Janelle Irwin - SaintPetersBlog

Janelle Irwin

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

Weird Thanksgiving recipes

Thanksgiving Day gluttony is, for the most part, expected to be pretty predictable. We’ve already covered the main event, the succulent bird and savory side dishes, but now it’s time for the equally important dessert and onslaught of leftovers — in a very weird way.

No Thanksgiving is complete without a tasting of every single dessert put out on the table. It doesn’t matter how many buttons you’ve undone from your jeans or if you’ve intentionally donned your Thanksgiving fat pants, this dessert is one that is entirely unnecessary. So, why stop at apple and pumpkin pie? This year, consider the handful of people who may be thinking outside the Thanksgiving tradition box and trying out one of these off-the-wall recipes.

Moose Turd Cookies

Yep, that’s right. Moose turds. Yum! No really, yum. These not-so-tantalizing looking treats are, in fact, a chocolaty slice of heaven — so long as you can get past the fact that they do, indeed, look like a pile of some large and disgusting animal’s poop.

Moose Turds consist of the usual cookie necessities like butter, eggs and brown sugar, but they also include a, eh-hem, crap load of chocolate and a little bit of booze, triple sec or Grand Marnier. There’s also some mashed banana. Again, yum.

This fabulous dessert can be topped with red and green sprinkles for Christmas and renamed reindeer turds. You drop that deuce Rudolph!

The Cherpumple

Love your traditional holiday pies but feel guilty about eating a slice of each? Well, how about combining three of the most widely baked Thanksgiving pies into one cake to disguise your overindulgence? Enter the Cherpumple — a cherry pie, pumpkin pie and apple pie all baked into one ginormous cake.

Each pie is baked into a cake — take your pick of white, yellow, spice, whatever — then stacked on top of each other and frosted all together into one diabetes-inducing dessert.

This giant slice of awesome goes particularly well with Thanksgiving adventurers who have mastered the Turducken and love lots of things crammed into one thing.

The original creator of the Cherpumple no longer has the recipe page up — I assume there were one too many sugar-induced comas to answer for. Rest assured any pie recipe should do the trick and boxed cake batter is pretty self-explanatory.

Depression cake

No, this chocolate cake won’t thrust you into the therapist’s office with a bout of holiday depression, that comes from other holiday-related stress. It’s called Depression Cake because it was created in the days of the Great Depression when many ordinary cake ingredients like milk, eggs and butter got pricey following the 1929 stock market crash. This cake satisfied the financially strapped families then by avoiding dairy and eggs and it’s perfect for your vegan friend who can’t each much else at the Thanksgiving table.

Depression Cake contains the usual all-purpose flour, white sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder, but substitutes the dairy and egg for vegetable oil, white vinegar and water. The result is a moist and fluffy cake that rivals what you might make compliments of Pillsbury. Sprinkle it with some powdered sugar and you’ve got a delicious chocolate cake that’s pretty and safe for your dietary-challenged friends and family.

Well, crap. Thanksgiving is over and you’re left with a fridge full of 17-days worth of leftovers you have maybe five days to eat. What to do with this little first world problem?

Solution number one: Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

It looks like a cake. It’s layered like a cake. It’s displayed like a cake. It’s not really a cake. No sirree. This schmorgasboard of Thanksgiving deliciousness is all the main features of Turkey Day crammed into one very sliceable after-party meal.

There’s a rather complicated recipe you should probably follow if tackling this undertaking. Basically it’s just layer after layer of Thanksgiving leftovers stacked into a cake form and then “iced” with mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes and topped with mini-marshmallows. The bottom is a mix of turkey and oats formed into a sturdy base. Top that with a thin layer of mashed potato icing, a layer of cranberry sauce then a bunch of stuffing, some more mashed potatoes and another layer of turkey smoosh. Cover it all with mashed potatoes, top that with sweet potatoes and marshmallows and voilà, left overs that resemble cake.

The whole thing sounds delicious, except for the marshmallows. Ick.

Turkey and Chorizo Breakfast Hash

When leftover turkey starts getting old for lunch and dinner, just switch it up for breakfast. Your taste buds won’t even notice you’re eating the same thing you had for the past three days!

This recipe calls for leftover turkey and Brussels sprouts and a handful of extra ingredients like heavy cream and Mexican chorizo, but I’m sure you could manage to mix in some extra stuff to get rid of it — green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, just chuck it all in, right!

The chef of this post-Thanksgiving breakfast calls on the cook to cut everything to about the same size to ensure even cooking. Let the ingredients form a crust on the pan and constantly scrape that crust to make a crispy hash. When it’s pretty much cooked, create little nooks for eggs to cook into an over-easy yolky goodness. Top it with hot sauce and sriracha and bada-bing bada-boom, leftover turkey that tastes nothing like Thanksgiving!

Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches!!!!!

One recipe calls for a triple-decker turkey sandwich with the middle slice of bread soaked in gravy — emphasis on soaked in gravy. The bottom is sliced leftover turkey, lettuce and tomato and the top is leftover stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Yet another turkey sandwich rendition throws a smashed dinner roll into the mix with a layer of green beans and sweet potatoes. There’s still cranberry sauce, of course.

Why not go fancy with a Panini-style turkey sandwich with melted Brie and avocado. This leftover masterpiece grills layers of turkey, cranberry sauce, avocado and Brie cheese in between artisan bread for a crunchy sweet and salty concoction sure to put a plain turkey and mayo on wheat to shame.

A similar version of that recipe swaps the Brie for Goat cheese and takes out the avocado. Either way, I’m ready for Thanksgiving.

The fat pants (and an extra couple pair) are ready for the feat(s).

You want me to eat what on Thanksgiving?! – Part 1

There are many Thanksgiving traditions that go without saying. What grown adult hasn’t, at some point in their life, sat around a table listing something for which they are grateful? Thanksgiving conjures images of roasted, golden turkeys, fluffy mashed potatoes and mom’s apple pie.

The late November gorge-fest brings to mind reminiscent smells of hours of cooking and the warm fuzzies associated with hanging with close friends and family.

Or it could be eating some really weird s**t.

Because wacky is more fun than traditional, I’ve compiled a list of must (or must not) adventures for an off the wall Thanksgiving to remember.

First up, the main event. You’ve all heard of the Turduckin — a chicken stuffed in a duck stuffed in a turkey (I think that’s the order). That’s over done. It’s been joked about in sitcoms and around dinner tables for years.

Let’s think bigger.


No, I didn’t just sneeze. Who would settle for three meets all tucked in together when you could have six? This big hunk of meat is a quail inside a Cornish game hen inside a duck inside a chicken inside a turkey inside a goose. Did I mention there’s bacon tucked in between? I don’t know if this sounds awesome or nauseating, but what I do know is it may take four large men and a tractor trailer to squeeze all those birds into a goose.

Bacon-wrapped bird

This one is perhaps a little old too, but it’s weird, awesome and gluttonous all at the same time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you the roasted turkey wrapped in a bacon blanket, because, what could be better than cloaking your bird in pig butt?

This superstar of poultry (and swine) is just a common bird baked, not fried, however you think is best. This culinary diva suggests first dry-brining the bird two days before the big day, rubbing it in bacon butter the day before and then cooking the delicious right into that bacon wrapped beauty the day of. The only difference between this main dish and the one grandma made is the hand woven sheath of bacon draped over it.

Using about a pound of bacon, weave one piece of raw bacon at a time over the body of the turkey tucking each piece over and under just like Little Red Riding Hood’s little basket. The greasy bacon adds flavor to the turkey, keeps the meat moist and the drippings make for some killer gravy.

Bon a ‘petit! Or should I say, bacon a ‘petit!


Don’t eat meat? No problem! Tofurky is just the ticket. Nothing says “meat is gross, I don’t eat it” like shaping tofu into a shape that looks like meat!

This vegetarian or vegan alternative to Thanksgiving’s rock star turkey is basically just a bunch of tofu squished into a cheesecloth-lined colander to take on a turkey-esque shape and then stuffed. I’ve heard it’s actually quite delicious, but I’m still a little perplexed at making non-meat main courses for people who don’t eat meat look like the thing they don’t eat. I’d make it look like broccoli. That sounds fun.

There are probably a million ways to cook a turkey that fall outside the traditional oven roasted awesomeness or deep fried fire hazard. I saw something about stuffing the bird with a beer can and roasting it pig-style over a giant fire pit. But I think I’ll just leave this chef’s crazy bear-shaped Frankenstein turkey right here just in case you needed a good nightmare.

Whether you’re eating an actual turkey, a turkey stuffed into something else with other stuff stuffed in it or a fake meat turkey, you can give that bird a Florida suntan with some creatively placed aluminum foil. Just crinkle the foil over the turkey in the shape of whatever bikini style suits your bird’s figure and leave it there while baking. The turkey will emerge later that day sporting tan lines. Oh, and don’t forget to position the legs above the head so it looks like your main dish is sun bathing!

Moving on to everyone’s favorite part of Thanksgiving, the side dishes!

Whipped Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root

This sounds totally yummy, but it’s weird. Mashed potatoes win the “you can’t F— this one up” award year after year. Boil some potatoes. Smother them in some sort of milk or cream and a bunch of butter. Squish them up all nice and viola, turkey’s favorite companion and holder of gravy! With this new recipe, uncle Fred could possibly mess up his one contribution to the holiday dinner.

These mashed potatoes look more like cool whip than mashed potatoes. They’re void of any lumps and could probably be spread deliciously onto a bagel.

A pound of celery root and a few sprigs of thyme along with a hint of cheese give this Thanksgiving rendition an earthy hint. It may be weird, but it may impress your new girlfriend’s mom.

Frog Eye Salad

I’m not sure if this one is a side dish or a dessert. It could safely fall in either category containing both pasta and cool whip. Judging by its ‘salad’ categorization though, I’m going to go with side dish.

First off, no frogs were harmed in the making of this dish.

This recipe calls for Acini di Pepe pasta, which gives it the look of frog eyes. It also looks like round pieces of pasta, but since whoever invented it clearly thought frog eye sounded appetizing, it now just looks like Kermit and his brethren sacrificed their eyeballs to garnish your Thanksgiving feast.

Anywho, the eyeball-shaped pasta is mixed with a sugary combination of cool whip and a bunch of fruit. It looks kind of like pasta salad, but minus the usual makings of salad like, you know, onions, celery and boiled eggs.

Throw any of these dishes onto your Thanksgiving Day spread and Grandma Esther and Aunt Edith are sure to be talking about the “weird” Thanksgiving for years to come! Keep your eyes peeled for installment two of our wacky Turkey Day recipes for desserts, hors d’oeuvres and even a funky cocktail.

Spring Entrepreneurial Academy is open for enrollment

The Spring term of the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurial Academy begins, appropriately, on the first day of Spring. Classes for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners start next Monday, March 21.

The 10-week course includes curriculum taught by leaders in the business community. The upcoming session includes sections on legal issues in business, marketing and accounting.

Barry Foster, author of “Everyone Needs a Coach” will lead some of the sessions. Lawyers Lee Rightmyer and Ron Gregory will lead the “Legal Questions Facing Your Business” course. Sandler Training’s Jim Marshall will teach the “30-second commercial” class.

Leading the marketing sessions are Kerry O’Reilly from the Tampa Bay Times and My Marketing Department’s Allen Jernigan. Accountants from Gregory Sharer Stuart will lead accounting sessions.

“What’s unique and ultimately so valuable about the Entrepreneurial Academy is it gives you a chance to build relationships with the community leaders who can ultimately help you get your company off the ground,” said Marcus Greene, market president for BB&T and academy sponsor. “Participants in the course will have the opportunity to meet and learn from people like the banker and accountant who may ultimately help them set up their starting business operations.”

The course costs $299 to cover tuition and dinner during each class. The group meets each Monday night from March 21 through May 23. The cost also includes a free first year, all access membership with the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Membership typically runs $250. Students must meet minimum attendance requirements to qualify for the free membership.

Registration is still open on the group’s website.

“The Entrepreneurial Academy gave me a great overview of what it really takes to run a successful business, including things like bookkeeping and procedures, and that has made all the difference,” said Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1.

Sam Henderson re-elected Gulfport mayor

Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson won another term Tuesday. He bested challenger Barbara Banno 59 to 41 percent.

The two candidates have spent the past several months in a fierce battle to head the dais at Gulfport City Hall.

Banno entered the race with a challenge to what emerged as a status quo attitude. She drew on residents’ frustrations with the August sewage dump into Clam Bayou and called for immediate action from the city of St. Petersburg to offer its assurance that it wouldn’t happen  again.

She called for increased environmental studies to determine the effect the dump had or continues to have on Clam Bayou and Boca Ciega Bay. She cited frequent beach closings because of contaminated water.

She also criticized Henderson as lacking transparency in his administration. She promised to hold regular town hall meetings and other gatherings at times convenient for constituents to make government more accessible to people.

Banno also contended she has better leadership abilities than  Henderson. In several blog posts on her campaign website, Banno referenced reasons why she thinks Henderson lacks those skills. Much of it centered on his handling of the Clam Bayou situation and of LGBT rights issues in the community. Banno wrote that he merely followed on LGBT issues and didn’t take a stance of his own. The LGBT blog post was in reaction to Henderson’s endorsement by the Stonewall Democrats, a pro-LGBT group.

Banno is openly gay.

However, Henderson consistently met her challenges. When Banno questioned whether the Stonewall Democrats endorsement was deserved by pointing out Henderson had not released his questionnaire from the group, Henderson promptly released the information. His answers showed little substantive differences between Banno’s.

Henderson also came under fire after a City Council meeting where he and Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman had a shouting match over Clam Bayou. Someone in the audience yelled out to accuse Henderson of being a bully.

Henderson wasted no time in combating the messaging, saying he was defending himself against bullying and that Roman’s comments were inflammatory and misleading. Roman was presenting a resolution that would have required meetings with St. Petersburg officials to discuss the sewage dump. Henderson called her a bald-faced liar when he thought she said he had never met with St. Pete officials. Instead, Roman was referring to the entire council.

Nevertheless, the news gave Henderson the opportunity to show he could be transparent by releasing the dates and locations of all of his meetings with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and other St. Petersburg staff.

Henderson was also happy to announce he received the fourth draft of an agreement between the two cities about the sewage dump. Henderson said the latest draft included all of his city’s requests. It will be presented to City Council at Gulfport’s next meeting in April – the same meeting where Henderson will be sworn in for another term.

Henderson was first elected as mayor in 2013. Before that, he was on City Council.

Round up of Pinellas County municipal races

All eyes were on Florida Tuesday night in the winner-take-all Presidential Preference Primary, but several municipal elections were also on the ballot.

Here is a roundup of Pinellas County races:


Clearwater City Council member Jay Polglaze lost his seat to Bob Cundiff. Cundiff brought in 55 percent of the vote.

Cundiff is a 70-year-old St. Petersburg College teacher. He teaches speech communication and public speaking. This is his first bid for elected office.

Polgaze sought his second term after being elected in 2012. He’s now vice mayor. Polgaze worked for the U.S. Postal Service 29 years and is a U.S. Army veteran.

Polgaze is also an executive board member for the American Cancer Society of Pinellas and on the Citizens Advisory Council of the Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos and council member Doreen Hock Di-Polito both ran unopposed for re-election this year. In addition to the Polgaze/Cundiff matchup, there wer seven charter amendments on the Clearwater municipal ballot.


In the town of Belleair it was a tale of two Toms. Tom Kurey and Tom Shelley were elected to the town commission with 47 percent and 45 percent of the vote respectively. Spencer Connerat came in with just 8 percent of the vote.

Kurey has been on the town’s finance committee as well as the Police Pension Board since 2012. Shelley has been a commissioner since 2005.

Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach Mayor and Commissioner R.B. Johnson won re-election against Bert Balery with 72 percent of the vote.


In Oldsmar, Jerry Beverland defeated Becky Afonso for City Council Seat 4 61 percent to 39 percent. Beverland has been mayor 10 years and a councilman 15. Those figures account for just early voting and partial mail ballots counted.

Pinellas Park

In Pinellas Park, incumbent Mayor Sandra Lee Bradbury defeated longtime city staffer Keith Sabiel. Bradbury was elected to city council in 2002, re-elected in 2006 and 2010, and then elected mayor in 2014. She’s the daughter of former Mayor Cecil Bradbury.

South Pasadena

South Pasadena Commissioner Max Elson bested Mayor Dan Calabria for the seat after contention on the City Commission led to calls among members to fire Calabria. Elson won with 70 percent of the vote.

St. Pete Beach

Educator Terri Finnerty defeated incumbent St. Pete Beach Commissioner Lorraine Hugn. And Ward Friszolowski defeated Deborah Schenechner for the open District 3 seat.

Tarpon Springs

In Tarpon Springs, Chris Alahouzos defeated Frank DiDonato for that city’s top spot after Alahouzos far out-spent DiDonato in the race.

The city also re-elected Susan Miccio Slattery for the Commission’s Seat 3.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island will have a new City Commissioner covering the area in and around Sunset Beach. Ken Keys defeated incumbent Alan Bildz with 58 percent of the vote.

Contests in many of those races were called based on early voting.

Several referendum questions also appeared on municipal ballots in Clearwater, Madeira Beach, Tarpon Springs and Pinellas Park. St. Pete Beach and Tarpon Springs also had charter amendments on the ballot.

Dan Liedtke wins re-election in Gulfport Ward 1

By a margin of fewer than 100 votes, Gulfport City Council member Dan Liedtke barely won re-election to his Ward 1 seat against April Thanos. Liedtke has served on City Council for four years and worked as a business and information technology consultant for the last 20 years. He’s held jobs in both the private and public sector.

Liedtke won with 2,201 votes, or just under 51 percent, compared to Thanos, who earned 2,140 votes, a little over 49 percent. Although the numbers are relatively small, they are more than one percent, not enough to trigger a recount.

Liedtke won despite being outraised by Thanos. Thanos raised nearly $15,000 while Liedtke brought in just $3,700.

The matchup was an interesting one. Even though the race is nonpartisan, it’s well-known that Liedtke is a prominent Republican and Thanos a progressive Democrat. Thanos enjoyed party money from groups like the Stonewall Democrats as well as some funding from Congressional candidate Eric Lynn as well as other high-profile Democrats.

Liedtke didn’t appear to be making much of an effort to raise money instead relying on name recognition and experience. On Election Day, he drove around in an old truck with his campaign signs attached waving at voters.

Thanos is a regular at City Council meetings and a regular volunteer in the community. Thanos moved to Gulfport from Seattle, Washington, where she served as a program and events manager for the local Chamber of Commerce.

Before that, she worked in a similar capacity for a private company doing nonprofit management.

The Clam Bayou sewage dump August has been a huge talking point during this election. Liedtke has been a vocal opponent to the Rick Kriseman administration as a result of the dump and was likely able to hold onto some support from the environmental community based on that.

Vice Mayor Yolanda Roman was also up for re-election this year, but she did not draw a challenger.

Liedtke will be sworn in for his third term at the board’s next meeting in April along with mayor Sam Henderson who won re-election against Barbara Banno in Tuesday’s election.

Election Day takeaways in Gulfport

A lot goes on at polling places on Election Day. Candidate supporters gather to hand out literature. The candidates themselves bounce around from polling place to polling place hoping to nab some last minute votes and reach people who may have otherwise been missed throughout campaigning.

But, outside of polling places, there’s another story to be told. Take a stroll through quiet Gulfport on Election Day and you may catch a glimpse of any number of things. I took my bike out for a ride through the close-knit community.

Take a stroll through quiet Gulfport on Election Day and you may catch a glimpse of any number of things. I took my bike out for a ride through the close-knit community.

I spotted Barbara Banno out on her golf cart, signs encouraging a vote for her plastered to the back and sides.

“I don’t know how I’m going to keep this thing charged all day,” Banno said on one of her stops.

The electric golf cart requires charging and it’s the easiest way to get around the small town. It’s also a conversation starter with would be voters taking a walk past as she meanders by.

Her supporters gathered at various polling places and handed out doughnuts.

Then there’s her opponent, Sam Henderson. He’s the incumbent in the race. As such, his stops at polling places had a double meaning.

“We used to have six polling places,” Henderson said. “Now we have four.”

That’s because, with the rise of absentee voting, polling places slowed to a crawl meaning some could be combined. Henderson said he heard the Marina District polling place was pretty slow and planned to check it out.

It’s something he could look into if he earns another term as Mayor come 7 p.m. when the polls close.

Signs also tell a story in the Gulfport election. Unlike other parts of the county, where it’s all about the Presidential Preference Primary, Gulfport voters are engaged in their local election.

One Sam Henderson campaign volunteer said voters were overwhelmingly more interested in their local races than they were in the presidential primary. And the signs echoed that sentiment.

I spotted a couple of Bernie Sanders supporters breakfasting at Stella’s on Beach Boulevard. There was a Marco Rubio poster hand written in a car window. But other than that, lawns across the city were dotted with campaign signs announcing support for Banno and Henderson or City Council candidates Dan Liedtke and April Thanos.

They seemed to be clustered strategically. Thanos and Banno signs appear to dominate the north side of Gulfport Boulevard, while Henderson and Liedtke signs seemed more concentrated near the city’s downtown district. They also seem to be paired up with Henderson supporters often also donning Liedtke signs and Banno supporters having Thanos signs in the yard.

It’s an arbitrary measure of support, especially considering the number of yards with no sign at all. But it still shows some interesting trends.

While it hasn’t been said out loud, there’s an overall feeling in Gulfport’s politically savvy that Henderson and Liedtke are somewhat allied while Banno and Thanos are as well.

And the candidates each acknowledged, except Liedtke (who we haven’t been able to track down yet), that sign-placing is often as simple as where the candidate lives and who they know.

“I actually went to [Henderson’s] yard first,” Banno said. “I was just trying to get some of my signs out there.”

And then there’s turnout. Polling places throughout the county experience surges in voter turnout. The early morning hours before 9 a.m. and then the after-work hours between five and seven tend to be the busiest times at polling places.

That’s not necessarily the case in Gulfport where voters trickle in and out all day long. The city has a large population of retirees.

Tuesday is also the city’s weekly street market along Beach Boulevard meaning the stretch of road between the city’s library and its waterfront casino is already packed. Walking down the sidewalk, there was a buzz of residents chatting about the election.

Polls close at 7 p.m. Candidates will each be celebrating results from various hot spots in Gulfport.

Banno will be at O’Maddy’s and Henderson at Pia’s Trattoria.

Barbara Banno/Sam Henderson matchup is likely to be close

Candidates in Gulfport races are spending the day making their rounds trying to gather up some last minute votes. Both Barbara Banno and Sam Henderson are bouncing back and forth between four polling places throughout the day until polls close at 7.

Both said they feel confident in a win, and both are happy with the way their campaigns played out.

“People like Gulfport the way it is. They appreciate the changes that have been made,” said Henderson, the incumbent Mayor.

Banno, his challenger, said she expects the race to be close, but thinks she’ll come out on top.

“As long as all the voters come out, I think I’m going to win this,” Banno said.

Banno has outraised Henderson by about double. Banno brought in about $22,000 compared to Henderson, who raised just $11,000.

“My goal was $10,000, and we hit it and exceeded it by $1,000 and a week before our fundraising deadline told supporters not to give us any more money,” Henderson said.

The difference in spending means Banno has been able to buy more yard signs, more ads and more mailers. But Henderson isn’t worried about that.

“I don’t pay too much attention to the signage because last time I got outspent on signs and I won,” Henderson said.

One of the key issues in the Gulfport mayoral race has been the Clam Bayou sewage dump last August. Banno and her supporters have made their rounds in the city saying more needs to be done. City leaders need to force an agreement with St. Pete ensuring such a dump never happens again.

Banno has also called for increased environmental studies evaluation the impact the dump had on the city’s waterways.

But Henderson has fought back criticism arguing he’s been in consistent contact with St. Pete officials trying to work through the issue.

“There were some people initially sucked in by the sewage thing and the way it was pitched that it was my fault that happened, but I’m sticking to my guns on the fact that we’ve had really good collaboration with the City of St. Petersburg,” Henderson said.

He acknowledged progress has gone slower than he would have liked but said in his most recent meeting with St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman, he returned a fourth draft of an agreement between the two cities that includes criteria Gulfport had made a priority in its ask.

That resolution will go before Gulfport City Council during its next meeting in April — the same meeting where Henderson will either be sworn in as mayor for another term, or the torch passed to Banno.

Regardless of the way the election turns out, both candidates say they are proud of their hard-fought campaigns.

“If it doesn’t go my way, I don’t stop,” Banno said, adding that she will continue advocating for more open government and easier access to officials.

Both candidates made calls to local news agencies. Henderson claimed Bay News 9 and News Channel 10 aired reports Tuesday morning informing voters that only Republicans and Democrats can vote.

While that applies to the Presidential Preference Primary, 11 municipalities, including Gulfport, have races on the ballot. Voters in those locations can vote regardless of party affiliation.

Banno and Henderson will gather with campaign supporters just a couple of blocks away from one another. Henderson will be at Pia’s Trattoria at about 7:30 p.m. Banno expected to join her supporters at O’Maddy’s around 7:15 p.m.

Rick Scott celebrates jobs and tax cuts in St. Pete

Florida Governor Rick Scott is touring the state celebrating job creation and tax cuts. During a stop in St. Pete Monday on his “Million, Billion Jobs Victory Tour” Scott announced 44,300 new private sector jobs in the Tampa Bay area over the course of a year.

The region’s unemployment rate also dropped one percent to 4.8 percent in January. The state unemployment rate is five percent.

Scott stopped at Kobie Marketing in St. Pete for the announcement where that company recently announced it plans to add 255 new jobs over the next few years with 160 of those positions opening this year.

Kobie Marketing Chief Financial Officer Ashby Green attributed the company’s success to Scott’s commitment to lowering taxes for businesses. Scott’s victory tour is claiming to have created more than one million jobs since 2010 and to have cut taxes by $1 billion over the course of two years.

Scott said very little other than announcing the latest jobs numbers instead leaving the talking to a host of support from Republican lawmakers. Senators Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes both praised Scott for his commitment to creating jobs with a pro-business, free market approach.

“I think your focus is largely responsible for the million new jobs, for the resurgence of our economy in Florida,” Latvala said.

Representatives Chris Sprowls, Kathleen Peters and Larry Ahern also thanked and congratulated Scott. Citrus County Representative Jimmie Smith also praised the Governor’s work saying it’s even had an effect on rural areas like his district.

“It’s having a ripple effect throughout the state,” Smith said.

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman was on hand but was not quite as congratulatory as the others. He said he supported Scott’s plan to inject $250 million into the state’s Enterprise Fund that was axed by the Florida House. The money would have been used to incentivize businesses to relocate or expand in Florida.

The job markets most impacted by the latest growth numbers include professional and business services. Those industries expanded by 14,900 new jobs. The leisure and hospitality industry created 9,100 new jobs.

The Tampa Bay region was also first in the state for job demand in January with nearly 45,000 job openings. Nearly 15,000 of those openings were in the targeted high-skill industries in science, technology, engineering and math.

“This state’s on a roll,” Scott said. “These jobs are creating more tax revenues in our state so we can cut taxes and we can invest in priorities for our state.”

Liv233 Townhomes coming to downtown St. Pete

Another new townhome development will soon pop up on Fourth Avenue North. Liv233 is a three-unit luxury living complex boasting four stories including private garages and a rooftop terrace.

There’s no word on when the building is expected to break ground or open, but floor plans are now available on the builder’s website. It shows three identical units advertised as three bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

The first floor consists of a den and laundry room as well as a full bathroom. The entryway has a full-sized porch. Homeowners and visitors can walk the stairs or take a private elevator to other floors.

The second floor will be home to a living room, dining room, kitchen and family room and a half bathroom. Graphic renderings of the space show a modern looking area with a narrow kitchen in the middle. A long counter top with space for bar stools centers the floor.

The master bedroom and second bedroom are on the third floor. Renderings show a 12.5-foot by nearly 18-foot master bedroom with a walk-in closet and large bathroom with his and hers sinks. The only access to the bathroom is through the walk-in closet. The master bedroom also has a private balcony. The second bedroom also has its own bathroom.

The top floor consists of a loft, full bathroom and a rooftop terrace. It’s assumed that this is considered the third bedroom, though there is not a closet shown on floor plans.

Each unit has one parking space in a garage area with storage space. A second parking space is available in an outdoor lot. There’s also one handicapped space and a guest space.

According to the website St. Pete Rising, units are set to cost a little under $1 million each.

SunSure Living is designing the development in collaboration with Mesh Architecture. Smith & Associates Real Estate is a partner, presumably listing the units.

The development near Second Street North in downtown joins several others going up in the area including the Brownstones, Towns on Fifth, Center City and Regent Lane.

The building represents a new trend in downtown development and living. As property values become increasingly costly, builders are making the most of the space by building up.

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