Orlando Archives - Page 3 of 77 - Florida Politics

Airbnb inks tax deal with Polk County

Airbnb, the internet-based home-sharing lodging service, announced Thursday it reached a deal with Polk County to collect tourism taxes from host clients.

The company said it is seeing rapid growth in Polk County over the past year, ending 2016 with 160 hosts — people who make their houses or apartments available through Airbnb for visitors on a night-by-night basis -and about 3,000 guest arrivals. That’s more than double the 2015 activity. Based on that, Airbnb projected it could collect more than $200,000 in new annual tax revenue for Polk County in 2017.

Airbnb said it generated $4.8 million in rent for the property owners in 2016.

“Tens of thousands of travelers are authentically experiencing Polk County’s neighborhoods and attractions through Airbnb,” Airbnb Florida Policy Director Tom Martinelli stated in a news release issued by the company. “While Polk County’s hosts and merchants are already benefiting from this economic impact, our collaboration with Tax Collector Tedder will unlock a new revenue stream for the County continue marketing itself as a preferred family-friendly tourist destination.”

Polk is now the 35th Florida county, out of 67, in which Airbnb is collecting and remitting bed taxes on behalf of its hosts, joining neighboring Hillsborough and Pasco counties as well as other large counties like Pinellas, Orange, Brevard and Lee. In the past month, Airbnb signed tax collection agreement with Hillsborough, Okaloosa and Hardee counties,

“We began negotiations with Airbnb early in 2016 and stayed focused on making sure the agreement was not confidential and available for public inspection, that it was understood our office would continue to pursue back taxes due from prior rental activities, and that there were adequate mechanisms in place for our office to conduct audits and pursue enforcement actions,” Tedder stated in the release.

Stephanie Murphy sets listening tour in her new district

Newly-sworn in U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is coming back to Central Florida to ask constituents for their guidance.

The Democrat from Winter Park, who entered Congress last week after defeating the district’s 12-term incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in November, announced Wednesday she is setting up three town hall-style listening meetings next week, in Orlando, Sanford and Altamonte Springs.

“U.S. representative is more than just a title; it’s a job description,” she stated in a news release. “If you’re truly going to represent people, you’ve got to listen to them. I’m hosting these listening sessions so that my constituents may come share their ideas, thoughts and concerns as the new Congress begins. I’ll take the information from these sessions and use it to set my priorities and guide my work fighting for central Florida in our nation’s capital. I encourage anyone who lives in Florida’s Seventh District to join us and make their voices heard.”

Murphy represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District, which includes all of Seminole County and much of northern Orange County, including downtown Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, and the University of Central Florida.

The sessions will be held next Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Boone High School in Orlando; Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Westside Community Center in Sanford; and Jan. 19 at the Eastmonte Civic Center in Altamonte Springs. All are open to the public, but anyone wishing to speak will be asked to fill out comment cards. Constituents who cannot attend are advised to send their thoughts to her office at StephanieMurphy.house.gov or by calling 1-888-205-5421.

Darren Soto announces home-grown senior staff

Freshman U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando announced his senior staff, heavy on local connections and including a key former staffer of his predecessor Alan Grayson.

Christine Biron, who was Soto’s campaign manager and before that his legislative assistant in both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, was announced Wednesday as his chief of staff in Washington. Biron and Soto have worked together since Soto’s first campaign.

Alex Barrio, who served as Florida’s house district secretary and as a legislative analyst for the Florida Senate Democratic Caucus before making an unsuccessful run for a house seat himself last summer, will serve as Soto’s district director.

Mike Nichola, who served as legislative director for former former U.S. Rep. Grayson, will be Soto’s legislative director.

Iza Montalvo, a former journalist who served as communications director for Soto’s congressional campaign and also served as Grayson’s press secretary, was announced as Soto’s press secretary.

All of them are longtime Floridians with deep ties to Central Florida.

Soto, a Democrat, represents Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which covers south Orange County, Osceola County and east Polk County.

Freshmen Congress members from Orlando get top choices for committee seats

Central Florida’s three freshmen in Congress all got top-choice A-list committee assignments Tuesday, with Val Demings of Orlando serving on the Homeland Security Committee, Darren Soto of Orlando on the Agriculture Committee, and Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park on the Armed Services Committee.

Congressional leaders announced their choices for freshmen and others to fill spots on the top committees Tuesday. More committee assignments are likely late this week and early next week. While “top choice” often is something like appropriations, which is rarely if ever available to freshmen, incoming members of Congress also have their top realistic choices.

For Demings, a former Orlando police chief who was part of much of the post 9-11 Homeland Security planning and implementation for Orlando, that was the Committee on Homeland Security, according to her office.

The same is true for Murphy, who spent several years as a strategy analyst in the U.S. Department of Defense.

And Soto’s top pick was agriculture according to his office, given that his district includes the huge cattle ranches of Osceola County and many of the huge citrus groves of Polk County.

Murphy’s appointment also gives her a close look at federal spending available for the military’s modeling and simulation centers in Orlando, as well as for the state’s large military presence.

“Florida is home to numerous military installations and hundreds of thousands of military personnel, veterans, and their families. I’ll use my previous experience at the Department of Defense and my position on the Armed Services Committee to support our men and women in uniform and strengthen our national security,” she stated in a news release. “From cybersecurity to terrorism, we must ensure our service members have the resources and training they need to adapt to rapidly-evolving threats, and I will work with both Democrats and Republicans to help keep our country safe.”

Val Demings, Florida members, lead moment in Congress to remember Orlando’s fallen officers

With a bipartisan gathering of other Florida congressional members, Orlando’s former police chief Val Demings, now a congresswoman from Orlando, led the House of Representatives in a moment to remember and honor Orlando’s fallen officers Monday night.

“I rise today to honor the lives of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton of the Orlando Police Department and Deputy Norm Lewis of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office,” Demings declared in the house chamber. As the former Orlando police chief I had the honor of knowing both Sgt. Clayton and Deputy Lewis. Sgt. Clayton was violently murdered while responding to a call this morning. Deputy Lewis was killed responding to the scene during a search for the suspect.

“As we recognize law enforcement appreciation day, we mourn the deaths of these two public servants. Sgt. Clayton was a fine officer, wife, mother, 42 years young, and had just celebrated her first anniversary with her husband. Deputy Lewis was deeply admired by all of his colleagues. He loved helping people and it showed in his work. He was just 35,” Demings continued. “Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask that all members join me in honoring and remembering these heroes during this difficult time.”

A moment of silence followed. In the well of the house, Demings was surrounded by her fellow Orlando Democratic U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy; as well as U.S. Reps. John Rutherford, Ted Yoho, Matt Gaetz and Brian Mast, all Republicans; and U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch and Al Lawson, all Democrats.


Orlando mourns deaths of 2 law enforcement officers

Law enforcement officers in Orlando were engaged in a massive manhunt early Tuesday for a man accused of fatally shooting a police officer who approached him outside a Wal-Mart.

The manhunt itself has led to the death of a sheriff’s deputy in a traffic accident and the injury of another officer.

Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, 42, was killed outside the Wal-Mart store in northwest Orlando early Monday, and Orange County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 1st Class Norman Lewis was killed more than two hours later in a crash while responding to a manhunt for Markeith Loyd, 41.

Another Orlando police officer was involved in a crash while responding to the shooting but had only minor injuries.

Authorities said Loyd previously was a suspect in the killing of his pregnant ex-girlfriend in December. A massive manhunt involving hundreds of officers was conducted all day Monday as they searched for Loyd in dozens of homes, displacing some residents of a northwest Orlando apartment complex and tying up traffic.

“He should be considered armed and dangerous,” Police Chief John Mina said. Later in the day, the chief said, “It doesn’t matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth.”

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said deputies had been searching unsuccessfully for Loyd for several weeks since the fatal shooting of his ex-girlfriend and believe he was receiving help from someone.

Mina lauded Clayton, a 17-year veteran of the force, as a committed officer and a hero who gave her life to the community she loves. The Orlando Police Department said in a tweet that Clayton always had a smile and a high five for every child she came across.

Clayton had grown up in the Orlando area and was active in programs that mentored young people.

“She was always the first to step up and help kids,” Mina said.

Clayton was a supervisor for a patrol division in the neighborhood where she was shot, and she previously had worked in investigations and as a school resource officer, Deputy Chief Orlando Rolon said.

“She made a point, even outside her working hours, to do things for youth and do things for the community,” Rolon said.

She was married and had a college-age son.

Police released a video of Clayton’s body being taken out of the hospital to a waiting van in a flag-covered stretcher. A line of officers saluted as the stretcher was wheeled out.

The apartment complex that was the focus of the manhunt and shooting in northwest Orlando was nowhere near Orlando’s tourism corridor in the southern part of the metro area.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer declared a day of mourning in the city.

While at the Wal-Mart on Monday morning, Clayton was tipped off by someone that Loyd was in the area. When she approached him, he fired multiple shots at Clayton, who was wearing body armor, Mina said.

Clayton returned fire but didn’t hit him, he said.

Sheriff’s officials said a deputy spotted Loyd fleeing in a vehicle. The suspect pulled into a nearby apartment complex and then fired at a deputy, striking the deputy’s SUV twice. The deputy wasn’t harmed, the sheriff’s office said.

Loyd then carjacked another vehicle, drove away and then abandoned the vehicle not far away, according to the sheriff’s office.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy was killed more than two hours after the shooting when a van collided with his motorcycle as he responded to the manhunt. Demings described the 35-year-old Lewis as “a gentle giant,” and the sheriff’s office said he had played football for the University of Central Florida before joining the agency 11 years ago.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Orlando Eye shines blue in remembrance of fallen police sergeant

The Orlando Eye, always a sort of emotional thermometer for the city, shone a bright shade of blue Monday night in remembrance of the death of Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton, shot to death Monday morning.

In the past, the Eye has shone rainbow colors for the Pulse nightclub shooting and other colors to honor the victims of the Paris attack in November 2015 and the Brussels airport bombing in March 2016, as well as various shades for the holidays, such as peppermint red-and-green for Christmas.

Clayton died Monday morning after being shot while pursuing murder suspect Markeith Loyd at a Walmart on Princeton Street and John Young Parkway.

A manhunt for Loyd was underway for the remainder of the day, and law enforcement are offering a $60,000 reward for any information that could lead to his capture.

An Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy, Norman Lewis, was also killed in a car crash Monday morning.

John Mina ready to go ‘to the ends of the Earth’ to catch shooting suspect Markeith Loyd

Orlando Police Chief John Mina was sure of himself standing before a crowd Monday afternoon – they were going to catch Markeith Loyd, the suspect in the killing of Master Sergeant Debra Clayton by firearm earlier in the day.

“It doesn’t matter where he goes,” Mina said. “We’ll track him to the ends of the Earth.”

Mina said they were currently searching for Loyd in the Brookside Apartments area, located at 3997 Rosewood Way in Orlando. He advised anyone who didn’t absolutely need to be there to leave the area, as there was a high police presence there as of the late afternoon.

He also disclosed more details about Clayton’s final hours.

According to Mina, Clayton had been on patrol when she was approached early Monday morning by a civilian who tipped her off about Loyd’s presence in the area.

As Loyd was wanted for the December killing of a pregnant woman, Clayton responded by going to the Walmart at the corner of Princeton Street and John Young Parkway where Loyd had been reportedly seen. She saw him and a short foot chase ensued.

It was when she yelled out “stop” that Loyd allegedly turned and fired at her. She was hit, but returned fire – although Mina said they don’t currently believe he was hit.

Loyd also hit another officer, Joe Castro, and wounded him as he fled.

From there, Loyd escaped and a manhunt ensued, which has been going on most of the day Monday.

Mina said the department’s current belief was that people had absolutely been helping Loyd evade capture – he was still wanted on the murder from December, after all.

“I believe people have been helping him all along,” he said. “If we find out who they are, we will criminally charge them.”

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer called the day “incredibly difficult” for everyone and assured the public that “every available resource” was being used to bring Loyd to justice.

He said there was a $60,000 reward for any information given to Crimeline that could help locate and catch Loyd. Crimeline’s number is 800.423.TIPS.

Asked if he had a message for Loyd personally if he was watching, Mina responded that he did.

“He needs to turn himself in,” he said. “Not tonight, not tomorrow. Now. We want a peaceful resolution to this situation.”

Clayton was 42 years old and was hired by the Orlando Police Department in 1999. She was married and had one son. Mina also said she was extremely passionate about her work in the community, citing her efforts with programs like Parramore Kidz Zone and Dueling Dragons to help disenfranchised local youths.

“She grew up here,” he said. “She really cared about this community. She was always the first one to step up.”

Meanwhile, at the Walmart where she died, memorials were already being set up in the form of flowers.

Val Demings ‘devastated’ by Orlando officer deaths

U.S. Rep. Val Demings – a retired Orlando police chief who spent 26 years on the force before entering politics – is “devastated” to hear about the murder of her former colleague Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton followed by the traffic death of an Orange County deputy sheriff working that scene, Demings office reported Monday.

The Orlando Democrat, whose district includes the area where the deaths occurred, continues to monitor the situation. She is married to Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, and knew Clayton personally on the Orlando force.

“On Law Enforcement Appreciation Day it deeply saddens me that my community has to deal with this kind of tragedy,” Demings stated in a release issued by her congressional office. “As we celebrate the bravery of law enforcement officers all over our nation, I join Orlando, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and my Orlando Police Department family in mourning the violent death of one of our own and the death of a deputy killed in the line of duty.

“I had the honor of working with Sgt. Debra Clayton for many years at the Orlando Police Department. Sgt. Clayton was a fine law enforcement officer, wife, and mother who served her community with pride and as a mentor to young women.

“Gone, but never forgotten,” she concluded.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Winter Park also issued a statement:

“The central Florida community today is in deep mourning over the loss of two public servants and heroes: Master Sgt. Debra Clayton, who was shot and killed in the line of duty, and an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy, who was killed in a motorcycle accident while searching for the suspect. Our sorrow is compounded by the fact that these deaths occurred on National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day – a day when we as citizens express our support to members of the law enforcement community for all they do.

“Central Florida stands united against senseless acts of violence – including those targeted at law enforcement officers and other public servants. Today’s events are another reminder of the risk these community heroes undertake every day to protect and serve. We owe them our deep gratitude and full support. Thank you to all who serve.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Master Sgt. Clayton and the Sheriff’s deputy; the Orlando Police Department and Orange County Sheriff’s Office; and to law enforcement communities throughout central Florida. We join your sorrow today.”

Buddy Dyer calls for ‘day of mourning’ after officer deaths

Two law enforcement officials were killed on Monday morning – Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton as well as an Orange County Sheriff’s deputy in a motorcycle crash while pursuing Loyd in a chase afterwards.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer has said today shall be a “day of mourning.”

“[Debra Clayton’s] death and her injuries, the death of the deputy sheriff and the injuries to Deputy Castro are a reminder that our law enforcement put their lives on the line every single day to protect you and me,” he writes. “To the men and women of OPD, I and the entire City Council, stand with you and are here to support you during this difficult time.”

In what’s being called a “tragic irony,” the shooting of both officers Monday morning occurred on what is known as Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.

Clayton was shot near a Walmart earlier on Monday.

The man suspected in the shooting, Markeith Loyd, is also wanted for the murder of a pregnant woman last December, according to the OPD on Twitter.

Loyd was still at large late Monday morning. There is a $60,000 reward for any information on him or his whereabouts that leads to his capture, though law enforcement makes it clear that civilians shouldn’t approach him – he’s armed and dangerous.

Those with information on Loyd’s whereabouts are encouraged to call 9-1-1 or Crimeline at 800.423.TIPS.

Sheriff Jerry Demings said there won’t be any leeway for those found to be helping Loyd.

“We have a unified command with local and state assets,” he said, according to the OCSO Twitter. “If you aid and abet Loyd, you will be charged with a crime.”

Police Chief John Mina called Clayton “deeply committed to the community,” and said they were helping her family – a husband and two children – with everything they needed.

“I worked with her for 17 years,” he said. “She was deeply committed to this community. She gave her life protecting the community she loved.”

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said the community’s collective hearts broke for the loss of Clayton and the deputy.

“The death of any law enforcement officer is an utter tragedy and a blow to the entire community,” she said. “We will stand with all of Central Florida and the nation in paying tribute to the service and courage of this dedicated officer.”

Sen. Randolph Bracy said the killings, as well as that of the pregnant woman last December, had only strengthened his resolve to work hard for criminal justice reform and gun control in the Senate.

“I condemn this violence and I will work hard as the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman to reform our laws, to make it harder for criminals to have access to high powered and illegal weapons in our communities,” he said. “The alleged shooter in this case is linked to another murder in the area of Pine Hills at the end of last year, underlining the need for urgent changes to stop more bloodshed. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and colleagues of the slain Orlando Police Department officer involved in this tragic event.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for prosecution of the killer to the “fullest extent of the law.”

State Rep. Kamia Brown also mourned for Clayton.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Master Sgt. Debra Clayton during this difficult time,” she said. “She was a wife and a mother of two who served with the Orlando Police Department for 17 years. Her love to serve her community will be greatly missed.”

Sen. Victor Torres called Monday “a day of tremendous sadness” because of the two police killings.

“As a former New York City Transit Police Officer and lifelong public servant, I strongly condemn this violent act and I, too, pledge to work tirelessly to reform our laws, and end the ease with which hardened criminals can access high powered weapons,” he said. “We owe at least this much to Sergeant Debra Clayton, and every other law enforcement officer who has made the ultimate sacrifice.”

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