TAMPA — An FBI agent was at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday to inquire about allegations made against former pastor Henry J. Lyons.
Church elders voted to terminate Lyons last week, citing questions about potential financial improprieties.
06/20/17 Public Safety
Let's acknowledge the obvious:
State Rep. Dan Raulerson, R-Plant City, sounded a little hysterical when he recently suggested we should all be carrying weapons when we venture from our homes.
Unless I've missed something, we are a long way from being a war-torn country. For the great majority of Americans, I'll bet the only violence we ever see is on a television screen.
So to react to the senseless shooting of a congressman and others on a baseball field in northern Virginia with a holsters-for-homeowners campaign seems, if you'll pardon the phrase, like overkill....
TAMPA — The second coming of the Rev. Henry J. Lyons was not as celebrated or lucrative as his previous life.
The one-time leader of the largest black Baptist organization in America — toppled by infidelities and imprisoned on fraud charges — has kept a relatively low profile while running a century-old church in Hillsborough County the last dozen years.
Lyons no longer has the ear of the President of the United States, and his empire does not include the same luxuries as during his heyday in St. Petersburg in the 1990s....
06/16/17 Economic Development
The time has come to embrace our weakness, Tampa Bay.
When it comes to the future of mass transit, we seem to have ignored, argued and delayed ourselves right into a potentially enviable situation. In other words, our aversion to trains may actually pay off.
The world is about to change when it comes to how people travel from Point A to Point B. And one of the area's most high-profile business owners thinks this market is uniquely positioned to take advantage of what could be a transformative — and wildly lucrative — industry....
The premise is simple:
The state is in charge of funding for education in Florida, and so local school boards should shut up and do what they are told when it comes to policies.
There's just one problem with that:
Some local districts have been providing a greater percentage of education funding than the state, which means Tallahassee is offering less and interfering more.
In what universe does that make sense?...
06/08/17 Public Safety
The doors open early, well before the sun is in play.
Like coffee shop baristas awaiting the rush hour crunch, the medical professionals at Operation PAR facilities begin preparations for the methadone cocktails they'll soon be dispensing.
They'll serve business professionals on the way to work; students on the way to class; expectant mothers on the way to appointments; transients on the way to nowhere....
The governor was angry. Very, very angry.
We know this because he traveled the state explaining it to anyone who would listen. It was his own version of a pique behind the curtains tour.
In Naples, he said legislators failed residents by coming up with a last-minute budget nobody had seen. In Lake Mary, he said lawmakers passed a budget in the dark. In Pensacola, he said he was shocked that the Legislature was operating in secrecy....
They call, they email, they pursue.
The guy they're looking for has been busy planting palm trees at his new home in Belleair Bluffs, but the TV news producers have another project in mind. They're curious if he'll shovel dirt on Donald Trump.
So, he feels obliged to explain to them that he's not anti-Trump. He sincerely wants the man to succeed, if only for the future of the nation....
Holy smoke, did you see the starting salary figures for Florida Highway Patrol officers outlined in a recent Tampa Bay Times story?
I was stunned that state troopers in Florida begin their careers making $33,977 a year. That seems like an absurdly low figure for a job of significance and responsibility.
Reporter Jeremy Wallace astutely pointed out that Florida's starting wage is quite a bit lower than some neighboring Southern states not exactly known for their high cost of living....
05/27/17 Public Safety
Before examining the details, let's propose a question:
Is it more important to punish a criminal or save a life?
Because there are times when those goals can be in conflict. Times when after-the-fact justice can be a factor in a future life-or-death crisis.
Here's what I'm talking about:
Not long ago, an 18-year-old college freshman near Jacksonville overdosed on heroin laced with fentanyl. Her boyfriend called 911 when she began having trouble breathing, but it was too late....
The political ramifications are not lost on Kristine Benson.
She understands the Legislature is basically playing a high-stakes game of ransom with funds for education. She's admittedly conflicted. She called the controversial bill HB 7069 a "slimy'' strategy.
And yet, she is pulling for it to succeed.
She has no other choice.
As far as she is concerned, the future of her 6-year-old son Chase depends on it....
Excuse me chief, but it's time to take a stand.
If we're being honest, it's way past time.
Look, I know you've gotten rave reviews since assuming control of the St. Petersburg Police Department in 2014. Everybody, it seems, has good things to say about Tony Holloway.
Residents seem generally happy, the rank-and-file are mostly content and the politicians are thrilled. Heaven knows it ain't easy to please everyone across the board like that....
05/20/17 Local Government
A former attorney for the city of St. Petersburg once argued in court that just because a law was unfair it wasn't necessarily unconstitutional.
This wasn't some theoretical exercise. It was the city's rationale for denying workers' compensation payments to a firefighter after he suffered a catastrophic back injury on the job.
Back in 2013, the city argued that it should not matter that the firefighter was not medically cleared to work. Nor that he had bills to pay, had to raid his pension account and withdraw from the city's deferred retirement program. The law at the time gave the city the right to stop payments, and so it did....
Can't help noticing you've been a little peeved lately. Honestly, I can't blame you.
You've been in office long enough to know you're not going to please everyone, and the critics will come at you from every direction. There should be no surprises or complaints there.
Still, it's gotta sting to be knee-capped by your own cohorts.
Worse yet, they did it in full view of the world. You argued, you threatened, you practically groveled in the public square, and Florida legislators still treated you like some empty-suited stooge....
05/13/17 Human Interest
Sometimes, when they didn't know she was there, Kay Dillinger would hear them talk.
Their words were not unkind, nor were they incorrect. They just lacked the necessary perspective.
They would be walking the halls of the PACE school for girls in Pinellas County, and some young lady leading the tour would stop to explain about the room known as Beth's Closet.
"There was this lady,'' the tour guide would say, "and her daughter committed suicide . . .''...