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Digest

Mayoral candidate challenges crime drop

By TIMES WIRES
Published February 3, 2007


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TAMPA

For the past three years, Tampa police have trumpeted the city's plummeting crime rate.

Since Steve Hogue took over as police chief in 2003, the department has reported a 29 percent crime reduction, Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

Now those numbers are being contested by one of Mayor Pam Iorio's opponents in the March 6 city elections.

"Crime stats are reported on the honor code, and TPD is being dishonorable," said Marion "Serious" Lewis, a former police captain and 26-year veteran of the department.

In front of the department's downtown headquarters Friday, Lewis alleged Hogue and Iorio had created a "climate for abuse" by holding officers accountable for crimes in their zones.

The accountability motivates officers to take a more active role in reducing crime, McElroy countered.

Iorio said she is convinced crime has dropped since Hogue took over.

Lewis called for an independent audit of the department's statistics.

Iorio rejected this idea, saying the city had done nothing wrong, and their records are open for inspection.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Utility to pay penalties for sewage spills

Aloha Utilities has agreed to pay the state $9,400 in penalties and costs for breakdowns in its sewage system.

Aloha, which serves more than 25,000 residents in southwest Pasco, was cited for 17 wastewater spills or overflows in 2006.

The spills and overflows ranged from 20 to 3,600 gallons, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's consent order reached this week with the utility.

BROOKSVILLE

County weighs bids for old hospital site

Hernando County commissioners appear increasingly willing to sell the old Brooksville Hospital, securing some much-needed cash.

The offers to buy the 11-acre complex ranged from $500,000 to $2.5-million, disappointingly short of the property appraiser's estimate of $9.7-million.

However, with maintenance costing up to $50,000 a month, selling it has its benefits, officials say.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Judge delays ruling on objections to Renke

Circuit Judge William Webb deferred a decision Friday on whether to toss the evidence in the first-degree murder case of Lawrence Kenneth Tener.

Authorities say Tener, now 24, beat Tammy Lee Bowles to death with an ax handle in 2004. Tener's attorneys cited 11 reasons to suppress evidence, including the fact that the search warrant was signed by Circuit Judge John Renke III, who was later removed from the bench.

[Last modified February 3, 2007, 00:39:48]


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