Suit over old rock ‘n’ roll heading to Florida Supreme Court

The state’s highest court has been pulled into a case over what could be “multiple millions of dollars” owed for old rock ‘n’ roll.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday certified questions of state law to the Florida Supreme Court in a nearly 3-year-old class-action suit by original members of The Turtles, a 1960s band. Their most famous hit is “Happy Together.”

Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later known as Flo & Eddie, filed suit in California, New York and Florida against satellite radio operator Sirius XM.

That action came after that company stopped paying artists to play their music recorded before 1972, according to a blog post by Nova Southeastern University “copyright officer” Stephen Carlisle.

Federal copyright protection is only available for recordings made after February 15, 1972. “Pre-1972 sound recordings (or ‘pre-72s’) are protected by a patchwork of state and common laws,” according to another blog post from a Chicago law firm.

If Flo & Eddie win, Sirius XM, internet music service Pandora and others “would owe damages not only to (them), but potentially all other owners of pre-1972 sound recordings … includ(ing) every recording ever made by The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, not to mention Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey,” Carlisle wrote.

“Throw in the fact that these channels operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, … (then) damages in the multiple millions of dollars is a forgone conclusion,” he added.

It would be a come-from-behind win, at least in Florida. A federal judge already sided with Sirius XM and granted a summary judgment in favor of the company. Such decisions allow parties to win a case without a trial. Flo & Eddie appealed. 

The federal appellate court now is asking the state Supreme Court to opine on some Florida-specific legal questions, including:

Does Florida common law recognize copyright claims in “sound recordings”? (Common law evolves from decades of court decisions, rather than laws passed by the Legislature.)

If so, does widespread popularity and playing of a piece of music cancel out copyright claims in that music?

Does a back-up or “buffer” copy made by a computer system constitute the unauthorized copying of music?

The appellate court’s opinion added that, as far as it could tell, the closest copyright case had to do with “another type of creative performance: magic tricks.”

“(T)here is at least a significant argument that Florida common law may recognize a common law property right in sound recordings,” the court said. “Sound recordings, no less than magic tricks, are ‘intellectual productions’ that are ‘created by heavy investments of time and labor.’ “

But that same case, from 1943, also held that the plaintiff had performed his signature act “before many audiences since 1935.” He was known for making cocktails and soft drinks appear from seemingly empty containers.

“Thus, ‘the trick or stunt became the property of the general public,’ ” and “Think-A-Drink Hoffman” couldn’t claim copyright protection, the opinion said.

“Kaylan characterized The Turtles’ recordings, including such ‘iconic’ hits as ‘Happy Together,’ as ‘clearly part of world history and not just American history,’” the opinion said.

That song, for instance, was used as the music over the opening credits for the 2015 animated movie, “Minions.” It had worldwide gross receipts of close to $1.2 billion as of this January, according to the Internet Movie Database.

Brian Burgess launching news and aggregation platform “The Capitolist”

Florida politico Brian Burgess is launching a new center-right political news aggregation platform called The Capitolist.

Burgess, a media consultant and former spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, is touting the new venture as the app for people “whose business is politics.” It will aggregate traditional and new media news stories and feature original content, usually with a conservative bent.

Burgess will serve as the publisher and editor-in-chief, while Texas-based political consultant and conservative journalist Sarah Rumpf will be editor-at-large.

“The idea is a one-stop shop for people who need local political information in the news,” Burgess told FloridaPolitics.com. He aims to bring readers “everything that’s out there in the cleanest, simplest way possible.”

He said sites like FloridaPolitics.com and POLITICO Florida have massively expanded the pool of what’s available for readers hungry for campaign and public policy stories in recent years, but felt there is a lack of an “authoritative conservative voice” to curate it.

Burgess is especially keen to bring local news to institutional players like lobbyists and campaign operatives about developments like candidates entering races, polling, and fundraising activity.

“That’s especially important for people who do this for a living,” said Burgess, “for folks to be able to make informed decisions about where they make political contributions, which matters a great deal to a lot of people in Tallahassee and around the state.”

Burgess is also hopeful he will be able to leverage his relationships with the Scott administration — where he maintains deep ties from his time in the Governor’s Office — as well as a substantial network of clients of his Right Hook Consulting firm to generate original news stories and perspective.

Burgess has a history of innovating in political media. While serving as a spokesman for Johnson County, Kansas District Attorney Phil Kline, Burgess brought in nascent techniques like mass emails and public town hall meetings to take his office’s message directly to the public.

Florida State University student Dennis Ragosta will also contribute writing and technical support to the platform.

The Capitolist app is available for iPhone on the iTunes or the Android app on Google Play.

Tim Tebow, others cut from replacement statue list

Alas, former Florida Gator quarterback Tim Tebow will not be immortalized in marble or bronze anytime soon.

At least not in the U.S. Capitol.

Nor will Miami Herald columnist and novelist Carl Hiaasen, adult film star and Florida native Riley Reid and former Gov. “Jeb Bush‘s political career (not him, his career).”

They were among nominees proposed by members of the public but rejected by staff to replace a statue of a Confederate Army general, one of two representing Florida in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. The other statue, of scientist-inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, a pivotal figure in the invention of air conditioning, will remain.

The list of rejects was released by Department of State officials Wednesday.

Some of the suggestions were likely meant to be funny (Mad magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman, misspelled as “Newman”), others were chilling (serial killer Ted Bundy) and still others obscure (anybody know “James L. Pippin“?).

Earlier in the day, a special panel of the Great Floridians Program recommended Bethune-Cookman University founder Mary McLeod Bethune, Publix Super Markets founder George W. Jenkins and author and Everglades defender Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

State lawmakers will pick one of those finalists next year.

To be eligible for consideration, nominees had to be a “citizen of the State of Florida, either by birth or residence” and be “deceased for 10 years or more, as of January 1, 2017.”

Tebow, Hiaasen and Reid are all still living. “Jeb Bush’s political career” was disqualified for being “not a human entity.”

Tebow got the most votes, 153.

In second place on the ineligible list was Confederate Army Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, the very man sought to be replaced. He got 49 votes, probably in protest. He was dismissed as “already in Statuary Hall.”

Third place was claimed by GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, also not dead. He received 27 votes, or 28 if you count a debatable entry for “Little Marco’s tiny … ,” followed by the word for a certain male body part. (It was disqualified as “not a human entity.”)

Other notable nominees include retired Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden (still living), the late congressman from Pinellas County Bill Young (not dead for 10 years), Tallahassee native and chocolate chip cookie entrepreneur Wally Amos (still living) and “Florida Man” (fictional character, though some would disagree).

Also getting votes were Sandra Hull-Richardson, the first black president of the Junior League of Jacksonville (still living), and Mary Athalie Wilkinson Range, the first black to sit on Miami’s City Commission and the first woman to head a Florida state agency, the Department of Community Affairs (dead fewer than 10 years).

And “Statuey McStatueface” got a vote but was turned away for being “not a human entity.” The name is likely a play on “Boaty McBoatface,” the winner of an online vote by a British government agency to name a $287 million polar research vessel.

The complete list, unedited, is here. Reader discretion is advised.

Officials believe they’ve captured alligator that killed boy

Florida wildlife officials believe they’ve captured the alligator that dragged a 2-year-old Nebraska boy into the Seven Seas Lagoon at Walt Disney World.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a news release Wednesday that it has suspended alligator trapping activities in the area. The release says officials have based their conclusions on expert analyses and observations by staff with extensive experience in investigating fatal alligator bites. A total of six alligators were removed.

Authorities say an alligator pulled Lane Graves into the water June 14, despite the frantic efforts of his father. Lane’s body was recovered the next day. An autopsy showed the boy died from drowning and traumatic injuries.

The beach at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa is across a lake from the Magic Kingdom.

As Zika looms, U.S. health officials worry about the neighbors

Saron Wyatt pointed to the secluded end of her small street in Houston’s impoverished Fifth Ward, where a mound of old tires keeps popping up.

Always a trashy nuisance, it’s now a growing danger. Tires collect water and become prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes — especially the ones that spread Zika virus disease and other tropical mosquito-borne illnesses.

Wyatt, a mother of five, doesn’t know where the tires are coming from. But she’s worried about it, and so are health officials.

Spraying for the type of mosquito that carries Zika is not always effective, and they can breed in pools of standing water as small as a Styrofoam cup. That means vacant lots or messy yards may need to be cleaned up, whether the owner of the mess wants it cleaned or not.

Dr. Umair Shah, the head of Houston’s county health department, called getting the cooperation of local residents his department’s biggest issue. “It’s really about a neighbor who might have sources of breeding on their property that can impact a neighbor two or three houses down,” he said.

Experts believe the vast majority of neighbors will comply. But not all. For months now, the federal government has been urging local health officials to review local nuisance ordinances and plot how to handle property owners who are combative or can’t be found.

During a recent outbreak of dengue fever in Hawaii that involved the same mosquito that can spread Zika, health officials went to more than 500 properties to survey or spray. In 23 cases, residents refused requests to enter.

It happened again in March, when health officials went to see a Kauai resident who was infected with Zika after traveling to an outbreak area in Latin America. Initially, the person would not allow health officials onto the rental property. But when a team returned for a follow-up visit, a family member let them in to look for mosquito breeding areas.

“For the most part, we do get good cooperation,” said Keith Kawaoka, deputy director for environmental health at Hawaii’s state health department. But sometimes cooperation comes only after a couple of conversations.

Zika has been sweeping through Latin America and the Caribbean in recent months, and the fear is that it will get worse there and arrive in the U.S. with the onset of mosquito season this summer. Zika causes only a mild and brief illness, at worst, in most people. But it can cause fetal deaths and severe birth defects in the children of women infected during pregnancy.

After West Nile Virus, another mosquito-borne disease, hit the United States in 1999, the response was often to spray wide areas using trucks and aircraft.

But the kinds of mosquitoes that primarily spread West Nile are different from the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika and dengue. That tropical pest likes to live very close to people, and immediately around their homes.

If someone is diagnosed with Zika and health officials determine that they were infected by a local mosquito, officials will draw a circle around their house with a radius of about 150 yards. That’s roughly half a block in many cities. An Aedes aegypti mosquito doesn’t travel farther than that during its typical three-week lifespan.

Next, health officials or mosquito control workers will visit the properties within that circle and look for standing water where mosquitoes may be breeding, including Styrofoam cups, flower pots, and old tires. They will work with the property owner to remove them, or treat them with chemicals that kill mosquito larvae.

Some people may not want such an intrusion.

In Hawaii during its dengue outbreak, much of the resistance came from organic farmers and beekeepers wary of chemical sprays, Kawaoka said.

But there may be other cases in which a property occupant is hiding an illegal activity and doesn’t want health officials snooping around. Or, there may be people who simply don’t want anyone from the government on their land, some experts said.

“In modern America, there’s been a lot of focus on individual autonomy,” said Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert at Georgetown University.

Health officials think they would be able to beat back a legal challenge to government intervention because courts have long allowed the government to intrude onto private property to deal with situations that may be harmful to the public, Gostin said.

Since the beginning of the year, Florida residents have sent dozens of emails to Gov. Rick Scott alerting him to overgrown backyards with standing water and expressing concern over Zika, mosquitoes, and the efforts to control mosquitoes.

A pregnant woman in Hillsborough County wrote that she looked forward to what else the state and her county could to do protect her, but she also questioned the effect of insecticides on her and her baby. “I am doing my best to be healthy for the baby, but the Zika virus has me worried,” she wrote in an email obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request. “It is impossible to say that I can never leave the house.”

Wyatt doesn’t know where the tires on her street in Houston come from, but she doesn’t think it’s her neighbors. She considers the people on her block to be quiet people who don’t come out of their houses much but don’t appear to cause any trouble.

“They all look out for one another,” she said.

But health officials in Harris County have had mixed results trying to clear up dumping grounds and standing water.

And mosquito control staff are fielding complaints from people tired of seeing staffers walk on their property to monitor mosquito traps that officials have set up to try to detect Zika before human infection, said Martin Reyna Nava, technical operations manager for the county’s mosquito control division.

He stressed that the vast majority of people cooperate. But Shah and others are concerned that some trouble spots will keep popping up, at least until a local Zika case occurs in the community and makes people realize that the danger is real.

“There may be folks who say, ‘Nah, I’m not really interested in helping,'” Shah said. “That’s where the challenge comes in.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mary McLeod Bethune top choice to replace Confederate Army general statue

Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of what is now Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, is the top public choice to replace a statue of a Confederate army general in the U.S. Capitol.

The Department of State, which includes the Great Floridians Program, released the list of public recommendations Saturday after a public records request from FloridaPolitics.com.

Bethune, an educator and civil-rights activist, lived 1875-1955. She received 1,233 votes, nearly 800 more than the No. 2 pick, James Weldon Johnson. He was a writer-activist and the first black admitted to the Florida Bar.

In all, 129 Floridians received votes to be honored with a new statue in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. State lawmakers will make the final decision.

Of those, 74 received only one vote, including famed singer-songwriter Ray Charles, who grew up in Greenville, Madison County.

Another single-vote-getter was naturalist and artist John James Audubon, who spent time in the state in 1831 working on illustrations for a volume of his great work, Birds of America.

It’s likely, however, Audubon won’t meet the criteria of having been a citizen of the state who is dead for more than 10 years. The rules also include no “fictional characters, animals, plants, structures, or other non-human entities or beings.”

The results will be considered by a special committee of the Great Floridians Program, which will select three finalists to pass along to the Legislature. The panel meets 9 a.m. next Wednesday, June 22, at the R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee.

“In addition to considering these results, members of the committee may also recommend individuals for consideration that have not been previously submitted,” said Meredith Beatrice, the department’s spokeswoman.

The process is a result of a measure signed into law this year by Gov. Rick Scott.

The move to take down a statue of Confederate Army Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith came after renewed debate about Confederate symbols, including the battle flag ubiquitous in the South.

A gunman charged with killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, last year had photographed himself holding the flag and made clear he was motivated by racism.

The Florida Senate this year also changed its official seal to remove a representation of a Confederate flag.

Each state has two statues on display in the Capitol. Florida’s other statue, of scientist-inventor Dr. John Gorrie of Apalachicola, a pivotal figure in the invention of air conditioning, will remain.

The top five picks from the public are:

1) Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, 1,233 votes.

2) James Weldon Johnson, 447 votes.

3) George Washington Jenkins Jr., 417 votes (founder of the Publix grocery store chain in 1930, based in Lakeland).

4) Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 261 votes (author and environmentalist, best known for 1947 work “The Everglades: River of Grass,” defender of the environment).

5) Harry T. Moore, 189 votes (civil-rights activist in Central Florida, active in the NAACP. He and his wife Harriette were killed by a bomb placed underneath their home in Mims, Brevard County).

The complete list is here.

Lin-Manuel Miranda leaving ‘Hamilton’ July 9; vows to return

The news that no die-hard “Hamilton” fan — or anyone who hasn’t seen the Broadway smash yet — wants to hear has arrived: Lin-Manuel Miranda, its creator and star, is leaving the show this summer. But he promises to return “again and again.”

Miranda, who has been in the show since it made its debut off-Broadway in early 2015, said Thursday he will perform his last show July 9. Javier Munoz, the current understudy for Alexander Hamilton, who also took over from Miranda in “In the Heights,” will take over July 11.

But Miranda said he will happily return to the show from time to time and RadicalMedia plans to film the original cast performing the show at the end of June and will, at some point, make it available. “We are aware that history has its eyes on us,” said Miranda.

“For people who will say, ‘But I’ll never see Lin as Hamilton!’ — yes, you will,” Miranda said in an Irish pub in his Washington Heights neighborhood. “I have written this insane part that I can’t seem to get tired of, that is new every night… I think this is a role I will be going back to again and again. I know it feels like the end of the world to a very small number of people now, but I plan to revisit this role a lot. “

He’ll also be offering fans a chance to see his final July 9th bow for just $10. Fans who donate just $10 to the Hispanic Federation will be entered to win two tickets to his last performance, an invitation to the after-party and airfare and hotel for those living outside of New York City. It’s being organized through Prizeo.

Miranda, who said he’s itching to cut the long hair he’s grown for the show, has already lined up plenty of work after he leaves. He has a lead role opposite Emily Blunt in a film sequel of “Mary Poppins” directed by Rob Marshall and with songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the composers of “Hairspray.”

Miranda will also help turn his musical “In the Heights” into a movie. He has written music for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the upcoming animated feature in Disney’s “Moana,” a musical, animated tale about a Polynesian princess that comes out in November.

Munoz, who has been with the show since it debuted off-Broadway in 2015, said his taking over won’t have too much effect on the show. “If anything, it’s personal,” he said. “We’re losing our guy, right? Our friend, the guy we love, is not going to be in the building as often. It’s like camp. You get to the end of summer and you become pen pals.”

Miranda also revealed he has launched a merchandise site called Tee-Rico that will sell fan art inspired by Miranda’s work. Currently, it is selling a T-shirt printed with part of his sonnet he delivered at the Tony Awards, dedicated to the dead in the Orlando nightclub shooting. All proceeds from it will benefit Equality Cares in Florida.

“Hamilton,” which cast minority actors as Founding Fathers, burst through the Broadway bubble like few shows. It has been praised by politicians and rap stars, influenced the debate over the nation’s currency and become a cultural phenomenon.

“It’s been the best tsunami in the world, but it’s been a crazy thing to be in the middle of this,” said Miranda, who has a young child. “I don’t walk down the streets in Washington Heights the way I used to.”

On Sunday, it won 11 Tony Awards, including best new musical, best book and best score. That capped a stunning year for “Hamilton” that includes Miranda winning the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for drama, a Grammy, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant. Miranda lost the best-actor Tony to his co-star Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr to his Alexander Hamilton.

“Hamilton” also won for best direction, orchestration, choreography and best-featured actor and actress statuettes for Renee Elise Goldsberry and Daveed Diggs. Even if the show starts to shed stars — and Miranda said he didn’t know about anyone else’s plans — he said the musical can still be strong.

“I hope the 11 Tonys that we racked up on Sunday are somewhat of a validation to those folks that this is a great piece,” Miranda said. “It takes a village to make a show like that.”

Plans are already in the works to open a Chicago company of “Hamilton, as well as one for London and a U.S. national tour that starts on the West Coast. Miranda said the talent level is huge at casting: “There are so many unbelievable actors of color who don’t get roles like this in the musical theater canon.”

Miranda, the New York City son of Puerto Rican parents, came across Alexander Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow‘s book and was inspired to write a musical. He debuted the first song at the White House.

His book and score for “Hamilton” has sly references to Gilbert and Sullivan, Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Miranda already has a Tony for creating “In the Heights” and is part of a crew that freestyle raps. An album of celebrity covers and songs cut from the final musical is in the works for the fall, called “The Hamilton Mixtape,” as well as a documentary on the show set to air on PBS in October.

While he steps away from playing Alexander Hamilton, Miranda said he will still push for legislation to stop ticket scalpers and also champion Puerto Rican fiscal strength. He would not be drawn into the 2016 election other than urging a get-out-the-vote push, particularly among Latinos.

“I’ve got this megaphone. I’m going to pick it up when it needs to be picked up,” Miranda said, citing his support for Broadway Cares and the Mariposa DR Foundation, among others. “That’s sort of the other part of my life now.”

Republished with oermission of the Associated Press.

Ed Moore: The best Father’s Day gifts are not bought

At this time of year, we always see the TV commercials advising the perfect gift for Father’s Day.

It is interesting that as the year’s pass by the gifts matter so much less, and it is the times long past that we crave to recapture, even if for just a day.

Yet we are bombarded with advertising as if material things could ever replace the gifts of the heart. In addition, dads everywhere get asked, ‘What do you want for Father’s Day?’, as if a gift is really what any of us want deep down inside our heart of hearts.

You see, being a dad is not something that starts with instructions.

Those childbirth classes don’t focus much on the ‘this is what your life is now going to be’, as they teach the mothers to use breathing techniques to soften the pains of labor, never mentioning how often in your life going forward you will have your breath taken from you by the awe of watching your own offspring do so many things, even the most commonplace things, that bring joy to your heart.

They don’t mention how for the rest of your heartbeats the reason for your … being … will consume your daily thoughts, even as they become older than you were when you first saw them in the hospital.

They don’t teach you how caring can run so deep it has no bottom, nor that joy can never be confined or restrained when it comes to the happiness that will be your daily gift.

Some of us didn’t have a dad in the house. Some of us had moms who worked hard to provide and to fill a dual role, when needed. We learned by watching others and trying to discard the acts we hoped we would never do, while seeking to hoard the good things we saw done, so that one day we could hope to be good fathers.

Where I grew up, many homes did not have a dad and in some that did, at least from the outsiders’ view, it would have been better if they didn’t have one. But there were a few who provided a young kid with examples of what it meant to be a caring, loving father, so I absorbed what I could from the life’s lessons offered to us all.

None of us are perfect — we know that, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had played my hand better here and there.

There was no learner’s manual, so stumbling along and making a lot up as I went along opened me up to both failures and successes.

As our kids grew, we knew that every step we took left a mark — plus or minus — and every day mattered. Each day was filled with quick decisions, driven by an underlying love and desire that the best choices could be made for our growing children. In the end, we all pray that the scales are tilted in favor of having been good fathers and having done much more good than harm along the way.

From the day you first hold your new child until you take your last breath, the caring for your children is a force that both drives your actions and fills your heart. You know from day one that any fool can be a father, but you have to work hard to be a dad. You can work hard all your life and have many accomplishments, and when you retire people will say, ‘he used to be this, or he used to be that’, but until your dying day you will always be a dad!

So, as I started to write this, my mind began to drift back to the first moment I became a dad, almost 35 years ago.

How blessed I was, and how blessed I was to be again, three more times with two boys and twin girls, that each brought unbounded love, joy, frustrations, exhilarations, and a panoply of emotions over the years.

For me, what is the most frustrating, even to this day, is there are two things I and most dads would love to have, and neither are possible.

First, we would love to be able to have just one more of those crazy-rushed-chaotic mornings with everyone getting off to school, or just one more sideline morning coaching them in soccer, or being able to officiate one more swim meet, or even one of those always funny dinner tables- never failing to have laughs from deep within that added the spice to our meals. Just to experience another day of my smiling kids, beaming after a race well swum, a soccer game well played; a first girlfriend or boyfriend, or the thrill of getting that college acceptance in the mail would be worth every material possession.

Secondly, it would be to have the power to ease every pain and fix every problem, then and now. This is a tough one, even knowing it could never be. Over time, you begin to realize that it is both the highs and the lows that have enabled you to be a dad. You discover that sometimes it is much more important for you just to be around when needed, as you are often much more needed on the bad days.

Yes, those too fill your heart with emotion and looking back also had great importance in building the adults now who once gave you the title Dad.

So for this coming Father’s Day, I write this for my kids, as my gift to them, so they can be reminded again of how much I love them and how much I care for them.

For those days on which I stumbled and was not at the top of my game, I regret them deeply, but for the moments, days and years I helped to lift you up and brought sunshine to your lives- those days define my life.

You are the world to me, and my real gift will come in seeing you, one day, know how I feel through your own experiences; the immeasurable joys of being a parent.

I love you guys!

Dad

___

Ed H. Moore resides in Tallahassee, Florida, where he is perpetually awaiting a rebirth of wonder.

Verizon offering text donations to support Orlando Pulse victims

Verizon Wireless is giving customers an easy way to help victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre.

With more than 170,000 employees worldwide, Verizon Communications Inc. released a statement Friday expressing its heartfelt sympathies to all of the friends and families of the victims from Sunday’s Pulse nightclub shooting.

For any Verizon Wireless customer wanting to help the victims and their families, they can easily donate to the OneOrlando Fund created earlier this week by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

To support OneOrlando, simply text the word ORLANDO to 501501 and $10 will be added to the user’s Verizon Wireless bill upon confirmation with the billing ZIP code.

OneOrlando was set up to respond to the needs of Orlando’s community, now and in the time to come, after a gunman opened fire early Sunday inside Pulse, a crowded gay nightclub. At least 49 people are dead and 53 wounded in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“Our City has just begun to recover from the impact of the Pulse tragedy,” Dyer said. “The support of major cellphone providers, like Verizon, sends a signal to our City that we are not in this alone. The money we are raising will provide a way to help us respond to the needs of our community. Words cannot begin to express how grateful we are for the outpouring of support from across the globe.”

Retailers expect record Father’s Day spending in Florida

Father’s Day spending is poised to hit a record high according to a new survey released by the National Retail Federation.

“Father’s Day serves as an informal kickoff to the summer shopping season, and we expect it to be a record-setting start statewide,” said Florida Retail Federation President/CEO Randy Miller. “More Florida families are feeling better about their economic situation, which bodes well for dads, in terms of receiving gifts, and for retailers who can expect increased sales.”

According to the survey, shoppers are expected to spend an average of $125.92 celebrating the holiday, up substantially from the $115.57 average last year.

The boost is expected to bring total Father’s Day to $14.3 billion, which marks the highest total in the survey’s 13-year history. More than half of those polled said they will be shopping for their father or stepfather, while 28 percent said they would be shopping for their husband and 9 percent said they would pick up a gift for their son.

Restaurant meals will account for $3.1 billion of total Father’s Day spending, with nearly half of survey respondents saying they plan to take dad out to dinner this weekend. Another two in five respondents said they planned to pick up clothes or gift cards for the fathers in their lives, while about 20 percent said they planned to surprise dad with something electronic.

As with Mother’s Day, the most common purchase is expected to be greeting cards. About two-thirds of those polled plan to pick one up for Father’s Day for an estimated $833 million in sales.

The retail trade group also found 22 percent of gift givers planned to purchase “gifts of experience,” such as tickets to a concert or sporting event. The trend has picked up in recent years, and millennials are twice as likely to give an experience as older generations.