Phil Ammann - 4/389 - 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 His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, 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 and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

Tampa Bay Rowdies hosting Referendum Watch Party at Al Lang

St. Petersburg voters are heading to the polls to decide on extending a 25-year at Al Lang Stadium lease to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Tuesday’s referendum, financed by Rowdies owner Bill Edwards, has become a fundamental component in St. Petersburg’s bid for a Major League Soccer franchise.

In what will (most likely) be a victory celebration of this historic vote, the Rowdies are inviting fans, sponsors and other community members to a free Referendum Watch Party beginning 6:30 p.m. at Al Lang.

Facing little opposition and supported by a broad swath of the community — as well as the Tampa Bay Times — the vote to allow the St. Pete City Council to negotiate a longer lease Lies rowdies is expected to bring the team one step closer to #MLS2StPete. If approved, Edwards and a group of investors will then spend as much as $80 million in upgrades to Al Lang, more than doubling capacity to 18,000 seats. The project is part of a larger bid to be one of the four cities vying for an MLS franchise.

Hosted by the Rowdies, the event features The Edwards Group President and former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, one of the proposal’s most vocal cheerleaders.

Tampa Bay is the largest television market without an MLS team.

Al Lang Stadium is at 230 1st St SE, in St. Petersburg.


Ed Hooper to host major Tarpon Springs fundraiser Wednesday

Ed Hooper, the former Republican State Representative and Clearwater City Commissioner, will be featured at a high-profile fundraiser Wednesday in his bid for Florida Senate.

Hooper is seeking to succeed term-limited Jack Latvala in Senate District 16, which covers much of north Pinellas County.

A reception will begin 5 PM at Mugs ‘N Jugs, 40737 U.S. Highway 19 N. in Tarpon Springs.

Hosts of the event, which currently number about 70 influential Tampa Bay-area political leaders, include Brian Aungst Jr., Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, former Pinellas County Commissioner Neil Brickfield and Mari Riba of Safety Harbor, among others.

A former firefighter who served four terms in the House before being term-limited, Hooper lost a combative race in 2014 for the Pinellas County Commission to Democrat Pat Gerard, and has since maintained a public profile in local GOP circles.

Just over a year ago, Hooper filed for the District 16 seat, when redistricting resulted in an opening after Pasco County’s former state Sen. John Legg choosing not to run against Latvala, who is a popular figure in Pinellas County politics.

During his time in Tallahassee, reported Hooper received several “A” ratings from the Florida Chamber of Commerce Honor Roll, Florida Education Association, and the Florida Home Builders Association.

RSVPs are with or (727) 458-4751.

Florida lawmakers consider one more public budget meeting

Florida legislators are considering another public meeting on the state’s budget language before finalizing the agreement Tuesday.

Lobby Tools is reporting Monday that Senate budget chief Jack Latvala and Carlos Trujillo, his House counterpart, said that the joint appropriations committee would not meet again, so it’s not clear who will be involved in the meeting, or when it will take place.

“The full approps committee is not meeting again,” Trujillo told reporters. “So, the issues that bump go to the presiding officers and they’ll decide the remaining issues.”

According to LobbyTools, the House speaker and Senate president do not traditionally hold public meetings.

Nearly 24K early ballots cast ahead of St. Pete Al Lang Referendum

Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark posted vote-by-mail numbers for the St. Petersburg Special Referendum election May 2.

On Monday, one day before in-person ballots are cast, of the 68,744 mail ballots sent, nearly 35 percent – 23,903 – have returned. By party, 10,999 Democrats, 8,515 Republicans and 4,389 NPR/other have cast ballots.

Turnout now stands at 14 percent of the 168,145 registered voters eligible to vote in this election: 46,658 Republicans, 77,825 Democrats and 43,662 No Party Affiliation/other. The City of St. Petersburg will not conduct early voting as provided in Florida Statute.

Residents will decide whether to allow the City Council to approve extending the Al Lang Field lease with the Tampa Bay Rowdies for up to 25 years, part of a plan by the Rowdies to attract a Major-League Soccer expansion team.

According to the referendum language: “These conditions include but are not limited to: term not exceeding 25 years; primary but not sole purpose is a home field for a Major-League Soccer expansion team; and City funding shall not be used for stadium upgrades or expansion proposed in bid for expansion team or required for award of expansion team.”

Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is also paying for the referendum itself.

Mail ballots must be received by 7 p.m. election day at one of the Pinellas elections offices: 315 Court St, Room 117, in Clearwater; 13001 Starkey Rd, Largo (Starkey Lakes Corporate Center) and 501 1st Ave. N (5th St. N Entrance), St. Petersburg. Office hours are Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election day hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Tallahassee seeks to end ‘roam towing,’ OKs overnight towing bans

Tallahassee city officials are considering overnight towing bans, targeting tow trucks drivers praying on bar-goers who leave cars behind when they are too drunk to drive.

According to WTSP, the push to prevent so-called “roam towing” is an idea gaining support in Florida’s Capitol.

After a 10Investigates series examining the benefits of overnight towing bans in the Tampa Bay region, the Tallahassee City Commission unanimously enacted similar consumer protections.

Tallahassee will now allow bar and restaurant customers to leave vehicles outside establishments that sell alcohol until 10 a.m. the next day, without being towed.

After years in Tampa, towing bans then spread to Pinellas and Pasco counties when many bar-goers said fear of towing motivated some drivers to get behind the wheel after a few drinks, even though safer alternatives were available.

Then, the Florida League of Cities began circulating the WTSP reports, catching the attention of Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer.

“We’ve got 70,000 college students,” Ziffer told reporters, adding that the ordinance “seemed to me to be a good way to try to keep kids from getting in their cars after the bars.”

While the overnight towing ban in Tallahassee is like the Tampa ordinance, its grace period is shorter. Tampa prevents tow truck drivers from taking cars before noon outside establishments serving alcohol.

Tallahassee’s ordinance allows property owners to remove individual vehicles before that, if necessary, as long as property managers are on the scene to give the order. Tow truck drivers cannot make the call on their own overnight.

“Predatory towing has to go away,” Ziffer told WTSP. “These kids need to feel like they can leave (their cars) and walk home or Uber home.”

For Ziffer, the ban not only encourages drunken drivers from getting on the road but also protects innocent drivers.

The Tallahassee Bar & Hospitality Association, in a statement to WTSP, said: “safety is the highest priority for bar owners. No Tallahassee bars participate in roam towing because it encourages patrons to drive irresponsibly when they shouldn’t.

“We are grateful to the City adopting into law what is already our industry’s practice. We look forward to working out any issues this ordinance may have moving forward.”

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round.

On and off: Charlotte Jones has replaced Roshanda Jackson as district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels.

On: Joshua Winograd is a new legislative assistant for Delray Beach Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Karol Molinares is no longer Slosberg’s legislative assistant.

Off: Alison Roldan is no longer a district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

Off: Rachel Wise is no longer a district secretary for Jonesville Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons.

Off: Beau Giles is no longer legislative assistant for Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young.

Off and on: Lydia Claire Brooks is no longer a legislative assistant for Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley, who now has three district secretaries: Jessica LambShane Roerk, and Mark Hodges.

Off: Skylar Swanson is no longer district secretary for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

On: Nancy Bernier has become a legislative assistant for Indialantic Republican Rep. Thad Altman.

On and off: GeeDee Kerr replaced Tyler Teresa as Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters‘ district secretary.

On: Jeremy Stein is a new district secretary for Fort Walton Beach Republican Rep. Mel Ponder.

Off: Nicole Pontello is no longer district secretary for palm coast Republican Rep. Paul Renner.

On and off: Robert Moore has replaced Elizabeth Casimir as district secretary for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams.

House considers contentious Tampa International Airport audit

Budget language filed in the Florida House Saturday morning would OK a controversial state audit of Tampa International Airport.

As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee unexpectedly filed an amendment last week on the Senate floor, which proposes an audit of TIA’s renovation master plan.

Lee’s amendment raised concern with two other Tampa Bay-area Senate Republicans — appropriations chair Jack Latvala of Clearwater and Dana Young of Tampa.

The Senate rejected the amendment.

Pensacola Republican Rep. Clay Ingram, chair of the House transportation budget, offered the language in the House budget.

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Ingram’s counterpart in the Senate transportation committee, should respond sometime Saturday, as part of continuing budget negotiations.

Dixon notes that Brandes did seem to agree with Lee that an audit may be needed.

“We should give great deference to any senator who asks for an audit,” Brandes said earlier.

Despite a shooting and lawsuit, Tampa residents remain Facebook friends

John Decker Cebula

Apparently, it takes a lot for some people to get unfriended on Facebook.

A pair of Hillsborough County residents remain friends on the social network, despite one dragging the other to court for shooting him in the stomach with a pellet gun.

John Decker Cebula is a 24-year-old University of Tampa graduate who works at Ford Motor Credit Company.

Randolph Urban Pattillo is a 62-year-old Tampa resident, and president and COO of Florida Marine Products. Randolph Anthony “Tony” Pattillo, 36, is the firm’s vice president and project manager.

In a suit filed April 18 in Hillsborough County Circuit Court, Cebula claims Randy Pattillo accidentally shot him in the stomach with a pellet gun January 27, 2017.

Cebula was a “social invitee” at Pattillo’s Tampa home, and was washing his hands in a bathroom at the time.

The pellet allegedly injured Cebula’s stomach, intestine, and nervous system, necessitating stomach surgery to stem internal bleeding. The suit does not make clear how Cebula and Randy Pattillo know each other.

Cebula seeks damages for negligence. In the suit, Cebula is claiming he had (and will in the future) suffer “great mental and physical pain-and-suffering, anguish, embarrassment, humiliation” as well as incur “expenses for doctors, nurses, X-rays and other related medical care and attention for his said injuries, that he has been rendered less able to lead and enjoy a normal life and to provide a home for himself, all of which conditions are permanent and continuing in their nature.”

In the suit, Cebula claims he had (and will in the future) suffered “great mental and physical pain-and-suffering, anguish, embarrassment, humiliation” as well as incur “expenses for doctors, nurses, X-rays and other related medical care and attention for his said injuries, that he has been rendered less able to lead and enjoy a normal life and to provide a home for himself, all of which conditions are permanent and continuing in their nature.”

Despite the accidental shooting, Cebula is still Facebook friends with both Randy and Tony Pattillo.

According to police records, all persons involved in the situation have had past issues involving alcohol.

Randy and Tony Pattillo had each been arrested for DUIs in 2000; Cebula was arrested for disorderly intoxication in 2014.

Also, a 2015 photo on Facebook shows a man (possibly Cebula) drinking a beer while another man (possibly Randy) has a hand around his back.

Court records show that Randy Pattillo had an insurance policy with State Farm, but the insurer had “failed to tender” the policy.

a 2015 photo on Facebook shows a man (possibly Cebula) drinking a beer while another man (possibly Randy) has a hand around his back. (Photo courtesy Facebook)


Serving life for murder, Tampa man continues legal crusade to get car back

Car lover Michael Glenn

A Hillsborough County man serving a life sentence for murder is continuing his 14-year battle with the Tampa police over the seizure of the car — 10 years old at the time — that he used in the crime.

In 2003, police arrested and charged 21-year-old Michael Gerard “Mickey” Glenn Jr. with first-degree premeditated murder. Glenn was accused of killing 25-year-old Antonio Powell in a drug-related shooting.

Three years later, Glenn made a minor uproar in local media by announcing he would act as his own attorney, becoming the second known person in 30 years to defend himself in a Hillsborough County murder trial.

“Glenn fired a string of lawyers to represent himself and took the stand to tell his story to the jury,” wrote the Tampa Bay Times in 2013. “News reports described him during the trial as plodding, stammering and — often — objecting unsuccessfully. But he scored some points on cross-examinations.”

Nevertheless, in 2006, Glenn was found guilty of first-degree murder and robbery with a firearm; he was sentenced to life. Glenn is now at the Calhoun Correctional Institution in Blountstown.

Glenn first filed suit against the Tampa Police Department in 2004, while in Hillsborough County jail awaiting trial. He alleged that upon his arrest Sept. 17, 2003, the TPD gang unit illegally searched, seized and impounded his 1993 Nissan Altima, which he used to go to the crime scene.

Four years into his life sentence, a judge dismissed Glenn’s lawsuit May 19, 2010.

Glenn was undaunted, even though he will most likely never drive again.

He filed an amended complaint in 2012, against then-Tampa Police Jane Castor, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and the TPD detectives and sergeant involved in the case. The complaint — which sought unspecified “damages” — appeared to indicate the vehicle may have been auctioned.

On April 10, 2017, however, Glenn filed a notification with the court that he is appealing the 2010 judgment, adding now-TPD chief Eric Ward as a co-defendant.

Although Glenn will spend the rest of his life in jail, he could benefit financially from his lawsuit, if successful.

Midtown Reader to share love of reading, community on Indie Bookstore Day

Book lovers and supporters of shopping locally can fuel their passions Saturday during National Independent Bookstore Day.

Midtown Reader, Tallahassee’s newest and hottest independent bookstore, is taking part in the third annual nationwide event, held on the last Saturday in April, with hourly specials from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Founded by influential political adviser Sally Bradshaw, Midtown Reader is one of nearly 500 independent bookstores in 48 states celebrating the power of reading and shopping locally, hosting author appearances, children’s activities, special deals and other promotions.

Every indie bookstore is unique, as will be every party on Indie Bookstore Day. To find the nearest bookstore joining the festivities, visit

Midtown Reader’s contribution to the community-based celebration includes a schedule of activities and highlights of local author/children’s events.

On Saturday, Midtown Reader will have an hourly flash-sale table, rotating with series of sales categories, filled with fun books and titles curated by its knowledgeable staff.

The party begins at 10 a.m. with “Books to Read Over Coffee” followed by:

— 11 a.m.: Storybook Hour and Crafts for Kids with the Lion in costume from THE LION IN PARIS by the award-winning Beatrice Alamagna + Flash Sale – Books for Young Animal Lovers

— Noon: Flash Sale — Books to Drool Over

— 1 p.m.: Flash Sale — Books for Book Lovers

— 2 p.m.: Flash Sale — Books for Artists and Art Lovers

— 3 p.m.: Flash Sale — Books that Give Us the Creeps

— 4 p.m.: Flash Sale — Books from Around the World

— 5 p.m.: Flash Sale — Books that Give Us Hope

— 5:30 p.m.: Reading and signing with author Skip Horack/THE OTHER JOSEPH introduced by author Jimmy Kimbrell/SMOTE.

All-day events include live music, a special “Blind Date with a Book” table and raffles with prizes for those taking part In the Midtown Reader Passport event, as well as drawings for those sustaining and supporting members.

Each purchase gets a special bookstore cookie, and every $100 purchase comes with a free Indie Bookstore Day tote.

Also, literary-themed cocktails will be available at the Reader’s neighbor, Waterworks, Tallahassee’s premier Tiki bar and eatery.

Visitors to the shop can also make their mark by signing and adding their favorite book to the “Tallahassee’s Favorite Book” wall.

Midtown Reader is at 1123 Thomasville Rd. in Tallahassee; more information is at or by calling (850) 425-BOOK(2665).

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