Bobbie O'Brien


Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Ways to Connect

Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

Jeb Bush, the brother and son of two former U.S. presidents, tells reporters Saturday he is "not going to be vice president."

The Tampa Bay area is home to a large concentration of veterans and active duty military which prompted the  Stetson University College of Law to establish a Veterans Law Institute.

Part of the institute’s mission is setting up a Veterans Advocacy Clinic to help veterans seeking government benefits as well as assist those appealing decisions denying benefits. It will also partner with other organizations, including Legal Assistance for Warriors, to provide pro bono legal services for active duty personnel and their families.

Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.

There's a perception in Major League Baseball that fans in the Tampa Bay region are not supportive of the Rays and don't come to the ballpark. So far, attendance at Tropicana Field for 2012 tells a different story.

The Tampa Bay Rays are averaging 20,017 which on its own is not great - 28 out of 30 teams. Cleveland (14,624) and the Chicago White Sox (19,911) are averaging fewer fans at home games.


Some Tampa Bay Rays baseball fans might be envious of the Miami Marlin's new ballpark with its retractable roof and real grass. However, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. In fact, the grass is brown and the roof leaks.

Florida House Photo

On Florida Matters this week, I talked with the state’s 45th governor about Florida Polytechnic, the Republican National Convention, and whether Florida is the most veteran-friendly state.

Five things we learned from our interview with Governor Scott:

1.  That Scott thinks a 12th University “makes sense.”

“I want to make sure, if we’re going to have a 12th university, that we can afford a 12th university,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during the legislative session when he was asking all the other public universities to dip into their reserves to cover budget cuts.

Scott signed legislation creating Florida Polytechnic as a fully funded independent university beginning July 1, 2012. He defended his decision to WUSF, but was short with specifics on how he will measure if the cost will be worth it to taxpayers.

Here’s five reasons Scott said Florida Polytechnic “makes sense.”

Photo by Steven Brooke

Credit the surging economies of South America and increased passenger routes -- Miami International Airport welcomed more international passengers between January and March of this year than any other U.S. airport according to the Sun-Sentinel, overtaking New York’s JFK airport, officials said.

Photo courtesy of FLGOVSCOTT

The state will likely appeal Thursday's ruling by a Miami federal judge that blanket drug testing of Florida state workers is unconstitutional -- saying it violates the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.

Gov. Rick Scott, during a visit to WUSF's studios, said the court ruling makes no sense because random drug testing is common practice in the private sector.

Florida consumers are a little more pessimistic this month according to a survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida. Rising gas prices get part of the blame for the slip in consumer confidence from a January high of 77 percent to 73 percent in April.

Yet, the Governor and Florida Cabinet heard some encouraging news, car purchases from January through March are up in 2012.

Two cities -- Tampa and Miami -- are locked in a battle to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own. Last Thursday, the opening salvo was fired by Tampa City Council when it officially renamed it the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.”

Downtown Tampa will be seeing stars, four stars to be exact, in about two years when the Old Federal Courthouse is converted into a luxury hotel.

Tampa City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a lease with for the city-owned building with Tampa Bay Hotel Partners, LLC.

Bob McDonaugh, administrator for Tampa’s Economic and Urban Development, negotiated the 60-year lease. The hotel will rent the property for $1 a year for the first two years as the 106-year-old building is being renovated. But, the rent never goes higher than $15,000 a year.

It’s unanimous. The “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich” is now officially Tampa’s signature sandwich.

The reading of the resolution and the vote by Tampa City Council took less time – about 2 minutes – than it takes to order a Cuban at some of Tampa’s more popular lunch spots.

Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin also wanted to trademark the term “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.” However, she decided against the trademark when she found out the it would require anyone using the phrase to get city permission.

Tampa City Council will vote today on a resolution “designating and authenticating” the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.” But, Miami’s Cuban community disputes Tampa’s claim to the sandwich.

The mixed meat sandwich, originally called a “mixto”, became popular in Tampa among Cuban cigar factory workers in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

The resolution specifies the ingredients of the authentic Tampa Cuban sandwich as sweet ham, mojo-marinated roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard and Genoa salami.

You might already know about the Tampa City Council resolution to define a Cuban sandwich as the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich."

But did you know they might try to trademark it?

It's on the Tampa City Council agenda for Thursday. The City's legal department is scheduled to provide a report "on whether or not the City of Tampa can acquire a trademark for the 'Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich' as being Tampa's signature sandwich."

A new program for military veterans interested in earning an MBA just received a $409,299 grant.

The College of Business at University of South Florida St. Petersburg is one of 12 organizations worldwide to win a grant from the Graduate Management Admission Council MET (Management Education for Tomorrow) fund.

The St. Petersburg program, “Leading in a Civilian Context: A Socially Responsible MBA for Returning Veterans,” begins in June with 20 openings for student veterans.

Steve Newborn/WUSF

The Port of Tampa is key to increasing exports of U.S. goods – that’s the message that President Barack Obama delivered during a brief visit Friday on his way to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia.

Surrounded by stacked shipping containers with an American flag flying above, President Obama delivered a 10-minute speech to an enthusiastic, invited crowd of about 100 people at the port. He also took a quick tour of port facilities.

Richard Elzey / Flickr

The most recent numbers from give Florida a "foreclosure rate heat"  of hot with 1  out of every 336 housing units in foreclosure.

It takes on average 861 days - more than two years - to process a foreclosed property in Florida according to a National Public Radio report:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn kicks off his quest Wednesday night to create a master plan for turning downtown into a vibrant, bustling place where people want to live, work and play.

When asked, Buckhorn enumerated mistakes he thought were made developing the downtown area:

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signaled that he’s flexible regarding some elements of his proposed “Clean Zone” ordinance. It sets up strict rules about protests in and around Tampa the week of the Republican National Convention.

Buckhorn said that he’s willing to negotiate with Tampa City Council which delayed its vote on his Clean Zone ordinance after raising concerns about its scope.

After losing a county-wide vote in 2010 to fund light rail in Hillsborough County, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has come up with a new idea to bring mass transit options to his city.

Buckhorn wants Florida lawmakers to give municipalities the right to go to the voters for a sales tax referendum. Right now, all such votes must be countywide.

"If we had the ability to do that, I think you could see Mayor Foster and I get together to run referendums in our respective jurisdictions that would pass," Buckhorn said.