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Today on Context Florida: Antonin Scalia, American Forests, the sharing economy and Presidents’ Day

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Today on Context Florida:

Jim Rosica talks with Florida legal legend Sandy D’Alemberte, who reminisces on fond memories of Antonin Scalia. The Supreme Court Justice died Saturday at the age of 79.

Manley Fuller introduces us to a national nonprofit group called American Forests, which since 1940 has been scouring the U.S., looking for the biggest trees in the land. When they find a big tree, they make measurements, compare with other known specimens, and finally record the biggest as Champion Trees. Now, Florida has more national champion trees than any other state.

The sharing economy is here to stay, says Logan McFadden. And it is no doubt flourishing. Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, brought a new way of getting around town not just in Florida, but in nearly every major city in the world. As TNCs exploded in popularity, so did the question of regulation and consumer protections, especially when it came to auto insurance coverage. In Florida, there is a gray area regarding coverage that can leave rideshare drivers and passengers at financial risk if they are involved in an auto accident. Personal auto insurance policies are not intended for commercial use and will not cover damages if it’s determined the driver was using his or her vehicle for hire.

For Presidents’ Day, Tim Bryce wonders if our famous, most revered leaders – George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others – could be elected today. He’s not sure character alone would cut it anymore. Washington was a plantation owner, capable military figure, and even a distiller of whiskey, but he was not an educated man. He was one of the few founding fathers without a college education. Historians rave about Lincoln’s wit and oratory skills, and the strength he demonstrated during our horrific Civil War. However, comedians today would have lampooned his lanky build, mussed clothes, and western voice. “Saturday Night Live” would eat him for lunch. Teddy Roosevelt would be ridiculed for his squeaky voice. Thomas Jefferson would not be remembered as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, or for sanctioning the Lewis & Clark expedition.  Instead, he would have been exposed for his marital infidelity with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings.

Visit Context Florida to dig in.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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