He left us too soon. The intrepid sportsman, crackerjack Times writer and devoted family man Terry Tomalin died of a heart attack last May at the age of 55. The loss of a guy so utterly alive was almost impossible to fathom, but the farewell ceremony at Fort De Soto Park honored him in a style that felt absolutely right: the beachfront setting; the big, motley crowd (including many well-known St. Petersburgers); the solemn Boy Scout procession; the funny anecdotes from fellow adventurers; the on-stage phalanx of Tomalin siblings (including actress Susan Sarandon); his two children, their poise and maturity a fine reflection of Terry and his wife, Kanika Tomalin; the poignant rendition of “Redemption Song;” and most of all, the paddle-out, in which celebrants on surfboards, paddleboards and kayaks paid silent tribute on the water, where Terry felt so at home. —David Warner
Perhaps the most convincing indication that PolitiFact is doing a good job (besides that Pulitzer) is the fact that their fair-minded analyses of candidate-speak have riled up partisans on both sides of this season’s bitter political divide. Maybe we’re living in a post-fact world — those multiple Pants On Fire! judgments against Trump don’t seem to matter a whit to his supporters — but at a time when rumors, lies and conspiracy theories dominate the national conversation, the sober-sided truth-tellers at PolitiFact provide a much-needed dose of sanity. politifact.com. —David Warner
Runners up: Pass-a-Grille, St. Pete Beach.
Runners up: Hogan vs. Gawker, wrong-way drivers.
Often, the first thing to go when “progress” comes to town are local historic landmarks. Often, they don’t go away without a fight from local preservationists who argue that the sense of place these old, iconic structures create is a much better economic development tool than a spattering of condos. But former cigar industry hub Ybor City is melding the two ideas, and investors are instead refurbishing old buildings, turning them into apartments and hotels for the growing number of people who live elsewhere but work in Ybor. —KB
If you’re young when you ascend to elected office, your inclination may be to play ball so that you don’t make any enemies as you seek to hold onto your seat and, you hope, climb the ladder. Maniscalco instead seems to vote in ways that reflect his district as well as his generation. As a member of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Board, he was the sole dissenting vote against imposing prohibitive rules against ride-sharing services. He also opposed the unpopular TBX tollway project. If he had lost his 2015 runoff election to Jackie Toledo (who is now running for State Rep. Dana Young’s soon-to-be former seat), the conversations at the dais would likely be very, very different. Plus, he digs Bowie, and conversing with him about music is a rare pleasure for reporters who tend to feel like a round peg in a square hole at gatherings of local politicos. —KB
Want to succeed at least somewhat as one of two major political parties? Rule #1: Cultivate a deep bench of talented candidates and operatives. Rule #2: Try not to put those people in the same races, where they’ll expend precious resources cannibalizing one another. Can we guess which of these rules Tampa Bay Democrats aren’t quite getting? Sure, some of their problems stem from gerrymandering and candidates preferring to run for open seats in districts Dems can actually win, but when you have 18 talented Democrats in six bloody primaries, it costs money and confuses voters… though it’s fun for us political reporters. —KB
Runners up: Ferg's Sports Bar, Oxford Exchange.
Runners up: Hillsborough, Pasco.