Axios Tampa Bay

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Hey there, Tuesday.

😎 Blue skies and a calm breeze. 82/64.

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Today's newsletter is 888 words, a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Tampa to start search for new chief

Tampa chief Mary O'Connor.

Mary O'Connor. Photo: Courtesy of the city of Tampa

Tampa will launch a nationwide search for a new top cop after Mary O'Connor, chief for less than a year, quit yesterday under a cloud of controversy.

  • "I would never want my personal mistake to stand in the way of the progress I have made in mending relationships between the police department and the community, so for that reason, I am resigning," O'Connor wrote to Mayor Jane Castor.

Driving the news: Castor said Monday that she asked for and received O'Connor's resignation after bodycam footage was released last week showing what happened Nov. 12 when O'Connor and her husband were stopped for driving a golf cart on a roadway in Oldsmar.

  • In the video, O'Connor flashes her badge, IDs herself as Tampa's chief and asks a Pinellas County sheriff's deputy to "let us go."

Context: O'Connor was placed on administrative leave last week, pending an investigation.

  • An internal review by the department's Professional Standards Bureau found that O'Connor violated the department regulations on "standard of conduct" and "abuse of position or identification," per a letter released Monday with Castor's statement.

Flashback: This is the second career-affecting traffic stop for O'Connor, who ran afoul of the law during one in 1995, a point of contention during her hiring.

What they're saying: "This is especially disappointing because I gave Mary O'Connor a second chance, as I believe in second chances for people," Castor said in a statement. "Which is one of the reasons that the disappointment today runs so deep."

What's next: Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw, a 25-year veteran of the department, will serve as acting chief while a search, expected to take months, is conducted, per Castor.

2. 🎾 Nick Bollettieri made American tennis

Bethanie Matek Sands of the United States takes a selfie with tennis coach Nick Bollettieri after taking part at the Kids Day event

Tennis player Bethanie Mattek-Sands takes a selfie with tennis coach Nick Bollettieri (center) at the Miami Open in 2018 in Key Biscayne. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Nick Bollettieri, who called himself the "Michelangelo of Tennis" and taught many of the world's tennis stars when they were teens at his Bradenton academy, died Sunday night. He was 91.

Why it matters: The Tennis Hall of Fame-inductee trained some of the best β€” Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, Jim Courier, Boris Becker, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova and Tommy Haas.

"(W)hat he turns out on the court are little troopers, once-dear children transformed into steely-eyed tennis fanatics who scowl across the net. This is called producing champions."
β€” Sports Illustrated's Barry McDermott, June 9, 1980

Flashback: Bollettieri's controversial methods included denying his students the simplest pleasures, like television on weekdays, or water.

  • He grew angry if kids twirled their tennis racquets or if they took too long picking up practice balls, some of which was addressed in the 2017 Showtime Films documentary "Love Means Zero." Sprints on the beach were a common punishment.

Bollettieri sold the academy to IMG in 1987, but he continued to train young players there and worked with Arthur Ashe to bring tennis to kids in urban communities.

3. The Pulp: How does it peel?

Illustration of an oversized broadcast antenna standing on an orange instead of the earth, with lightning bolts coming out of the top.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

People taking part in a "Celebration of the Arts" event and drag show on Massachusetts Avenue in Lakeland were harassed by a dozen masked neo-Nazi protesters over the weekend. (

🍎 The Sarasota Classified Teachers Association says 97% of the 2,095 members who responded to a survey think the school board should work to retain Brennan Asplen as superintendent. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

πŸ΄β€β˜ οΈ After trailing 16-3 with 5:21 left in the game, Tom Brady threw two touchdowns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) beat the New Orleans Saints 17-16 in last night's "Monday Night Football" game. (WFLA)

πŸ‚ The University of South Florida is hiring Tennessee offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Alex Golesh to be its sixth head football coach. (AP)

4. πŸ¦‰ Our favorite things 2022, part 5

Haikubox on a wall

The Haikubox. Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

We told y'all about this one in October, but we're re-upping the Haikubox in case you've got a birder β€” or someone you wish was a birder β€” on your holiday gift list.

🐦 What it does: This cool AI-enabled device, from Loggerhead Instruments in Sarasota, identifies the birds near your home by their song. Think: Shazam for birds.

  • Plug Haikubox in outside, connect it to Wi-Fi, and the app quickly starts queuing the birds nearby, recording each call for playback.

The intrigue: Haikubox can send an alert when certain birds or new species are recorded and lets you see which other locations have recorded those species.

  • It also contributes information to the largest dataset of bird behavior ever assembled.

Details: A prepaid membership ($399) gets you the box, and full access to the website and iPhone app, with no annual fee.

  • Or an annual membership ($249) gets you the Haikubox and one year of access to the website and apps, with a $59 annual renewal fee.

The rub: Loggerhead tells us they're dealing with high demand and supply-chain issues, but interested readers can sign up here for availability updates.

🎁 Go deeper: The best things we bought in 2022

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5. Where in Tampa Bay winner!

A cat mural on Cage Brewing.

Cage Brewing! Photo: Ben Montgomery/Axios

Y'all are good. Ben saw Octo-Cat whilst walking down an alleyway near Tombolo Books in St. Pete and thought no one would get it, but a dozen of you did.

  • Correct answer: The cat mural is on the side of Cage Brewing, 2001 1st Ave. S., which uses lychee in its flagship Static IPA.

Good work. And congrats to distant reader Lisa Sudduth, of Wadsworth, Ohio, who knew the painting because she vacations in Pinellas County twice a year to take in the murals and craft beer!

  • Honorable mention to Erik Hahmann, who has a deadly shuffleboard kitchen shot. He was first with the correct answer at 6:34am.

🏝 Selene is off.

πŸ“± Ben nearly got scammed yesterday by callers purporting to be from TECO, claiming that he was in arrears on a solar panel installation fee. Be careful out there.

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Today's newsletter was edited by Alexa Mencia and copy edited by Carlos Cunha.