Best Of 2021

Buying gold teeth and going to the strip club

An internal report alleges that Tampa Police Sergeant Daniel Rhodes told officers they could “blow the money and have fun” as part of a 2020 undercover investigation at a Tampa strip club where taxpayers paid for the cover charge, drinks for cops, drinks for the dancers, drinks for the dancer’s friends, shots for the bartender, a pack of cigarettes, cover charge for the “lap dance area” and one lap dance each. In a separate incident, an investigation found that Rhodes issued another officer $300 of police department “draw money”; the officer then used $270 of that draw money, combined with $170 of his own, to purchase custom 10-karat gold teeth.

Best of the Bay 2020 People, Places and Politics: Creative Loafing Tampa Bay critics and readers pick the best—and shittiest—people, places and politicians of the last year.

Best of the Bay 2020 People, Places and Politics


Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay

Hunger has always been an issue in Tampa Bay, and we’re not talking about the kind of pangs you feel when scrolling through foodie Instagram, either. We’re talking about the kind that can turn a family on its head and drive folks to do things they normally wouldn’t. Thankfully, pantries like Metropolitan Ministries and Feeding Tampa Bay have always been there—and stepped up especially huge in the peak of the pandemic—for the community. Powered by donations and volunteers, these essential nonprofits do work that we hope isn’t necessary one day—until then we’re glad they’re here to feed the city. metromin.org and feedingtampabay.org

Gay Commie Skate Crew

For more than a year, the crew has taken the streets and skateparks of Tampa Bay by storm. The crew is hell on four wheels (they love Halloween), but they’re so much more at the same time. They bring their queer, leftist, mutual-aid based mission to the spaces where they skate and they fight for causes like #landback, as well as resisting polluting oil pipelines. They give to the needy and protect each other in a sport usually dominated by males. Together, they’ve found solidarity and protection, and through their activism, they’ve extended those same values to complete strangers. @gcsc.tampabay on Instagram

Winner: Tom DeGeorge

Runners-Up: Miguel Fuller, Nadine Smith

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Winner: Dunedin

Runners-Up: St. Pete Beach, Anna Maria

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Winner: I Love the Burg

Runners-Up: St. Pete Rising, Ayana Lage

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Andrew Harlan of St. Pete Supper Club, I Love The Burg and Tombolo Books

He’s everywhere. Editor of ilovetheburg.com, co-founder of the St. Pete Supper Club Facebook group, marketing coordinator at Tombolo Books, Andrew tells us what’s going on, what’s good to eat and what’s good to read with an open-hearted enthusiasm that’s infectious. How does he have the energy to cover all this territory? Not sure, but he says he walks 10 miles a day; look for him on Central Avenue or another boulevard near you. @harlanyoung on Instagram

Fight For 15

Workers’ fight for a $15 minimum wage, in Florida and across the United States, has been years in the making. While last year’s $15 Minimum Wage Amendment Campaign was bankrolled by Orlando attorney John Morgan, the real heroes to get Florida on track toward a $15 minimum wage by 2026 were the workers—particularly unionized workers with unions like the SEIU and workers organizing with Fight for $15 and a Union. From leading car caravans through McDonalds drive-thru lines in the Tampa Bay area, to knocking on thousands of doors to secure votes, Fight for $15—and its allies—scored a resounding victory for Florida workers, garnering bipartisan support for higher wages. Solidarity. fightfor15.org

Winner: Jeff Vinik

Runners-Up: Stella Myers, Darren Andersen

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Winner: St. Petersburg

Runners-Up: Tampa, Dunedin

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