Phil Ammann - 3/384 - SaintPetersBlog

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

New St. Pete Pier operating budget at $3.2M, Colliers tapped to manage

St. Petersburg City Council members received a glimpse at expected ongoing costs for the soon-to-be-reopened St. Pete Pier, which will have a $3.2 million annual budget.

During Thursday’s council meeting, the board also selected Canadian-based commercial real estate firm Colliers International to manage the pier.

Janelle Irwin of the Tampa Bay Business Journal offers a breakdown: $3.2 million annual operating costs, $600,000 for pre-opening operations and a $50,000 grand opening event.

A staff presentation to council members to hire Colliers revealed taxpayers will spend $2 million to operate the Pier, an increase from $1.4 million devoted to the old inverted pyramid.

Comparing the old and new projects is not entirely accurate, city development administrator Alan DeLisle told council members. The new pier takes up 21 more acres than before, which makes a cost-per-acre only $73,000, compared to $266,000 per acre for the old structure.

DeLisle pointed to a $10 million minimum economic impact for the region – increased spending on things like hotel stays, retail purchases and dining.

The new Pier will also impact the city’s local, national and international stature, he added.

Irwin writes that the revised $10 million economic impact estimate was adjusted down from an initial $80 million, to offer a more accurate number.

Big City Events, which organizes RibFest, Guavaween and the Gasparilla International Film Festival, among others, will be in charge of all Pier events.

According to Irwin, the new contract will stipulate both Colliers and Big City Events must host at least 78 events in the first year — increasing by five every year after that – with two of them major. Most, however, will be small-scale and open to the public.

Also under the agreement, St. Pete will take half the Pier’s first $100,000 in revenue, and 35 percent above that. Colliers will assume all financial risk of Pier events. There will also be a potential for revenue for naming rights.

Council members will also consider adding $14 million to the pier’s budget, Irwin reports, for added amenities and acquiring public art.

 

Rick Kriseman to host major St. Pete fundraiser this month for re-election bid

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman is joining a significant group of Tampa Bay area supporters –  including some leaders in the Tampa Bay Rays organization – for a major fundraiser this month supporting his re-election campaign.

The event is Monday, April 17, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM at 3 Daughters Brewing, 222 22nd St. S. in St. Petersburg. Suggested contribution is $250.

According to the email invite, the host committee includes Rays owner Stu Sternberg and President Matthew Silverman, former Florida CFO Alex Sink and state Rep. Bill Heller, St. Petersburg City councilmember Charlie Gerdes, former Democratic candidates Eric Lynn and Augie Ribeiro, among others.

On Thursday, Kriseman released a 43-page report prepared by the city to make its best pitch for the 85-acre Tropicana Field site as the ideal location to build a new Rays stadium. The proposal did not include financial details on how that would happen. One of Kriseman’s campaign promises is to resolve the ongoing stalemate with the Rays over a new location for the team.

 

Florida could put police lineup standards into law

Florida could put into law police lineup guidelines that the state’s top law enforcement agency developed six years ago.

The Senate voted unanimously for a bill that would require law enforcement agencies to use the lineup standards to avoid eyewitness mistakes that could lead to wrongful convictions.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement encouraged agencies to adopt the standards, but agencies aren’t required to do so.

Eyewitness mistakes are to blame in 64 percent of cases in which defendants are later exonerated by DNA evidence.

The current guidelines suggest lineups be conducted by an administrator who does not know the suspect in order to ensure impartiality. Also, witnesses should be told that suspects may or may not be in a photo or in-person lineup and that they are not required to make an identification.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

After Clearwater Beach arts patrons divorce, court asked for forced eviction

Ludmilla Ribakova, ex-wife of Bruce Dandrew

After completing their divorce, a Clearwater couple — well-known as local art patrons — are waging a legal battle over eviction from the former marital home.

Clearwater Beach resident Bruce Leo Dandrew, 76, is a former president of a company called Dedicated Transportation. In 2006, Dandrew married Ludmilla Ribakova, 58, a native of Latvia and also a current resident of Clearwater Beach. Each had a child from a prior marriage.

Since 2009, the Dandrews donated thousands of photographs to the Museum of Fine Arts of St. Petersburg. A 2011 article from The Photographic Art Society called the Dandrew-Drapkin Collection “one of the most expansive photography collections in American private hands.”

The MFA continues to feature the collection in exhibitions.

In addition to owning a $2.1 million Odessa property, Bruce and Ludmilla Dandrew lived in a three-story, 6,586-square-foot waterfront mansion in Clearwater Beach appraised at nearly $2.3-million. Purchased in 2005, Bruce demolished the existing structure, building the current home.

Bruce Dandrew filed for divorce twice, in 2016 and 2017, with a final judgment issued February 17.

Court records of the divorce filings show a prenuptial agreement struck in 2006, which would have Bruce retain sole ownership of the Clearwater Beach home in the case of divorce. At that time, Bruce claimed his net worth was $24 million with an annual income of $5 million.

In a settlement dated May 2016, Bruce agreed to pay Ludmilla $1.1-million, allowing her to keep the couple’s 2012 Mercedes GL 550. However, he kept sole ownership of his real estate holdings and several other assets.

Nevertheless, a month after finalizing the divorce, Bruce Dandrew claims ex-wife Ludmilla is refusing leave the Clearwater Beach marital home, even though the agreement states he is the sole owner and she is no longer welcome.

Bruce is asking the court to help evict his ex-wife, as well as give compensation for any damage Ludmilla might have inflicted on the property and his possessions.

Tampa health care firm accuses consultant of giving bad advice, costing millions of dollars

A local health care firm claims it received bad advice from a Canadian consulting firm, resulting in losses in the tens of millions of dollars, with millions more to correct its mistakes.

Tampa-based Health Integrated helps health care plans manage their “most vulnerable” members by addressing “physical, psychological and social drivers impacting member health and satisfaction.” Zachary Fritz is now the company’s CEO.

Health Integrated uses big data to identify and engage health plan members with the greatest impact, those people otherwise overlooked. The company applies what they call a “unique therapeutic intervention model” to find risk factors in all areas of health – “medical, behavioral and social.”

In 2013, Tampa Bay Business Journal ranked Health Integrated as the Tampa Bay area’s 94th-biggest privately-held company, with 2012 revenues of $32.1-million. However, by 2016, the company did not appear on the list of the 100 largest private companies, based on 2015 revenues.

In 2015, Health Integrated hired consultant Carpedia International, a Canadian consulting firm that helps clients improve financial and management performance and management and to save money.

Carpedia promised it could trim as much $2.7-million per year from Integrated’s expenses, and was paid more than $1-million over several months. At the time, Integrated’s chair and CEO was Shan Padda, a major shareholder. Fritz had succeeded him.

In a suit filed March 22 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, poor advice from Carpedia’s “unqualified” staff cost Integrated tens of millions of dollars. Integrated alleges that clients, who had contributed $13.7-million per year, were discouraged by Carpedia’s recommended changes, leading them to drop the health care firm. Integrated says Carpedia “staffed the engagement with professionals that had no clinical health care background … and lacked general experience in U.S. managed care and specific experience with Medicare and Medicaid,” causing “substantial harm” to Integrated’s business.

According to the suit: “Carpedia had advertised and represented its position as an experienced health care consultant. In accepting the engagement, Carpedia should have known that U.S. health care is a complex and technically-demanding business, and providing professional consulting services to a U.S. managed care services business requires in-depth technical knowledge and when dealing with clinical operations, clinical knowledge. Carpedia should have known that managed care is an intensely regulated industry, and compliance with state and federal regulations is essential to the success of Health Integrated.”

Carpedia’s recommendations also polluted Integrated’s software forcing the company to spend $5.6-million in corrections.

Integrated is seeking damages for breach of contract and professional negligence.

 

Florida could erase part of public school testing law

Florida could push ahead with a dramatic overhaul of school tests under a far-reaching bill now moving in the state Senate.

State senators crafted the proposal together amid arguments over how much testing should be allowed in the state’s public schools. The Senate Education Committee voted for the bill on Monday.

The measure (SB 926) would eliminate four end-of-year exams that are now required in civics, United States history, geometry and Algebra II. The legislation would allow school districts to use pencil and paper tests instead of requiring students to take tests online.

The bill also pushes back the date of when the state’s high-stakes test is given to the last three weeks of the school year. Florida’s main tests are now given anywhere from late February to early May.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

60 Plus Association to host Florida ‘Taxpayer Revolt Tour’

The 60 Plus Association, the largest conservative senior advocacy group, is launching the “Taxpayer Revolt Tour,” a series of rallies with local speakers from communities across Florida.

To make senior voices heard in both Washington, D.C., and Tallahassee, the tour begins Sunday, April 2, in Sarasota, finishing Wednesday, April 5, in Tallahassee. Other cities include Orlando, The Villages and Tampa, with added Central Florida stops to be announced.

As a major alternative to AARP for senior advocacy, 60 Plus Association has chapters in both Florida and Alabama. Apryl Marie Fogel, vice president of the group, is organizing the tour.

Fogel invites all interested people to take part in the discussion and find out how they can help.

The goal is to raise awareness of three highest federal priorities of 60 Plus: Kill the Death Tax, full repeal of “Obamacare”, and rolling back costly Barack Obama-era regulations.

Speakers on the tour will voice opposition to two key legislative issues facing Florida: Ending “corporate welfare” (or, at least, bring accountability and transparency to the Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida incentive programs to ensure protection for taxpayer dollars) as well as “stopping the Joe Negron land grab,” referring to the Senate president’s plan for the state to buy more than 150,000 acres of Everglades farmland to create a reservoir for Lake Okeechobee runoff.

60 Plus Founder and Chair and Jim Martin, himself a Florida native, said: “The goal of the Taxpayer Revolt Tour is simple: Remind voters that we have a responsibility to make our voices heard, not just on Election Day but every day and to tell lawmakers that we are watching and will hold them accountable for their actions.”

Local group leaders in cities of the tour can request an opportunity to speak by emailing Apryl Marie Fogel at amfogel@60plus.org.

RSVP’s aren’t required to attend but are encouraged, as food will be provided at each stop. To RSVP, visit www.60plus.org/taxpayers.

Dates and locations for the “Taxpayer Revolt Tour” include:

Sunday, April 2: Noon, Sarasota/Venice

Location: Centennial Park, 200 W Venice Ave., Venice.

Guest Speakers:

– Rep. Joe Gruters

Tom Gaitens

RSVP for Sarasota/Venice Event

5 p.m., Tampa

Location: Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave.

Guest Speakers:

Karen Jaroch, Florida Regional Director, Heritage Action

Tim Curtis, Tampa 9-12

RSVP for Tampa Event

Monday, April 3: Noon, Orlando

Location: Lake Baldwin Park, 2000 S Lakemont Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789

Guest Speakers:

Jason Hoyt, Tea Party Activist

RSVP for Orlando event

Tuesday, April 4: 9:30 a.m., The Villages

Location: Barnes & Noble at Lake Sumter Landing, 1055 Old Camp Road, The Villages, FL 32162

RSVP for The Villages Event

Wednesday, April 5: 11 a.m., State Capitol, Tallahassee

Location: State Capitol (Near the “Stormstrong” dolphin statue), 400 S Monroe St.

Tampa Bay Times to purchase Peter Schorsch’s Extensive Enterprises Media

In a move sure to send shockwaves throughout Florida’s media and political circles, Times Publishing Co. and the non-profit Poynter Institute, owners of the Tampa Bay Times, have acquired St. Petersburg-based Extensive Enterprises Media.

Extensive Enterprises is one of the nation’s fastest growing media concerns, producing Florida’s most influential political websites, including FloridaPolitics.com, SaintPetersBlog.com, OrlandoRising.com, and INFLUENCE Magazine, as well as a suite of email newsletters.

Extensive Enterprises president Peter Schorsch announced the acquisition Saturday morning. Terms of the sale were not disclosed, although Schorsch will continue to publish his websites, while also serving on the Times editorial board and authoring a once-a-week column.

“After all these years of writing in my boxers and bathrobe, it looks like I’ll have to put on my big-boy pants and work in an office,” Schorsch said.

Paul Tash, chairman and CEO of Times Publishing, said the move is just the latest in a campaign to establish a single, wholly-owned and controlled source of all information and opinion in Florida and the Tampa Bay area.

In a statement, Tash described the purchase as creating: “one holistic system of systems, one vast and immane, interwoven, interacting, multivariate, multinational dominion of dollars … It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet … That is the natural order of things today … That is the atomic … and subatomic … and galactic structure of things today!”

“YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature,” Tash added. “And YOU … WILL … ATONE!”

In a related matter, Schorsch announced the purchase of a controlling interest in The Walt Disney Co., where he will soon replace the retiring Bob Iger as chairman and CEO.

Local ‘Dancing with the Stars’ winner says Powerhouse Gym owes her $311K

Sarah Jon Porreca

A local winner of the reality ‘Dancing with the Stars’ competition is claiming the now-shuttered Powerhouse Gym in downtown Tampa owes her more than $300,000.

Sarah Jon Porreca, 34, is an owner of Lending Luxury, a Tampa boutique that specializes in renting out women’s formalwear.

A former fitness competitor, Porreca was also a 2011 winner of Tampa Bay’s Dancing with the Stars.

In 2014, Porreca paid $1.15-million for a 5-bedroom, 5.5-bath home in Tampa.

Matthew Midyett opened a Powerhouse Gym franchise in 2009 at the 392-unit Grand Central at Kennedy condominium complex in the Channelside District of downtown Tampa. In February 2017, the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported that “dramatic rent increases” was causing Midyett and his brothers Matt Midyett and John Sanguinetti to close the gym.

As of March 20, the gym’s website made the announcement that: “it no longer makes sense for Powerhouse Gym Downtown to continue business at this location.” The site also said memberships would be valid at another Powerhouse Gym location at 3251 W. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa.

Westside Fitness – named a co-defendant in action filed in Hillsborough County March 14 – owned Powerhouse Gym Downtown. Midyett and his two brothers are listed as managers.

According to court records, in 2013, Porreca issued a 7-year, $600,000 loan to Westside Fitness. Terms of the loan included Westside paying her $8,480 a month through mid-2020.

However, Porreca claims Westside has not made a payment since December 2016 and has defaulted. She says Westside owes her $311,000 plus interest and is seeking to foreclose on collateral remaining at Grand Central, 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

Poll shows support for open primary elections in Florida

A majority of Florida voters believe open primaries in elections is a good idea.

Robopolling released Tuesday from a coalition of groups that advocate creating an open primary system in Florida found strong support from voters having such an initiative on the ballot next year.

The survey was conducted on behalf of three groups seeking an open primary system in Florida: Open Primaries, Tim Canova‘s Progress For All and Florida Fair and Open Primaries. It found 73 percent of respondents saying taxpayer-funded primaries should be open to all voters. Also, 72 percent support a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to individuals who have completed their sentences for nonviolent criminal offenses.

Public Policy Polling conducted the survey of 735 registered Florida from March 12-14.

Currently, Florida’s primary elections are run as “closed” primaries, meaning only registered Republican can vote in a Republican primary election, and only registered Democrats can vote in a Democratic primary election.

“Open primaries are good for democracy because they encourage full citizen participation in our elections,” Canova said in a statement. “Both major political parties should support this reform. Since both Democrats and Republicans often need independent voters to win at the general election stage, they should stop making it so difficult for such voters to join the electoral process. They should welcome open primaries, which will allow each party to address the issues that matter to all the voters.”

“If the Constitution Revision Commission is listening to Florida voters, they will put a referendum on the 2018 ballot for open primaries,” said John Opdycke, president of Open Primaries. “The big question is will they listen. There is a growing sense among voters in Florida and across the country that no one is really listening.”

Florida one of only nine states that hold completely closed primary elections, according to National Conference on State Legislatures. Fifteen states have true “open” primary elections, with the other states falling somewhere in between.

The poll also found that 74 percent of Floridians want independent voters — 27 percent of the Florida electorate — included in primary elections.

Seventy-three percent of Floridians — including supermajorities of Republican, Democrat and independent voters — want the Constitution Revision Commission, which begins public hearings Wednesday, to put an open primaries initiative before the electorate.

Details of the poll can be found at ProgressForAll.com

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