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Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter

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

Bobbie O'Brien

On Florida Matters this week, WUSF brings you exclusive interview with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. Host Carson Cooper traveled to Tampa City Hall to talk with the first-term mayor.

1- On Being the ‘Pool Guy’

Mayor Buckhorn has often said he won’t be the “boyfriend” who breaks up the marriage between the Tampa Bay Rays and the City of St. Petersburg. He told WUSF, “I may be the pool guy though.”

2- Knowing Tampa’s ‘Options’ with the Rays

Tampa City Council voted unanimously Thursday to establish a Domestic Partners Registry. Whether same sex or heterosexual, domestic partners living in Tampa will soon be protected and treated like family when it comes to things like hospital visitations and medical decisions.

Photo courtesy of the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

Florida is home to more than 1.6 million veterans. So, it’s no surprise that Florida lawmakers passed several bills this session that benefit military veterans and active duty service members.

Among the bills agreed upon was the “T. Patt Maney Veterans Treatment Intervention Act.”

Named in honor of Okaloosa County Judge Maney, the bill authorizes each judicial circuit to set up a Veterans’ Court or program to handle the cases of veterans with psychological problems like substance abuse and PTSD or traumatic brain injury as a result of their military service.

Jeff Vinik became the new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning just over two years ago and quickly won over fans and local officials for what he’s done both on and off the ice.

He bought the team with his own money and privately funded $40 million in renovations to the publicly-owned Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Yet when Vinik first arrived in town, sports writers did not get a good first impression.

There's a rising discussion on whether Tampa Bay residents should stay in the region or head out on vacation the last week of August when the area hosts the Republican National Convention that could attract as many as 50,000 people.

Members of the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee equate hosting the political convention as second only to hosting the Olympics when it comes to gaining national and international exposure with long-lasting economic impact.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF 89.7 News

In just over five months, organizers expect about 15,000 members of the news media to descend on the Tampa Bay region to cover the Republican National Convention. Their goal will be to cover who wins the GOP nomination.

However, Tampa Bay officials have a different aim during the four day convention scheduled August 27-30 in downtown Tampa.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the “eyes of the world will be watching” so, he plans to use that opportunity to show off Tampa and hopefully do some business.

The Florida Legislature has approved three veteran related bills this session including one that sets aside August 7th each year as Purple Heart Day.

The legislation does not establish an official government holiday, so state agencies, offices and the courts will remain open. What Purple Heart Day is meant to do: raise awareness and honor veterans who are wounded or have been killed in battle.

House photo by Mark Foley

The Chairman of the Florida House Justice Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Rich Glorioso, says Senate Budget Chairman JD Alexander personally removed funding for the Hillsborough Correctional Institution.

That’s the women’s faith-and-character based prison both the house and senate had previously agreed to fund.

The Plant City Republican who is finishing his final term in the house talked with WUSF’s Bobbie O’Brien about HCI.

Just three weeks ago, the University of South Florida was confronted with a $128 million cut in funding at its Tampa campus. That proposed 60 percent budget reduction is now down to 21 percent for USF/Tampa which President Judy Genshaft said is fair and in line with universities of similar size.

The question for the universities is how to make up for the budget shortfall. One solution lawmakers took off the table - they did not approve tuition increases to make up for the funding reduction.

Photo courtesy of iidigital.usembassy.gov

There’s been a rise of “citizen journalists” whether from the bombed out neighborhoods in Syria to the tornado ravaged mid-west towns in the U.S. And today, March 6, 2012, you have an opportunity to hear from “citizen journalist” Sohaib Athar who tweeted live about the raid on the Pakistani compound of Osama bin Laden.

For a brief time last week, it appeared Hillsborough Correctional Institution (HCI), the women’s faith-and-character based prison set for closure, would receive a reprieve. But reports surfaced over the weekend, HCI is back on the chopping block.

Inmates, staff and volunteers at HCI successfully kept the Department of Corrections from closing down the 35-year-old facility last year. And, it appeared they would do it again this budget year when both the House and Senate set aside $2 million for needed repairs.

Recent news out of Afghanistan has focused mainly on protests and killings linked to the incident when U.S. forces burned some Korans allegedly used to pass messages among prisoners. But there is different news from outlying provinces far removed from Kabul.

For our ongoing series, Off the Base, WUSF’s Bobbie O’Brien talked with former MacDill Air Force 1st Lt. Mark Graff who has spent the last 9 months as a member of a Provincial Reconstruction Team or PRT in the western province of Farah.

BOBBIE O’BRIEN: This was the first deployment of your military career, can you sum up what the experience has been like as a PRT member serving with civilians and members of the Army and Navy?

1st LT. MARK GRAFF: Our goal was to work with the Afghan government, the provincial government, on improving the economy, development and security for Farah Province.

The Tampa Bay Lightning won Tuesday night and remains in the playoff hunt – despite a team roster depleted by recent player trades, injuries and most recently the flu.

But, the team’s owner is in good health. We interviewed Jeff Vinik Wednesday for an upcoming episode of Florida Matters.

This Saturday marks the second anniversary of Vinik’s purchase of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Many sports analysts are astounded that in such a short time he’s resurrected the bay area’s National Hockey League franchise.

We've known for a while that the Florida House was willing to spend money to save Hillsborough Correctional Institution (HCI). And now, the Senate has put up money for HCI as well.

Still unanswered is whether Gov. Rick Scott will keep the popular women's prison open.

St. Petersburg native Brad Snyder has earned an invitation to swim with the U.S. Paralympic Team in the London 2012 Games.

Snyder, a 2006 U.S. Naval Academy graduate and swim team captain, competed in his first swim meet this past weekend since being blinded by an explosive six months ago in Afghanistan. Swimming the 50 free at the Bobby Flowers Swim Meet in Colorado Springs, Snyder finished just 1.8 seconds off the paralympic blind division world record.

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