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Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer

Tracey McManus

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.

Phone: 727-445-4151.

Email: tmcmanus@tampabay.com

Twitter: @TroMcManus

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  1. Clearwater City Council candidate Hoyt Hamilton: Experience is key for critical next term

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — By asking voters to elect him into office a fifth time, Hoyt Hamilton knows he's now considered part of the old-guard.

    Born and raised in Clearwater, his family roots stretch back here more than 100 years. Hamilton, 59, spent nearly his entire career operating the Palm Pavilion inn and restaurant his family has owned since 1964, which has become a landmark destination on Clearwater Beach....

  2. Clearwater City Council candidate John Funk: City needs better planning

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — Voters may not be too familiar with the name John Funk.

    So since launching his campaign for City Council Seat 5 against well-known incumbent Hoyt Hamilton, Funk said he has knocked on 2,000 doors to introduce himself. Before the March 13 election, he plans to hit a total of 7,000 homes.

    "I can make a difference," said Funk, 71, a real estate broker and chair of the Community Development Board. "I have a passion for city government."...

  3. Bill to ban orca breeding filed in House faces pushback from SeaWorld

    Wildlife

    A bill that would outlaw the breeding and performing of killer whales in Florida has cleared the initial hurdle that kept it off the table last year: getting a lawmaker to file it in the first place.

    In an effort to solidify a voluntary policy change SeaWorld made two years ago, Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Coral Springs, introduced in the House of Representatives the Florida Orca Protection Act. It moved to the Natural Resources & Public Lands Subcommittee on Friday, but Moskowitz said he anticipates a fierce blowback from the marine park that could hinder progress....

  4. Clearwater City Council candidate David Allbritton touts track record in civic life

    Elections

    Editor's note: Ahead of the March 13 election, the Tampa Bay Times is publishing profiles on Clearwater City Council candidates for Seat 4 today. Profiles on candidates for Seat 5 will appear next week.

    CLEARWATER — The longtime politically active Aungst family. Influential lawyer Ed Armstrong. The owners of Clearwater Ferry. The director of the Jolley Trolley. Developers, business owners and a slew of local Republican politicians....

  5. Clearwater City Council Candidate Tom Keller says he's a voice for the ordinary resident

    Elections

    Editor's note: Ahead of the March 13 election, the Tampa Bay Times is publishing profiles on Clearwater City Council candidates for Seat 4 today. Profiles on candidates for Seat 5 will appear next week.

    CLEARWATER — Tom Keller is the first one to admit it.

    He's earnest in his passion for the city, but strikingly self aware. When it comes campaigning for political office, he's a little over his head....

  6. In Scientology's backyard, Baptist preacher 'takes a stand'

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Baptist preacher stepped to the stage, his image projected on two mega screens behind him, and looked out at nearly 2,000 parishioners filling his worship center.

    "Scientology is a cult," Calvary Church Pastor Willy Rice said into his microphone Wednesday evening.

    "Scientology is dangerous. It is dangerous to those within and without, and Scientology should be exposed and opposed, not only by committed Christians but by moral, law abiding citizens who care about human rights and human justice everywhere."...

  7. Traffic solution in the sky, or just pie-in-the-sky?

    Mass Transit

    CLEARWATER — By the end of this year, a never-before-been-built, Jetsons-like pod car system will be ready to transport visitors through the sky between downtown and Clearwater Beach.

    At least that's what businessman Tom Nocera has been pledging to local TV news, radio, public officials and community groups for months.

    "BeachTran proposes to launch before the end of 2018 the most technologically advanced and cost-effective solution to our already serious yet still growing beach traffic problem," Nocera's website stated Friday....

  8. Oops. Clearwater cites bike shop for city-owned bike rack

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The city's violation letter used bold letters in all caps to describe The Path Bicycle and Ride Shop's alleged offense.

    "INSTALLED SPIRAL BICYCLE RACK ON SIDEWALK WITHOUT PROPER PERMITS AND INSPECTIONS," it declared.

    The Path owner Gary Keener was dumbfounded when his landlord forwarded him the notice last week. Because he didn't install the brand new bicycle rack on the sidewalk — The city did....

  9. Crackdown: Clearwater plan would foreclose on problem properties

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER —Soon there will be no mercy shown to owners of dilapidated homes, notoriously unkempt lots and properties that chronically violate city codes.

    The city of Clearwater for the first time is developing a policy to foreclose on properties with unpaid liens that are contributing to neighborhood blight. More than 140 properties have racked up a combined $18.6 million in liens, some as old as 11 years, city officials say. ...

  10. Hillsborough land meant for preservation now will go to the highest bidder

    Environment

    More than 400 acres of Hillsborough County pasture owned by the City of Clearwater will likely end up in the hands of a multibillon-dollar mobile home park operator, a fate that could sink the city's plans to preserve the land forever as green space.

    The situation is the result of rules that govern how local governments buy and sell property, with the goal of protecting the public's interest. But the dynamic in this case could steer Clearwater from its original intent....

  11. With paid parking here to stay, Dunedin looks to new chapter

    Local Government

    DUNEDIN —The 14 months of downtown's paid parking trial have been filled with fierce public discussion, vitriolic social media debates, a deluge of feedback to elected officials and certainty that no issue has ever consumed city staff or residents quite like this one.

    Now that the City Commission voted last week to permanently continue a scaled-down version of paid parking, can Dunedin turn a new chapter?...

  12. Clearwater looks to revisit land swap with Church of Scientology

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — In June, City Council members surprised Church of Scientology officials when they voted to halt a land swap that had been in the works for months.

    The church had bought a vacant lot just east of downtown under the impression it could trade it for three small city-owned parcels Scientology needs for its campus.

    When it came time to make the trade official, however, engineering staff cautioned the city may need those unused parcels in the future. Council members decided the timing was not right and voted 4-1 to postpone the swap indefinitely with Council member Bob Cundiff voting against waiting. ...

  13. Four candidates qualify for Clearwater City Council races

    Elections

    CLEARWATER — Four candidates officially qualified for two open City Council seats in the March 13 election by the filing deadline last week.

    Seat 5 incumbent Hoyt Hamilton will face real estate broker John Funk. Retired building contractor David Allbritton and advertising agent Tom Keller are vying to fill Seat 4 being vacated by the term-limited Bill Jonson.

    Software tester Martin Hughes filed paper work to run for Seat 4 in September but did not officially qualify last week....

  14. New freedoms for churches to back candidates cut from tax bill

    Politics

    The GOP tax overhaul bill expected to reach President Donald Trump's desk for signing this week will arrive without one of its more controversial elements — one that could have had a unique impact on Tampa Bay.

    The final version does not include a softening of the Johnson Amendment, which was proposed in the House's original bill and would have enabled churches to endorse political candidates....

  15. Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld's policy appears murky

    Wildlife

    The announcement was rolled out to the world as a pledge. A promise.

    In March 2016 SeaWorld declared it would end killer whale breeding, making the orcas in its care in the United States and abroad its last generation to live in captivity.

    Later that year, California passed a law solidifying that change, banning breeding, performing and introduction of any new orcas into captivity in the state. Now advocates in Florida, home of SeaWorld's global headquarters, are pushing for the same legal protection, fearful that "corporate policy can always change," said Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney Lindsay Larris....