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Newly elected St. Pete City Council members to be sworn in Jan. 2

The City of St. Petersburg will ring in the new year with a swearing-in ceremony held Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 at the St. Petersburg Police Department Auditorium. Newly-elected City Council members Robert Blackmon and Deborah Figgs-Sanders, representing Districts 1 and 5 respectively, will be sworn in for the first time. Re-elected Council members Ed Montanari and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman representing Districts 3 and 7 will be sworn in for their second terms. 
Swearing-In Ceremony
Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020 at 11 a.m.
St. Petersburg Police Department Auditorium (1301 First Ave. N)

Rotary Club of St. Petersburg to celebrate 100 years with $100K donation

To celebrate its 100 year anniversary, Rotary Club of St. Petersburg will raise $100,000 during 2020 for the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. The Rotary Club of St. Petersburg will support the Free Clinic’s Pack-A-Sack program, which provides meals for hundreds of food insecure children throughout St. Petersburg . 

As one of the first 200 clubs of Rotary International, the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg was founded by William Straub, the former editor of the St. Petersburg Times. in his honor, the club will also refurbish the Straub marker at Straub Park.

The Rotary Club will hold its 100th Anniversary gala event at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club on Saturday, January 25th, where it will kick off the donation drive. All proceeds will benefit the Pack-A-Sack program. Tickets and sponsorships are available by contacting the Rotary office at 727-822-3277.

Tibetan monks to visit St. Pete, create mandala for third time

For the third time, eight Tibetan monks will visit St. Petersburg's Florida CraftART exhibition gallery to create a sand mandala.

The monks, hailing from the Drepung Gomang Monastery, will hold an opening ceremony Jan. 7 at 10:15am. Throughout the week, they will create a mandala by pouring colored sand from a the funnel-shaped tool called a chakpur, methodically tapped to release just a few grains at at time.

The exhibition will take place from Jan. 7 to 12. On the final day, the monks will hold a dissolution ceremony, in which they sweep up the mandala and hold a procession to the bay. There, the monks will perform a blessing and release the sand into the bay. 

Events of the week include:

Jan. 7 at 10:15am: Opening ceremony

Jan. 8 at 5:30 to 7:00pm: Reception with display of Tibetan culture (tickets from $20-30)

Jan. 11 at 10:30-2:00pm: Rock painting with Tibetan monks (tickets $15-25)

Jan. 11 at 5:00-7:00pm: Second Saturday ArtWalk meet and participate in a worldwide meditation

Admission to Florida CraftArt outside of event hours to see the monks create the mandala is free. The monks will chant daily at 10:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. 

St. Pete’s Paradise named agency of record for ZooTampa

Paradise Advertising & Marketing has a new agency-of-record partnership with ZooTampa at Lowry Park. Paradise will lead brand strategy, creative and integrated media services to brand and promote ticket sales, special events and annual pass memberships. Paradise also has an in-house digital division that builds customized client dashboards. For ZooTampa, dozens of data points for earned, paid, owned and leveraged marketing communications channel initiatives will be annotated and attributed in real-time against key performance indicators such as ticket sales, membership sales, and in-park revenue, to yield efficient and accurate campaign management, a news release said. Paradise is a full-service agency based in St. Petersburg.

Restaurant Magic sale closes

Par Technology Corp. has completed the acquisition of Restaurant Magic,  a Tampa provider of back-office restaurant management software. Par (NYSE: PAR) is a New Hartford, New York-based company that provides software, systems and services to the restaurant industry. The $42 million purchase price included $13 million in cash, $27 million in restricted Par stock and $2 million subordinated promissory note. There's also an opportunity to earn additional purchase price consideration subject to the achievement of post-closing revenue-focused milestones, a news release said. The combination of the two companies will create an industry-leading front to backend cloud technology solution for restaurants, the company said when it announced the deal last month.

Moody’s raises outlook for TECO, Tampa Electric

Moody's Investors Service has changed the outlook for TECO Energy, TECO Finance and Tampa Electric to positive from stable. The positive outlooks for TECO Energy and Tampa Electric reflect the debt reduction that has occurred at parent company, Emera Inc., as well as the two companies' ability to maintain strong credit metrics, Moody's said in a news release. Moody's also affirmed the Baa2 senior unsecured ratings of TECO Energy and TECO Finance, Inc., and the A3 issuer and senior unsecured ratings of Tampa Electric. Both are investment-grade ratings and reflect Florida's regulatory framework, which provides for stable and predictable cash flow generation and enables the utility to maintain a solid financial profile, Moody's said.

Wawa announces massive data breach

Wawa is warning customers that it experienced a data security incident that may have led to fraudulent charges on their payment cards. The company's security team discovered malware on Wawa payment processing servers on Dec. 10 and contained it by December 12, Chris Gheysens, CEO, said in an open letter to customers.  This malware affected customer payment card information used at potentially all Wawa locations beginning at different points in time after March 4 until it was contained. The malware no longer is believed to pose a risk, and customers will not be responsible for any fraudulent charges on their payment cards related to the incident, he said.  The company is offering credit monitoring to customers who may have been impacted. Click here for more information. Wawa, based in Pennsylvania, has 870 convenience retail stores (over 600 offering fuel),in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Washington, D.C. 

Treasure Island doctor sentenced to prison in kickback scheme

Dr. Anthony Baldizzi, a physician who lives in Treasure Island, was sentencd to one year and a day in federal prison for his role in a scheme to pay and receive kickbacks for prescriptions billed to Tricare, a healthcare program for the military. Baldizzi also was ordered to forfeit $100,000, including a BMW that he had received as a kickback, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida. Baldizzi, who pleaded guilty last year, will be surrendering his license to practice medicine in January 2020, prosecutors said. He was one of several people who have pleaded guilty in the scheme that involved Centurion Compounding Inc., including Centurion owners Frank Monte and Kimberly Anderson. More than $48 million in claims to Tricare have been repaid or reversed since the probe began.

Raymond James executive retires

Jeffrey Trocin, a 33-year veteran of Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF), has notified the St. Petersburg-based financial services firm that he will retire as an executive officer of the company and from membership on its Executive Committee, effective Jan. 1, 2020. Trocin is expected to continue to serve as vice chairman for a period of time, Raymond James said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Trocin, who is 60 years old, joined Raymond James in 1986, working as an investment banker. From 1996 through 2018  Trocin was president of the firm’s equities and investment banking businesses. He's been vice chairman since December 2018.

Fazoli’s plans Tampa expansion

Fazoli's, a Lexington, Kentucky-based quick service restaurant chain featuring Italian food, is entering the Tampa market through a franchise agreement. The company executed an area development agreement with Franchisee Carlos L. Saenz to bring five restaurants to Hillsborough and Pasco counties in early 2021, according to RestaurantNews.com. Carlos is a seasoned franchisee who currently owns two Dairy Queens, the report said. Fazoli’s owns and operates nearly 220 restaurants in 28 states, making it the largest premium quick service restaurant Italian chain in America.   

Florida Supreme Court approves vote on minimum wage

Voters can decide on an initiative to raise Florida's minimum wage, according to a ruling today by the Florida Supreme Court. The proposal, set for the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot, would raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, effective Sept. 30, 2021. It would go up by $1 every Sept. 30 until it reaches $15 an hour on Sept. 30, 2026, then be reviewed annually. The current minimum wage in the state is $8.46 an hour. The state high court did not consider the merits of the proposal and only reviewed whether it complied with state law requiring it address a single subject and have a clear and accurate ballot title and summary.

USFSP Tiedemann College among best online finance MBA programs

The Kate Tiedemann College of Business at University of South Florida St. Petersburg ranks No. 20 on a new list of 25 of the best online finance MBA programs. The list was compiled by College Consensus, a college ratings website that aggregates publisher rankings and student reviews.  Schools were ranked on affordability, reputation and convenience. The Tiedemann College scored 96.2 out of 100 on affordability and 75 out of 100 on convenience. It had a reputation score of 8.94 based on national MBA rankings from U.S. News & World Report, The Economist, and Businessweek. See the full rankings here.

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