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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. 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]
  2. 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
  3. 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]
  4. 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
  5. 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's head in a photo released by his campaign.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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]
  9. 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
  10. Baker holds commanding cash lead in St. Pete mayor's race

    Blog

    With less than six weeks remaining before the Aug. 29 primary, former mayor Rick Baker has established a commanding fundraising lead of more than $230,000 over incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    Kriseman, whose Sunrise political action committee started collecting money for his reelection in December 2015, has amassed $632,673 through the PAC and individual contributions after he formally announced in January....

    Former mayor Rick Baker has raised $864,124 in a bid to return to the mayor's office, about $230,000 more than incumbent Rick Kriseman
  11. Fire Fighters endorse Rick Baker for mayor

    Blog

    The firefighters union has endorsed former mayor Rick Baker, saying he is “tough, but fair” in negotiations and better addresses the department’s needs than incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    Rick Pauley, president of the St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters, told the Tampa Bay Times that  Baker, who they endorsed twice in 2001 and 2005, made sure the department had what it needed in a “timely manner.”...

    Former mayor Rick Baker is probably hugging someone right now after receiving the fire fighters' endorsement. Just not mayoral candidate Anthony Cates III
  12. St. Pete, it's mayoral mailers season

    Blog

    With mail ballots going out in a little more than two weeks, the campaigns of Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker have initiated mailer bombardments of Sunshine City voters.

    Kriseman’s campaign sent two mailers to voters this week, both seeking to tie Baker to the city’s two-year sewage crisis.

    It’s a  response to Baker’s incessant hammering of the incumbent mayor on mishaps and communication miscues that have accompanied a historic amount of sewage spills, 200 million gallons since August 2015. Baker has also aired a television ad on Kriseman and sewage....

    Rick Kriseman's mailers seek to tie Baker to sewage crisis
  13. Kriseman and Baker trade jabs at mayoral debate - not, this time, the crowd

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Before the mayoral forum began Thursday, Pastor Clarence Williams urged a standing-room-only crowd to behave civilly.

    "Be mindful of the rules and be mindful of your neighbors," Williams told the crowd of about 250 people in the worship hall at Greater Mount Zion AME Church in Midtown.

    Unlike Monday's mayhem- filled debate at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront, there were no long outbursts. This debate didn't end in a shoving match....

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, center, addresses the crowd as Pastor Clarence Williams, right, looks on Thursday. Kriseman’s chief challenger, Rick Baker, is on the left.
  14. Minor St. Petersburg sewage spill causes major headaches

    Environment

    ST. PETERSBURG — A little more than a day after Mayor Rick Kriseman stood in front of a line of television cameras to tout the improvements at the Southwest sewage plant near Eckerd College, sewage spilled out of that very same plant.

    Although the 50,000 gallon spill is small by recent summer standards, it has once again thrust the city's sewage crisis to the forefront of a bruising mayoral race....

    Two days after Mayor Rick Kriseman stood in front of a line of television cameras to tout the improvements at the Southwest sewage plant near Eckerd College, the plant experienced a sewage overflow. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  15. Rick Baker says he'll get St. Petersburg back on track

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG— Former mayor Rick Baker says he wants to return to his old job because he fears the city's upward trajectory is in danger of plummeting because of reckless spending and poor management.

    Baker took aim at his rival, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, during his visit Thursday with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board.

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

     Rick Baker, candidate for St. Petersburg Mayor, talks to the Times Editorial Board, 7/13/17.