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Lisa Gartner, Times Staff Writer

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner is a writer on the enterprise team at the Tampa Bay Times.

In 2016, she and Times reporters Cara Fitzpatrick and Michael LaForgia won the Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting for "Failure Factories," a series chronicling how a local school system turned five one-decent neighborhood schools into the worst in the state for black children. The series also won the Polk Award for Education Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize for Investigative Journalism and the Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal, among other honors.

Gartner joined the Times in 2013. She grew up in Wellington, Fla., and attended Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. After graduating in 2010, she joined The Washington Examiner to report on education in the D.C. metro area. At the Times, Gartner covered Pinellas County Schools and higher education before joining the enterprise team in 2016.

She lives in St. Petersburg, and is always looking for a good story to tell.

Phone: (727) 893-8707


Twitter: @LisaGartner

  1. 5 ways officials are trying to stop Pinellas' teenage car thieves


    In the last week of June, bleeding into the first days of July, 20 cars went missing in the city of St. Petersburg. Nearly all were left unlocked, with keys inside — some still jammed in the ignition — the prime targets of juvenile auto thieves.

    Police say it's a reminder of the countywide problem documented by the Tampa Bay Times this spring in "Hot Wheels." The series showed that kids in Pinellas crashed stolen cars once every four days in an 18-month period and were arrested more often for stealing cars than anywhere else in Florida....

     U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, left, takes notes as St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, right, talks about car thefts in St. Petersburg during a meeting earlier this month.
  2. Hillsborough commissioners request report on juvenile car theft from sheriff


    Hillsborough commissioners, distressed by a Tampa Bay Times report about the juvenile auto theft epidemic in neighboring Pinellas County, ordered the sheriff to provide a rundown of the crime in the Tampa area on Wednesday.

    Commissioner Sandy Murman asked the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to draw up a report on kids stealing cars and potential solutions. She said deputies have seen some teens come from Pinellas to Hillsborough in stolen cars or to break into cars....

    The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office’s “Eagle” helicopter unit tracks a car from the air with its infrared camera.
  3. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist on juvenile auto theft: "People are dying because of what's happening here."

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — Local leaders said Monday evening that juveniles stealing cars is the number-one public safety threat in Pinellas County and needs to be addressed immediately.

    At a meeting convened by U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, city and county officials pointed to the Tampa Bay Times' "Hot Wheels" series, which they said drew attention to the dangerous epidemic and brought the problem to the forefront....

    From left: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, Congressman Charlie Crist, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway during a meeting Monday evening with community leaders to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Officials plan to take action after Times series about juvenile car theft in Pinellas County


    U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist is planning to bring community leaders together to discuss the dangerous car theft epidemic perpetrated by juveniles across Pinellas County.

    The mayors of St. Petersburg and Clearwater said they would like to be involved and emphasized the need for action.

    Crist said that Pinellas needs to find "a better path forward, to put an end to this madness" after reading "Hot Wheels," a two-part Tampa Bay Times series that documented the dangerous crashes and gunplay that threaten the region when juveniles as young as 10 steal cars left unlocked....

    Tyron McKinnon, 13, looks up toward Judge Sherwood Coleman while pleading guilty to grand theft auto. Known as T-Man, McKinnon was first arrested on a grand theft auto charge four days before his 11th birthday. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  5. When the car comes back, but the thief keeps the key


    It's bad luck to have your car stolen once. But a handful of drivers across Tampa Bay have been repeat victims. Their cars were recovered, but not the keys. So young thieves came back for another joyride.

    One St. Petersburg woman had just gotten her car back when it was taken again two days later, still coated in black fingerprint powder.

    When police recovered a car stolen from a hospice patient, the 15-year-old suspect laughed and said, "There's about six more (spare keys) out in the streets." ...

    Lakesha Johnson's Infiniti SUV was totaled after teenage car thieves stole it a second time and crashed it in Largo. [Courtesy of Lakesha Johnson]
  6. A St. Pete street, a teen car thief, and the most unlikely victim


    Coming back late from a weekend away at a wedding, Robert Vincent and his wife wanted to go to sleep. They unloaded the car in the driveway of their home in St. Petersburg's Fossil Park neighborhood. Call it haste, or exhaustion, but either Vincent or his wife forgot to lock the Subaru Outback.

    In the middle of that November night in 2015, while Vincent and his wife were sleeping off their trip, teenagers found keys in the center console....

    Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent's unmarked cruiser was stolen from his driveway along with police gear and keys to every door in the Gulfport police station. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]

  7. How state leaders are trying to fix the juvenile car theft problem in Pinellas

    Public Safety

    How can a system allow dozens of kids to be arrested twice for felony grand theft auto, and still go on to steal another car?

    Florida's juvenile justice system has undergone drastic reform in the last decade, shifting from locking up kids to giving them counseling, curfews and community service. Many young car thieves are sent home from court, told to follow the rules and stay out of trouble....

     "We recognize that the kids have changed, times have changed," says Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary 
Christina Daly. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  8. This is the easiest way to have your car stolen

    Public Safety

    Delivery drivers, don't leave your cars running when you make a stop.

    A teen in Clearwater stole a Chevy Impala driven by a Domino's Pizza delivery driver, then ditched the light-up sign and her purse in a trash bin.

    One boy ordered Chinese food, then hopped in the delivery driver's Toyota Corolla when the man walked to the door.

    "I used to get people like that," said Luis Herring Jr., 16, now in prison for carjacking. He would order food to a random address, from a phone number obtained on a computer app....

    Bob Scheuerer, left, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, greets a recipient during his delivery in Gulfport and St. Petersburg. Scheurer's car wasstolen when he left it running while dropping off meals. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
  9. I fell down a mountain while hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc


    A few days after I'd flown across the world, I sent a text message to my parents, telling them I loved them.

    We're pretty close, and I knew they were itching for updates. My mom was first on the reply: "Love u too how r u?"

    "I'm good."

    "Done for the day?" she asked. I told her I was. "How was today's hike?"

    I thought for a minute. Took a deep, shaky breath to settle myself. Started to sob, anyway....

    While hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, I traveled light, bringing only a few tops and pairs of shorts and washing my clothes with detergent in bathroom sinks. Before hiking from Trient, Switzerland, to Argentiere in France, I hung my clothes to dry outside the Auberge Mont Blanc.
  10. Fearing Zika, local businesses join the call for genetically-modified mosquitoes


    The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce is telling residents to lobby the federal government for the release of genetically modified mosquitoes to fight Zika in Pinellas County.

    "We cannot afford to have visitors cancel their vacation plans due to the Zika Virus and urge you to provide Pinellas County authorization to combat the Zika Virus immediately," reads a script the chamber is asking locals to read aloud on the phone or paste into an email to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell....

  11. My Outfit Monday: Glasses, life, et al.


    Gather round, young folk, and huddle near the fire, for it's time that I spin a tale for you about ancient times: the mid to late 1990s.

    It smells like Teen Spirit, and it sounds like the dial-up tones of connecting to America Online. All your friends are there, but younger, and wearing rhinestone denim and pilling plaid. Rilo Kiley has yet to drop "The Frug." Bill Clinton is having sexual relations with that woman....

    Friends who wear bows together stay together.
  12. Local leaders request permission to use genetically modified mosquitoes in Pinellas County


    Elected leaders from the Tampa Bay area are calling on the federal government to allow them to use genetically modified mosquitoes to fight the spread of Zika in Pinellas County.

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already approved the technology for a trial in Key West, saying it has no significant impact on the environment.

    But while the trial has been held up by Key West residents who mistrust genetic modification more than they fear the Zika virus, local leaders say that would not have an impact on their pursuit of this technology....

    This photo made available by Oxitec shows a genetically modified Aedes aegypti mosquito in their U.K. lab. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the mosquitoes for a trial in Key West, saying it would have no significant impact on the environment. Modified male mosquitoes mate with the natural population of female mosquitoes and pass on a "death gene" that kills their offspring. Oxitec has used its technology to reduce the Aedes aegypti mosquito population by 90 to 99 percent in parts of Latin America. Key West residents, skeptical of the science, have held up the trial. Without an emergency use order, the technology cannot be used in any other city until that trial is completed. [Oxitec via AP]
  13. Federal government approves trial to fight Zika in Key West, but residents can still hold it up


    The federal government on Friday approved a field trial that would release millions of genetically-modified mosquitoes in Key West to eradicate the mosquito that carries Zika.

    But British company Oxitec, which has already used its technology to reduce the Aedes aegypti population by 90 to 99 percent in parts of Latin America, is still held up by residents of a Key West suburb who are skeptical of the science....

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are seen in the lab of Matthew DeGennaro, a researcher at Florida International University in Miami. The lab specializes in studying the genetic basis of how mosquitoes detect humans with olfactory receptors. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  14. Mutant mosquitoes could fight Zika in Florida, but misinformation spreads

    Human Interest

    KEY WEST — There are many scary stories that start with a dark and stormy night, but this isn't one of them. It is the third day of summer in this island city, with its feral chickens and lemon-hued houses and women woohoo-ing by on rented motorcycles. Every bicycle has a basket, every mailbox is a manatee.

    "You can't be in a hurry if you're in Key West," the emcee of an outdoor restaurant tells passing tourists. "You're not doing it right if you're in a hurry."...

    Barry Wray, left, executive director of the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, debates the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes with Michael Doyle, executive director of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, at a district board of commissioners meeting in Key West in June. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  15. In move to reignite school desegregation case, plaintiffs say Pinellas has failed black students


    Despite promises made 16 years ago to settle a Civil Rights-era desegregation lawsuit, the Pinellas County School Board still isn't spending enough money to ensure black children catch up to their peers in reading and math, the plaintiffs said Friday.

    The allegation was one of 30 contained in a legal document delivered to the school district — the first step in a process that could land the 50-year-old case back in front of a federal judge....

    Shadows line the walkway as students line up in the courtyard at Lakewood Elementary in St. Petersburg, one of five schools highlighted in the Tampa Bay Times' "Failure Factories" series. Citing problems at Lakewood and other Pinellas schools, the plaintiffs in a 50-year-old desegregation lawsuit are invoking its provisions to push the district to take more drastic action. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]