Friday, November 24, 2017

Writers

Mark Puente

Mark Puente

Mark Puente covers Pinellas County government, including the constitutional officers and the way they operate their offices. Puente returned to the Tampa Bay Times in July after two years at The Baltimore Sun. He worked as an investigative reporter and was on the team that was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news coverage of the Freddie Gray saga and city's riots. His "Undue Force" series about police brutality led to reform efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice and the city of Baltimore. The series won the Institute on Political Journalism's Clark Mollenhoff Award for Excellence in Investigative Reporting and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism's Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award for reporting on racial or religious hatred, intolerance or discrimination in the United States. He joined the Times in November 2010 and covered real estate issues as part of the Times' Business team until June 2012. He then covered St. Petersburg City Hall until March 2014. He spent more than five years with the Plain Dealer in Cleveland where he won multiple journalism awards for his investigative work. His reporting forced a 32-year sheriff in Ohio's largest county to resign from office in 2009 and plead guilty to theft-in-office charges. He took a different path to journalism, logging more than 1 million miles in the cab of a semitrailer truck over 14 years. After leaving the trucking industry, Puente earned a political science degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has a wife and three sons. Go Tar Heels!



The Penny for Pinellas 1-cent sales tax is a decade-long tax used to fund infrastructure improvements in the county. [Pinellas County]

With Penny for Pinellas approval, wishlists get more real

With an estimated $2 billion coming in the next decade or so, county and city officials can now start planning to build bridges, fire stations and sewer upgrades.But it’s still too early to start cutting checks.Officials will have to...
Updated one month ago
The Penny for Pinellas 1-cent sales tax is a decade-long tax used to fund infrastructure improvements in the county. [Pinellas County]

Penny for Pinellas: Voters overwhelmingly pass the tax for another decade

After county and city officials spent months touting the Penny for Pinellas sales tax, voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the program for another decade.With all precincts reporting, about 83 percent of voters supported approving the...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas County Sheriff's Deputy Tony DeAngelo, checks contractor names and licenses plates in the Harbourside Condominium complex in South Pasadena last Tuesday. Deputies are searching for unlicensed contractors as part of a new pilot project. In this case, the contractor had a proper license. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Pinellas sheriff’s team follows signs on hunt for unlicensed contractors

Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy Tony DeAngelo spied the two roofers pulling metal panels from a trailer and slowly rolled by. He parked around the corner from the Redington Beach home and keyed in their license plate.It took the 34-year deputy...
Updated one month ago
Anne Maddox, the administrative manager of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, would not tell the Tampa Bay Times how much potential work the agency sent to vice chair Tom Tafelski.  [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]

Turmoil surrounds Pinellas construction board manager Anne Maddox

LARGO — The executive director resigned amid controversy. Two investigators were forced out after they were accused of wasting hundreds of hours of county time. And an inspector general report excoriated the agency’s management for among other things...
Updated one month ago
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, located at 12600 Belcher Road in Largo, has come under scrutiny from the county's inspector general and a grand jury. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

Pinellas lawmakers to discuss fate of construction board

It’s reckoning day for the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.Pinellas lawmakers will discuss the troubled agency’s future when they meet on Wednesday in Tarpon Springs to discuss their priorities for the 2018 legislative...
Updated one month ago
Pinellas Sheriff deputies J. Short, left, and T. Festa, right, arrest suspect Randy Ronchi, center, in Largo early Tuesday, as part of a joint roundup of unlicensed contractors. [SCOTT KEELER | Times]

Pinellas deputies go door-to-door at dawn to arrest unlicensed contractors

For years, licensed contractors in Pinellas County have yearned for law enforcement to target unlicensed roofers, painters and others in the construction trades who perform shoddy work and swindle money from homeowners.Deputies fulfilled that...
Updated one month ago
Jack Joyner, who sits on the governing board of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, said he did nothing improper when he helped change a rule for air conditioners in 2015. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]

Pinellas construction board member denies influencing rule change

"If I benefitted from it, so did every other AC contractor and homeowner."
Updated one month ago
County owned vacant land between 23rd Avenue and 24th Avenue on Gulf Blvd. in Indian Rocks Beach. In 2006 the Pinellas County Commission voted to spend $2.8 million in Penny for Pinellas dollars for a beach parking lot that never came to be. The commission recently voted to sell the parcel for $1.1 million, at a loss of $1.7 million, while it is also pushing for renewal of the penny sales tax. [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]

County land deal loses $1.7 million in Penny for Pinellas dollars

Giganto blurb goes here and runs all the way across the package. all the way across the package.
Updated: 2 months ago
The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board is located at 12600 Belcher Road, Largo, in a small strip mall. The agency has come under much scrutiny and criticism this year, and now there are questions about whether the county can legally take over its duties. [SCOTT KEELER   |  Times]

Last-second issue could hamper reforming Pinellas licensing board

Pinellas commissioners and legislators have spent 10 months debating how to fix the dysfunctional Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board. But as the deadline to submit legislation to reform the independent agency approached Friday, County...
Updated: 2 months ago
The Pinellas County Commission on Tuesday approved a $2.2 billion budget for next fiscal year. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

Pinellas County Commission approves next budget: $2.2 billion

CLEARWATER –– It's easy to pass a $2.2 billion budget when rising property values bring in extra cash.The Pinellas County Commission unanimously approved the 2017-18 budget this week with little discussion. The millage rate stayed...
Updated: 2 months ago