Wednesday, October 17, 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.

Political consultant, Beth Rawlins leads a meeting for the No Boss Mayor Clearwater Committee at Clearwater Family Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., on Sept. 12, 2018. The grassroots group made up of community members and business owners hopes to defeat a strong mayor referendum on the ballot this November.

Clearwater is latest battleground for strong mayor initiative opponent

CLEARWATER — Beth Rawlins has done this before.As movements have surfaced across Florida to transform governments run by appointed city managers to put daily authority in the hands of mayors, it was often Rawlins who would show up. She...
Published: 10/15/18
[Screengrab of Chris Hunter for Congress video] Democrat Chris Hunter released a video Friday calling out U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis for an ad this week where he took credit for a law targeting opioids he did not craft. Instead, Bilirakis did co-sponsor a law in 2016 that made it harder for the DEA to halt suspicious shipments of opioids to doctors.

Chris Hunter pounces on false Bilirakis opioid law ad

Days after U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis aired a campaign advertisement taking credit for a bill targeting opioids that he did not craft, Democratic challenger Chris Hunter responded with a video saying the claim was a...
Published: 10/12/18

City goes back to drawing board for band shell in Imagine Clearwater

Clearwater officials, residents debate value of concerts versus green space.
Published: 10/11/18
U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis' TV ad released this week shows him taking credit for a

Bilirakis takes credit for law he did not craft in new ad touting fight on opioids

In a campaign advertisement U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis released this week touting his work fighting opioids in Pasco County, the six-term congressman takes credit for a law he did not have a hand in crafting.And it omits major legislation...
Published: 10/10/18
Updated: 10/12/18
From left to right: Bob Carpenter, who was arrested July 27 for the alleged theft; Carpenter's then-supervisor Brian Craig, who was fired Wednesday; Craig's then-supervisor Mike Lockwood, who was reprimanded; programmer Lori Burdell; and Patrick Carter, who resigned in lieu of termination Wednesday [Photo courtesy of George Cretekos]

Clearwater parks ‘good ole boys’ bullied women, lost track of cash

CLEARWATER — Two city employees are out of jobs this week, and several administrators have been reprimanded, for their failures that enabled a former Parks and Recreation employee’s alleged theft of $148,000 in cash over five years in a department...
Published: 10/10/18
Updated: 10/11/18
MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | TimesMeeting attendees take home yard signs at the end of a meeting led by political consultant, Beth Rawlins for the No Boss Mayor Clearwater Committee at Clearwater Family Restaurant in Clearwater, Fla., on Sept. 12, 2018. The grassroots group made up of community members and business owners hopes to defeat a strong mayor referendum on the ballot Nov. 6.

No Boss Mayor gets boost from trade group; pro-strong mayor PAC leads in cash

The group fighting the strong mayor initiative in Clearwater has received its single largest boost from the leading organization that advocates professional management for governments.The International City/County Management...
Published: 10/08/18
Updated: 10/09/18
TAILYR IRVINE | TimesDistrict 12 Democratic candidate Chris Hunter speaks with John Kirby, 35, about the Nov. 6 election during his door-to-door campaign walk through of a neighborhood on Ballantrae Boulevard on October 2, 2018 in Lutz.

Will Chris Hunter be the Democrat to break the Bilirakis dynasty?

Chris Hunter has a theory on how he could become the first Democrat to break the Bilirakis family's Republican dynasty of 36 years and counting.It's not so much his resume, which by itself makes supporters wonder how this race could even...
Published: 10/08/18

Pet walk scheduled for Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG — SPCA Tampa Bay will host its 28th annual Pet Walk on Saturday, where walkers join to celebrate “the joy that pets bring to our lives.”The event, at St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park from 8:30 a.m. to noon, offers...
Published: 10/04/18
DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times USF political science professor J. Edwin Benton, Pinellas County commissioner Karen Seel, and former St. Petersburg Council member Karl Nurse, talk at left, before the start of a forum to discuss the Clearwater's strong mayor referendum. Clearwater based political consultant Beth Rawlins, right, stands next to former city of Clearwater council member Bill Jonson, at right, before speaking against the change after Seel spoke in favor.

Strong mayor in Clearwater or not? Backers, opponents take their cases to residents

CLEARWATER — Leaders for and against a strong mayor form of government in the city stood before residents on Monday to make their case. Voters on Nov. 6 will decide one of the most consequential questions ever posed on a ballot in Clearwater:...
Published: 10/02/18
[TRACEY MCMANUS/STAFF] A yard sign advocating for the strong mayor referendum states 'yes for term limits,' implying there currently are none. But term limits already apply to the mayor under the current council-manager system.

Facebook page swap and misleading signs startle Clearwater strong-mayor referendum watchers

Drew Hamilton was driving home from a friend's birthday party on Saturday when he got a frantic phone call from his mother.She wanted to know why Hamilton was listed as 'liking' the Facebook page advocating for the Nov. 6 strong mayor...
Updated one month ago