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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

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    SUNSHINE CITY SHOWDOWN: Keep up with the Tampa Bay Times coverage of the St. Petersburg mayoral race....

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel takes the podium at a rally for racial justice and reparations at Williams Park Tuesday, July 25, 2017. The rally brought together about 100 supporters as a mayoral forum between candidates Rick Baker and Rick Kriseman was held 3 blocks away at the Palladium. At right is district six city council candidate Eritha Akile Cainion, who is holding a basket of lollipops given to the candidates by former mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford, who Nevel and Cainion say gave them the treats in support of them.
  2. Recycling could become the latest issue dividing the two Ricks in tonight's St. Pete mayoral debate

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker go head-to-head in tonight’s televised debate, they’ll likely tangle over the city’s sewage crisis.

    Baker will almost certainly mention the recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission draft report, which places much of the blame for the city's sewage woes on the Kriseman administration....

    Recycling, especially Rick Baker's record on opposing it while mayor, may surface in tonight's televised debate
  3. Live from St. Pete: Kriseman, Baker square off in TV debate

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayoral race goes into the home stretch starting Tuesday.

    More than 64,000 ballots are set to be mailed out to voters. And hours later the frontrunners, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker, will square off in a live televised debate at 7 p.m. at the Palladium Theater.

    The debate will be broadcast live by Bay News 9, giving the candidates one hour — and one more chance — to reach a wide swath of the electorate before ballots hit mail boxes across the city....

    Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman. [Times files]
  4. Two Ricks deliver video to AARP voter guide

    Blog

    Last week, AARP Florida was a little ticked off that neither Mayor Rick Kriseman or former mayor Rick Baker had delivered video responses to a voter education campaign.

    Now, both Baker and Kriseman have videos up giving their views on affordable housing and public safety. The "You asked, They answered" series features residents asking questions and the two Ricks responding in a planned five-part weekly series. ...

    The two Ricks have delivered their AARP videos
  5. Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A draft report lays blame for the city's sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

    The state report confirmed what many had long suspected: closing the plant was a major factor leading to the release of up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  6. Karl Nurse backs Rick Kriseman in St. Pete mayor's race

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — City Council member Karl Nurse has endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    That’s welcome news for the incumbent Democratic mayor who is engaged in a tough reelection battle with former mayor Rick Baker.

    Nurse is popular among progressives and is a respected voice in city politics. A long stint as a community activist segued into an appointment to City Council in 2008. He has been handily releected to District 6 twice. Nurse is term-limited and his endorsement has been eagerly sought by Kriseman....

    St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, left, is seen with Karl Nurse in the combination of two images.
  7. Rick Kriseman's administration lashed in St. Pete sewage report

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A state report places much of the blame for the city's 200-million gallon sewage spill crisis on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    The 7-page draft report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, does not name Kriseman or any of his staff. It also starts with the long view, blaming two decades of city leadership for setting the stage for St. Petersburg's massive sewage problems....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  8. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos

    Blog

    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    The concept? A resident appears in a video to ask question for the next mayor on topics like affordable housing, civic participation and jobs.

    The first resident  in the  video series “We asked, They answered” was asked by smiling, pleasant woman named  “Arlene” who queried the candidates about affordable housing and public safety....

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  9. St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has put the legal fallout from the sewage crisis behind it.

    Last week, St. Petersburg officials learned that the criminal investigation into the crisis — the city dumped up to 200 million gallons of waste from 2015-16 — would not result in any city employees facing charges.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Minor St. Petersburg sewage spill causes major headaches...

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city recently learned that no employees will face charges as a result of that crisis. The St. Petersburg City Council also agreed to spend $326 million fixing its sewer system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  10. City Attorney: State won't pursue criminal charges in St. Pete's sewage crisis

    Blog

    The St. Petersburg City Council is expected to approve a consent order later today that requires the city to spend $326 million on improving its sewer system.

    That steep bill comes with a sweetener: no state criminal charges related to the city’s nearly two-year-old sewage crisis.

    The city’s top litigator, Joseph Patner, emailed council members last week to inform them that he and City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch met with state officials June 21 for about an hour. The city attorneys and state officials later had two phone conversations....

    St. Petersburg's sewage crisis appears to be winding down
  11. Paul Congemi's 'Go Back to Africa' rant goes viral after St. Pete mayoral forum

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral candidate Paul Congemi has made national news for a racial tirade at Tuesday’s mayoral forum when he told supporters of International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated candidate Jesse Nevel to “go back to Africa.”...

    Paul Congemi at Tuesday's mayoral forum in City Hall
  12. Mayoral forum has small surprises but avoids major mishaps

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — There were small revelations, but no explosive moments Tuesday in what might have been the last mayoral forum in which all six candidates on the ballot participate before the Aug. 29 primary.

    Asked to answer "yes" or "no" if he would support police wearing body cameras, Mayor Rick Kriseman, who previously deferred to police Chief Tony Holloway on the contentious issue, said, simply, "no."...

    Candidate Jesse Nevel speaks during the mayoral forum hosted by the League of Women Voters at St. Petersburg City Hall in St. Petersburg on July 18, 2017. Six candidates answered questions during the forum about their plans if they are elected to office.
  13. Mayor Rick Kriseman: St. Petersburg stopped Albert Whitted spending before he took office

    Blog

    By CHARLIE FRAGO

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG — In the narrative of the mayor’s race, the 2015 closure of the Albert Whitted sewage plant has been used to assign responsibility for the city’s two-year sewage crisis.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker has repeatedly charged that the closure of the plant under the administration of his opponent, Mayor Rick Kriseman, in April 2015 directly led to the massive discharges and spills that started gushing out four months later....

    Kriseman's claims on money spent on the Albert Whitted sewage plant were exagerated
  14. Yes St. Petersburg, it's time for another mayoral forum

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Another week, another mayoral forum.

    So far, three standing-room only crowds have attended the first three mayoral forums. The first in late June, at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist church was limited to Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker, who sparred over who has done more for Midtown, crime and policing and, of course, the city's two-year-old sewage crisis....

    St. Petesburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, center, addresses the crowd as Pastor Clarence Williams, right, looks on as mayoral candidate Rick Baker is seen during a mayoral forum at Greater Mt. Zion AME Church last week. The next mayoral forum is set to take place Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. [LARA CERRI | Times]
  15. Longtime political operative Vito Sheeley to challenge Wengay Newton in District 70

    Blog

    Vito Sheeley, a longtime political aide, announced Monday he intends to challenge State Rep. Wengay Newton in the Democratic primary in a move that can be seen as political wake from the St. Petersburg’s full-throttle mayoral battle.

    A primary challenge for Newton in District 70, which covers parts of Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee and Sarasota counties, wasn’t unexpected after the former St. Petersburg City Council member endorsed Republican Rick Baker for mayor....

    Vito Sheeley