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Richard Danielson, Times Staff Writer

Richard Danielson

Richard Danielson covers city government and politics in Tampa. He joined the Times in 1987. He is the main contributor to PolitiFact Florida's Buck-O-Meter, which tracks Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn's performance on 34 campaign promises.

Phone: (813) 226-3403

Email: rdanielson@tampabay.com

Twitter: @Danielson_Times

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  1. USF researchers scan Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery for lost graves

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    The city's oldest cemetery is the final resting place for at least 1,000 early Tampa residents — pioneers, Confederate soldiers, victims of yellow fever, pirates, 13 mayors and slaves — but there might be even more.

    So this week, anthropologists and students from the University of South Florida brought ground-penetrating radar and other equipment to Oaklawn Cemetery and the adjacent St. Louis Catholic Cemetery to search for and map unmarked graves....

    White strips of fabric mark a grid used by USF researchers to scan the cemetery with ground-penetrating radar. The flags mark possible lost graves.
  2. Tampa looking at residential parking permits to replace 5-minute parking signs

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Now that Tampa's longtime 5-minute parking rule is off the books, City Hall is looking at a residential parking permit program to bring order to the vehicular scrum that vexes neighborhoods where homeowners compete with visitors to park on the street.

    The rules and the costs won't be set until June 15 or later, but an expansion of residential permits now used in Ybor City and some other neighborhoods appeared likely during a City Council workshop Thursday....

    For years, Tampa residents posted "5-minute parking" signs, like this one on S Desoto Avenue near Bayshore Boulevard, to keep people from parking for extended periods in front of their homes. But the city repealed the ordinance last month after the state determined that the local law was unenforceable. Now the City Council is looking at a residential parking permit program. BRIAN CASSELLA  |  Times (2008)
  3. 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.
  4. Tampa's new Jewish Community Center creates parking problem, neighbors say

    Local Government

    TAMPA

    Lorain Vila Murias took her 2½-year-old grandson to the playground this week, then yelled herself hoarse as about 200 cars raised plumes of dust driving across a grassy field near the slide.

    They were part of a crowd of more than 700 who turned out for an awards lunch at the Bryan Glazer Family Jewish Community Center.

    Known as the JCC, the center has 229 approved parking spaces — less than half the number the city typically would require — so many visitors must find parking off-site, including at Vila Brothers Park....

    Heike Frijouf, Armory Gardens Civic Association board member, and Theodora Morgan sit with other neighbors at the playground near cars parked in the grassy field at the Vila Brothers Park. They were there just before the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida’s annual Women of Distinction Luncheon on Tuesday.
  5. Study will help determine expansion of once-bustling Tampa streetcar system

    Transportation

    TAMPA

    It is not a stretch to say that once nearly everybody in Tampa rode the streetcar.

    "There was no corner of our community that wasn't accessible to the little yellow streetcars of my youth," 89-year-old artist Ferdie Pacheco writes in his memoir, Ybor City Chronicles.

    "We went to school on them, went to work, to dances, to movies, to the downtown shopping areas, to Sulphur Springs to swim and to Ballast Point to enjoy the factory picnics."...

    Riders board the TECO Line Streetcar for a rolling concert with indie folk-pop duo Good Graeff in 2014. Last year the trolley system carried about 287,000 passengers.
  6. Tampa one of four finalists to host national gay and lesbian business group's 2018 convention

    Blog

    The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has named Tampa one of its four finalists to host its annual convention in August 2018.

    The other finalists are Austin, Texas, Philadelphia and New Orleans. The convention would need 2,450 hotel rooms. A decision is expected by mid-April.

    Hosting the convention would “elevate the entire Tampa Bay community in the eyes of the world as a major LGBTQ destination capable of putting on a significant, high-quality national event,” said Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada said in a statement released through the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce....

    Rosario Coronado of Tampa holds the gay pride flag during a candlelight vigil held in Tampa last year to remember victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.
  7. Tampa could pay $65,000 to settle DUI lawsuit brought by Cuba activist Al Fox

    Local Government

    TAMPA — City Hall could pay $65,000 to settle parts of a lawsuit filed by prominent Cuba activist Albert A. Fox Jr., who contended that his 2013 arrest on a DUI charge was motivated by a quota system for Tampa's DUI squad.

    The settlement is headed to the City Council next week. If approved, it would settle Fox's claims against the city and police Officer Dean Uno.

    But it would not resolve Fox's claims against a third defendant: fired Tampa police Sgt. Ray Fernandez, the officer who pulled Fox over. Fernandez, who was fired as the result of his involvement in an unrelated arrest about eight months before Fox sued the city, is being represented by a private attorney....

    Albert A. Fox Jr. is the founder of the Tampa-based Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation.
  8. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn won't seek Democratic nomination for governor in 2018

    Blog

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has decided not to run for governor next year, opting instead to finish his second and last term at City Hall in 2019.

    Buckhorn, 58, is giving two reasons for his decision. First, he doesn’t want to miss important family moments with his daughters Grace, 15, and Colleen, 11, to pursue an “all-consuming” 18-month campaign.

    “The state of Florida needs a course correction and a new direction,” he said in a statement emailed to supporters and posted on social media at 5 a.m. Thursday. But “the timing for me and my family would be a challenge.”...

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced his decision not to run for Florida governor in 2018 via social media and an email to past supporters Thursday morning.
  9. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn won't seek Democratic nomination for governor in 2018

    Gubernatorial

    TAMPA — No sooner did Mayor Bob Buckhorn opt out of next year's race for governor than he started to hear from other Democrats who suddenly wanted to be his new best friend.

    Buckhorn, 58, posted his decision to social media Thursday at 5 a.m. By about 8:30 a.m. he had a telephone message from Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum — the first of the remaining Democratic prospects to check in....

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn speaks at a news conference in Tampa on March 9, 2017. Buckhorn has decided not to run for governor next year, opting instead to finish his second and last term at City Hall in 2019. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  10. Tampa looking for ideas to expand and upgrade streetcar

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — City Hall will hold the first of three public meetings on the future of the TECO Line Streetcar tonight with an eye on expanding and improving the service.

    The streetcar should be used more than it is, Mayor Bob Buckhorn said in announcing the forum, so, "We are taking a hard look at its future.

    "A potential extension of the system through downtown could open up connections to new neighborhoods, jobs and entertainment," said Buckhorn, who, ironically, argued the trolley would be a poor use of taxpayer dollars and cast the lone vote against it when he was on the City Council in the 1990s....

    The first of three public meetings on the possible expansion of the streetcar system starts at 5:30 tonight at the Tampa Bay History Center.
  11. Racist slurs on Tampa truck shock, confuse and mislead onlookers

    Bizarre News

    TAMPA — It's hard to miss Tony Daniel when he heads out for a drive.

    His pickup truck cruises through Tampa with a large sign showing a Confederate flag, a Nazi flag, a photo of a lynching, Mayor Bob Buckhorn's photo, references to Home Depot and multiple uses of the word "n-----."

    Vote Buckhorn for Florida governor, it says, adding, "Every n----- vote counts." At the top of the sign, the word appears in letters a foot tall....

    BEFORE: This 2007 photo from Google Street View shows a house at 2204 E Ida Street in Tampa. City officials say that since this photo was made, the house has been dramatically enlarged, with much of the work being done without building permits. There is a fine of nearly $1.7 million against the property, and city officials have been talking with Tampa resident Tony Daniel, who has said his daughter was the home's owner when the initial permit was issued, about the violations.
  12. Tampa council approves three towers on west bank of Hillsborough River

    Real Estate

    TAMPA

    A three-tower complex with more square footage than International Plaza has won final City Council approval, setting the stage for a huge transformation of the area south of the University of Tampa.

    John Avlon, president of the Hillsborough River Realty Corp., which owns the property, said the company can now move to the next stage of design for the project, which does not have an announced start date....

    This is a rendering of Lafayette Tower, a mixed-use development planned for downtown Tampa, across Kennedy Boulevard from the University of Tampa. Its name harkens to when Kennedy was known as Lafayette Street.
  13. Tampa council wants high penalties for violating proposed ban on gay conversion therapy for minors

    Blog

    The Tampa City Council on Thursday moved to ban mental health professionals from providing minors with so-called gay conversion therapy, and proposed what could be the highest penalties in Florida for those who do.

    State-licensed therapists and counselors could be fined $1,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for repeat offenses under the proposed Tampa ordinance, which is scheduled for the first of two votes on March 16....

    The Tampa City Council is scheduled to take a first vote on the ordinance March 16.
  14. Cost rising to create 'quiet zone' in downtown Tampa for train horns

    Local Government

    TAMPA — The cost of creating a "quiet zone" for train horns in downtown Tampa started at $2.7 million, but now has risen to more like $3.17 million.

    And City Hall is covering much of the difference.

    The City Council recently approved spending $320,000 more for the project. The money comes from downtown redevelopment funds, a slice of property taxes created by new downtown development and reserved for projects to support more growth there....

    A CSX train leaves downtown Tampa along the tracks under the William F. Poe Parking Garage. The sound of train horns warning motorists has become a bigger problem as the number of people living in downtown Tampa has grown in recent years.
  15. Tampa City Council wants to make Food Not Bombs feedings legal

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Six weeks after police stopped a Food Not Bombs event and arrested seven volunteers feeding the poor in a downtown park, the City Council wants to try a more hands-off approach to regulating such efforts.

    The council voted Thursday to consider an ordinance that would mirror the rule in St. Petersburg, where groups can distribute food without having to get a city permit or obtain liability insurance as long as the event attracts fewer than 50 people. Council members said they would review how the change works in practice after six months....

    Tampa police arrested seven volunteers on Jan. 7 as the group Food Not Bombs fed homeless people without a city permit at Lykes Gaslight Square Park in downtown Tampa.