04/28/17 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Decried by opponents as unnecessary and out-of-date, the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been at the center of controversy over ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft.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....
04/24/17 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....
04/21/17 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....
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....
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 honors former Tampa Tribune editorial writer Joe Guidry with inaugural conservation award04/19/17 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....
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....
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....
04/05/17 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....
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....
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....
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....
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....
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. ...
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....