Here are the latest headlines and updates on tampabay.com:
YOUR GUIDE TO GASPARILLA 2018
Some 300,000 carousers are expected to gather on Saturday for Gasparilla 2018, Tampa’s pirate invasion. All the fuss centers around the legend of Jose Gaspar (nicknamed Gasparilla), a mythical Spanish pirate who supposedly operated in southwest Florida. The festival was founded in 1904 by Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla — the prominent bunch of Tampa citizens who were the first to dress up as pirates to "invade" the city. So man your battle stations, mateys. Here’s your guide and some insider tips to help you survive the invasion and come out on top of the other scurvy dogs on the streets of Tampa.
ST. PETE SPILLED UP TO 266,000 GALLONS OF RECLAIMED WATER INTO SMACKS BAYOU
It may be a new year but St. Petersburg finds itself still dealing with an old problem: spills at its sewage plants. The city announced Thursday that two spills at its Northeast sewage plant at 1160 62nd Ave. NE had been contained. But the release — with the headline "Reclaimed Leak stopped (twice)" — left out an important detail: officials don’t know how much of the 266,000 gallon spill may have reached Smacks Bayou, which leads into the Tampa Bay.
INTERIOR SECRETARY DEFENDS OIL DRILLING EXEMPTION
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is defending a decision to remove Florida from an offshore oil drilling plan, saying it was the "right move" given widespread political opposition and a current moratorium that lasts until 2022. "Florida is different," Zinke said in an interview with Breitbart News, which followed an Axios report that described the secretary as having gone "rogue" and upsetting President Donald Trump. Zinke said Florida is different in geology and the eastern Gulf if already off limits, until 2022, due to federal law. Moreover, he said, there is unanimous opposition from political leaders, including Gov. Rick Scott.
FLORIDA PUMP PRICES JUMP 10 CENTS, HIGHEST IN FOUR YEARS
Gas is off to an expensive start this year — the most expensive start since 2014. Florida pump prices jumped 10 cents in the past week to hit $2.54 per gallon Monday, 18 cents more than last month, according to AAA The Auto Club Group. Tampa Bay gas was $2.51 per gallon, up 12 cents over the week. Don’t expect relief just yet, either.
LESSONS OF ANOTHER BELICHICK-BRADY SUPER BOWL
TAMPA — Shouldn’t we just start penciling the Patriots into the Super Bowl before every season? It would save us a lot of time, Martin Fennelly writes. Mind you, the rest of the NFL is fighting Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and this foregone conclusion tooth and nail. The upstart Jacksonville Jaguars entered the fourth quarter of Sunday’s AFC championship game up 10 points and only 15 minutes from Super Bowl LII. Brady and the Patriots were better when it mattered, which is why they are champions, which is why the Beli-Brady consortium will go for Lombardi Trophy No. 6 in two weeks in Minneapolis. But now it’s the Eagles, big winner over Minnesota in the NFC title game.