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Chuck O’Neal

Linda Stewart, Amy Mercado introduce bills to protect bears, their food and habitat

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As state Rep. Amy Mercado declares, Florida’s now-annual black bear hunt has become a “slaughter.” Mercado and fellow Orlando Democratic state Sen. Linda Stewart laid out bills Wednesday to ban the hunts for 10 years, as well as steps to keep bears happy enough in the forests and stop raiding neighborhoods. “The bears, we’ve encroached on their homes,” Mercado said. “They were here first. And a slaughter of the bears is unacceptable.” Mercado’s House Bill 491 and Stewart’s Senate Bill…

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SD 11 Democratic candidate Gary Siplin says tax liens are contested, not a concern

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Democrat Gary Siplin, a former state senator seeking another shot at the Florida Senate in the Orlando-based District 11, dismissed more than $243,000 of federal tax liens as contested taxes that he expects will go away through federal appeals processes. “All I know is according to my accountant, everything is fine,” Siplin said about the liens, on file with the Orange County Comptroller. “Whatever taxes that we owe — we don’t believe we owe. we’re appealing them.” Siplin said he…

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Teachers union, voucher advocates square-off in Dem primary for SD 11

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The Florida Education Association has put another $25,000 into the political committee chaired by Orlando Democratic Rep. Randolph Bracy, who is running in a four-way primary for the newly redrawn Senate District 11. The “Floridians for Progress” political committee has brought in $55,000 in contributions from the teachers’ union, which accounts for nearly half of its contributions to date. Bracy is leading the pack in fundraising one week out from the primary election, with former Sen. Gary Siplin holding the…

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Black bear activist Chuck O’Neal announces HD 29 run

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Sunday afternoon, real estate investor and black bear activist Chuck O’Neal announced his intention to run for Florida House District 29, surrounded by friends and family in downtown Orlando. O’Neal made the announcement at a memorial held to mourn and raise awareness of the 300 black bears killed the previous weekend during a hunt authorized by the Florida Wildlife Commission to reduce the species’ population. “We had a memorial service for the Florida black bear and had several hundred people to pay homage…

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