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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

Email: scontorno@tampabay.com

The Contorno file: PolitiFact.com

Twitter: @scontorno

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  1. Look what Uber did: Longtime Hillsborough County agency faces extinction

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Hillsborough County board that regulates taxis and waged a years-long war against Uber is on track to be abolished by the state Legislature.

    Decried by opponents as unnecessary and out-of-date, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been at the center of controversy over ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. It approved a ban on their operation within county boundaries and tried to regulate them like taxicab companies....

    Taxi cab drivers may no longer be regulated by Hillsborough County's Public Transportation Commission, as a Florida House bill that eliminates the board passed the chamber on Friday. The Senate is scheduled to vote on, and expected to pass, the same bill next week. [CHRIS URSO | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. In his fight to stop sprawl, Hillsborough commissioner takes to the sky

    Human Interest

    SOMEWHERE ABOVE HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

    Excuse Stacy White for getting on his soapbox or sounding like a broken record or whatever disclaimer he offers before launching into yet another diatribe on his favorite punching bag: land use policies.

    During Hillsborough County Commission meetings, White's monologues against unchecked growth can elicit eye rolls, silence or, on good days, polite encouragement....

    Hillsborough Commissioner Stacy White gets a bird’s-eye view of south Hillsborough’s rapid growth, which alarms him.
  3. Darryl Shaw is quiet, humble - and $63 million later, Ybor's big new player

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Darryl Shaw first ventured into Ybor City real estate in 1988, just after he finished a bachelor's degree in international business at Brown University.

    It didn't end well.

    The 22-year-old moved to Ybor and bought a run-down building on E Seventh Avenue with plans to convert it to office space. Then the balcony collapsed during renovation. The city condemned the building, which had to be demolished. End of that career....

    Darryl Shaw, the chief executive officer of the BluePearl chain of emergency and specialty animal hospitals, has bought scores of properties in Ybor City over the last three years. Shaw, shown here with his dog Charlie, says he has a long-range vision to help transform Ybor City back into a place where a lot of people want to live. Photo courtesty BluePearl.
  4. Ferry gets high marks from Hillsborough commissioners looking to continue service

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The Cross-Bay Ferry's six-month trial hasn't even ended yet and Hillsborough County commissioners are already looking to bring it back.

    Commissioners on Wednesday directed county staffers to find money in next year's budget that could again contribute to a seasonal ferry connecting the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Many of them heaped praise on the project.

    "It's a fun way to travel," Commissioner Victor Crist said....

    The Cross Bay Ferry has run between St. Petesburg and Tampa since November.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. Hillsborough takes step to bring back Cross-Bay Ferry in November

    Blog

    TAMPA -- The Cross-Bay ferry’s six-month trial hasn’t even ended yet and Hillsborough County Commissioners are already looking to bring it back.

    Commissioners on Wednesday directed county staff to identify money in next year’s budget that could again contribute to a seasonal ferry connecting the downtowns of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Hillsborough, along with St. Petersburg, Tampa and Pinellas County, contributed $350,000 last year to pay for the ongoing pilot program....

    Hillsborough County Commissioners voted Wednesday to explore how to bring back seasonal CrossBay Ferry service this November.
  6. Hillsborough honors former Tampa Tribune editorial writer Joe Guidry with inaugural conservation award

    Blog

    TAMPA -- Hillsborough County Commissioners on Wednesday honored former Tampa Tribune journalist and editorial writer Joe Guidry with the county’s new conservation award.

    A committee chose Guidry as the inaugural recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Hillsborough Forever Conservation Award last month because of his career advocating for the county’s natural resources and the environment through the power of the press....

    Former Tampa Tribune editorial writer Joe Guidry was named the inaugural recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Hillsborough Forever Conservation Award on Wednesday.
  7. Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan files to run in 2018

    Blog

    Hillsborough County's longest-tenured commissioner is running for another term.

    Ken Hagan, a Republican, filed to run in 2018 for the open District 2 seat Wednesday night, looking to return to the north Hillsborough district that first launched his career in 2002. The move ends speculation that Hagan, one of the county's most powerful politicians, would run for the mayor of Tampa in 2019....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan filed to run for another term in 2018.
  8. Hillsborough sets aside $22 million BP settlement for permanent ferry service

    Transportation

    TAMPA — In the waning days of the Cross-Bay Ferry pilot program, Hillsborough County laid the groundwork Wednesday to make water transportation a permanent fixture in the Tampa Bay region.

    Commissioners voted to keep in reserve $22 million from the BP oil spill settlement with the hope it could one day go toward expanded ferry service, including a route between the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg....

    The Hillsborough County Commission is looking to permanently extend the Cross-Day Ferry, the pilot program connecting downtown St. Petersburg to downtown Tampa. But it will need help from the cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa and Pinellas County. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  9. Ban on puppy sales moves forward in Hillsborough County

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Looking to curb abusive puppy mills, Hillsborough County commissioners moved ahead Wednesday with a proposal to ban the commercial sale of cats and dogs.

    Under the proposed ordinance, new pet stores would be able to sell only dogs or cats purchased from local animal rescues. They would be barred from getting their supply of animals from large-scale breeders.

    Existing pet stores, however, would still be able to operate here unrestrained, a concession commissioners made after hearing complaints from the owners and employees of Hillsborough puppy stores....

    The commercial sale of puppies like this one could be banned in  Hillsborough County  under a proposed ordinance that advanced Wednesday. Times files.
  10. Hillsborough bans lobbyists from texting commissioners during meetings

    Blog

    TAMPA -- Lobbyists can no longer text or email Hillsborough County commissioners during board meetings, commissioners decided Wednesday.

    Lobbyists who violate the new ordinance can be punished with a ban of up to a year, though it would take four violations to reach that.

    Commissioners that violate the ban and don’t report communications sent to them during meeting will be punished with a $250 fine on the first offense and $500 on the second. If a third violation occurs, the Florida Commission on Ethics will be notified....

  11. Ken Hagan floats plan for Hillsborough marina, permanent ferry service

    Blog

    TAMPA — As time runs out on the Cross-Bay Ferry pilot program, area leaders will soon be faced with a decision on the future of water transportation in Tampa Bay.

    For several years, Hillsborough County has had a standing agreement with two companies, HMS Ferries and South Swell, to bring commuter ferries from south county to MacDill Air Force Base. But a mix of federal red tape, environmental concerns and lack of funding has stalled the project....

    Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan will offer a plan Wednesday on how to bring permanent ferry service to Tampa and Hillsborough.
  12. The Rick Scott/Enterprise Florida road tour continues

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday continued his campaign to save the state's business incentive program, Enterprise Florida, this time touting its impact on Tampa Bay's defense community.

    Meeting with local defense contractors and veteran small business owners at Tampa's VFW, Scott chastised House Republicans for voting to kill off Enterprise Florida and called out by name local lawmakers who joined House Speaker Richard Corcoran's crusade against taxpayer-funded economic incentives....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott exchanges words with Michael Johnson, left, of Tampa firm Parsons during a roundtable discussion with Tampa community leaders and business owners about the state of Enterprise Florida and its relation to Florida's military and defense communities on Thursday, March 30, 2017, in Tampa.
  13. Gov. Rick Scott in Tampa touts Enterprise Florida's impact on defense industry

    Gubernatorial

    TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott looked to pressure local lawmakers Thursday on their own turf to back the state's business incentive program, Enterprise Florida, by rolling out one of the region's sacred cows: the defense industry.

    Meeting with local defense contractors and veteran-owned small businesses at Tampa's VFW, Scott chastised House Republicans for voting to kill off Enterprise Florida. He called out by name local representatives who joined House Speaker Richard Corcoran's crusade against taxpayer-funded economic incentives....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott talks Thursday with community leaders in Tampa about the role of economic incentives.
  14. Hillsborough needs 25 new fire stations, not meeting response goals, fire chief warns

    Fire

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County needs 25 new fire stations in the next 25 years to keep up with the thousands of people moving here each year, Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones told county commissioners Wednesday.

    The county is already failing to meet emergency response benchmarks, Jones warned, and it will only get worse as Hillsborough grapples with one of the fastest-growing populations in the country. A new fire station hasn't opened in a decade, though one is expected to go online in FishHawk later this year. ...

    Hillsborough Fire Rescue Chief Dennis Jones says there is a particular need to add more fire stations in south county.
  15. County Commissioners, Buckhorn interviewed in Go Hillsborough ethics probe

    Blog

    TAMPA — It seems a state ethics investigation into a Hillsborough County transportation contract is finally moving forward.

    Roughly 16 months after citizens complaints were filed, the Florida Commission on Ethics is just now interviewing the three local officials alleged to have steered a $1.35 million Go Hillsborough contract to the client of a politically connected public relations consultant....

    Commissioner Sandy Murman recently met with the Florida Commission on Ethics on Tallahassee regarding an investigation into a Go Hillsborough contract.