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Rick Scott to host jobs summit in Orlando

Gov. Rick Scott will focus on jobs during a summit in Orlando next month.

Scott is scheduled to host a jobs summit on Feb. 2 and Feb. 3 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, according to an online invitation. The event, which was first reported by POLITICO Florida, appears to be similar to an education summit the Naples Republican hosted in 2016.

According to the invitation, the event will bring together “Florida’s top business leaders, economic developers, educators and community leaders” to discuss ways to “shape the future of Florida’s economy to create good, high-paying jobs for all Florida families.”

Scott first mentioned his plans for an economic conference back in September.

“I will be hosting an economic summit with economic development leaders and job creators from across the state to discuss how we can bring even more opportunities to Florida. Florida undoubtedly has a lot to offer to out-compete other states for jobs wins,” he said in a Sept. 29 statement. “Our business climate, low taxes, education system, workforce, transportation infrastructure and even the weather are all variables that companies look at when considering locations to move or expand. But, we cannot lose sight that economic incentives are an important part of this toolkit.”

The summit comes just one month before the start of the annual 60-day Legislative Session, where economic development and job growth is expected to take center stage. Last year, Scott said he would request $85 million for economic incentives to bring jobs to Florida.

While Scott is a supporter of incentives, he’ll face opposition in the Florida House. The House blocked an effort to create a dedicated funding source for incentives during the 2016 legislative session, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran has said he does not support incentives.

 

Wife of Pulse shooter arrested in California

The wife of the Orlando nightclub shooter, who was extensively questioned by federal agents in the days after the massacre, has been arrested by the FBI in connection with the attack, authorities said Monday.

Noor Salman was taken into custody Monday morning in the San Francisco Bay area and is facing charges in Florida including obstruction of justice. A Twitter post from the United States attorney’s office in Orlando said Salman will make her initial court appearance Tuesday morning in Oakland, California.

Noor Salman moved to California after her husband, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with SWAT team members during the June 12 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

FBI agents repeatedly questioned Salman in the aftermath of the shooting about whether she had advance knowledge of her husband’s plans. Salman told The New York Times in an interview published last fall that she knew her husband had watched jihadist videos but that she was “unaware of everything” regarding his intent to shoot up the club. She also said he had physically abused her.

“Noor Salman had no foreknowledge nor could she predict what Omar Mateen intended to do that tragic night,” her attorney, Linda Moreno, said in a statement.

“Noor has told her story of abuse at his hands. We believe it is misguided and wrong to prosecute her and that it dishonors the memories of the victims to punish an innocent person,” Moreno said.

Mateen was the only shooter, and by the time a three-hour standoff with law enforcement had ended, 49 patrons were killed and another 53 people required hospitalization.

Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in a 911 call to emergency officials during the standoff. He also made a series of Facebook posts and searches before and during the attack.

Salman, who grew up northeast of San Francisco, wed Mateen in 2011 after the two met online. They lived in Fort Pierce, Florida, at the time of the shooting. Last month, Salman filed a petition in a California court to change the name of the son she had with Mateen.

“We said from the beginning, we were going to look at every aspect of this, of every aspect of this shooter’s life to determine not just why did he take these actions — but who else knew about them? Was anyone else involved?” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in an MSNBC interview on Monday.

The Times first reported on the arrest.

Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement that Salman was facing accusations of obstruction of justice and “aiding and abetting by providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization.”

“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said. “But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he hoped the arrest “provides some comfort to the families who are mourning their loved ones,” he added.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Dwight Bullard talks of Democrats the party has ignored

Not counting the fact that he’s running from Gadsden County, little about Dwight Bullard is any mystery to many Florida Democrats who’ll be gathering in Orlando this weekend to consider electing him or one of four other candidates as the new state party chairman.

“People know exactly where I stand,” said Bullard, the former Florida senator and representative from South Florida, whose parents Edward and Larcenia also served in the house or senate, or both, in a family dynasty that lasted in South Florida from 1992 until Dwight Bullard’s defeat for election in a newly-drawn district last fall.

Bullard, the Gadsden County Democratic state committeeman, faces Osceola County Democratic Chair Leah Carvius, Miami-Dade County Democratic State Committeeman Stephen Bittel, Duval County Democratic Chair Lisa King, and Bradford County Democratic State Committeeman Alan Clendenin. The Florida Democratic Party leadership will gather in Orlando this weekend to pick one of them to be the new chair, to replace Allison Tant, who is stepping down.

“Most Democrats that I talk to will applaud me saying ‘You were great in the Legislature. You fought for what we need to fight for,'” Bullard said. “While my detractors will say, ‘Well, that’s not necessarily what we need in a DEP chair,’ while my supporters will say, ‘That’s exactly what we need in our DEP chair.'”

Bullard said he wants to stand with those he says the party has forgotten, the disaffected voters who don’t think the party talks to them, but rather at them. The ones who don’t go to Democratic executive committee party meetings, or Democratic club meetings, or events. They’re just out there, he said.

“It’s really best classified as the ignored Democrats, or the Democrats that don’t want to be caught up in the formal structure of the party,” Bullard said. “I know the party infrastructure and the mechanics in which we operate, working with the DECs and the clubs. But the reality is we often times talk about having more registered Democrats than our counterparts, but they are not the persons in the outcome of the elections. A lot of it has to do with us never having really outreached to those folks, showing them why they should spend that 20 minutes every two years voting for Democrats.”

The bottom line, he said is, Democrats have held a solid edge in voter registrations yet lose time and time again in statewide races. He said it is an embarrassment for the party, and the party hasn’t seemed to recognize it. The problem he said, is that party insiders decide on the “prototypical candidate” without finding out what ordinary Democrats want or don’t want. That has created a chasm between the voters and the party, he said.

“You’ve got a grand canyon or sinkhole opening in your back yard but you’re still having a cocktail party like nothing’s going on back there,” he said. “The key for the party is: stand for something. It doesn’t have to be one single, central message, but be aware of people out there in the everyday. We know things like the environment are important. We know things like income inequality and the environment are important. But when it comes to key issues, we’re not affectively at the forefront of addressing those issues as a party.”

In many ways, Bullard’s failure this fall to stay in the Florida Senate reflected the divide in the party. Ultimately he lost Florida’s newly-drawn Senate District 40 [not really the district he and his mother had represented] to Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles, a veteran state representative with a lot of support and money. But Bullard didn’t get to the general election until he’d survived a bloody Democratic primary fight with Andrew Korge, who pounded him with advertising painting Bullard as being out of step with some fundament issues, most notably with his less-than-absolute support for Israel. [Bullard says he’s a strong supporter of Israel but also feels support must be offered for displaced Palestinians] Ultimately that primary battle was characterized as a classic progressive Democrat, Bullard, versus a more moderate, more establishment Democrat, and Bullard won the primary.

Then there is that Gadsden representation. Bullard is from Miami-Dade. It has been his home and his base his whole career. But he lost a contentious battle for that county’s state committeeman post to Bittel. So Bullard, who has a home in Gadsden, moved there, ran there, and won that county’s post, earning the necessary credential to run statewide. He’s not alone. Clendenin did the same thing, moving from Hillsborough County to Bradford when he couldn’t win a hometown post. And others in the past, including Tant, have done the same.

“The rules are antiquated,” he said. “I think all five of us have talked about that has been the case… the system needs to end.”

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.

Marco Rubio mourns Orlando officers killed, calls for law enforcement respect ‘every day’

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, in the wake of the deaths of two law enforcement officials in Orlando on Monday, condemned the violence and mourned Orlando Police Department Master Sergeant Debra Clayton and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputy killed.

“Sergeant Clayton leaves behind a husband and two children, and her murderer must be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “During this heartbreaking time, we honor the memory of these officers and their dedication to public service, and will keep their families and colleagues in our prayers.”

He also spoke of the wider problem of police being killed.

“With so much violence directed at police officers in recent months, including deadly ambush-style attacks, it’s important to support the men and women who serve and protect their fellow citizens. Today happens to be Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and as we honor the Thin Blue Line, let’s always remember that they put on the uniform every day with the realization that they may not come home.”

The selflessness and bravery of those who work in law enforcement, Rubio said, deserves recognition and support “not just today, but every day.”

Sen. Bill Nelson also issued a statement Monday afternoon, in which he offered somber condolences to law enforcement.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the two Orlando-area police officers killed in the line of duty today,” he said. “The brave men and women who serve in our nation’s law enforcement community put their lives on the line every day to keep us all safe. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude for their service and we join them as they mourn the loss of their colleagues.”

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.”

Rick Scott wants to hire counterterrorism agents

Vowing to do everything he can to prevent another terrorist attack like the June 12 Pulse nightclub massacre, Gov. Rick Scott pushed for nearly $6 million to create a new counter-terrorism and law enforcement intelligence task force in Florida.

“Terror, like we saw in the attack on the Pulse nightclub, is a threat to our state, our nation and each of us,” Scott said in announcing the proposal at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Orlando Regional Operations Center Wednesday. “We need specialists who are solely dedicated to identify these terrorists and stopping them before they can attack.”

Joined by other law enforcement leaders including Orlando Police Chief John Mina, Scott and FDLE Commissioner Richard Swearingen outlined plans to seek $5.8 million in this year’s budget to hire 46 anti-terrorist specialists who would be divided into eight units and assigned to work with the eight joint anti-terrorism task forces coordinated in Florida by federal authorities.

The new positions would include 38 anti-terrorism special agents and eight crime intelligence analysts. He said the new positions would be in addition to anti-terrorism efforts the agency already has. But he said the current efforts sometimes require agents to be pulled off from other units on an ad-hoc basis and the new positions would better assure that full-time anti-terrorism officials are pursuing terrorists.

Swearingen said the current threat environment has “seen a vast expansion in terrorism relate threats in recent years and our federal law enforcement partners – who do a great job – have said they do not have sufficient resources to combat the spread of terrorism on their own,” he said. “This must be a collaborative effort of federal, state and local law enforcement.”

The budget request, of course, will have to survive in one form or another the Florida Legislature’s budget-writing. Two lawmakers present with Scott Wednesday, state Reps. Mike Miller of Orlando and Bob Cortes of Longwood, both spoke positively about the proposal Wednesday. Both are Republicans.

Miller, a member of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, said he looks forward to championing anti-terrorism money this spring. Cortes said a recent national anti-terrorism symposium he attended has him convinced of the need and said $5.8 million is “not a big ask.”

“We live in a very difficult time, and we’re going to do everything we can to help keep everyone safe,” Scott said.

On Thursday, House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz of Tampa said she shared Scott’s “commitment to ensuring that our law enforcement community has the resources necessary for counterterrorism to ensure that another tragedy like the massacre at Pulse nightclub never occurs again.”

“While this critical investment will allow the state to better monitor and prevent acts of terror, it is my hope this is one part of a conversation about passing meaningful reforms that keep weapons from falling into the hands of dangerous criminals and those suffering from mental illness who seek to inflict violence upon Floridians,” she said in a statement.

Politics in Orlando now takes place in a post-Pulse city

A before-and-after time line now exists for Orlando – June 12, 2016 – and on this side of the Pulse massacre the city may be seen by the world and through its own citizens’ eyes as a very different place, with a new political perspective.

Before June 12, Orlando was a city without an an image, an identity or, most importantly, a unifying factor for its people that didn’t involve mouse ears or rocketing roller coasters.

It took horror, pain, shock, suffering, outrage to change that. It took the unthinkable, the unbearable. It took June 12. Nothing good may ever be attributed to the slaughter of 49 people and destruction of countless other lives that took place at the popular gay nightclub Pulse, perpetrated by the ISIS-pledging, gay-hating madman Omar Mateen.

But in the aftermath, a new, Orlando emerged, pledging unity, support, hope, faith, understanding and love. Politics in Orlando now takes place in a post-Pulse city.

That became clear in the responses of a score of Orlando political leaders who expressed to FloridaPolitics.com how Pulse has changed things.

“We are kinder to one another,” said longtime Democratic Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan, the LGBT godmother voice for Orlando.

“Gay, straight, trans, black, Latino, Muslim, Evangelical, Atheist, Democrat, Republican – you name it. We were all there for each other,” said Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who also is gay.

For now, the post-Pulse period has only just begun, said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a Republican. All of that unity, support, hope, faith, understanding and love still is needed, must continue for practical reasons, she said.

“I think it’s very important to realize that a lot of people – especially those most traumatized by the Pulse violence – are still in the beginning stages of processing what they’ve actually been through, and how it has affected them,” Jacobs said. “So I want to be very clear in reassuring people that how they feel, how they act, and how they grieve and recover is an incredibly personal and individual path. Each survivor, victim, family or friend of those who perished needs this community to be their soft shoulder, and to extend understanding and compassion as each of us travels the path to healing.”

And perhaps to extend that understanding, compassion and healing elsewhere. A number of area politicians, including Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, a Republican, and Commissioner Victoria Siplin, a Democrat, spoke of extending love and support beyond Pulse, to address the victims and communities such as Pine Hills experiencing their own violent horrors, or at least to keep the momentum going. Orlando City Commissioner Robert Stuart is formally looking for ways to foster that, through a “Compassionate City” project he, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and the city commission launched in August.

“I hope that the unity that brought our great community together these past few months continues into the new year,” said Congresswoman-elect Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat. “I also think this tragedy has caused many of us to get more involved in our community to honor the lives lost and to help prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

Support for Orlando’s gay community is now the standard in political rhetoric. Recognition of Orlando’s Hispanic community, particularly the hard-hit Puerto Rican community, is nearly universal.

“It made everyone everyone confront the horrors of homophobia and its root causes,” said Anthony Suarez, a Republican lawyer who chairs the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Central Florida. “Those that profess that gays and lesbians are sinners and committing sin had to reflect on their comments and the results of such. For a very religious community, the reaction was overwhelming support and a mainstreaming of tolerance.”

“It’s been very fascinating,” added Clarke, “My circle of friends and other folks, I’ve seen a softening. It’s sad it takes a tragedy to do that.”

Yet some divides remain, now hardened by the affirmations Pulse brought to very different beliefs held by people on opposite sides of existing divides. Almost every Democrat believes the introspection of the massacre surely, finally, signals a change in the popular thinking tide on gun control, while virtually no Republican concedes that point.

“We have a moment in time where our voices can be louder than most in calling for serious gun safety reforms,” said Democratic activist Susannah Randolph.

Others prefer to put the focus on better-supporting law enforcement. “We must stay vigilant and ensure that law enforcement has the tools they need in order to protect us,” said Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, a Republican.

Sheriff Jerry Demings, a Democrat, couldn’t have agreed more, saying, “The Pulse nightclub incident represents a paradigm shift in how terror subjects now see soft targets within the continental US, as their primary targets for violence. American cities must prepare for the change in strategy and develop plans to prevent, respond to, and mitigate terror attacks.”

Many Republicans said they see the Pulse massacre as Demings implied, an act of radical Islamic terrorism.

“The tragedy at the Pulse nightclub confirmed to me that the appeasement of any radical group, such as ISIS and it’s supporters, will not work,” said Republican state Sen. David Simmons.

Few Democrat cite terrorism at Pulse, and some even dismiss it.

“Terrorism based on religion has nothing to do with it,” said Democratic attorney John Morgan. “That is the cover to give that miserable miscreant cover for a higher purpose.”

There also is a sense of fear, of driving the horrors of the world home.

“When I go to crowded public places, there’s a bit of anxiety while I constantly look over my shoulder at the people around me and the nearest exit points,” said Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph, a Democrat. “This is not how we should live, but it is embedded into our psyche now.”

Lost, perhaps, to many non-Puerto Ricans are the ties that Pulse has brought with the island.

“Many of these people who lost their lives on this tragic date are from Puerto Rico, the island of my parents, the place I few up in,” said state Rep. Bob Cortes, a Republican. “The tragedy not only affected Orlando, but also had a huge impact on Puerto Rico… We saw the whole world in mourning.”

And the whole world has watched, Mayor Jacobs said.

“I think it’s important for us to understand that how the world sees us – how the world views Central Florida – has changed,” Jacobs said. “We’ve long enjoyed a global reputation as a fantastic leisure and business destination, but now, the entire world has watched as we’ve come together, in seamless unity, like no community before us. The world has watched us respond to the victims’ families, those who survived, those with broken hearts and bodies, our first and second responders – our extraordinary outpouring of acceptance and love came naturally, from within the fabric of this community. So I would say that as we heal, let’s not forget that through our individual and collective actions, we’ve not only changed how the world perceives us, we’ve learned something wonderful about ourselves. Let’s cherish and nourish not only our famed culture of collaboration, but our extraordinary culture of caring.”

Farewell, 2016: Report takes a look at New Year’s Eve traditions

Spaniards try to gobble up 12 grapes at midnight. The Danes break dishes on their friends’ front doors. And here in the United States, we ring in the new year by drinking lots and lots of bubbly.

According to WalletHub, Americans will drink more than 360 million glasses of sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve. And where they drink it — and other holiday traditions — are part of a new report looking at how Americans “understand and enjoy the occasion.”

The report found 83 percent of Americans spend less than $200, on New Year Eve’s celebrations. An estimated 48 percent of Americans will celebrate New Year’s Eve at home, while 20 percent will head over to a friend’s house. According to WalletHub, just 9 percent of Americans plan to be “at a bar, restaurant or organized event.”

No matter the celebration, it’s very likely the ball drop in Times Square will be a part of it. An estimated 175 million people in the United States — and 1 billion people worldwide —are expected to watch the ball giant crystal ball drop at midnight. Only about 1 million of those people will be in Times Square for the event.

The price of admission is steep: The price of a ball drop pass is $229. And the average cost of dinner and a show in New York on New Year’s Eve is $1,160. Want a cheaper option? The nation’s capital might be the best bet, with the average cost of dinner and a show costing $480.

The Times Square ball drop tradition began in 1907 when a time ball was dropped as part of a celebration hosted by The New York Times at its building in Times Square. The ball has been redesigned several times over the years. The ball was originally made of iron, wood and 25-watt lightbulbs.

The ball that will drop Saturday night is made from Waterford crystal triangle and will be illuminated by thousands of LED lights. According to WalletHub, the Times Square Ball weighs about as much as three pickup trucks.

Not in New York, no problem. WalletHub ranked Orlando as the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. The town the Mouse built earned the No. 1 spot on the company’s list of 100 biggest cities. It also came in second in the organization’s entertainment and food category.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Orlando is the most popular travel destination over the holiday, followed by New York City and Honolulu. WalletHub estimates more than 100.5 million people will travel at least 30 miles from home for New Year’s.

More than 91 million of those people will travel by car, while 5.76 million are expected to fly to their destination.

Be careful when you head out on the roads this weekend. According to WalletHub, New Year’s Eve is the “most drunken night of the year.” The company estimates more than 40,000 people get hurt in car crashes and more than 340 traffic fatalities occur each New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

Here’s a few more statistics to wow your friends with this holiday weekend:

— There are on average 7,792 births on New Year’s Day;

— New Year’s Eve is the second most popular day for car thefts in the United States. The most popular day is Halloween, while New Year’s Day is the sixth most popular day for car thefts;

— New Year’s eve is the busiest night of the year for illegal “celebratory” gunfire;

— 44 percent of Americans plan to kiss someone at midnight, and 20 percent of all charitable donations are made in the final 48 hours of the year;

— 67 percent of Americans make a New Year’s resolution, but only 8 percent of Americans are successful in achieving their resolution. The most popular resolution? 49 percent of people say they want to lose weight and exercise more.

__The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

 

Orlando, Miami ranked among top places for New Year’s Eve celebrations

If you can’t make it to Times Square to ring in 2017, have no fear: The nation’s best place to party might be closer than you think.

A new WalletHub report ranked Orlando as the best place to celebrate New Year’s Eve. And the Central Florida city wasn’t the only Sunshine State city on the best list. Miami ranked No. 7, while Tampa landed in the No. 13 spot on the WalletHub list.

The company compared the 100 biggest cities “based on 20 key indicators of an epic New Year’s Eve.” Analysts compared the cities across three areas — entertainment and food, costs, and safety and accessibility — and complied 20 metrics, including luxury shopping, average cost of a New Year’s Eve party ticket, and walkability.

Orlando ranked No. 1 overall, with a total score of 76.96 points. It ranked eighth in costs and 82nd in the safety and accountability category. The town the Mouse built came in second in the entertainment and food category.

The City Beautiful fared well in several other categories, including where to find the lowest average price of a New Year’s Eve party ticket and one of the communities with the most nightlife options per capita. When it comes to nightlife options, Orlando was tied for first with San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Orlando also ranked high in the number of restaurants per capita, sharing the top spot with Miami.

Miami ranked No. 7 in WalletHub’s overall list of the best place to for New Year’s Eve, with a total score of 66.96. It landed in the No. 7 spot in the entertainment and food category, and was ranked 48th in the safety and accessibility category. The South Florida city was ranked 65th when it comes to costs.

Tampa was in the No. 13 spot, with a score of 62.71. It was ranked 20th when it comes to entertainment and food, and earned the No. 14 spot in the safety and accessibility category. It landed in the No. 37 spot in the costs category.

Jacksonville (No. 53), St. Petersburg (No. 63), and Hialeah (No. 90) also earned a spot on WalletHub’s list.

And in case you were wondering, North Las Vegas was ranked No. 100 on WalletHub’s list of the “Best Places for New Year’s Eve Celebrations.”

Source: WalletHub
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