community knew that if there was food, I was going to show up,” Baker said before blessing the steaming trays of chicken, ribs and sausage links served up by the Nite Riders Van Club....

    Former Mayor Rick Baker greets supporters at Lake Maggiore Park on Saturday.
  13. Tampa Bay has spent millions to keep hurricane season from turning into sewage season again


    Hurricane season starts next month. Will it also be the start of sewage season?

    Tampa Bay utility officials have their collective fingers crossed, hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's calamity: Glancing blows from Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine, combined with record rainfall, overwhelmed sewer pipes and plants across the region.

    Sewage seeped through manhole covers and flowed over residential streets. St. Petersburg alone sent 161.5 million gallons of waste gushing into the Tampa Bay itself (and a total of 200 million gallons going back to August 2015). Those disastrous spills fouled the bay, left local officials reeling and sparked state and federal investigations....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn of sewage contamination in September 2016.
  14. Darryl LeClair's dream of building a baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in Carillon is no more

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The dream died quietly, nearly without comment.

    Buried in a City Council agenda, the once-touted future home of the Tampa Bay Rays — or at least developer Darryl LeClair's vision of it — almost passed into oblivion without a word Thursday until council member Charlie Gerdes spoke up.

    "Is that the property that the stadium was going to be on?" Gerdes asked at Thursday's meeting. The council was prepping for a meeting next week, when there will be a public hearing on the city's proposed development agreement with LeClair in the Gateway area....

    In 2012, Darryl LeClair unveiled his vision for a Rays baseball stadium in the Carillon development.
  15. St. Pete workers nervous about insurance coverage at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital because of dispute


    Of the city’s 2,600 workers, many have children. An exact number is unknown because of patient privacy rules.

    But it’s safe to say that if you work for the city and you have kids, you’re probably nervous tonight.

    That’s because of a contract dispute between the city’s insurer United Health Care and John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

    A breakdown in negotiations between the hospital and the insurance company prompted an email to be sent to city employees late Wednesday stating that starting today new patients would have to pay out-of-network fees if they wanted to use All Children’s....