Mitch Perry Report – 11.17.14

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This is my debut column for SaintPetersblog and FloridaPolitics.com, and thanks for being part of it.

It’s only been a little over a week since I penned (or more accurately, typed) my last “MPR” for Creative Loafing, but it seems a lot longer than that.

It’s certainly been an interesting 10 days or so since the news broke that I was leaving Tampa Bay’s alternative weekly for Peter Schorsch’s growing media, well, “empire”  is perhaps a bit grandiose. Media company I guess is more appropriate.

I’m pleased to be working with my fellow WMNF Last Call talk show host (for at least another month or so), Janelle Irwin, and the rest of the team here. I’m going to be writing and covering the stuff I’ve always covered for CL. Well, maybe not as diverse in terms of the story selection that made it into the paper on a weekly basis. Those were challenging times when we had the Food issue, or the Horror issue (actually the story on the Eckerd College climate summit worked nicely there), or some other special issue that forced me to lend my time and energy to different types of stories. Here the focus is obviously on politics, but not every story will be centered on such.

The big news in local media circles in the past week certainly wasn’t my transition, but the unceremonious sacking of the Tampa Tribune’s long-time political reporter, William “Windy” March. Mother Trib’s L.A.-based owners gave him the heave-ho for no apparent reason, leading others to speculate about why this 30-year veteran of the Tampa daily (the past 20 spent covering politics) was no longer deemed to keep on the paper. I tweeted that it was “stunning and sad” when I heard the news last week, and I still think that’s the case. In the past few years alone Windy and I have been the lone reporters covering some candidate in Hillsborough County on occasion, and I’ve always felt like after most conversations that I always learned something from him. He’s just really, really smart, and it’s the Trib’s loss.

The St. Petersburg Tribune made some other personnel changes last week, terminating Anastasia Dawson, its Pinellas County education reporter. It also finally filled the Tampa City Hall beat that has been vacated for months with the departure recently of reporter Kevin Wiatrowski. My favorite local Brit, Chris O’Donnell, is now moving on from covering St. Pete City Hall over to Tampa. Welcome to the beat, Chris.

I hope you’ll indulge me in this first week of reporting here. I’m still learning how to use some of my new tools, but hopefully I’ll get the rhythm down quickly enough. Thanks for reading.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.