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Renters to host ‘sleep-in’ at city hall tonight

In light of soaring rents displacing St. Petersburg residents, and with the City of Tampa declaring a housing state of emergency last week, tenants will conduct a “sleep-in protest” Wednesday night. Several community organizations, including the St. Petersburg Tenants Union, Faith in Florida, St. Petersburg Tri-Partisan Canvas and PSL Tampa Bay are hosting the event. The protest, which the groups say will feature music, speakers and food, begins at 7 p.m. and lasts until Thursday morning’s city council meeting. During that meeting, participants will demand that the city declare a housing state of emergency and let voters decide if they want rent control in St. Petersburg through a ballot referendum.

Tampa sets new record for hottest month

According to the National Weather Service, Tampa broke two heat-related records in July - the warmest month and warmest consecutive months. The city averaged a temperature of 86.3 last month, breaking the previous record of 85.8 set in September 2018. The average temperature through June and July was 85.7, topping July and August of 2020’s previous high of 85.7. Meteorologists started keeping heat records in 1890.

Inside Climate First Bank’s first annual impact report

St. Petersburg-based Climate First Bank, a full-service commercial bank focused on environmental sustainability, unveiled its first annual impact report. The report highlights the bank’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives and their measured impact on the climate, community and economy. The report, which tracks efforts from June to December 2021, concluded that the bank financed 2,578.48 kilowatts of renewable energy; the charitable arm of Climate First Bank gave $19,735 to nonprofit organizations, of which $8,035 went to environmental causes; and the bank has funded roughly $12 million in loans in 2021 aimed toward businesses focused on mission-aligned sectors. None of Climate First Bank’s loans went towards financing fossil fuels or other environmentally harmful industries. The full report detailing other findings can be found here. 

Bayfront Health opens Digestive Health Institute

Bayfront Health St. Petersburg is now seeing patients at its new Digestive Health Institute, a highly specialized gastrointestinal diagnostic and treatment program designed to serve patients from across the southeastern United States. “The Bayfront Health St. Petersburg Digestive Health Institute will help patients in our community who suffer from debilitating conditions. It is designed and developed by a panel of internationally recognized experts specializing in pancreatic and biliary disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, gastrointestinal oncology and other complex digestive disorders,” Bayfront Chief Medical officer Dr. Trina Espinola said in a news release. The institute will serve and treat patients suffering from a range of diseases, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), Barrett's esophagus, celiac disease, pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer, gastroparesis and autoimmune liver disease. The medical team is led by two gastroenterologists - Dr. Benjamin Tharian and Dr. Nayana George. 

Rays drop hometown hero Brett Phillips

The Tampa bay Rays parted ways with Seminole native Brett Phillips Monday, who will go down in team lore for his he that led to a walk-off win in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series against the Dodgers. The outfielder was also known throughout the clubhouse for his energy, enthusiasm and positivity. The Rays designated Phillips for assignment to make room for centerfielder Jose Siri, who Tampa Bay acquired from Houston Monday. The designation means any team can now claim Phillips from waivers. If no team selects Phillips, he can opt for free agency or accept the assignment to the minor leagues. Phillips posted a video to his Twitter account shortly after the announcement, stating it was “nothing but love” for his hometown team, and the move “sucks, but we all know business is business.”

Rowdies win sixth straight

The Tampa Bay Rowdies have extended their unbeaten streak to 12 matches following Saturday night’s road victory over the Indy Eleven. Indy notched the first goal but Tampa Bay scored twice before halftime and again in second-half stoppage time for their sixth straight win. Steevan Dos Santos, Jordan Scarlett and Leo Fernandes found the net for the Rowdies. Tampa Bay, now in second place in the USL’s Eastern Conference, returns home to face Detroit City FC at Al Lang Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 6.

Public hearings set for city’s budget

The city has scheduled two public hearings for the review and adoption of the fiscal year 2023 city budget and millage rate. The first public hearing will be on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. The second hearing, which is the final hearing that also includes the approval of the Capital Improvements Plan, will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. The public can attend the meetings in the City Hall council chambers or can watch the hearings online at

City seeks residents to help keep streets safe

The City of St. Petersburg is looking for residents to serve on its Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The committee was formed as part of the 2003 CityTrails program. Members include engaged citizens, business owners and organizational partners that help guide policy decisions and lead educational programs and events based on walking and bicycling. For more information and to apply, visit the website here.

Applications for Sustainable Leadership Awards close next month

The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership is teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund to award Pinellas County-based companies and leaders who have made sustainability and climate resilience an integral part of their business practices. Nominations opened June 21st and will close on Aug. 30. The Partnership said they are looking for unique innovation related to energy efficiency, renewable energy, structural preservation, water conservation, water quality, electric vehicles, advocacy, affordability and access, as well as facilities with new construction or existing building certifications. The winners will be notified in September and invited to accept their award in-person at the Sustainable Leadership Forum in St. Petersburg on Oct. 25.

Raymond James’ Q3 results reflect challenges

St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial Inc. (RJF) released its earnings report for the third quarter, showing a drop in profit but gains in other areas. The company's earnings were $299 million, or $1.38 per share. At the same time last year, it was $307 million, or $1.45 per share. Excluding $65 million of expenses related to acquisitions, quarterly adjusted net income available to common shareholders was $348 million. However, quarterly net revenues of $2.72 billion, up 10% over the prior year’s fiscal third quarter. “Despite the challenging economic conditions during the quarter, our solid financial performance reinforces our diversified and client-focused business model. Furthermore, strong financial advisor retention and recruiting results helped us achieve attractive organic growth, with domestic private client group net new asset growth of 9.4% over the prior 12 months,” Chair and CEO Paul Reilly said in the company's report, noting how the company acquired TriState and SumRidge Partners. "Despite sharp equity market declines in the quarter, which are expected to negatively impact asset-based revenues in the fiscal fourth quarter, we are well positioned for the expected continued rise in short-term interest rates. Our strong balance sheet provides flexibility in this challenging and uncertain market environment," he said. 

USF named one of America’s best employers for women

According to a new list recently published by Forbes, the University of South Florida is one of the nation’s best employers for women. The business publication ranked USF No.22 on the list, which included employers representing a wide range of industries. Women account for 64% of administrative employees and 54 of the university’s total workforce. USF is also led by a woman, President Rhea Law. According to the publication, Forbes compiled the list through an independent survey by Statista that included 50,000 participants who work at companies with a minimum of 1,000 employees. Of those, 30,000 respondents were women.

Ferg’s buys a pirate ship

Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg’s Sports Bar and Grill, is bringing a taste of Gasparilla to St. Petersburg next week. The Vanity, a float formerly owned by Tampa’s Bonney-Read Krewe, will now “dock” at the St. Pete institution across from Tropicana Field. Ferguson reportedly paid $33,000 for the pirate ship, which he plans to display in Ferg’s courtyard. It will cross the bay to 1320 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg on Monday.

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