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Tracey McManus, Times Staff Writer

Tracey McManus

Tracey covers Clearwater government and general topics in the city. Before joining the Times in August 2015, she spent five years covering everything from education reform to animal welfare for The Augusta Chronicle in Georgia. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was raised in Palm City, Fla., and graduated from University of Florida in 2010 with degrees in journalism and Spanish.

Phone: 727-445-4151.


Twitter: @TroMcManus

  1. Update: Scientology cancels planned mock FBI raid on downtown building

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The Church of Scientology planned to film a mock FBI raid on a downtown building Monday afternoon, but the actors and cameras never showed up to the location disclosed to the city.

    Church officials first notified the Clearwater Police Department on Friday that unarmed actors would be wearing FBI T-shirts and carrying boxes from one of two possible locations for a "film project."...

    News trucks remain parked outside of 305 N Ft Harrison Ave on Monday in Clearwater where the Church of Scientology had alerted local law enforcement that they had plans to film a mock FBI raid at the location that afternoon. The event did not happen.  According to Clearwater Police, actors with the church were to wear FBI shirts and be carrying boxes, but would not have simulated firearms.
  2. Residents to pay more for Jolley Trolley next year


    CLEARWATER —Taxpayers are slated to pitch in more for the Jolley Trolley next year to cover upgraded vehicles and technology despite declining ridership on the city's routes.

    Jolley Trolley has been running its shuttles with wooden benches in North Pinellas County since 1982, and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority began subsidizing the company in 2009.

    The county transit authority put the trolley contract out to bid for the first time in November, and the Jolley Trolley secured its territory against three competitors, winning a five-year, $15 million contract in February....

    The Jolley Trolley’s $217,263 subsidy, included in the city’s 2018 budget, is scheduled for a vote at the City Council in August.
  3. Clearwater City Council member to run for Pinellas County Commission


    Clearwater City Council member Doreen Caudell has announced she will run as a Republican for Pinellas County Commission next year against incumbent Democrat Pat Gerard.

    The November 2018 election has the potential to disrupt the first Democratic majority on the board since the 1960s, achieved in 2014 with Gerard's victory in District 2.

    According to the City Charter, Caudell will have to step down from the council in November 2018 whether or not she is elected to the County Commission....

      City Council member Doreen Caudell
  4. Banner on MLK Jr. Avenue in Clearwater promotes art, community pride

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Another public banner has gone up in the city through a program to beautify streets and promote local art.

    Palm Harbor artist Stephen Graff's "Waves and Raves" was selected to decorate 474 feet of fencing along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue between Pierce and Gould streets.

    The artwork has an array of shapes and colors that represent Clearwater's natural resources as well as its growing and changing demographics, according to a news release....

    474-foot banner in front of a construction site along MLK Jr. Ave between Pierce and Gould streets put up by the city of Clearwater to "beautify it."
  5. Clearwater tries new option to lure businesses downtown: cash


    CLEARWATER — They've tried hiring out-of-state consultants to figure out how to revive downtown. They've launched festivals and painting-in-the-park events hoping occasional visitors become regular foot traffic. Former City Council member Jay Polglaze hustled for a good year to entice craft breweries but watched as they settled instead in the vibrant Dunedin core just four miles away.

    With vacant storefronts still dominating downtown, city officials are now trying to lure businesses with their most aggressive strategy yet: cash. ...

    Clearwater city officlals hope the program will help fill many of the vacant downtown storefronts, including this one at 422 Cleveland St.
  6. Clearwater City Council again thwarts Scientology land deal

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — The City Council blocked another land deal involving the Church of Scientology on Wednesday night, adding uncertainty to its already tense relationship with downtown's largest landowner.

    Discussions began late last year over the city trading three properties it owns to the church for a lot east of downtown to be used for retail parking. The church wants two of the city's parcels for part of its proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall downtown. ...

    A rendering of the proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium that the Church of Scientology is talking about building along Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater. [Freedom Magazine.]
  7. Clearwater City Council to vote today on land swap with Church of Scientology

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — The City Council will vote today on whether to swap land with the Church of Scientology, the first negotiation to emerge since the church in April lost to the city on buying a crucial downtown property it needed for its campus.

    Scientology is under contract to buy the vacant lot adjacent to the Nolen apartment complex east of downtown for $625,000 from a company managed by developer Guy Bonneville with an agreement to then swap the property for three city-owned parcels, according to the contract....

    A rendering of the proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall, a 3,600-seat auditorium that the Church of Scientology is talking about building along Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater. Photo: Freedom Magazine.
  8. Clearwater City Council member Doreen Caudell makes early bid for Pinellas County Commission


    Clearwater City Council member Doreen Caudell has announced she will run as a Republican for Pinellas County Commission next year against incumbent Democrat Pat Gerard.

    The November 2018 election has the potential to disrupt the first Democratic majority on the board since the 1960s, achieved in 2014 with Gerard's victory in District 2.

    Caudell, whose second term on the City Council ends in 2020, said her priorities for the county-wide seat would focus on the environment, stormwater infrastructure needs, economic development and affordable housing....

  9. North Pinellas agencies regroup after losing millions in governor veto


    Funding to help dredge the Anclote River was one of hundreds of statewide projects Gov. Rick Scott vetoed from the state budget last week, but Tarpon Springs officials aren't taking no for an answer.

    The City Commission on Tuesday passed a resolution imploring the governor to restore the $920,000 for the Anclote River the state House and Senate previously approved. Last dredged 17 years ago, the river is impassable in some areas, posing an immediate threat to the $252 million marine commerce and tourism industry that depends on the channel, said City Manager Mark LeCouris....

    The renovated Murray Studio Theatre is part of a $17 million project at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Photo by Stephanie Hayes.
  10. St. Petersburg, Tampa mayors join pledge to support Paris Agreement; Clearwater not so much


    In the days after President Donald Trump announced the United States will withdraw from a global agreement to reduce carbon emissions and combat effects of climate change, more than 180 mayors across the country pledged to honor the Paris Agreement without him.

    But the reaction varied from the mayors of Tampa Bay's three largest cities, where studies show the threat of rising sea levels stand to uniquely impact the environment and economy. ...

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to spend $225,000 to hire “influencers” to promote the Sunshine City through their various audiences, whether it be on Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat. The City Council tabled the request Thursday. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  11. Clearwater in negotiations with Scientology for land swap

    Special Topics

    CLEARWATER — Two months after the Church of Scientology lost out to the city on buying a crucial downtown property it needed for its campus, church leaders are now negotiating a land swap to fulfill both parties' redevelopment needs.

    The City Council is scheduled June 14 to vote on whether to trade three city-owned properties, two being small parcels around the footprint of the proposed L. Ron Hubbard Hall at S Fort Harrison Avenue and Court Street, in exchange for a vacant lot east of downtown the city needs for parking for the retail portion of the Nolen apartment complex....

    “We’re making what we believe to be the best business decision,” said Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne.
  12. Palm Harbor boat dealer facing litany of complaints of bad deals


    PALM HARBOR — With an aging father sick in the hospital and a son just graduating from high school, Andrew Kashella was between jobs and knew what he had to do.

    His 21½-foot Sea Pro, the first boat he has ever owned, had to go. Hearing Gulf Coast Boat Sales on U.S. 19 N in Palm Harbor stored vessels for free while they worked a sale, Kashella said he had the business collect the boat from his rented slip at Speckled Trout Marina in January. ...

    A sign on a window of Gulf Coast Boat Sales on U.S. N in Palm Harbor notifies people the business is “restructuring.”
  13. At donor dinner, Marco Rubio bashes media for coverage of Trump


    Sen. Marco Rubio began his remarks to more than 300 donors at the Republican Party of Pinellas County's annual fundraising dinner Friday by addressing the “big news of the week that's impossible to ignore.”

    “The return of American Idol to ABC,” Rubio said to laughs. “We've gotta launch an investigation into that.”

    But when he began alluding to news of the accelerating investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, Rubio expressed both gratitude for a free press that's reporting the issues and contempt for what he sees as politics being covered as entertainment....

    Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, addressed the Pinellas County Republican Party's annual Lincoln's Day Dinner fundraiser Friday night
  14. Clearwater Beach developer downsizes proposed mooring field and clears another approval


    CLEARWATER — A local developer has cleared another hurdle for building what could become the first mooring field in the high-traffic waters of the Mandalay Channel.

    After securing approval in June from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for his 20-acre, 42-boat mooring field, William Blackwood said he listened to the fierce backlash from beach residents and downsized his proposal into a four-boat buoy system instead. ...

    Diagram of a proposed mooring field in the Mandalay Channel on the north east side of Clearwater Beach.
  15. Crabby's Dockside renovation not what Clearwater had approved, city says

    Local Government

    CLEARWATER — Crabby's Dockside restaurant reopened last month at 37 Causeway Blvd. on Clearwater Beach after a major renovation, but the final product is not what the city expected.

    The owners defaulted on the lease for the city-owned property when they failed to include a wood-like cladding on the building's exterior that had been "a prominent aesthetic feature" in the development contract, according to an April 24 letter of default from Marine and Aviation director Bill Morris. ...