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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. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    It’s been a consistent message from Kriseman in the opening weeks of his electoral contest against former mayor Rick Baker, who held the Sunshine City’s top job from 2001-2010.

    Does the city want to be a place where people felt safe to gather after last year's Orlando Pulse shooting, Kriseman asked? A city where all feel included?...

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  2. Amy Foster is running for reelection to St. Pete City Council

    Blog

    Four weeks remain before the qualifying period ends for St. Petersburg’s mayoral and City Council races, but one question has been formally answered.

    Amy Foster is running for reelection.

    The District 8 council member filed her paperwork on Wednesday, a day after a challenger appeared.

    But that opponent quickly disappeared. Tharius Bethel dropped out Thursday informing the City Clerk’s office that he had discovered he didn’t live in the district, which covers Kenwood, Disston Heights and other neighborhoods west of I-275....

  3. St. Petersburg's ballooning sewage debt could threaten credit rating (but there's a Hail Mary plan to avoid that)

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city needs a lot of money — $435 million over the next five years — most of it to fix its leaky sewer pipes and aging sewer plants.

    Without that cash, St. Petersburg could face steep fines for violating a soon-to-be-finalized consent order with the state forcing the city to fix its sewage problems.

    But the huge price tag comes with financial repercussions: It would effectively double St. Petersburg's overall utility debt, threatening the city's utility bond rating — which is used as a measure of a municipality's credit-worthiness....

    In September 2016, signs at St. Petersburg’s North Shore Park warned people to stay out of the water due to contamination from sewage released by the city’s overwhelmed sewer system. The City Council on Thursday learned that the very expensive fix for its sewage woes could hamper the city’s credit rating. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. St. Petersburg City Council approves mayor's social media strategy

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The social media marketing strategy that was met with a chilly City Council reception earlier this year won approval May 18 as council members signed off on Mayor Rick Kriseman's "Influencer" strategy.

    By a 5-2 vote (Council chairwoman Darden Rice wasn't present), the council approved a $92,500 request to hire "influencers" — people with large social media followings who are paid to visit the city and tweet or post about its economic development and arts and culture....

  5. Rick Baker releases first campaign ad

    Blog

    Former Mayor Rick Baker's campaign released the first political ad in his quest to regain the mayor's office today.

    On Tuesday evening, Baker debuted a slightly differerent version of the  ad to a crowd of several hundred supporters at a fundraiser held at the Morean Arts Center....

    Rick Baker's campaign released its first TV ad Wednesday
  6. Baker fundraiser all about "Seamless City"

    Blog

    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    “I apologize for cutting it short,” Baker quipped. “I’m fully prepared to give the second half of that speech.”

    The former two-term mayor didn't quite do that. His speech before several hundred supporters last just over 20 minutes....

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday
  7. In St. Petersburg's mayoral battle, disagreement over funds that could keep the Tampa Bay Rays from leaving

    Growth

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker, now locked in a high-profile mayoral election, have both spent a lot of their time in City Hall dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays' desire to build a new stadium.

    That issue has intensified as the race heads into the Aug. 29 primary:

    Baker told the Tampa Bay Times he was open to all options to keep the team in the city except for a tax increase. But he would not commit to using financial incentives....

    A key source of funding to help build the Tampa Bay Rays a new stadium in St. Petersburg are the development rights to the 85-acre Tropicana Field site. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Tampa Bay Times]
  8. Kriseman to open campaign office

    Blog

    Mayor Rick Kriseman will open his campaign office Friday with Congresman Charlie Crist in attendance.

    The new office, 1638 Dr. Martin Luther King St. N, will house campaign staff. The 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. opening will have speeches by Kriseman and Crist among "other special guests," according to a campaign Facebook post Monday.

    Kriseman is in a race against former mayor Rick Baker. ...

  9. St. Petersburg's mayor, police chief promised dashboard cameras, but City Council hits the brakes

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — Over the objections of the mayor's office, the City Council voted 5-2 on Thursday to delay buying dashboard cameras for new police vehicles.

    City Council member Karl Nurse led the charge, saying the St. Petersburg Police Department is well-trained and doesn't need to keep a visual record of officers doing their job.

    Nurse said an officer hasn't been involved in an "unjustified" shooting since 2013. That's when an officer was fired for shooting at a moving vehicle that did not pose a danger to himself....

    A screen-grab of a dashboard camera mounted in a St. Petersburg Police Department vehicle that shows a cruiser in pursuit of a speeding Dodge Charger on Fourth Avenue N in downtown in 2015. City Council member Karl Nurse on Thursday convinced his fellow council members to delay buying more dashboard cameras for police vehicles. Instead, he wants to spend the money on audio technology that could pinpoint the location of gunfire. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg Police Department]
  10. Here come the "Influencers;" St. Petersburg's new social media marketing stratey approved

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — The social media marketing strategy that was met with a chilly City Council reception earlier this year, won approval Thursday. The City Council signed off on Mayor Rick Kriseman’s “Influencer” strategy....

  11. St. Petersburg City Council tells Mayor Rick Kriseman to spend Penny for Pinellas money on housing, transit

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration prepared a $326 million wish list for the city's share of proceeds raised by the next decade of the Penny for Pinellas sales tax. It includes many priorities long clamored for by the City Council: sewage system fixes and a new Shore Acres Recreation Center.

    But Kriseman’s list didn’t include money for affordable housing or transit. So in front of a room full of Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) members — who last month urged council members to dedicate 10 percent of the city’s portion of the 1 percent countywide sales tax to affordable housing — the council told the mayor's office to tear up that list and come back next month with one dedicating at least $15 million to those needs....

  12. St. Petersburg's sewage problem also a legal issue

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — It's no secret that federal agents have been looking into St. Petersburg's sewage crisis since at least 2016, when the issue boiled over into the congressional campaign between Charlie Crist and David Jolly.

    Then-congressman Jolly and Sen. Marco Rubio both called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last fall to probe the causes behind the city's discharging 200 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and city streets since August 2015....

  13. It's round two for mayor's idea to hire social media 'influencers' to promote St. Petersburg

    Tourism

    ST. PETERSBURG — The "influencers" are back.

    In early March, Mayor Rick Kriseman was criticized for a last-minute attempt to get the City Council to approve spending $225,000 on influencers — social media stars — to market the Sunshine City's good vibes.

    Council members balked at the request to hire influential individuals who would have promoted the city to their followings on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and other platforms. They complained that the mayor's office submitted the proposal too late for them to vet or debate the idea. They tabled the measure....

    Visitors fill the third floor of the Salvador Dali Museum under the museum's Enigma's 75 foot- tall bubble window, which is comprised of 1,062 triangular pieces of glass. Mayor Rick Kriseman wants City Council to approve spending $92,500 to hire "influencers" to promote the city's brand on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  14. Karl Nurse wants to swap Penny money for TIF dollars to free up cash for buses and affordable housing

    Blog

    Council member Karl Nurse, in his last year in office, has been a dynamo of ideas so far in 2017.

    Zoning revamps. Affordable housing plans. Energy efficiency. Nurse has been busy.

    His latest? Take $21 million in next round of Penny for Pinellas projects slated for St. Petersburg and swap them out into the city’s Downtown Tax Increment Finance district to free up dollars for affordable housing and transit....

  15. Sewer probes deepen: US Attorney's Office requests consent order

    Blog

    It’s no secret that federal agents have been looking into St. Petersburg’s sewage crisis since at least 2016, when the issue boiled over into the congressional campaign between Charlie Crist and David Jolly.

    Then-congressman Jolly and Sen. Marco Rubio both called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last fall to probe the causes behind the city’s discharging 200 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay, Boca Ciega Bay and city streets since August 2015....