Monday, July 16, 2018


Tracey McManus, Times staff writer

Tracey McManus, Times staff writer

Tracey covers Clearwater government and general topics in the city. Before joining the Times in August 2015, she spent five years covering everything from education reform to animal welfare for The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was raised in Palm City, Fla., and graduated from University of Florida in 2010 with degrees in journalism and Spanish.

Congressman Gus Bilirakis speaks with reporters prior to the start of his Women's Forum at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs on June 9. (MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE   |   Times)

Rep. Gus Bilirakis sends out press release inflating amount of local fundraising support

The press release blasted over the weekend touted an accomplishment that would make any congressional candidate stand out.Between April and June, District 12 Congressman Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, raised $355,000 for his re-election...
Updated: 7 hours ago
On July 19 at Clearwater City Hall, the City Council will review proposed charter changes for a strong mayor system. The council would have to approve the changes at both meetings in August in order for the referendum question to get on the Nov. 6 ballot. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]

Clearwater at a key moment in the push for a strong mayor

CLEARWATER — The first step in potentially changing the city’s entire government structure has passed its first milestone.The joint task force, made up of 14 citizens and the five City Council members, finished writing proposed changes to the...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Pinellas County Commission District 6 candidates discussed local and federal issues at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club election forum Thursday. From left to right: State Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole; citizen activist Barb Haselden; Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasedena; moderator Todd Jennings. [TRACEY MCMANUS  |  Times]

In Pinellas commission GOP primary, nothing but praise for Trump

ST. PETERSBURG — All three Republican candidates for Pinellas County Commission District 6 praised President Trump at a forum on Thursday, and all agreed none of his policies have negatively impacted local residents."All I see happening right...
Published: 07/12/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Tampa Bay Watch volunteer Frank Gallant, of Tampa, works to remove plastics and polystyrenes recently from a watergoat which has been installed on Lake Maggiore at Dell Holmes Park in an effort to protect wildlife and the stop debris from causing damage to the ecosystem. The floating buoy structure uses netting to capture trash that flows out of stormwater discharge areas and is maintained by Tampa Bay Watch. (DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times)

Plastic pollution in Tampa Bay is bigger than straws. Here’s what local advocates are doing

CLEARWATER BEACH — It began two years ago when Bob Heilman’s Beachcomber restaurant stopped using plastic foam cups and realized what a waste they had been all along.The 70-year-old family business then started serving straws...
Published: 07/06/18
Jo Hammond, 57, left, and Flash Gordon Williamson, 59, stand at the property line bordering their home at 514 Janice Place, left, and a rental property at 610 Barry Place, on Indian Rocks Beach. Hammond and Williamson say they have been terrorized by noise from the Barry Place property which they say has become a

Pinellas beach mayors want to take back power over short-term rentals

CLEARWATER — Nearly every week so far this year, Flash Gordon Williamson and Jo Hammond have seen a different group of vacationers arrive in the house next door in their quiet Gulf front neighborhood.College kids who brought new friends back...
Published: 07/05/18
Pre-design documents now budget the Imagine Clearwater project will cost about $52.2 million, slightly below the highest original estimate of $55 million. The updated figure includes infrastructure the initial estimate did not: a $5.75 million price tag on the new concert bandshell plus a $5 million shade canopy feature. This rendering shows the bandshell without the canopy. [Rendering courtesy of Stantec]

As Imagine Clearwater plans unfold, a question: How to design the bandshell?

CLEARWATER —With preliminary engineering plans now in hand, the city’s ambitious waterfront redevelopment project has one over-arching design question.Should the new and improved concert bandshell include a canopy feature to provide shade for...
Published: 07/05/18
Michael Bilirakus [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

Congressman Gus Bilirakis’ son arrested, charged with disorderly intoxication

ST. PETERSBURG — A son of U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis was arrested early Saturday outside of MacDinton’s Irish Pub after being escorted off the property and allegedly yelling an expletive at police officers.Michael Bilirakis, 25, was charged...
Updated one month ago
In a twist of circumstances, and some budget creativity, will result in Clearwater spending $6,000 less in the 2018-19 school year on resource officer salaries than it did before it was required to hire more, according to Police Chief Daniel Slaughter

Unexpected savings in Clearwater despite state mandate for armed guards in schools

CLEARWATER — When the Legislature passed a mandate earlier this year requiring all schools to have an armed guard on campus, the worst-case scenario looked bleak for Clearwater.The city faced having to spend $1.25 million on hiring 14 new...
Updated one month ago
Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos stands outside Clearwater City Hall at 112 S Osceola Ave. on Monday. The city is planning to move all employees who work in the building to temporary quarters in a nearby office building, but Cretekos says that space is inaccessible to the public and he is refusing to go along. He's demanding he be given an office in the city's municipal building instead. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]

Mayor George Cretekos refuses to go along as Clearwater moves its City Hall to an office tower

CLEARWATER — This summer, four dozen city employees will move into the sixth floor of One Clearwater Tower downtown so the aging City Hall can be demolished and the prime waterfront land prepped for redevelopment.All employees in the offices of...
Updated one month ago
St. Lucie Mets outfielder Tim Tebow warms up before the beginning of the Mets at Threshers game at Spectrum Field on Aug. 17, 2017 in Clearwater. 
The city is asking the county for $40 million in bed taxes to renovate the facilities, but projections show the funding is simply not there until after 2020.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the...
Updated one month ago