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Fate of Tampa's last cigar factory hinges on FDA proposal listen

07/09/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday
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Tags: Cigars, Cigar City, J.C. Newman Cigar Co., Tampa, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Bobby Newman, Eric Newman

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The cigar industry in Tampa could be facing extinction. If a proposed federal Food and Drug Administration regulation is approved, Tampa’s last remaining cigar factory could wind up shutting down after 119 years of business. During a tour of the historic factory in V.M. Ybor Wednesday, Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera said he’s backing the J.C. Newman Company’s efforts to squash the regulation before it squashes them.

“This is a classic example of too much government and governmen...

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Charges dropped against Al-Arian; interview with his former lawyer listen

07/03/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
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Tags: Sami Al-Arian, Linda Moreno, Tampa

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Last Friday a federal judge in Virginia dropped all charges against former University of South Florida Professor Sami Al-Arian; could it signal the end of a marathon legal battle that began in Tampa more than a decade ago?

To find out, WMNF spoke Wednesday with Al-Arian’s former attorney, Linda Moreno, who is based in Tampa.

Linda Moreno is also affiliated with Doughty Street Chambers in London, a firm specializing in human rights and international law.

"Well, I’m very happy that a...

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Defense for Sami Osmakac claims client has mental illness, entrapped by FBI listen

06/10/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday
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Tags: Sami Osmakac, terrorism, Tampa, Pinellas County, entrapment, FBI

update: after this story aired, the jury returned its verdict: guilty

Jurors began deliberating the fate Tuesday of a Pinellas County man accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Tampa.

Sami Osmakac was arrested in January 2012 but his lawyers say he has mental illness and was entrapped by the FBI into planning violence.

WMNF interviewed Mel Underbakke, director of the education committee of the advocacy group National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms. She has attended much ...

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Rick Scott touts Florida tourism record as job booster listen

05/15/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
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Tags: Rick Scott, Bob Buckhorn, Tampa, St. Petersburg, tourism, Visit Florida, Visit Tampa Bay, jobs, economy, sea level rise

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Tourism marketers in Florida are hoping to see at least 100 million trips to the state this year. The latest numbers are out for first quarter and they broke records.

The announcement Thursday at Busch Gardens by Visit Florida was heralded by Governor Rick Scott as a huge win for Floridians.

“Think about it. We want more jobs in our state. Tourism is a big driver. When people come here as tourists they buy homes, they buy cars, they think, ‘man, this is a nice place to live.’”

And a...

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Tampa seeking input on Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park overhaul listen

05/06/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday
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Tags: Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Bob Buckhorn, parks and recreation, Tampa, North Boulevard Homes

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One of Tampa’s biggest parks may soon get a makeover. Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park has more than 20 acres of recreational space along the Hillsborough River with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn will be among others at a community meeting Tuesday night where officials hope to get some ideas from those most likely to use the rehabbed space.

“The first step in a process like this is always to start with the community.”

The forum at Blake High School Tuesday ...

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Bar owners convince Tampa City Council to hold off on large nightclub rules listen

04/17/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
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Tags: Tampa, nightclubs, Ybor City, alcohol

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Tampa has been working on an ordinance regulating large Ybor City nightclubs for months, but after hearing from frustrated bar owners Thursday, it’s on hold again.

The city wants to avoid repeating violations and aggression that came to a head in shootings two years ago.

But during public comment several bar owners said irresponsible owners were no longer around. Dave Hundley owns The Orpheum nightclub in Ybor and establishments in St. Petersburg.

Des...

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Tampa extends red-light camera contract with 25% of net revenues earmarked for intersection safety listen

04/03/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
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Tags: red light cameras, Tampa, City of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Tampa City Council, Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough County

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The City of Tampa is renewing its contract with the vendor of its red-light cameras. City council voted 6-1 today to extend the contract by two years despite a vote last month against renewing the contract. What changed? Mayor Bob Buckhorn proposed using a quarter of the net revenue from red-light camera citations to improve the safety of intersections with the cameras.

But that didn’t sit well with the only person who spoke on the issue during public comment, St. Petersburg red-light cri...

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Hillsborough NAACP wants to organize to save Tampa's historic Jackson House listen

04/03/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday
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Tags: NAACP, Tampa, Jackson House, African-American history, music

A dilapidated historic house in downtown Tampa may get a second chance at renovations. The Jackson House was built in 1901 and served as a boarding house. During decades of racial segregation it was one of the only places blacks could find accommodation. The Jackson House hosted celebrities such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie.

Carolyn Collins, president of Hillsborough Branch NAACP, told Tampa City Council Thursday h...

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Hillsborough commissioners support continuing red-light cameras listen

04/02/14 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday
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Tags: red-light cameras, Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Sheriff, Hillsborough County Commission, Tampa, St. Petersburg

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Red-light cameras are receiving scrutiny in the Florida legislature and cities like Tampa and St. Petersburg could soon wind down their programs. But in unincorporated Hillsborough County commissioners reiterated their support for the cameras today.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Colonel Greg Brown told the county commission the ten cameras installed at six locations in unincorporated Hillsborough County have resulted in fewer crashes.

Brown estimated it would cost “hundreds of t...

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Free dental care fair in Tampa rescues more than 1500 from pain listen

03/28/14 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Friday
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Tags: dentist, dental care, healthcare, Tampa, Mission of Mercy

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As many as 2,000 people from across the state are receiving free dental care Friday and Saturday at the Florida State Fairgrounds. This is the state’s first Mission of Mercy where the goal of hundreds of dentists and dental hygienists is to get people who don’t have access to oral healthcare out of pain.

In a giant expo hall at the fairgrounds, several generators powered more than 100 dental chairs – all of them occupied by patients. The whirring of drills and suction hoses signaled to mor...

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