Sunday, August 31, 2008

Drug Dealing and The Wire

In a prior post on Prostitution dolphin makes a good point about calling TPD about drug activity. Being part of Neighborhood Watch before, I listened to TPD officers tell us how the drug dealers operate, for example how they will keep their stash in a paper cup or paper bag in the weeds or gutter, rather than on their person. I did not get a full understanding of that until I watched the first season of The Wire. This show or The Corner should be required watching for NW members because it gives be very insights at to how the street level drug dealers operate.

Thankfully we have better police department than that on The Wire.

Searching for Prostitutes

Part 2 of What can be done about the prostitutes on Nebraska Avenue?

Getting a big lead on being accurate when providing information to the police, is knowing who is doing the activity. Many of the prostitutes are regulars. The SESH Vehicle patrol created a book we kept in our cars that showed the photos and names and arrests for the regular prostitutes.

There are several ways of getting this information.

1. Join a NW Watch group that already has such information.

2. Look it up yourself.

Start with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Inquiry. Go to Option 3: Inquire by Booking Date. Enter a date in following format 082908 and click Summary Report. This will generate a list of bookings at the jail for that day. There is much information in that listing including the crime. I use the search function to quickly locate the crimes I am interested in. Control – F. I type in “prost” to search for prostitution and “soli” for soliciting another. (Bear in mind there is also “solicitation to pu” short for soliciting to purchase drugs, “soliciting by inti” short soliciting by intimidation or harassment -aggressive panhandling and “solicitation to de” short for solicitation to deliver cocaine.) However not all details of the arrest are in that report so I have open a second window in which I cut and paste into the Option 1: Inquire by Name: field. This provides me all the details of the arrest include where the person was arrested, where they live and for whom they are employed by and their photo.

For example from 8/18/08 to 8/29/08 this is what I came up with for prostitution arrests.





















By going into the Option 1: Inquire by Name: field I can find the person’s prior arrests for last 5 years.

For more details of someone’s criminal history and status of the criminal case go to Hillsborough Clerk of Circuit Court - Search Court Records site. This site not only includes arrests where they went to jail but also those who were issued a summons to appear in court and never sent to jail at the time of arrest.

For example: Antwon Lee Jordan has an extensive history of False Name to LE officer and No Valid drivers license. If you call a report in on Antwon Jordan engaging in prostitution activity and they do a field interview and he gives a false name, he can be arrested and taken off the street for a short time.

Another site that may provide more detail is the Florida Department of Corrections Inmate Search Site. I like to use the Search All Corrections Offender Databases sub site This will tell you if they are on Felony Probation and whether they have had arrests in other counties.

This can be important because there is a statute that makes the 3rd conviction of prostitution a felony, mandating treatment.

What can be done about the prostitutes on Nebraska Avenue?

This is the first of a multipart series on the topic.

My ability to speak on this topic is due to my participation in the Southeast Seminole Heights Neighborhood Watch, The Exercise Club, and SESH NW Vehicle Patrol and for moderating the Prostitution Task Force (for which I and others did extensive research.)

To deal with this problem requires cooperation and commitment on the part of the residents.

There are 5 core strategies in dealing with the prostitutes and their Johns.

  1. Reporting
  2. Disruption
  3. Arrests
  4. Treatment
  5. Economic change of the community

These strategies requires a commitment on the part of the residents, where they need to become part of the system instead of relying on the system. This is the essential in fact of community policing. The community has a role in effective policing.


The most basic element is observing and reporting the behavior. To effectively deal with any criminal problem, the police need information about the problem. As there are only so many police out there, they are limited in what they see. It is crucial that residents provide that information. You are in effect supplying criminal intelligence to the police. As part of this you need to make sure you are reliable in the information you provide. Also the police are often more effective in dealing with patterns rather than individual acts. So everytime you see prostitution activity, report it to the TPD non-emergency line 231-6130. Provide detailed description of what is going and who is doing it, including the name of the persons involved if you have it. Report it as you see it rather than wait till later. Describe what the person looks like, what they are wearing, what side of the street they are on which direction they are headed and specifically what they are doing. Then ask for an event number. That event number ensures it is entered into the TPD system.

Getting accurate descriptions takes some practice, especially if you decide something is suspicious for criminal activity after you pass the person by. I recommend 3 things. 1. Keep a pad and paper handy to where ever you might be when you observe criminal activity. For example by a particular window in your house. This way you can write things down instead of relying on memory as you call TPD. Don’t forget to document the time. 2. Read over material provided by police/neighborhood watch on describing people . 3. Practice describing people. Make a game out of it and observe someone, document what they look like and then see if it matches. This is a game your children can learn, which might help them later in the event they become a witness to a crime. Sometimes if I see something that might be suspicious I will run the description in my head as I decide whether it is truly suspicious and needs to be reported.

The more you report the incidents two things occur: TPD pays greater attention to the problem because they have an increase numbers for that area. Every day TPD looks over data maps to see what reported crimes are occurring where and they change their tactics to deal with those changes in crime. Secondly they have data to work on to fight the problem, they know when and where they can send undercover police to act as prostitutes and arrest the Johns or to pretend to be Johns and arrest prostitutes. They can also step up field interviews. This might pick up people who have warrants and it also disrupts business.

If you do not report it, it will not get dealt with. If you do not report it, you are part of the problem.

The next post will be on getting more information in advance on the actors in these crimes, to provide to police even more accurate information.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A correction

In my July posting on the Hampton Terrace debate, I took issue with the the Creative Loafing article about the HTPRO spokespeople residing in the neighborhood (see the link).

This morning at Starbucks Gail confront me and challenged my assertions and challenged me to make a retraction. I will gladly accept that challenge, if what I post is shown to be inaccurate I have no problem retracting anything. So I again went looking in regard to the property owned by Gail Davis.

For whatever reason the property appraiser's site does not pull it up under her name but when I search Mohawk I did find the homestead under her and her husband's name.

Gail consider this my retraction.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

"His heart, home are in Seminole Heights"

There is a great article in the St. Pete Times about Greg Barnhill.

"Seeing Greg Barnhill, professional looking in khakis and a button-down dress shirt, it's hard to imagine him as a country boy on a farm outside West Union, Ohio. That's exactly what Barnhill was, though, and he still has great regard for the small-town way of life. It's evident in his passion for the older homes and sense of community in Seminole Heights, where he helped organize the neighborhood's first home tour and has been integral in restoring its garden center building." (more)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Candidate Forum

From South Seminole Heights email:

Please join us �

. . . as Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa ( MCC Tampa) will host our 2008 �Meet the Candidates� Forum on Monday, August 18, 2008 . This event is being sponsored by:

The Tampa/Hillsborough County Human Rights Council

Equality Florida

South Seminole Heights Civic Association

Our event schedule is as follows �

6:30p � 7:00p ~ Informal Meet & Greet with Hillsborough County Judicial Candidates, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Election Candidates, and Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Candidates

7:00p � 7:10p ~ Introductions of Media Representatives and Program Format

7:10p � 7:30p ~ Hillsborough County School Board, District 1 - Q&A

7:30p � 7:55p ~ Hillsborough County School Board, District 7 - Q&A

7:55p � 8:15p ~ Hillsborough County Commission , District 2 (R) � Q&A

8:15p � 8:35p ~ Hillsborough County Commission , District 6 (R) � Q&A

8:35p � 8:55p ~ Hillsborough County Commission , District 6 (D) � Q&A

8:55p � 9:00p ~ Final Comments/Program concludes

Editor's Comment: You can bet that Brian Blair and Ken Hagan won't have the balls to show up for this event. Actually according to the Tribune, they won't go anywhere someone will ask them a real question.

Ode to Nebraska Avenue

According to her stepdaughter, Maggie Council (aka Dipietra) has a released a new record called Not In The House. Interestingly she says about her album "Nebraska Avenue – Ode to southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa. Every word is true. All the extraneous sounds are actually from on or near Nebraska Avenue, where Robert hung out with a field recorder. " Aside from being a musician, Maggie has a long association with WMNF radio which resides in Southeast Seminole Heights.

Other comments about the album "Not In The House – OK. I was watching a Jeff Berlin bass instructional video and reading a book about using words to frame arguments called “Don’t Think of an Elephant” while wondering what would happen if the single mom with 4 kids I saw at the Laundromat [on Nebraska Avenue] ever became President."

Here is the first track called Nebraska Avenue. Listen for the sounds. Copies of the CD can be ordered from her CD website for $12.97.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Save the Whaleys (for Seminole Heights)

The Official Unoffical Seminole Heights blog has a campaign for Whaleys to come to Seminole Heights, which New Heights Magazine fully supports:

In our search we realized that Whaley's has let go of their web domain ( We have purchased it to save it from competitors' clutches and will give it to them free when they reopen (anywhere), BUT will include a FREE website AND FREE advertising if they move their location to Seminole Heights.

We are still in search of a phone number for Todd Whaley, but have written him suggesting several locations in Seminole Heights, including Sem-Hi Center and the Van Gogh signs location currently up for sale. There is also a great "grocery store-looking" location across from Bali Bay that's for lease (although it's bigger than what they are probably looking for).

Please help spread the word to Whaleys that they'll have a lifelong partner with Seminole Heights residents and New Heights should they move into our neighborhood.

Whaleys can be contact at

I can be contacted at or 813-389-8116 for any questions.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Schwan's Hangs at the Corner

Driving through Seminole Heights, I noticed at the SE corner of Hillsborough and Nebraska in the Auto Parks store parking lot, sat a Schwan's truck, (noted for home delivery) selling its products, out of the back of the truck, with signs like this. *Note they also take EBT. Interesting economic turn of events for that company.

Posted by Picasa

Southeast Seminole Heights Kiosk

From the SESH email list: " For those of you who have not seen it.........check out the fabulous KIOSK built by Glenn Cable and Buddy Williams (so how could it be anything but fab!) It is not finished as it rains every day but you can see what it looks like........ ....right now it is holding a banner for NNO, but it is meant to hold a glass front message board which will be installed as soon as it's back ordered self comes in! Note on the back of the KIOSK is a place to pick up a newsletter and to drop a flyer you want to have considered for posting on the message board!"

Update: In response to joe positive's commment: Giddens Park at 12th and Giddens

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 08, 2008

Vote for Seminole Heights

From Rich on the SESH email list:

Dear Seminole Heights Neighbors,

Just wanted to remind you about the Creative Loafing Best of the Bay Voting. Below is a link:

posting.tampa. creativeloafing. com/gbase/ BestOf/BestOf

You have a limited time to vote by August 13th , so please do not delay.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Best Local TV Newsperson: Brendan McLaughlin – Let’s not forget that he has done so much in promoting our neighborhood and getting our voices heard. Besides, he is the best.

2. Best Theatre Troupe: Stageworks – Stageworks is not only a wonderful theatre troupe, they also do community outreach programs for underprivileged teens and children. Season tickets on sale now for $103 for 5 shows…call me for tickets.

3. Best Kept Secret: Stageworks Rainbow Tribe Outreach Program for Kids at Risk

4. Best Local Politician: Rose Ferlita – Let’s not forget how she got us a 4-Way stop at Chelsea and 12th when no one else would and how the current administration (no names mentioned, of course) never even so much as responded to the countless online requests we made to the city council for a 4-Way at 12th and McBerry (Don’t get me started…)

5. Best Restaurant: We have so many great neighborhood restaurants, just make sure it’s one of ours!

6. Best Neighborhood: Hmmm, let me think…maybe “SEMINOLE HEIGHTS!”

7. Best Building: Hillsborough High School – it is beautiful!

Doggie Door Allows Unexpected Visitor

According to the Tribune, a homeless man, 25 year old Jason Dennis, used a doggie door to sneak into the Seminole Heights home of Linda Marsh and when she came home she "he was wearing the woman's husband's clothing and had helped himself to some loose change,". He was arrested.

Children have died because of doggie doors. Families have them so dogs and cats go into the backyard and the child crawls out and drowns in the backyard pool, thus bypassing other pool security measures.

Kevin Denies

In stories in the Tribune and the St. Pete Times, County Commissioner Kevin denies any deal in accepting illegal contributions.

Kevin says "Cox's allegations "the jailhouse ramblings of a reputed con man." and "Let me assure the residents of Hillsborough County as well as the city of Tampa that at no time was there any deal cut by myself and now-convicted felon Matthew Cox, nor any other contributor for that matter," "

He also says "It's another jailhouse snitch trying to get his sentence reduced by making false allegations against an elected public official," said White, now a Hillsborough County Commissioner. "I guess I am the target."

Kevin's aunt and his campaign opponent in the City Council race says ""The most recent allegations about Kevin, if true, suggest a pattern of unethical and illegal actions over the years," White-King said. "Sometimes it takes time for the truth to surface. But it usually does.""

Current City Council member Tom Scott says ""I would not want to be in his shoes," said Tom Scott, who now holds White's former seat on the City Council. "Those are serious allegations.""

The FBI says ""It was a very interesting story," said FBI spokesman David Couvertier. "At this time, we aren't in a position to comment.""

Even if he did accept the contributions in a quid quo pro arrangement it may be all moot, except for campaign fodder as: "The statute of limitations for elections law violations is generally two or three years, depending on the severity of the offense. An exception is made, however, when the offense involves official misconduct, such as bribery. Then the statute of limitations is two years from the time the official leaves that public office. White left the city council in November 2006 to join the Hillsborough County Commission."

What do you say?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Kevin White - getting more tarnished

In a St. Petersburg Times article, a convicted swindler, Matthew Cox, has made allegations that Hillsborough County Commissioner and Seminole Heights resident, Kevin White accepted illegal campaign contributions from him when Kevin White ran for City Council. Reportedly the FBI is investigating.

"Records show that at least $8,000 was channeled into White's campaign from Cox connections, many from people who confirmed that the contributions were solicited, reimbursed and thus illegal"

Kevin White denies the allegations.

Meanwhile the sexual harassment suit against Kevin by a former aide, Alyssa Ogden, has been moved from State Court to Federal Court.

Update: the Times has a more details to the story including letters.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Tampa Transit: 10 years from now, 75 years ago

The chatter over rail in Tampa has finally began to heat up (albeit a couple decades late) as the Trib's front page story earlier this week indicates, and even though it's hard to get excited about something that might take at least a decade to get rolling, if it gets rolling at all, I have to hand it to Iorio for her commitment to lighting a fire under the bureaucracy and generally being fed up with the lame feet dragging and lack of vision. The voter referendum is still a ways off, and there's a lot of "ifs" floating around this town, but it's not too early to speculate about how rail could affect Tampa and Seminole Heights in particular if Pam's "starter line" from USF to downtown to Westshore ever gets built. Will there be a Seminole Heights station? Where would the best location be? Here's some comments the mayor made recently in Creative Loafing about the development of such a rail stop:

In the other cities I have visited, it is very clear that there is transit-oriented development at these stops that is very beneficial to the community: beautiful apartments and condos and mixed-use developments, all positive. And people can live in an apartment complex and then just jump on the rail line and go to work. That is what we're going to need more of.

But it does take a consensus-building. Neighborhoods need to know that their single-family residential neighborhoods will still be protected, and the fact that further down the street there's a transit stop, and there might be a condo or apartment project associated with it, with shops and so forth and office, that does not degrade their neighborhood.

Rewind about 75 years or so: Poking around the Tampa Rail site, I found these original Tampa Streetcar Brochures and Maps from the 53 mile Tampa Electric Company Service ("Carriers of Tampans for 50 years!"). They're pretty captivating. Did you know that Tampa once had Two Hundred and Twenty Three full time Street Car employees? I think we currently have three. And the service ran almost 24 hours a day: the first car at 4:30 in the morn and the last at 2am! Wow, sounds like a real city, don't it? Beats the Hartline by about nine thousand miles, which is incidentally the distance Tampa streetcars used to travel in one day! Here's a map of the Seminole Heights line that ran up Central to the Sulphur Springs Pool on the river. My grandmother used to ride these streetcars all over town for a nickel and has often lamented to me about how stupid, wasteful, and absurd the decision to tear up the tracks was (for that sad story, consult Wikipedia's Great American Streetcar Scandal entry). But now, due to the complete and total domination of our car culture, politicians must now attempt to build consensus amongst a population raised looking through windshields and thinking buses are for poor people, that mass transportation might not be such a bad idea.

Well, at least we Tampans can take solace in the notion that (maybe) in a decade or so we can finally catch up to where we were with mass transit 75 years ago. HooraY for the brave martyrs of the social experiment of car culture addiction. Too bad it's taken an entire lifetime to attempt to reverse the bad decisions and shoddy planning of our fair city! We is Tampa!