As too many people figured out last week, it can take a long time to restore power after a hurricane.
It doesn't matter how often you call to complain, or how sad and droopy you try to appear as the power trucks drive past you on the street. Somewhere along the line you discover you are at the mercy of others. That goes for cable, Internet and gas, too. Not to mention trash collection or roof repair....
09/11/17 Human Interest
Twelve hours later, the sky was blue and the line to get into Waffle House stretched from the front entrance around two walls and past the loading door in the back of the building.
This is how we cope with hurricanes in Tampa Bay. Every decade or so we get ourselves worked into a frenzy, and then we exhale with a plate of hash browns, preferably scattered, smothered and covered.
"When Waffle House opens up, the world is right again," said Pete Burkes, who waited outside the Safety Harbor location for two hours to bring hot food to his disabled mother. "That's the truth."...
09/09/17 Human Interest
At least this time, we've had plenty of notice. That may not sound like much consolation when hunkered behind plywood and sandbags, but it is an improvement from the last major hurricane around here.
Now, to be fair, technology wasn't quite the same in 1921. Spaghetti models and cones of uncertainty were still a few tweaks away. Even so, the St. Petersburg Times may have underplayed the coming storm in its Oct. 25 edition....
Her little brother is a U.S. citizen, born and raised right outside of Plant City. One of her sisters might be safe too, by virtue of a marriage and the legal protections it could provide.
All of which might soon make Nanci Palacios an outsider in her own family.
And, if White House reports are accurate, in her country, too.
Today is the deadline given by a handful of attorneys general, led by Ken Paxton of Texas, for the recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Like marshals in some bad cowboy movie, they have demanded the so-called Dreamers be out of town by some future sundown....
When the rains came to Baton Rouge, La., in the summer of 2016, they called it a 1-in-a-1,000 storm. Streets were flooded, houses were destroyed and the average insurance payout was $89,325.
Except only about 15 percent of homeowners actually had flood insurance.
The tales of misery from 2012's Hurricane Sandy stretched from the Carolinas to New York. More than a dozen states were affected, with property damage estimated at $50 billion....
08/29/17 Local Government
Well, that was fun. Let's do it again.
So, does Nov. 7 work for you?
Because, make no mistake, the mayoral runoff St. Petersburg staged on the last Tuesday of August has the potential to be exactly like the general election the city will have on the first Tuesday of November.
To put it in football terms, we're going to overtime.
Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker did not just finish in a virtual tie on Tuesday, they also smoked the rest of the field. And that suggests the exact same voters will soon be back to cast the exact same votes....
Finally, the perfect spot for a baseball stadium in Tampa Bay. It only took 35 years and a collective case of desperation to find.
I jest, of course. The still-unannounced site on the edge of Ybor City isn't really the perfect spot for baseball. Unfortunately, the Florida Aquarium, Amalie Arena, the convention center and every other waterfront business in downtown Tampa claimed most of the perfect spots a while back....
The call that claimed the life of Tarpon Springs police Officer Charles Kondek was for a car stereo turned up too loud. For St. Petersburg police Officer David Crawford, it was a prowler. And for Tampa cops Jeffrey Kocab and David Curtis, it was a car missing a stinking license plate.
Just like the two police officers killed in Kissimmee a few days ago after an encounter with a former Marine on a neighborhood street, it does not take a bank robbery or drug deal to turn a day deadly for a law enforcement officer....
The federal government got into the disaster business when it created the National Flood Insurance Program. And for more than three decades, business was good.
Rates were relatively low, claims were mostly reasonable, and hardly anyone paid attention to the warning signs ahead. One hurricane, one super storm and $25 billion of debt later, everything has changed.
So, for the third time since 2012, Congress will consider major flood insurance legislation when returning to session in September. From a Florida perspective, the ideas range from good (cutting regulations to encourage private insurers) to excellent (capping rate hikes at 10 percent a year) to you-better-sit-down (eliminating the rate cap for repetitive loss homes)....
08/12/17 Public Safety
The girls knew the rules, and especially the consequences. Their father would never raise a hand to them, but he was an aficionado of understated punishments.
Grab a pen and paper, he would tell his two daughters, and come sit at the kitchen table. Write down what you did wrong, and how you plan on correcting it. Sign it, date it and make sure you spelled everything correctly.
Frank Vazquez fretted enough about Cylea and Leliana that he wouldn't let them spend the night with friends because of all of the things that might go on in other homes. And he was like a doorman at a fancy high-rise when it came to who got past the threshold to visit his girls....
Their lives ended in a stolen car in the middle of the night. Presumably, their childhood dreams ended long before then.
If blame must be assigned in the tragedy of three teenagers dying on a Palm Harbor road, this is as good a place to start as any.
Yes, you could talk about a juvenile justice system struggling to strike a balance between rescue and accountability. Yes, you could talk about the lack of personal or parental responsibility. Yes, you could talk about troubled schools, endless bureaucracy and any other societal ill you choose....
He was no one's idea of a dangerous criminal. Clyde Bunkley was a garden variety burglar, and not a very good one if you were looking for references.
So it came as no surprise when he was caught breaking into a Western Sizzlin' restaurant in Sarasota in the pre-dawn hours one April night in 1986. It was only when the cops searched his pockets that Bunkley was elevated from nondescript thief to irredeemable felon....
08/03/17 Local Government
The land is enticing, no doubt about that.
The 85-acre tract where Tropicana Field resides is so large and uniquely situated that it's almost impossible to screw up its redevelopment.
Unless you're thinking about building a soccer stadium there.
The idea came up this week when St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman mentioned on a radio show that Major League Soccer had some interest in that location as a possible stadium site....
07/29/17 Local Government
Compared to Washington D.C., the health care debate looks a little different in Dade City. No cameras. No formalities. No parade of U.S. senators eager for airtime. It's just a waiting room full of patients at a community health center, and an AC unit straining to prove it's still alive.
The more likely debate at Premier Community HealthCare is whether anyone on staff knows of a specialist who will take on a patient without insurance. Or whether they'll get the doors closed on time for a change. Or just how gruesome the fight for funds will get this year....
07/25/17 Local Government
Nothing else really matters, does it?
Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.
It's not that those other issues aren't important, but they aren't what's really dividing Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker. This election, wisely or not, is a referendum on whom you blame for past sewer problems and whom you trust to be in charge of future sewer fixes....