Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

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William Patrick

William Patrick has 8 articles published.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran making good on transparency, accountability promises

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House Speaker Richard Corcoran began his two-year speakership in November by promising a “transformational leap” in government accountability and transparency. “The Florida House will set the standard for others to emulate,” he declared. Such pronouncements are often uttered by politicians, especially those who may aspire to higher office. But one week into Florida’s annual legislative session the hard-charging Republican reformer from Land O’Lakes has a lot to show for his audacious accountability talk. While the final outcome is far from certain, under…

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Should police get a sneak peak at body-camera footage?

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A bill that would allow police officers to review body camera footage before making an official statement in an officer-involved shooting is making its way through the Florida Legislature. But not without reservations. Lawmakers on the Senate Criminal Justice Committee heard the proposal for the first time last week. It was initially characterized as a “common sense” measure to help law enforcement ensure minor details would be accurately documented in police reports, such as the color of a suspect’s shirt.…

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Assessing Visit Florida beneficiaries’ assertions, predictions and anecdotes

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As the debate over whether to fund or eliminate Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida escalates at the Florida Capitol, it’s important to consider that those who directly benefit from the mostly taxpayer-funded organizations are among their most vocal supporters. It’s natural, and predictable. It’s also entirely appropriate that incentives and tourism marketing recipients have the opportunity to make their case for continued funding. But their appeals shouldn’t always be taken at face value. Take Amy Lukasik, director of tourism marketing…

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Ridesharing bills could pave the way for transformational changes

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On the same day an Uber- and Lyft-friendly ridesharing bill passed its first committee stop in the Florida House, state Sen. Jeff Brandes was presenting his vision of where he believes the transportation industry is headed. “We’re in a generational shift from the horse and buggy to the Model-T,” Brandes said Wednesday evening at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee. The St. Petersburg Republican was the main presenter at a public event focusing on emerging transportation technologies. He’s also sponsoring…

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Another day, another ding for Florida’s economic incentive programs

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As the debate over whether to fund Florida’s state economic incentive programs rages at the Florida Capitol this week, a new government study offers plenty of fodder for critics of such programs. In a new report by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, a nonpartisan legislative research office, researchers evaluated eight state-level economic incentive programs over a three-year period beginning in fiscal year 2012. Key findings include: 232 projects received 295 incentive awards in the form of cash grants,…

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Small dairy farmer seeks First Amendment protection from state regulators

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Five years ago, the Florida Department of Agriculture turned its regulatory power on a small third-generation dairy farm in the Panhandle’s Calhoun County, population 14,462. The Ocheesee Creamery, as it’s known, was caught being a little too honest. Mary Lou Wesselhoeft, owner, was selling all-natural pasteurized skim milk — whole milk with the cream skimmed off — and labeling it exactly what it was: skim milk. But in a strange twist with First Amendment implications, the state said Wesselhoeft was…

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Reverends, priests and pastors show support for juvenile civil citation reform

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Lawmakers vying to make civil citations mandatory for first-time misdemeanor offenders under the age of 18, received some added support at the Florida Capitol last week. Pastors, reverends and priests representing churches from around the state stood alongside Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, as she spoke to reporters about her “second chance” juvenile justice reform bill. Civil citations are an alternative to arrest, detainment and enrollment into the state juvenile criminal justice system. The pre-arrest diversion program requires accountability in the form of…

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