Tampa Bay Overheard: St. Pete pets, Bay-to-Bay travel and Hillary at the Fairgrounds

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A reason for paws in St. Pete

We love our pets (they are practically children to us), so it should come as no surprise that super-LGBT-friendly St. Pete is also super pet-friendly, according to Zumper.com. It named St. Petersburg the Most Pet Friendly City in the U.S. The rankings were determined based on the cities’ number of apartment listings that allowed pets, the number of pet stores in an area, how often the weather is “pleasant” enough to walk in and how many dog parks a place has. Zumper attributes St. Pete’s rating to the large number of cat-friendly apartments and the abundance of pet stores, pet restaurants and veterinarians. St. Pete once again leads the pack in terms of anti-discrimination – the city welcomes any (legal) animal you want to make feel at home with you, regardless of species. Now go take your cat out on a leash to its favorite coffee shop in its favorite city in order to celebrate.

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Metro purchases St. Pete location, solidifies permanent home

By : Jeremy Williams
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Metro Wellness & Community Center, in partnership with Community AIDS Network (CAN), has purchased its St. Petersburg location after a seven-month legal battle.

The previous owner attempted to sell the building last summer out from underneath Metro, even attempting to have the clinic evicted. Metro was forced to file for an injunction and fight it out in court.

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Workforce protections bill postponed after tie vote

By : Jamie Hyman
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The Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which would prohibit discrimination against LGBTs in the workplace, is postponed to the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee’s Feb. 9 meeting after initially failing on a tie vote.

It was the first time the bill, which has been filed and refiled every Legislative session since 2007, made it before a committee.

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Wedding Bells at Watermark: Stephen Gibson and Rob Johnson

By : Samantha Rosenthal
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Rob Johnson and Stephen GibsonStephen Gibson, 45, who oversees vacation rentals and entertains as “Stephane Blair,” and Rob Johnson, 54, who is a graphic designer by trade, met online toward the end of 2007. Stephen noticed they had a lot in common,so he decided to message Rob.

“I got this message and email, and it said it was this guy from Florida,” Rob says. “And I was like ‘Oh my God, I don’t want to meet anybody from out of town.’ He and I started talking, and it got to the point where we would send messages back and forth online all the time, then we started talking on the phone and then we started talking on the phone every day.”

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St. Pete mayor gives State of the City speech at The Palladium

By : jeremy williams
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St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman spoke of change and progress at the State of the City address at The Palladium Jan. 23.

“The state of St. Petersburg is strong and sunny,” Kriseman said reading a list of words posted to the city’s Facebook and Twitter accounts by people describing the city, even managing to get another dig at presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

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Kevin McCarty, Florida’s Insurance Commissioner, resigns

By : Wire Report
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Tallahassee (AP) – Kevin McCarty, who helped guide Florida’s fragile insurance market in the wake of eight hurricanes a decade ago, is resigning as the state’s insurance commissioner.

During his 13-year tenure, McCarty dealt with the near collapse of the state’s homeowners insurance market, major changes in health insurance and contentious legislative battles over auto insurance, medical malpractice and the state-created Citizens Property Insurance.

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Watermark Year in Review: August 2015

By : Jamie Hyman, Billy Manes and Jeremy Williams
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Twelve-year-old boy shoots at transgender woman Cheyenne West, allegedly, in Orlando near the Citrus Bowl and is charged with attempted murder and theft of a firearm. West was not harmed, thankfully, but this is 2015’s most disturbing trend. The shooter shouted homophobic slurs before unloading his bullets.

In a complex bit of back-and-forth, a long-fought lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in order to establish a Gay Straight Alliance at Carver Middle School in Lake County – it had one for a minute thanks to the tenacity of then-14-year-old Bayli Silberstein – was dismissed. In October, the ACLU appealed.

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Suzanne Westenhoefer slays at The Palladium in St. Pete

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Petersburg – Suzanne Westenhoefer brought down the house at The Palladium in St. Petersburg Dec. 13.

Tampa’s own Jane Castor took the stage to introduce Westenhoefer and throw out a few jokes of her own (maybe a new career for the recently retired police chief).

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Not ready to back down: St. Petersburg Commissioner Steve Kornell fights the power and wins

By : Jeremy Williams
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During a critical year for the St. Petersburg city commission, where the shadow to the Tampa Bay Rays loomed over the election, Steve Kornell was able to retain his seat against all odds and without an endorsement from the area’s largest newspaper.

The Tampa Bay Times wrote many articles about Kornell this past year as he was fighting to get re-elected in District 5. Kornell opposed the deal by St. Petersburg mayor RickKriseman that would allow the Rays to look for stadium sites outside of St. Petersburg, but within the region.

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Queen of our world: Lorraine Langlois is a St. Pete superhero

By : Jeremy Williams
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Lorraine Langlois is the current CEO of Metro Tampa Bay and has been with the organization since the beginning when it all got started at the King of Peace church in St. Petersburg.

“That first year I think we had a budget of $43,000, and here we are, 23 years later, and it’s going to be a little over $6 million,” Langlois says. “We started off with 14 or 15 clients and now we are serving about 15,000 in the Tampa Bay area.”

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St. Pete and Orlando earn perfect municipal equality scores from HRC

By : Staff Report
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Orlando and St. Petersburg are among the record number 47 cities in the U.S. to score a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2015 Municipal Equality Index.

The City Beautiful and St. Pete are joined by Wilton Manors as the three Florida cities who scored perfect marks on the HRC’s index that measures a city’s policies for LGBT inclusion and equality. Tampa was not far behind with a score of 95.

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St. Pete Pride’s Red & Green Party brings snow to Sunken Gardens

By : Jeremy Williams
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St. Pete Pride’s annual Red & Green Party brought festive cheer, glittery beards and snow to the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg Dec. 5.

The more than 400 guests dined on exquisite food and enjoyed the open bars as two snow machines turned the 100 year old botanical garden into a winter wonderland.

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