Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Another self-imposed deadline, another delay.
The federal government has again asked a Tallahassee judge to delay any rulings while it decides whether to get involved in a lawsuit over records on March’s pedestrian bridge collapse at Florida International University that killed six people.
U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova of the Northern District of Florida filed a notice Wednesday saying that although he expected to make a decision this week, “the review process is still ongoing.” The notice was not made available online until Thursday.
“The government will provide a further status update on or before July 25,” he added, “and respectfully requests that the court continue to defer ruling.” Federal law authorizes him to “attend to the interests of the United States in (any state) lawsuit.”
The case, which had been before Circuit Judge John Cooper, was reassigned to Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll as part of a routine judicial rotation by Chief Judge Jonathan Sjostrom of the 2nd Judicial Circuit.
The Miami Herald; its Capital bureau chief, Mary Ellen Klas; and Tallahassee correspondent Elizabeth Koh have sued the state’s Department of Transportation in Leon County Circuit Civil court, seeking “emails, meeting minutes and other records relating to the bridge’s design and construction.”
Some of those records “are the subject of a pending accident investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),” Canova previously said. The March 15 collapse of the then-recently erected bridge killed six midday motorists or passengers, and injured nine others.
The bridge, spanning Tamiami Trail, was meant to connect the campus to student housing in Sweetwater. It happened “just days after cracks had been observed in the $14.3 million structure,” The Herald has reported.
In another letter, NTSB assistant general counsel Benjamin T. Allen explained to Cooper that his agency has “prohibited” FDOT from releasing certain investigative information “absent NTSB approval.”
At a previous hearing, Cooper called the NTSB an “indispensable party” and declined to dismiss the lawsuit. “He … ordered FDOT to send (a) letter asking NTSB to join the lawsuit as a party or file an amicus brief to defend its legal reasoning,” The Herald reported.
If NTSB declines, Cooper added, the state will tell it “we’re going to continue the party without you.”
The Herald is represented by Sandy Bohrer, a partner in the Holland & Knight law firm in Miami and co-chair of the firm’s National Media Team.
“In Senate race, Florida governor in balancing act with Donald Trump” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press
“Date set for Donald Trump, Jr. to campaign in Florida for Ron DeSantis” via Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times
“Mom outlines Philip Levine agenda in latest TV ad” via Mark Skoneki of the Orlando Sentinel
“New White TV ad blasts Ashley Moody as ‘liberal judge’” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida
“Despite legal challenge, appointed Jacksonville City Councilors sworn in” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics
“State urges dismissal of challenge to gun law” via the News Service of Florida
“League of Women Voters sues over education amendment” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics
“Final forecast brings close to gloomy citrus season” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics
“Lake Okeechobee discharges to St. Lucie River to resume Friday, Army Corps says” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm.com
“Federal judge dismisses red-light camera class action against Florida municipalities” via Zach Schlein of Law.com
Quote of the Day
“When you get up over $250 billion, you will see an impact … Based on what we know today, that’s probably overly optimistic.” — Amy Baker, the Legislature’s chief economic adviser, on estimates of how much tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump will affect the national economy.
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Wake Up Early?
Guest speaker Susan Glickman, David Hastings and Yvette Arellano will discuss “Tampa’s Vulnerabilities in Facing Climate Change-Fueled Hurricanes” at the next Café con Tampa. Admission is $12, which includes a breakfast buffet. That’s at 8 a.m., Upstairs at Oxford Exchange, 420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.
The Association of Florida Colleges and the state Division of Florida Colleges will continue a two-day campus safety symposium in Volusia County. Titles of sessions are expected to include, “Developing Emergency Training, Exercises and Drills Within Your Community” and “Recognizing, Responding and Referring Students in a Mental Health Crisis.” That’s at 8:30 a.m., Daytona State College, Mori Hosseini Center, 1200 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.
The Florida State Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) will make a special announcement with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis at a news conference. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Jacksonville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5-30, 5530 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville.
Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam will make an announcement relating to military and veterans, and be joined by Admiral Robert “Bob” Natter (Ret.) and others. This latest announcement comes after Putnam said he would create a new Veterans Task Force. That’s at 10:30 a.m., Five Star Veterans Center, 40 Acme St., Jacksonville.
First Lady Ann Scott and Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart will announce the 2019 Teacher of the Year at an awards gala. That’s at 7 p.m., Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate, 1500 Masters Blvd., ChampionsGate.
State political candidates and committees face a Friday deadline to file reports showing finance activity through July 6.
State Rep. Sean Shaw, a Tampa Democrat running for attorney general, and Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo are expected to take part in a meet-and-greet event before a meeting of The Villages Democratic Club. Others expected include legislative candidates Gary McKechnie and Oren Miller and congressional candidate Dana Cottrell. That’s Saturday at 9 a.m., Colony Cottage, 510 Colony Blvd., The Villages.
Young continues her get-out-the-vote “Super Weekend.” It begins Saturday at 10 a.m., 809 S. Albany Ave., Tampa.
Fox News host Mark Levin joins Republican candidate for Governor Ron DeSantis for a meet-and-greet this weekend. That’s Saturday at 4 p.m., Trump National Jupiter Golf Club, 106 Bears Club Drive, Jupiter.