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Charlie Frago, Times Staff Writer

Charlie Frago

Charlie Frago covers St. Petersburg for the Tampa Bay Times. Previously, Frago covered Clearwater for the newspaper. He has also worked for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, the Greensboro News & Record in North Carolina and the City News Bureau of Chicago. In 2011-12, Frago was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He has a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He joined the Times in May 2013.

Phone: (727) 893-8459

E-mail: cfrago@tampabay.com

Twitter: @CharlieFrago

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  1. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months, the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Starting Jan. 1, utility bills could climb between $7.47 and $9.81 a month under the proposed rate hikes unveiled by a City Council committee Thursday.

    That's an increase of $89.64 to $117.72 a year for each household, according to the city's calculations, for a typical user of about 4,000 gallons a month....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Muslim leader endorses Mayor Rick Kriseman

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Abdul Karim Ali, president of the Tampa Bay Area Muslim Association, announced his support of Mayor Rick Kriseman on Thursday.

    Earlier Thursday, 40 Midtown pastors had endorsed Kriseman's main opponent, former mayor Rick Baker. 

    Ali said he liked former Mayor Rick Baker, but thought the city had evolved since Baker’s tenure 2001-10....

    Abdul Karim Ali endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman Thursday
  3. Rick Baker releases endorsement of 40 Midtown pastors

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rick Baker announced Thursday that he has the support of 40 Midtown pastors and religious leaders, evidence he says of his "overwhelming support" in a crucial part of the city.

    Missing from the list? Rev. Louis Murphy Sr., who leads one of the largest African-American congregations in the city at Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church. Murphy hosted the first mayoral forum between Baker and Mayor Rick Kriseman....

  4. Rick Baker's debate answer revives painful St. Pete controversy

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Former Mayor Bill Foster fired one of his top administrators, Goliath Davis III, six years ago for disobeying an order to attend the funeral of a slain police officer.

    That 2011 decision divided the city then, and still resonates today. Now it's become a political issue in the contentious mayoral contest.

    SUNSHINE CITY SHOWDOWN: Keep up with the Tampa Bay Times coverage of the St. Petersburg mayoral race....

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the St. Petersburg mayoral debate at the Palladium Theater on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  5. The details on that St. Pete sewer email

    Blog

    An email sent from Water Reclamaition Facilities manager Charlie Wise to other high-ranking officials in the Water Resources Department in March 2015 ended up in a U.S Enviromental Protection Agency investigative file that provided another chapter in the city's nearly two-year sewage saga.

    The email is significant because it shows Wise's concern about higher-than-anticipated flows arriving in the Southwest Plant by Eckerd College as the city gradually shut down the waterfront Albert Whitted sewage plant. ...

  6. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    SUNSHINE CITY SHOWDOWN: Keep up with the Tampa Bay Times coverage of the St. Petersburg mayoral race....

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg Tuesday evening (07/25/17). The event is presented by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9.
  7. Recycling could become the latest issue dividing the two Ricks in tonight's St. Pete mayoral debate

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker go head-to-head in tonight’s televised debate, they’ll likely tangle over the city’s sewage crisis.

    Baker will almost certainly mention the recent Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission draft report, which places much of the blame for the city's sewage woes on the Kriseman administration....

    Recycling, especially Rick Baker's record on opposing it while mayor, may surface in tonight's televised debate
  8. Live from St. Pete: Kriseman, Baker square off in TV debate

    Local

    ST. PETERSBURG — The mayoral race goes into the home stretch starting Tuesday.

    More than 64,000 ballots are set to be mailed out to voters. And hours later the frontrunners, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker, will square off in a live televised debate at 7 p.m. at the Palladium Theater.

    The debate will be broadcast live by Bay News 9, giving the candidates one hour — and one more chance — to reach a wide swath of the electorate before ballots hit mail boxes across the city....

    Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman. [Times files]
  9. Two Ricks deliver video to AARP voter guide

    Blog

    Last week, AARP Florida was a little ticked off that neither Mayor Rick Kriseman or former mayor Rick Baker had delivered video responses to a voter education campaign.

    Now, both Baker and Kriseman have videos up giving their views on affordable housing and public safety. The "You asked, They answered" series features residents asking questions and the two Ricks responding in a planned five-part weekly series. ...

    The two Ricks have delivered their AARP videos
  10. Email warning ignored before St. Pete started spewing sewage

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A draft report lays blame for the city's sewage crisis squarely on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman and a cascading series of errors that started with the now infamous shuttering of the Albert Whitted Water Reclamation Facility in 2015.

    The state report confirmed what many had long suspected: closing the plant was a major factor leading to the release of up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  11. Karl Nurse backs Rick Kriseman in St. Pete mayor's race

    Blog

    ST. PETERSBURG — City Council member Karl Nurse has endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    That’s welcome news for the incumbent Democratic mayor who is engaged in a tough reelection battle with former mayor Rick Baker.

    Nurse is popular among progressives and is a respected voice in city politics. A long stint as a community activist segued into an appointment to City Council in 2008. He has been handily releected to District 6 twice. Nurse is term-limited and his endorsement has been eagerly sought by Kriseman....

    St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, left, is seen with Karl Nurse in the combination of two images.
  12. Rick Kriseman's administration lashed in St. Pete sewage report

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — A state report places much of the blame for the city's 200-million gallon sewage spill crisis on the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    The 7-page draft report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, does not name Kriseman or any of his staff. It also starts with the long view, blaming two decades of city leadership for setting the stage for St. Petersburg's massive sewage problems....

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system. St. Petersburg dumped up to 200 million gallons of sewage over 13 months from 2015-16. A new state report blames much of the crisis on mistakes made by the administration of Mayor Rick Kriseman, but also critcizes past administrations. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  13. AARP still waiting for the two Ricks to send voter education videos

    Blog

    AARP Florida wants to educate St. Petersburg residents on Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker’s views on how to make the Sunshine City more livable.

    The concept? A resident appears in a video to ask question for the next mayor on topics like affordable housing, civic participation and jobs.

    The first resident  in the  video series “We asked, They answered” was asked by smiling, pleasant woman named  “Arlene” who queried the candidates about affordable housing and public safety....

    It's been a frenetic St. Pete mayor's race so far. Maybe that's the reason AARP hasn't received voter education videos from the campaigns
  14. St. Pete sewage crisis ends with no charges, $326 million bill

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG — The city has put the legal fallout from the sewage crisis behind it.

    Last week, St. Petersburg officials learned that the criminal investigation into the crisis — the city dumped up to 200 million gallons of waste from 2015-16 — would not result in any city employees facing charges.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Minor St. Petersburg sewage spill causes major headaches...

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage from the city's overwhelmed sewer system in September 2016. The city recently learned that no employees will face charges as a result of that crisis. The St. Petersburg City Council also agreed to spend $326 million fixing its sewer system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  15. City Attorney: State won't pursue criminal charges in St. Pete's sewage crisis

    Blog

    The St. Petersburg City Council is expected to approve a consent order later today that requires the city to spend $326 million on improving its sewer system.

    That steep bill comes with a sweetener: no state criminal charges related to the city’s nearly two-year-old sewage crisis.

    The city’s top litigator, Joseph Patner, emailed council members last week to inform them that he and City Attorney Jackie Kovilaritch met with state officials June 21 for about an hour. The city attorneys and state officials later had two phone conversations....

    St. Petersburg's sewage crisis appears to be winding down