Tampa Bay Times Archives - Page 7 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

Whither Jeff Greene’s lawsuit against the Tampa Bay Times?

The last week of April has come and gone without a trial on billionaire Jeff Greene‘s libel suit against the Tampa Bay Times.

“We have a trial date set for the end of April,” Times attorney Alison Steele told FloridaPolitics.com last month.

With no trial, is a settlement in the offing?

Greene already settled last month with The Miami Herald, the Times’ co-defendant in the case. The terms of that arrangement weren’t disclosed.

On Friday, Steele was mum and didn’t return calls.

Greene’s attorney, Lin Wood of Atlanta, was not in the office Friday.

Coincidentally, the trial had been scheduled the week before the Times’ purchase and closure of its cross-bay rival, The Tampa Tribune.

On Friday, The Associated Press reported the paper still wasn’t saying what it paid for the Trib.

But the Times reported Wednesday it took on about $13.3 million in new debt just before the purchase, according to a mortgage filed Wednesday in Pinellas County … The new mortgage is the latest installment of financing the Times has taken out over the past three years with Crystal Financial of Boston. The Times now owes Crystal $18 million, the Times reported.

Greene, a Palm Beach real estate developer, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate in 2010. The seat eventually was won by current Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Greene has claimed that both newspapers derailed his Senate campaign with their reporting of alleged fraudulent real estate deals and wild parties on his 145-foot yacht.

Democrat Kendrick Meek, a former state senator, went on to win the Democratic primary.

According to a New York Times account, one story insinuated that former boxer Mike Tyson – best man at Greene’s wedding – had used drugs on the yacht.

The Tampa Bay Times later ran a rare front-page clarification, with Tyson saying he did not use drugs on Greene’s yacht.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge had dismissed Greene’s suit in 2012, saying he couldn’t “prove the paper acted in malice,” a legal standard in libel actions brought by public figures.

Greene would have to show the Times and Herald knew their stories were wrong or that they had a “reckless disregard” of whether their reporting was false or not.

An appellate court reversed the judge’s decision and revived the suit, saying Greene’s claims were “legally sufficient” to move forward.

Responding to Times reporter Robert Trigaux’s ‘three pointed questions’ for Duke Energy

On Wednesday, Robert Trigaux penned a column asking “three pointed questions” for Duke Energy in the fallout of a flat quarterly earnings report and its annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Trigaux prefaces his piece by proposing a mild winter is what brought lower demand for power – hence the softer earnings report. Next, he piles on several “missteps,” including Duke’s shelved nuclear power program and a “less-than-inspiring role as a bully of Florida’s young solar power industry.”

Trigaux then suggests CEO Lynn Good will assert the “industry challenges” facing Duke, where she argues the company is “well positioned to handle them all.”

He also questions Duke’s touting it’s lower electric rates in Florida, which are higher on average than the rest of the nation.

Next, he wonders why Duke and “fellow monopoly power providers” are not upfront with consumers about its role in the proposed Florida solar energy amendment.

Finally, Trigaux asked when – if ever – Duke will give up the ghost on the “hideously expensive and economically absurd idea” of using nuclear power to generate energy.

Overall, Trigaux appears to be trying to make a splash with recently acquired Tribune readers by digging up old tired issues.

So while he floats rhetorical questions, here are a few thoughts in response.

First, Trigaux posed his questions by way of a newspaper column, rather than contacting the company for an interview, according to Florida Politics’ sources at Duke. Nor did he participate in the status meeting held with the Times editorial leadership in March.

If he did, Trigeaux would learn that Duke Energy Florida residential prices are indeed lower than the majority of electric utilities in the state, as well as below the national average. And it’s commercial and industrial rates are some of the lowest in Florida.

Duke has made significant efforts to reduce rates by refinancing costs for the Crystal River nuclear plant at a lower interest rate. The change was included in a Public Service Commission reform measure sponsored by Sen. Jack Latvala and unanimously supported in the 2016 Legislative Session by the Senate Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities Committee.

The move sought to save customers more than $700 million over the next 20 years. The estimated $2.93 charge per 1,000 kWh/per month is approximately $2.00 less, or 40 percent, than the rate without these bonds.

As for the Levy nuclear project; it has not been “shelved.” Duke Energy is currently pursuing an operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the project, which is expected this year.

Trigaux is well aware that a balanced power generation mix is needed in both Florida and the country. Power plant planning takes years; states and communities are best served by keeping options open and staying prepared to react to market and industry changes. Duke has also taken advantage of significant drops in natural gas prices with plans for additional clean-burning natural gas plants.

In Florida, solar is a vital component of the energy mix; Duke Energy recognizes that. As costs come down, and output improves, Duke continues to build and expanded its commitment to solar capability. To that end, the proposed solar amendment seeks to protect individual businesses and homeowners interested in adding their own panels. Duke has not only supported the measure from the beginning but has publicly endorsed it and contributed to its campaign.

What part of that is not transparent?

It could entirely be possible that Trigaux is seeking headlines over information, sensation over sensibility.

Transit tax foe to Pinellas County commission: Reprimand or fire county administrator — or else

Two anti-transit-tax activists fired off emails to Pinellas commissioners this week demanding that County Administrator Mark Woodard be disciplined for discussions he held with Mike Merrill, the Hillsborough county administrator.

They were reacting to a report in the Tampa Bay Times that Woodard had met with Merrill to discuss, among other things, regional transportation issues.

According to the May 3 article, the two had discussed simultaneously asking voters in both counties to approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation improvements. Some of those improvements would link Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

Voters in Pinellas overwhelmingly turned down such a proposal, known as Greenlight Pinellas, in 2014. Just a week ago, Hillsborough commissioners declined to put a similar proposal on the upcoming ballot.

“Mr. Woodard has stepped out of line and out of the scope of his job description,” Barbara Haselden wrote in a May 4 email to commissioners and Woodard. “Mr. Woodard is an EMPLOYEE (sic) serving at the pleasure of the people. I call for his resignation immediately for going to the newspaper and attempting to rally another sales tax increase. … He needs to leave our county employment now.”

Haselden’s comments were echoed in an email from Tom Rask:

“Please tell me when it became the board position to do what Mr. Woodard proposes. Please consider my question a public records request for records reflecting the adoption of that very board position.

“If this isn’t the board’s position, then you must rein in such imperious behavior by an unelected official by either publicly reprimanding Mr. Woodard, or firing him. You should also vote on a proclamation stating that it is NOT (sic) to (sic) board’s position to seek another sales tax hike. Then issue a press release attaching the proclamation.”

Rask went a step further, saying he would take action should commissioners not heed his demands:

“You do as you want, but if you do not take these steps, then expect 200,000 emails to be sent to county residents (perhaps from one of your political opponents) stating that it is your position to seek another sales tax hike. … The names of those commissioners who refuse to renounce the ‘let’s seek a sales tax hike’ position will inevitably be hog-tied to the wagon wheel called ‘tax hike.’”

Both Haselden and Rask had campaigned against Greenlight Pinellas.

County Commissioner Karen Seel responded to Rask in her own email, saying, “I was shocked to hear this. We have not had any discussions amongst the County Commission about this. I intend on bringing this up on Tuesday, May 10, 2016, under county commission miscellaneous.”

Woodard declined to comment Thursday, saying what happens next is the commission’s decision.

But at least three of the seven commissioners appeared less than impressed by Haselden’s and Rask’s comments.

“I refuse to have a reaction,” Pat Gerard said.

Ken Welch said he stands behind Woodard “100 percent.”

“I’m fully in confident in our county administrator,” Welch said. “Consider the source. I have no intention whatsoever in asking Mark to step down.”

Janet Long said she would have been surprised had Woodard not had conversations with other nearby officials about transportation and other regional issues. Holding such conversations and building relationships is part of the job, she said.

Long was equally unperturbed that the two administrators might have tossed around ideas about funding. Commission members have told him to explore all avenues of funding for all projects and discussions about funding transportation improvements would “of course” be a normal part of any discussion. Just because Woodard holds discussions, she said, doesn’t mean they’ll go anywhere.

“He doesn’t set policy,” Long said. “If he wants to have a discussion about that, I’m fine with it. It doesn’t mean the policymakers will do it.”

Today on Context Florida: Mourning the Tampa Tribune, never Donald Trump and forgetting American history and values

Today on Context Florida:

Sports writer Gary Shelton, a veteran of the Tampa Bay Times, talks about his feeling of loss for the Tampa Tribune, a formal rival that shut down this week. When you look at your doorstep, a doorstep that may be emptier than yesterday, Shelton says to lift your cup for a newspaper that died young.

Martin Dyckman also reminisces about the Tampa Tribune and its fine journalists. He’s not sure which was the bigger shock — the hostile takeover of the Republican Party or the Tribune’s surrender to the Times. But it wasn’t really that much of a surprise, Dyckman says. For years, the only questions had been which paper would perish and when that would happen. That is what the Internet has wrought.

Veteran political operative John “Mac” Stipanovich pens an open letter to his fellow Republicans with a call to deny Donald Trump the presidency by not voting in the election at all – or voting for Hillary Clinton “if conscience permits.” A drop of a few percentage points in the Republican vote for Trump will be enough, which is why the pressure to conform, to toe the Party line, will be enormous. We cannot depend on our elected leaders to lead us. They, for the most part, will fold like cheap lawn chairs, cowed by fear and fueled by ambition.

Ed Moore believes young Americans need to learn about our country’s history and values. Seemingly, he says, we now live in an era where knowledge of our past is a thing of the past. Instead, we get caught up in the issues carried by E!, Access Hollywood and TMZ. When more of us know about Beyonce’s Lemonade! than the names of five former U.S. presidents or even one U.S. Senator from your home state, we have altered our priorities. Moore notes a change in what is important in a civil society and it is beginning to unravel the fabric that has bound us as a nation for over 200 years.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

 

Patrick Manteiga was right about demise of Tampa Trib; so was Noah Pransky

The shock from the news that the Tampa Bay Times has purchased and folded the Tampa Tribune has yet to wear off. In fact, there are probably a few hundred (maybe thousands) subscribers to the Trib who don’t pay attention to social media (think of all those seniors at Sun City Center) and were likely surprised this morning to see their regular newspaper replaced with the Times.

While those folks may be caught off guard, two local journalists were definitely not surprised by The Empire’s attack on Alderaan: Patrick Manteiga, publisher of La Gaceta, and Noah Pransky of 10 News.

Just last week, Manteiga demonstrated just how good his sources were when he wrote that “sales and circulation staff, writers, graphic artists and just about everyone else at the Tampa Tribune are looking for jobs.”

Continued Manteiga, “The rumors are hot and heavy that the Tampa Tribune won’t last past the summer.”

Clearly Manteiga was wrong — The Tribune didn’t last past the spring.

Before Manteiga made his prediction, Pransky produced a segment which asked, Could Tampa Bay lose a newspaper?

The best part of Pransky’s reporting is the email he received, perhaps inadvertently:

“Guys see below there is a leak here somewhere this is BS,” wrote Tribune managing partner Robert Loring Jr.

So kudos to Manteiga and Pransky for sniffing out this important story.

Of course, there was that one blogger who made this bold prediction at the beginning of year:

“One of the major Florida newspapers will cease daily publication in 2016.

“There are just too many cars on the street for the horse-and-buggy to remain in existence. Just as New Orleans’ Times-Picayune cut staff and went to putting out a hard-copy three days a week, so will one of the Sunshine State’s daily newspapers, many of which are still struggling to adjust to a digital environment.

Mitch Perry Report for 5.4.16 – Trib out

The news yesterday that the Tampa Bay Times and absorbed the assets of the crosstown rival Tampa Tribune marks the end of rumors which I can recount starting back in 2008.

That’s when stories surfaced that the paper would fold after the 2009 Super Bowl; That didn’t come to pass. Then the rumor was the Trib would fold after the 2012 Republican National Convention. That too proved to be false.

It’s no longer false, and our community is less for it.

I’m not sure how many cities/regions maintain two daily newspapers. When I moved here from San Francisco in April of 2000, one of the delights was the fact that there were two robust print organizations to keep everyone in check. The Tribune always reminded me of the old San Francisco Examiner, which my family subscribed to and I read daily in the 70s, 80s and up to the mid-90s. The Examiner didn’t espouse a conservative bent like Mother Trib has, and it was an afternoon paper, not competing directly against the San Francisco Chronicle in the morning. But everybody seemingly read the Chron, whereas the Examiner was the little guy trying to hang in there. That’s what I always thought of the Tribune.

The biggest story of course is, who remains, personnel wise? And how many reporters can the Times keep on? We’ll obviously find out soon enough, but with a rumored 100 people said to be getting the ax, we know that there will be far too many talented staffers who for the short term at least, will be without immediate work. Yes, a two-month severance eases the pain, but only momentarily.

I am bummed out. I’ve read the Tribune every day that I’ve lived in Tampa (as I’ve read the Times). You wouldn’t believe how many “elite” media people in this town haven’t for a while, though. They all had reverence for the Times — perhaps too much, sometimes.

So the Times now “owns” the Tampa Bay market, the 13th biggest in the nation, and the biggest in the Sunshine State.

Things have changed. It was less than two years ago that Paul Tash essentially told many reporters that with the economic conditions going on with the paper, that if they could find another gig, they should.

Out went folks like Peter Jamison, Michael Kruse, Will Hobson, Susan Thurston and many others.

More than ever, the remaining print/digital operations have to continue to step it up and refuse to concede to the Times’ hegemony. I’m talking about the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Creative Loafing, and yes, those of us who work at this website (SaintPetersBlog.com & FloridaPolitics.com).

In other news …

Eric Lynn finally drops out of the CD 13 race against Charlie Crist and promptly joins a competitive Democratic primary in HD 68 in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Barry Cohen is being sued by a man who said he consulted with him privately regarding a whistleblower suit, then faced a second whistleblower lawsuit from an attorney aligned with Cohen.

A digital ad goes after Pam Bondi and the other Republican Attorneys General who oppose President Obama‘s clean power plan on World Asthma Day.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign base in Florida will be in Tampa.

Tampa House Republicans predict Rick Scott will not get the Legislature’s $250 million blessing for Enterprise Florida that he was denied this year.

After the latest Go Hillsborough debacle, some folks are reviving talk of getting the Legislature to back a measure that would allow cities like Tampa to host their own tax referendums. But if Ed Narain’s comment was a trial balloon yesterday, it blew up.

Paul Tash’s real answers for Tampa Tribune readers

An earlier draft of a Q&A on the Tampa Bay Times’ acquisition/homicide of the Tampa Tribune has been discovered. Thank you to the anonymous source who forwarded this.

SUBSCRIPTION & DELIVERY

I subscribe to both papers. What do I do?

— We’ll consolidate your subscriptions. But don’t even think of canceling the Tampa Bay Times — we know where you live.

Will my subscription cost go up?

— Not until we raise it.

I am a long-term Tribune subscriber. What do I need to do?

— Sit back and enjoy our self-congratulatory style.

NEWS & EDITORIALS

I have been reading the Tribune. What does the Tampa Bay Times have for me?

— Maybe you’ve heard about this thing called the Pulitzer Prize.

I have a news tip, story idea or a press release. How do I reach you?

— Honestly, we don’t need your help. (See Pulitzer Prize.)

Will the Tribune writers work for the Times?

— If they’re lucky. We hire only the youngest reporters with the least experience, fewest family obligations, and lowest income expectations.

I’ve preferred the Tribune because I want conservative viewpoints on the editorial pages. Does the Times publish those?

— Only if they meet our high standards for sanctimony.

As a former Tampa Tribune subscriber, do I have access to the Tampa Bay Times’ online content?

— Of course. By the way, if you click on the word ‘Pulitzer’ 10 times, 73 cents goes toward our pension deficit.

I subscribed only to the Tribune’s e-paper. What access will I get?

— We will have an alternative website for people with low reading levels.

What about apps for my phone or tablet?

— Sure, we’re as hip as the next fella.

When you do publish TV and movie listings?

— Before, not after, the shows and movies are broadcast.

Will you still have my favorite comics and puzzles?

— Anything to keep the morons happy.

I read news online at tbo.com. What will happen to that site?

— See “low reading levels.”

I was getting e-newsletters from the Tampa Tribune. Will that continue?

— Sigh. Would you stop with the questions, please?

Will I still get breaking news alerts and emails from the Tribune?

— I can’t hear you.

ADVERTISING & MARKETING

I bought an ad to be published in the Tribune. Will it run in the Times? What about ads on tbo.com?

— Yes. Check the fine print: No returns.

OTHER

What does this mean for tbt*, the Times’ free daily newspaper, or Centro, the Spanish language publication of the Tribune?

— Unfortunately for you, both will be continued.

Who owns the Times? Any connection to The New York Times?

— The Tampa Bay Times is owned by a nonprofit, and ordained by God.

Let us know what you think. Send an email to ciaotribby@gmail.com.

Tampa Bay Times purchases the Tampa Tribune

The Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in the state, announced Tuesday it had purchased the Tampa Tribune.

In a statement posted Tuesday to the Tampa Bay Times website, Paul Tash, the chair and CEO of the Times, said the purchase puts the paper “on solid financial footing and gives the Tampa Bay region an independent, locally owned newspaper that can keep serving customers and communities for the long term.”

“Without this move, the continued competition between the Times and Tribune was putting both in peril. In today’s economy, you can count on one hand the number of cities that can sustain more than one daily newspaper, and the Tampa Bay region is no longer among them,” he said.

The purchase goes into effect immediately. Beginning Wednesday, Tribune subscribers will receive the Times. While the Times said both of the newspapers’ websites — tampabay.com and TBO.com — would be maintained, on Tuesday afternoon the Tribune’s website was redirecting visitors to the Times website.

The purchase marks the end of the 123-year-old Tampa Tribune as a stand-alone newspaper. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the paper was started in 1893 when Wallace Stovall moved his news operations to Tampa from Bartow. The paper became a daily newspaper in 1895.

In 2012, the Tribune was sold by longtime owner Media General to California-based Revolution Capital for $9.5 million. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Tash did not disclose a purchase price.

“We want to make the Times a better newspaper for all our readers, including those who have been with us right along,” he said in his statement.

Tash went on to say that he understands the purchase of the Tribune comes with a cost. The community is losing a daily newspaper and “the people who work for it will be moving on, either to the Times or somewhere else.” Tash said the process started in February, when the Tribune moved its printing to the Times facility and “will continue over the next two months.”

“It’s fair to say that we have seen this day coming for a very long time,” he said in his statement. “Now that it is here, we can look toward many more days ahead. To all our readers and advertisers, no matter where you are, no matter how long you have been buying the Times, we are honored to have you with us. We call ourselves “Florida’s Best Newspaper” not to brag, but as our commitment to you.”

The announcement comes about a week after the Tampa Bay Times had announced it sold its St. Petersburg headquarters. The company sold the building to 490 First Avenue Owner LLC for $19 million. The paper has a 15-year lease and will occupy about half the building, which will continue to bear the newspaper’s name.

Last year, the Tribune sold its 4.2-acre headquarters for $17.75 million. The newspaper was expected to remain on the property until spring. It was unclear where the paper would go after.

The sale is just the latest in a series of shake-ups in the state’s newspaper industry. In April, newspaper giant Gannett closed on its $280 million purchase of Journal Media Group, the parent company of the Naples Daily News and the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Within days of closing that deal, Gannett, which owns USA Today, offered to buy Tribune Publishing for about $815 million. Tribune Publishing owns the Orlando Sun-Sentinel and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, as well as the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.

On Monday, USA Today reported that Gannett Co. plans to solicit Tribune Publishing shareholders to withhold their votes in the upcoming board of directors’ election, “in an attempt to send a stronger message to management to begin negotiations on Gannett’s $815 million takeover bid.”

times sale

A roundup of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers

A roundup of Sunday editorials from Florida’s leading newspapers:

Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg commits unforced errors on stadium site search

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has a curious way of building public enthusiasm to invest in a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays. First his chief of staff insults North Pinellas fans by suggesting Oldsmar may as well be in Georgia. Then the mayor brushes off Sen. Jack Latvala’s request to include county leaders on a committee charged with generating more business support for the Rays. This is no way to create the broad coalition required to build an expensive new stadium and persuade the team to remain in the region.

The stadium site search has gotten off to an uneven start since the St. Petersburg City Council finally signed off on an agreement negotiated by Kriseman and the Rays to let the team explore potential stadium sites in two counties. In Hillsborough, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Hillsborough Commissioner Ken Hagan and a handful of others are meeting in private and it is unclear how they would come up with the public money to help build a stadium. In Pinellas, county commissioners are conspicuously quiet and the baseball committee created by Kriseman and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce is focused on generating sponsorships and ticket sales for the Rays and promoting the Trop site. Some committee members are frustrated, and Rays owner Stuart Sternberg sounds less than thrilled about the progress.

Bradenton Herald — Manatee County impact fee hikes pale in comparison with neighbors

Does this sound familiar? County commissioners declare that developers and builders should pay their fair share for the construction of new roads based on the additional traffic that new developments produce. This scenario is playing out across the state as counties come up with new and higher fee schedules with the attendant push-back from home building, real estate and commercial interests.

In Manatee County in December, developers and builders objected to the commission’s adoption of a fee schedule that implements a consultant’s recommendation at 80 percent the first year, 90 percent the second and 100 percent the third year. In expressing their opposition, the impact fee foes claimed there were “significant failings” in the consultant’s study, this about a company that has conducted more than 900 such studies across the country.

The exact amount of the fee depends on the size, use and location of new residential and commercial construction. The county is only reinstating impact fees close to the levels assessed in 2006 before the real estate industry collapsed, and commissioners reduced fees to help keep builders in business.

Daytona Beach News-Journal —  Nightmare attack challenges community

It’s a story out of a nightmare. On April 21, the family of 32-year-old Arenthius Jenkins say they were frantically trying to have him admitted for psychiatric evaluation — describing him as hallucinating and paranoid — only to be turned away by hospital officials.

The next day, family members filled out paperwork to have him taken into custody, but by the time a judge signed off around 3 p.m., it was too late. Two hours earlier, Daytona Beach police had responded to the 200 block of Jefferson Street and found Jenkins holding two bloody hammers. Nearby were 60-year-old Billy Ford and 55-year-old Terrence Gross of Port Orange, both badly beaten. Ford has since died of his injuries.

What happened? The answer to that question — and all the questions packed inside it — should be pursued with no patience for excuses.

Florida Times-Union — Polishing up the downtown Emerald Necklace

A century has passed since architect Henry Klutho began championing the idea of creating an “Emerald Necklace” of parks and waterways that would surround the city’s urban core.

Over the decades, many attempts would be planned and started to create a necklace of greenery that includes Hogans and McCoys creeks.

A new era began in 2014 when Groundworks, an international nonprofit that utilizes private and public partnerships, was enticed into the city by then-Mayor Alvin Brown. Initially sights were set on redeveloping Hogans Creek, but now the vision includes much more.

Like Klutho, Groundworks’ concept is to connect the city’s urban communities with a series of parks that will allow residents access to public spaces and trails.

Florida Today –  Crisafulli: Lagoon ‘F’ grades unfair, missed muck efforts

I am deeply disappointed in the approach taken by FLORIDA TODAY in its recent coverage of the Indian River Lagoon. Perhaps that was the goal of the paper: to agitate and incite. Anger sells, as is plainly seen in the daily barbs and insults traded in the presidential campaigns by both parties. Whether for political purposes or commercial gain, insults may grab attention, but they do little to solve problems.

That is not to say that action is not warranted. As a seventh-generation Floridian, the health and well-being of our water and natural resources are matters of great importance to me. This is the community where my family has lived and worked for decades, where I have chosen to raise my family, and where I hope my children will raise their families.

Long before the horrendous fish kill captured headlines, I was working with lawmakers within this delegation and across our state to increase funding to restore the Indian River Lagoon and surrounding water bodies and address the water quality and supply challenges facing Florida in a comprehensive, science-based manner.

Gainesville Sun – More work needed on rape kit law

Gov. Rick Scott shared a rare moment of personal experience the other day when he signed the legislation intended to help whittle down Florida’s large backlog of untested sexual assault kits.

The governor mentioned that his daughter, when a college student in Dallas, had once called him after being slipped a mickey at a party. She wound up hospitalized, Scott recalled, but fortunately was not sexually assaulted. “That was a scary time,” he said. Indeed. Let’s hope no parent ever has to entertain such angst.

But we know, unfortunately, some low-lifes like the one who drugged Scott’s daughter will succeed in violating victims, and the best we can do in those situations is to get rape kits into the hands of state crime analysts more quickly and put perpetrators behind bars sooner.

The new law seeks to accomplish that by requiring law enforcement agencies to send such kits to the labs within 30 days of the assault being reported, with the results reported back within 120 days.

Lakeland Ledger — Hard to define but, once gone, easily understood

During a speech to the House of Commons at the dawn of the Cold War, Sir Winston Churchill, one of the most skillful rhetoricians of his or any other era, defended the people’s right to demand that their lawmakers submit to their will, and not vice versa. “Many forms of government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe,” Churchill told the House in 1947. “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

Truly, democracy as practiced in America, and much of the West, is flawed. But considering the alternatives, we’ll take it.

Churchill, were he with us today, might say the same for economic systems. Capitalism is not always perfect, fair or ever-growing, but surely it is far superior to whatever ranks second.

Yet as The Washington Post reported earlier this week many young Americans disagree. Citing a poll by Harvard University, the Post announced that the so-called millennial generation has, apparently, issued a “rejection of the basic principles of the U.S. economy.”

Miami Herald — Foreign policy by Donald Trump

First, Donald Trump, the clear Republican front-runner, accused President Barack Obama of a “reckless, rudderless and aimless” foreign policy that has weakened America.

Then, he gave a rambling, vague and incoherent speech Wednesday full of platitudes and contradictions, and suggested he would undermine international alliances that have helped keep America safe since World War II.

Three days after he gave what was billed as a major foreign policy address, what Mr. Trump uttered is still troubling.

Voters looking for reassurances about Mr. Trump as commander in chief can’t feel that much more comfortable. Our longtime allies certainly won’t be reassured. In fact, both allies and enemies should be concerned.

Orlando Sentinel — Don’t block limits on payday loans

Florida’s congressional delegation is in rare bipartisan accord on an issue. Unfortunately, it’s the wrong position.

The issue is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s plan to regulate payday loans. Since 7 percent of Floridians must resort to this predatory form of small-dollar credit — nearly the highest rate in the nation — the state delegation should back the push for regulation. Instead, Democrats and Republicans are backing the industry.

The issue has attracted attention in South Florida recently because Tim Canova, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston in the Democratic primary, has criticized the incumbent for her support of House Resolution 4018. It would delay federal regulation for two years and could prevent federal regulation in states like Florida that have created rules for payday lenders. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wasserman Schultz has received $68,000 in contributions from payday lenders.

Ocala StarBanner — Election line-up sends a message

Time and again we read and hear about how the 2016 election campaign is unlike any in memory, largely because of Donald Trump’s unexpected success in winning support from disenchanted, disenfranchised voters who are tired of government not addressing the nation’s major problems.

But the voter displeasure is not only aimed at those representing us Washington. That came through loud and clear Wednesday night in Ocala at the community’s first major candidate forum of the election season. The forum, sponsored by the new Marion Coalition for Effective Government, featured 21 candidates running for countywide office — School Board, County Commission, superintendent of schools and sheriff.

The sheer number of candidates for these local seats is impressive. It is hard to remember when Marion County last saw so many incumbents faced with so many challengers. Both School Board seats are contested. The three County Commission contests — in District 1, 3 and 5 — each have at least four candidates. The superintendent of schools post is being sought by three candidates, while four men are running for sheriff. And in every race, except County Commission District 3, which is being vacated by Stan McClain, an incumbent is trying to hold on to his or her job at a time when there is widespread disaffection for “insiders.”

Pensacola News-Journal — Help break the cycle of abuse

At least four U.S. children die every day from abuse and neglect.

This sobering statistic breaks my heart.

Despite my 20 years in the child welfare field, I still feel pain, sadness and distress for the babies, toddlers and children who’ve endured far more pain that anyone ever should. Each time I provide comfort to a hurting child, I recommit myself to keeping our community’s children safe.

Alongside my devoted colleagues at Children’s Home Society of Florida, we’re striving to do just that.

You see, not every parent is equipped with a strong support system to lean on. While many of us understand the dangers of physically punishing a small child, or of releasing frustration by shaking a crying baby, others may not.

Palm Beach Post — Clinton and Democratic leaders turn their focus to November swing states

As Hillary Clinton increasingly turns her attention to a general election against Donald Trump or Ted Cruz, her campaign and fellow Democrats have begun in earnest to bolster staff and campaign organizations in key battleground states.

In Virginia, Ohio and Florida — the three biggest swing states in the last election — the Clinton campaign is teaming up with state and national Democratic organizations to build voter files, organize thousands of volunteers, register tens of thousands of voters and raise the funds necessary to compete against a Republican opponent.

And in the first concrete sign that Clinton’s general-election effort has gone beyond planning, the Democratic National Committee has begun transferring money raised jointly with the Clinton campaign to state committees to help fund the effort, according to Democrats with knowledge of the financial strategy.

Panama City News-Herald — Mr. Fowhand’s ripple effect lives on

Counting the number of lives touched and enriched by Ellis Fowhand’s 102 years on this earth could be equated to the “butterfly effect,” the idea that every small cause can have a ripple effect that could never have been foreseen or calculated.

Mr. Fowhand’s ripples sometimes turned into waves, there were always new pebbles being tossed into the pond to keep the ripples moving, always a wing aflutter in someone’s life. There are more “Mr. Fowhand stories” than there are people who have met him.

I have three.

South Florida Sun Sentinel – Reveal Saudi details in 9-11 report

You can’t handle the truth.

That’s the message both the Bush and Obama White Houses have telegraphed to Americans regarding a 28-page section of a 2002 congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The section, which addresses whether Saudi Arabia was involved in the attacks, has been labeled classified and has never been made available to the public.

President George W. Bush said releasing it would damage national security by revealing intelligence “sources and methods.” President Barack Obama has kept up that wall of secrecy. But it’s past time for that wall to come down.

The overriding reason for keeping the section locked in a room in the U.S. Capitol appears to be diplomatic sensitivity, not national security. The U.S. has a strategically vital, yet volatile, alliance with Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have angrily denied that they provided any official support for the 9/11 hijackers — 15 of 19 of whom were Saudis.

Tallahassee Democrat – Local politics Zing!s

Bob Graham should retire gracefully with his integrity in tact -every vote his daughter makes takes away from his legacy. It’s like Leroy Collins having a daughter who works undo the ’64 voting rights act.

Obama is on course to become the fourth worst president, in terms of national economies, ever. Don’t know how he avoided rock bottom. Hasn’t had even one year of 3 percent growth! Bet Jimmy Carter’s relieved.

Facebook, the invasive privacy manipulator, spent $16 million for armed guards for Czar Mark Zuckerberg, a guy who doesn’t see the need for the common person to have a means of armed self-defense. OK, I will accept $16 million as an alternative means to that end, Markie.

Why is our governor trying to attract the kind of companies that would come here only because they could pay lower salaries?

Tampa Tribune — Encouraging words from Emera executive

The announcement that a Canadian power company had reached a deal to take over Tampa-based TECO Energy understandably alarmed many residents.

After all, TECO, founded in 1899, is an economic pillar in the region, one with a long history of being a good corporate citizen and supporting numerous good causes.

So it was heartening the other day to hear Rob Bennett of Emera Inc., which is in the process of acquiring TECO Energy, emphasize his company’s commitment to community involvement.

It also was encouraging to hear Bennett, speaking to local business leaders at the Florida Economic Forum Luncheon, stress the importance of transitioning to clean fuels.

Mitch Perry Report for 4.29.16 – Trib frowns on Go Hillsborough vote

Good morning, y’all.

Regular readers of this column may note that it’s being posted a little later this morning. Not to get into Too Much Information, but let’s just say I think when I read Arianna Huffington write that you must have 7/8 hours a sleep every night, well, one can certainly aspire to that.

Rumor has it that Tampa attorney Bob Buesing will declare his candidacy as a Democrat for the newly created Senate District 18 seat in Hillsborough County on Monday. Local Dems believe this is a winnable seat, though Dana Young is formidable.

Alan Grayson has become the 8th co-sponsor of David Jolly’s Stop Act, and why not? Jolly said he would be happy if Grayson endorsed his measure that would ban federal office holders from fundraising, and would allow him to continue to do so this year.

We’ve skimmed through the editorial pages of the Trib, Times and La Gaceta this morning, giving their post-mortem on Wednesday night’s no vote on Go Hillsborough by the Board of County Commissioners.

“We hope Hillsborough voters remember the pathetic lack of leadership by the majority of the Hillsborough County Commission on Wednesday night,” the Trib writes today.

The column goes on to describe the board’s vote as “a shameful performance, with flip-flops and half-baked proposals.”

A couple of thoughts on that: Though in our role as a reporter we never had an opinion on the merits of the proposal,  let’s just say that it would have been interesting to cover this discussion for the next six months.

But the idea that Hillsborough voters will punish those commissioners who voted no? That’s dubious because A) the public seemed to be damn divided on the issue, and B) With the exception of Neil Brickfield and Nancy Rostock going down in 2012 in Pinellas County due to their votes on fluoride, rarely have I seen Tampa Bay/Florida voters ever vote against a lawmaker because of a particular position. Or wouldn’t we see a number of Republicans in the Legislature lose their gigs for opposing Medicaid expansion.

In other news..

Activists in Tampa yesterday denounced the aforementioned House Republican Dana Young for supporting a controversial anti-abortion bill in the Legislature earlier this year.

The Florida Congressional delegation, led by Sarasota’s Vern Buchanan, received an update on the heroin crisis in the U.S. Buchanan represents Manatee County, the number one spot in the state for heroin deaths in 2014.

Renee Flowers has given a ringing endorsement to HD 70 candidate Wengay Newton.

The Day After: The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce says they’re “disappointed” that the Board of County Commissioners voted to deny Hillsborough voters the chance to weigh in on the Go Hillsborough initiative on Wednesday night.

And Florida Congressman (and Dem Senate candidate) Alan Grayson in introducing the “Zombie Property Act of 2015.”

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