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Rick Kriseman and top city officials to travel to Cuba

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman will board an airplane to Cuba Thursday morning. Kriseman is traveling to the island nation with Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, his chief of staff Kevin King and City Council Chairman Charlie Gerdes.

“I am excited about the opportunity to introduce St. Petersburg to the people of Cuba and to learn how our city and our residents can benefit from increased interaction between Cuba and America,” Kriseman said.

The trip is a sort of fact-finding mission for the administration. They plan to gather information to ensure St. Pete is in a good position to deal with Cuba as President Barack Obama continues to normalize relations.

The city officials are scheduled to return to St. Pete on Sunday. While in Cuba the group has plans to meet with the Cuban State Department, a national historian, the economics department at the University of Havana, visit an art gallery and take a bus tour of the city plaza.

Kriseman will meet with reporters Tuesday to go over the findings of his visit.

The trip is privately funded by the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation.

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 [email protected]

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