Best Of 2022

It started with the signs. Signs on 38th Avenue North, one of the busiest thoroughfares in St. Pete, bearing what some people viewed as controversial messages. They advocate for LGBTQ causes (especially for young people), migrants, Black Lives Matter, gun control, rent control, against book-banning, the list goes on. The signs were started by Oliver, who took over a moribund congregation in the late 2010s and helped bring it back to life with an uncompromising message of inclusivity for all. Hmm, how controversial. He married two gay women in 2019 and got sideways church leadership. That same year, a disgruntled fucko fired a bullet into the church’s preschool classroom, which held 11 two-year-olds. No one was injured. Oliver made sure the signs kept coming. In addition, he shows up to all manner of protests and generally speaks out against injustice at every turn. He’s unafraid to piss people off, unbowed by backlash, motivated by love. allendaleumc.org

People, Places and Politics

People, Places and Politics
As Governor DeSantis cracked down on the ever-elusive CRT boogeyman in public schools, James Michael Shaw Jr. had a different idea: educate the public. But the local lawyer had to do it in a creative way. He made a promo video for a “forbidden” Critical Race Theory event, which would let people know what the words actually meant, rather than just stoking fear in the public, as DeSantis is known to do. @jamesshawjr on Twitter
Tampa Police headquarters is chock full of controversy. Last year, the department was caught in close to two scandals a month. This year, the controversies are adding up. Through a public records request, CL caught the department using geofencing, a spying tactic that has caused uproar around the country, because average citizens can often get caught in an unconstitutional digital dragnet. TPD didn’t offer comment for the story.
Winner: Gabby Bakes
2. Booze & Bubbles
3. Pop Goes the Waffle
The Times editorial board knew that Judge Jared Smith had denied a 17-year-old abortion and that he was found to have abused his judicial discretion in making that decision. But the board still endorsed—or “recommended” in the paper’s eyes—the right-wing evangelist judge. As CL uncovered more disturbing behavior from Smith, the Times continued to stand by its man. But the endorsement didn’t work, and in a rare upset, Smith, an incumbent judge, lost to Nancy Jacobs. You gotta give it to the Times for sticking it out until the end. @tbtimes_opinion on Twitter
Winner: Angie Soul
2. Outdoorsy Diva
3. What’s Cooking With Julie
Winner: Thomas Mantz - Feeding Tampa Bay
2. Steve Weintraub
3. Laurie Stogniew
The Ybor Misfits started as an apartment living room project, but has grown into a local institution. So much so that the group has teamed up with the cigar-famous J.C. Newman Family to create a micro-sanctuary in Ybor, which can house several chickens in need. The Misfits also fought the city’s attempt to eradicate the chickens a few years back, which would have destroyed an important aspect of Tampa history. @theybormisfits on Instagram
Winner: St. Petersburg
2. Dunedin
3. Tampa