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Steve Contorno, Times Staff Writer

Steve Contorno

Steve Contorno is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times covering Hillsborough County. He previously worked for PolitiFact in the Times Washington, D.C. bureau. Prior to joining the Times, he covered Congress and Virginia politics for the Washington Examiner as well as state and local governments in Wisconsin for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. A native of the Chicago suburbs, Steve graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor's degree in news-editorial journalism and a minor in political science, and holds a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield, where he covered the Illinois legislature for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Phone: (813) 226-3433


The Contorno file:

Twitter: @scontorno

  1. In one day, fundraisers reach goal to move Confederate monument from downtown Tampa


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners gave an ultimatum to the people who want a Confederate monument moved from downtown Tampa: Raise half the money yourselves or it stays. You have 30 days.

    It took 24 hours.

    A campaign to relocate the statue topped $180,000 by Thursday afternoon, well past the $140,000 goal, confirmed Tom Scarritt, the Tampa lawyer who organized the effort. ...

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  2. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn donates $1,000 to move Confederate monument


    TAMPA — The fundraising effort to remove a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa has tripled its haul since Hillsborough County commissioners tied the statue’s fate to the success of the campaign.

    Count Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn among the latest donors.

    On Thursday morning Buckhorn posted to social media a picture of a signed check from him for $1,000 to the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners....

    A check from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for $1,000 to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.
  3. Tampa investor gives $50,000 to move Confederate monument, Buckhorn donates $1,000


    TAMPA — Donations to remove a Confederate monument from downtown Tampa have skyrocketed since Hillsborough County commissioners tied the statue’s fate to the success of the campaign, including a $5,000 donation from former Tampa Bay Bucaneers coach Tony Dungy and one $50,000 donation from a local businessman.

    Dungy tweeted that he and his wife Lauren were giving $5,000 to the fundraising efforts and he was challenging "Bucs Rays Lightning to help!" ...

    A check from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for $1,000 to remove the Confederate monument from downtown Tampa.
  4. After monument vote, Confederate activist named to Hillsborough County diversity council


    TAMPA — Moments after Hillsborough County commissioners made uncertain a previous decision to move Tampa's Confederate monument, they voted to put the area's most vocal advocate of Confederate causes on a citizen committee to promote diversity. 

    Four of six commissioners present nominated David McCallister, commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Judah P. Benjamin Camp, to be the representative of Northern & Southern Europe on the county's Diversity Advisory Council. ...

    David McCallister won a spot on Hillsborough County's Diversity Advisory Council on Wednesday.
  5. Hillsborough will leave Confederate monument up if it can't get private money to move it

    Local Government

    TAMPA — If the money needed to move Tampa's Confederate monument can't be raised privately in 30 days, then the statue will stay where it is, Hillsborough County Commissioners decided Wednesday.

    The contentious 4-2 vote jeopardizes the fragile agreement reached last month to relocate the 106-year-old monument, called Memoria en Aeterna, from outside the old county courthouse in downtown Tampa to a family cemetery in Brandon....

    Victim is remembered: Marcus Martin, right, hugs his fiancee, Marissa Blair, during a memorial for Heather Heyer on Wednesday at the Paramount Theater in Charlottesville, Va. Martin pushed Blair out of the way of the vehicle that killed Heyer as it plowed into a crowd of protesters gathered to oppose a white supremacist rally. 5A
  6. Stormwater rate hike coming to Hillsborough residents, businesses


    TAMPA -- Stormwater fees in Hillsborough County are going up for the second time in three years after remaining flat for more than two decades.

    Single-family households will pay $36 this year, an increase of $6. Apartment complexes will now pay $18 per unit and non-residential parcels will pay $0.03 for every 1.5 square feet.

    The new rates, approved 5-1, also give commissioners the option of raising the rate for residents to $42 next year....

    Knee-deep water lasted in the Lutz neighborhood of Faircloth Estates days after a 2015 storm long after other neighborhoods dried up.
  7. Les Miller on Charlottesville: 'This is not what we should be about'


    TAMPA -- In the aftermath of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Va., and ahead of today's continued conversation on Tampa's Confederate monument, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller on Wednesday looked to inspire unity in an invocation that a colleague called "inspirational."

    In it, Miller said after the weekend's events, which he called an "ugly scene," it seems "we’re going backwards instead of forward."...

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller prayed for unity during Wednesday's Hillsborough County Commission meeting, following the violent protests in Charlottesville that left 19 injured and one dead.
  8. Hillsborough commissioners renew monument debate while St. Petersburg swiftly moves Confederate marker


    Without public comment or deliberation, St. Petersburg officials on Tuesday quietly removed an obscure reminder of the Confederacy sitting on the city's downtown waterfront.

    Meanwhile, a debate over the future of Tampa's Confederate monument — one that began long before last weekend's violent white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Va., but persists today — will likely continue during today's Hillsborough County Commission meeting....

    The Memoria in Aeterna Confederate monument stands in front of the old Hillsborough County Courthouse. Hillsborough County Commissioners voted 4-2 last month to move it to a private cemetery in Brandon. CHRIS URSO   |   Times

  9. Can Tampa's Confederate monument rest in peace at Brandon family cemetery?

    Human Interest

    BRANDON — In the field where his great-grandfather was laid to rest, on the land his great-great-grandfather settled and his grandfather and father helped develop into a thriving suburb, Ken Brandon, Jr. hopes to bury the debate over Tampa's Confederate monument.

    "I hope there's no controversy of any kind. When it's done it's done," Brandon said. "Let it find its final resting place on that one corner until time takes its toll."...

    The grave of James Henry Brandon sits next to a small Confederate marker at the Brandon Family Cemetery on the corner of North Pinewood Ave. and E. Brandon Blvd. James Henry fought in the Civil War, was captured and sent to the Rock Island Prison Camp in Illinois.  When he was released after the war, he walked home to Tampa and arrived with his feet wrapped in rags.  Kenneth Brandon Jr. would like to see the Confederate memorial at the old county courthouse moved to his family cemetery to honor James Henry and because the two soldiers on the memorial symbolize what James Henry went through. JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times

  10. After vote to move Tampa's Confederate monument, two Hillsborough commissioners had car tires punctured


    TAMPA -- Two Hillsborough County commissioners said their cars were vandalized in the days since a contentious vote on whether to remove Tampa’s Confederate monument.

    Commissioner Victor Crist he had two flat tires this weekend, he told his colleagues during Wednesday’s meeting, and he suggested that it was related to the county’s debate on Memoria en Aeterna, a 106-year-old Confederate statue in downtown Tampa....

    Two Hillsborough County commissioners said their tires were popped in the weeks since a vote on the fate of Tampa's Confederate monument
  11. Hillsborough joins Tampa, St. Pete in offering employees paid parental leave

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Following the lead of St. Petersburg and Tampa, Hillsborough County will soon offer its government employees six weeks of paid parental leave.

    Starting next year, new parents — mothers and fathers, whether they're primary or secondary caregivers — can take the paid time off if they have a baby, adopt or take in a foster child.

    The idea was presented earlier this year by Commissioner Sandy Murman, who said offering paid leave is the right thing to do for the county's 4,300 employees....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman led the push to get paid parental leave for county employees. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
  12. Sea-level rise, not climate change, should be Hillsborough's focus, Commissioner White says


    TAMPA -- An ominous Washington Post analysis published recently on Tampa Bay’s readiness for a major storm -- or lack thereof -- caught the eye of Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp this weekend.

    She shared the contents of the Post story with commissioners Wednesday, noting that Hillsborough in particular had taken few steps to address climate change or rising sea level. The county, she said, is especially vulnerable if a storm like Hurricane Katrina hit here....

    An unidentified bicyclist rides along Bayshore Boulevard as waves crash against the the seawall Sept. 1, 2016 in Tampa during Tropical Storm Hermine, which became a Category 1 hurricane. Rising-sea level poses an ominous threat to Tampa Bay, according to recent reports.
  13. Hillsborough County to offer employees paid parental leave


    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County will provide six weeks of paid parental leave to employees starting next year.

    With the move, the county is following in the footsteps of Tampa, which made the same decision to offer new parents -- both mothers and fathers -- the new benefit. 

    The idea was presented earlier this year by Commissioner Sandy Murman and county staff said Wednesday it will be included in the benefit package next year....

    Hillsborough County will offer six weeks of paid parental leave starting Jan. 1, 2018.
  14. Crist: I would have voted against moving Tampa Confederate monument to Brandon


    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said Wednesday he doesn’t support moving Tampa’s Confederate monument to a family cemetery in Brandon.

    Crist missed the July 19 vote on the monument to attend family events in California. But if he was there, he would have voted against moving it to the Brandon family center, he explained during a point of personal priviledge at the start of Wendesday's board meeting. Instead, he would have liked to have seen it relocated to a private cemetery in Lutz that he believes is more secure, suitable and accessible....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist said he would not have supported moving Tampa's Confederate monument to a private family cemetery in Brandon.
  15. With budget crisis looming, Hillsborough commissioners approve property tax cut


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners cast dire warnings Thursday of a looming budget crisis if Florida voters approve a statewide property tax cut next year.

    "We're going to face a $30 million reduction in our budget as a result of the additional homestead exemption," Commissioner Ken Hagan said before voting against new money for transit.

    "We're headed into uncharted territory," Commissioner Sandy Murman agreed....

    Passengers are seen near a bus at Westfield-Brandon Transit Center earlier this month in Brandon. On Thursday, Hillsborough commissioners approved a $2?million one-time payment for the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority.