Takeaways from Tallahassee — Fly like a birdie

Blue Tally Takeaways (5)
This Veterans Day, Floridians will remember heroes of war and heroes of science.

Top-flight tourney

It’s been 75 years since the one and only Chuck Yeager — the famous test pilot forever immortalized in “The Right Stuff” — became the first human to “punch a hole in the sky” by shattering the sound barrier while flying an experimental Bell X-1 plane that reached Mach 1.

The state authorized group that provides help to veterans is remembering this moment in history — which occurred on Oct. 14, 1947 — as a way to raise money for its efforts.

Chuck Yeager’s family is looking for “Sound Barrier Sponsors.” Image via AP.

This Nov. 14  — the Monday after Veterans Day — there will be a golf tournament held at Southwood Golf Club in Tallahassee to commemorate Yeager’s feat. Victoria Scott Yeager, the widow of Chuck Yeager, will be on hand to serve as honorary chair of the event. Brigadier General Yeager died in December 2020.

Money raised by the tournament will go to the Florida Veterans Foundation as well as the General Chuck Yeager Legacy Foundation and the Marine Corps League Tallahassee.

In a letter promoting the event, Victoria Scott Yeager wrote that “General Yeager never met a challenge that he could not overcome, and we are extending the same challenge to you to become a Sound Barrier Sponsor… Many veterans are in need of financial, mental and other assistance to give them hope for a better future. You can make a difference with your support.”

The event planned for Nov. 14 will kick off with a ceremony to “honor our heroes” while the golf tournament will also include hole-in-one contests as well as contests for the longest drive and closest to the pin. There will also be an online auction.

There are a whole range of sponsorships being offered for the event starting at $250 to honor a veteran and company all the way up to $7,500 for a Sound Barrier Sponsorship. Many of the sponsorships come with an opportunity to meet and greet and take a photo with Victoria Scott Yeager.

The Florida Veterans Foundation was created in 2008 and is supported by donations and grants and fundraisers. The foundation helps provide emergency aid, support for mental health services for veterans and the organization recruits volunteers to provide support for veterans.

The majority of the foundation’s directors are retired, military disabled veterans who donate more than 40 hours per week of their time to assist and help guide Florida’s veterans through myriad issues confronting them.


Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter Schorsch, Drew Wilson, Renzo Downey, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first …

Take 5

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Gov. DeSantis delays taxes, wants Special SessionRon DeSantis signed an executive order postponing property tax payments for residents severely affected by Hurricane Ian. “The last thing we want is someone loses their home and then they get hit up for property taxes for a home that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said during an event in Fort Myers Beach. The order delays payments on property taxes for both residential homes and commercial properties in the 26 counties approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual assistance. He also announced plans for a Special Session to provide property tax rebates for homeowners and business owners. Plus, the Legislature could provide local governments in Southwest Florida with funding for essential services.

Election police arrest immigrant, judge rejects first case — The state Election Crime Unit has arrested a Jamaican man who investigators say voted in Broward County but is living in the country illegally. Alfred Samuels voted in two Broward Special Elections this year, according to the Department of Law Enforcement. He registered to vote there in March 2021 under an alias using a counterfeit birth certificate, according to FDLE. The arrest comes as fallout continues to spin around the law enforcement unit’s first arrests of felons who voted in 2020. This week, body camera footage from some of the prior arrests showed suspects who were confused and officers who were sympathetic to their confusion. And on Friday, a Miami judge rejected the first case, ruling that the Office of Statewide Prosecutor lacked jurisdiction.

Board of Education adopts controversial policies — The State Board of Education has approved an array of rule changes, including measures on bathrooms, reviewing instructional material and punishing teachers who violate state law on discussing gender identity and sexual orientation. Many of the rules were political flashpoints during this year’s Session, and several of those debates played out again in Orlando in a meeting that, at times, was heated, with Board Chair Tom Grady at one point telling the audience, “this is not a sports event.” Moms for Liberty Co-Founder Tiffany Justice advocated for pulling the licenses of “activist teachers,” and one teacher drove the audience to their feet with a speech accusing the Board of believing teachers are pushing a “socialist agenda.”

Sanibel reconnected, students return post-Ian — The Sanibel Causeway is opening to civilian traffic ahead of schedule. DeSantis made the announcement replete with a test run for the first civilian vehicles. Emergency workers and power restoration crews were able to access the island last week after temporary repairs were completed. “When you have real significant damage like that you can’t let it toil for months without attention. We needed to get people back as soon as possible,” DeSantis said. The reopening of the causeway on Wednesday came ahead of the original goal of Oct. 31 and the Oct. 24 time frame DeSantis set last week. Plus, all students are back in school this week, even if it means they’re attending a new school.

Meeting on gender-affirming care back on — A public meeting on the efficacy of transgender care that was canceled for Hurricane Ian has been rescheduled for Friday in Orlando. Members of the Florida Board of Medicine and Board of Osteopathic Medicine Joint Rules/Legislative Committee will hold a five-hour meeting at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport. Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has asked the boards to prohibit patients under the age of 18 from receiving sex-reassignment surgery and puberty-blocking hormone treatments. Ladapo also asked the boards to change the standard-of-care rules to require older patients seeking gender-affirming care to sign a consent form and to wait 24 hours before starting such treatments.

Lifeboat for fishers

DeSantis is casting a line to the Florida fishing industry in places affected by Hurricane Ian.

The Governor waived an eligibility requirement sole proprietors with businesses located in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee and Sarasota counties for them to receive assistance through the state Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program.

“Our marine fisheries have sustained huge impacts as a result of Hurricane Ian and those impacts are far reaching,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring that Florida’s fishing industry stays afloat, and that includes supporting the Floridians who make their living on the water.”

Ron DeSantis is captaining Florida fisherman through a difficult time. Image via Jacob Ogles.

Businesses in 23 counties can access $50 million from the fund after Hurricane Ian. Of that, $10 million is set aside for the six counties that received the exception on Thursday for agriculture producers.

Small businesses have until Dec. 2 to apply, or until funds run out.

“Thanks to Governor DeSantis’ strong leadership and compassionate approach to ensuring that Floridians and their businesses are able to recover quickly from the impact that Hurricane Ian has caused on their livelihoods, sole proprietors within the Marine Fisheries Industry with businesses located in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Lee, and Sarasota counties can now apply to receive this critical assistance,” said Dane Eagle, Secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity. “Florida’s small business owners in need of assistance are encouraged to apply for the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program at www.FloridaJobs.org/EBL.”

Step up to the plate

Attorney General Ashley Moody this week launched the 2022 Human Trafficking Summit, an annual event that brings together local and national leaders to discuss various strategies and measures to prevent and prosecute human trafficking.

This year’s edition, held virtually, features a keynote address from Adam LaRoche, a former Major League Baseball player whose accolades include a Gold Glove Award and Silver Slugger Award. More than 2,300 attendees are registered to receive more than 16 hours of educational content and breakout sessions from presenters across the nation, according to the Attorney General’s office.

Adam LaRoche coming to bat for domestic violence survivors. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to speak at this year’s summit on anti-human trafficking. Unfortunately, this is a growing concern in the United States, and we must continue to address this topic and take active steps towards recognizing, understanding, and combating these atrocities. I am thankful to the state of Florida for taking a leadership role in actively engaging in this fight,” LaRoche said in a news release.

After hanging up his jersey, LaRoche founded the E3 Ranch Foundation with his wife, Jennifer. The organization supports combat veterans and those in the fight against human trafficking—including trafficking survivors.

“I’m excited to launch this year’s Human Trafficking Summit. During this virtual event, participants will hear from experts from across the country — including our keynote speaker, former MLB player Adam LaRoche. Adam is an incredible advocate for survivors, and I look forward to participants hearing his message of hope and ideas for ending trafficking,” Moody said.

The Summit launch also included an announcement of the winners of a slate of advocacy awards. The honorees include Savannah Parvu as Survivor Advocate of the Year; Katie O’Rourke as Community Advocate of the Year; Lisa Thelwell as Prosecutor of the Year; Special Agent Jessica Hurak as Law Enforcement Official of the Year; Shanta Grant Rouse as Department of Children and Families Human Trafficking Investigator of the Year; and James Garner as Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Human Trafficking Advocate of the Year.

Registration for the 2022 Human Trafficking Summit is still open at HumanTraffickingSummit.com, and content will remain accessible through March 2023.

Cash back

The perfect conclusion to a boring story: “And then I found $5 on the ground.”

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is helping thousands of Floridians get that happy ending from the comfort of their own home through the state’s unclaimed property database.

Last month, Patronis’ office helped residents reunite with more than $22 million in unclaimed property — an all-encompassing term for assets such as dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, inheritances, and even refunds.

Jimmy Patronis wants Floridians to find their cash.

“That includes more than $1.1 million returned to the families and businesses of Southwest Florida recently impacted by Hurricane Ian,” Patronis said of the September total. “There is still more than $138 million available to claim in the Southwest Florida area alone, and my Unclaimed Property Team is working to expedite payments to those areas hit hardest by this massive storm.”

A plurality of September returns — $5.5 million — went to Tampa Bay-area residents. Floridians living in and around Miami clawed back about $5.4 million, followed by Orlando at $3.5 million, West Palm Beach at $3 million and Jax at $1.9 million. Smaller amounts headed back to residents in the Panama City, Pensacola, Tallahassee and Gainesville areas.

The CFO’s running total of returns now sits at more than $1.7 billion since he took office in 2017.

“It’s my mission to return every cent of unclaimed property back to its rightful owner,” he said.

Over the years, celebrities and politicians such as former President Donald Trump, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, and former MLB star Derek Jeter have been listed in the unclaimed property log. The CFO’s office in past months said there’s a one in five chance Floridians have unclaimed property belonging to them or a loved one — all they need to do is head to FLTreasureHunt.gov and search.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is providing records to the Texas Sheriff investigating DeSantis’ migrant flights to Massachusetts.

Fried, writing to Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, said she is grateful that the San Antonio-area Sheriff is investigating the flights.

Nikki Fried is providing unsolicited support to Texas law enforcement. Image via AP.

“Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered an unprecedented and likely illegal move to send 48 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas,” Fried said. “These asylum-seekers, coming to our nation to seek a better life for themselves and their children, were apparently lured under false pretenses with the promise of work and more.”

Among the public records Fried forwarded to Salazar are four videos, two from the air and two from the ground. And among the documents delivered to the Sheriff are sections of the state budget, program guidelines and copies of the contract between the Florida Department of Transportation and the carrier that ran the flight.

“I am grateful for your diligence and your efforts to seek justice for these families,” Fried wrote.

“Again, I appreciate your attention to this matter. If we may be of further service in this investigation, please do not hesitate to reach out.”

Instagram of the Week

The Week in Appointments

Hernando County Housing Authority — DeSantis has reappointed John Carroll and Clifford Manuel to the Hernando County Housing Authority. Carroll is a correctional officer at the Florida Department of Corrections and a U.S. Army veteran. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Saint Leo University. Manuel is the president and CEO of Coastal Engineering Associates and the current Chair of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transit Authority. He earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.

Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission — DeSantis has reappointed Edgar Rosa to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. Rosa is a Correctional Sergeant with the Orange County Corrections Department. He is the current Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86 where he has been a member since 2004. He earned his correctional officer certification from Valencia College.

Florida Commission on Human Relations — DeSantis added Brian Battaglia and Matthew Klein and reappointed Dawn Hanson, Larry Hart, Darrick McGhee and Jay Pichard to the Commission. Battaglia is a partner and attorney at Bleakley, Bavol, Denman & Grace Law. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminology from Florida State University, his law degree from Drake University and his master’s degree in health care law from Loyola University. Klein is the senior legal counsel at Signature Aviation. He currently serves on the 9th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration and his law degree from UF. Hanson has served as the Director of Administration for the Executive Office of the Governor since 2005. She earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing and business from FSU. Hart is the former Lee County Tax Collector and previously served in law enforcement for 22 years and is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. Hart earned his bachelor’s degree in professional studies from Barry University. McGhee is the COO of Johnson & Blanton and the founding pastor of Bible Based Church in Tallahassee. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and religion from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University. Pichard is the owner of Remedy Intelligent Staffing and a member of the Big Bend Society for Human Resource Managers. Pichard earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from FSU.

Florida Virtual School Board of Trustees — DeSantis has reappointed Kelly Garcia to the FVS Board of Trustees. Garcia serves on the Board of Directors of Frameworks of Tampa Bay and is the Chair of the Research and Development committee. As a career educator, she volunteers as a Catholic school teacher in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America and her master’s degree in business administration from UF.

Arrive alive

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) is recognizing National Teen Driver Safety Week.

The campaign, which began Sunday and runs through Saturday, aims to educate teens and their caregivers on safe driving practices and remind them of the risks and responsibilities associated with driving.

A rubbernecking stat: About 5% of Florida drivers are teens, but they were involved in more than 11% of all car crashes in the state last year.

The Florida Sheriffs Association also promoted the safety awareness week.

Additionally, about half of teen drivers who were in an accident last year had at least one passenger in a vehicle, and research shows the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases in direct relation to the number of passengers in a vehicle; it also shows that teens three times as likely to take risks behind the wheel when they have multiple passengers riding with them

“Becoming a licensed driver is an exciting time for many teens, bringing new independence and opportunity — and most importantly, a solemn responsibility. A solemn responsibility to drive with care, courtesy, and confidence every time you get behind the wheel,” FLHSMV Executive Director Terry Rhodes said. “Being a safe driver is a lifelong devotion, and Teen Driver Safety Week in Florida serves as a great opportunity to encourage everyone to help reduce injuries and tragic loss of life by being focused on safe, attentive driving.”

Florida Highway Patrol Director Gene Spaulding added, “National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great reminder to parents and caregivers to continue to mentor their young drivers on safe driving habits. Parents can greatly reduce the dangers associated with speeding, impaired driving, distracted driving, and not wearing a seatbelt by helping to stop those behaviors before they start.”

Parents and guardians can find tips on how to talk to teens about driving safety on FLHSMV’s teen driver webpage.

Dry deck

Boating under the influence is a crime, and those who go overboard on the booze could end up meeting the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators’ 2022 Operation Dry Water Officer of the Year.

The winner is Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Specialist Nicole Basford, who serves in Bay County and is a 10-year veteran of conservation law enforcement. Her interest and capability for BUI enforcement began early in her career.

When Tom Brady celebrated his latest Super Bowl win, he had a designated boater. Aspire to be like Tom Brady. Image via AP.

Her many accomplishments include 58 BUI/DUI cases, mentoring officers and investigators on BUI enforcement, training new officers and leading targeted BUI enforcement details. In addition to her patrol duties, Basford is a BUI instructor at the FWC Academy and teaches BUI curriculum in the Northwest Region and for partner agencies.

“Officer Specialist Basford is a tremendous asset to not only FWC officers in our region, but to partner agencies across the Panhandle,” said Northwest Regional Commander Fred Rondeau. “Her enthusiasm and dedication for BUI enforcement is contagious and we’ve seen her influence make a difference.”

Basford was instrumental in establishing a BUI Task Force in the Panama City area. The task force focused an intensified effort to detect intoxicated boaters, enforce BUI laws and make arrests pertaining to alcohol and drug-related offenses. Since the BUI Task Force’s inception in 2019, Basford has led the team with the most BUI arrests.

“This prestigious national award is well-deserved recognition for Officer Specialist Basford’s dedication to keeping Florida’s waters safe for residents and visitors,” said FWC Boating and Waterways Section Leader Maj. Rob Beaton. “She has distinguished herself through her efforts and teamwork, and we couldn’t be more pleased that one of our own has been chosen as this year’s Operation Dry Water Officer of the Year.”

NASBLA presented the award to Basford at the 2022 NASBLA Annual Conference in Manchester, New Hampshire on Sept. 29.

Release the funds

Noting that communities and businesses deserve certainty, House Democratic Leader-designate Fentrice Driskell sent a letter to DeSantis pressing him to approve the release of $175 million for community grant funds approved by the Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) last month.

“These recipients deserve certainty as they plan for the needs of their community,” Driskell wrote in the Oct. 14 letter. “The grants approved by the LBC included funding for resiliency infrastructure projects such as seawall rehabilitation and electric generator installation, rehabilitating or building flood mitigation infrastructure, increasing educational offerings, expanding law enforcement facilities and support, and expanding health care infrastructure, among many other deserving projects. These grants represent up-front investments in our communities which will pay dividends; delaying their implementation comes at a cost.“

Fentrice Driskell hopes to bring federal funds to the Governor’s attention. Image via Colin Hackley.

The $175 million funds 238 local projects that were approved by the LBC in September, pulling resources from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The funding program was included in the state budget for 2022-23.

Signed by DeSantis, the spending plan required the Governor to submit a budget amendment authorizing the release of the funds no later than Sept. 30. On Sept. 23, one week before the deadline to submit the amendment, DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency due to a tropical depression that would later turn into Hurricane Ian.

“While you have no doubt been busy responding to the crisis caused by Hurricane Ian, lack of execution of the budget amendment required by the General Appropriations Act has created uncertainty for the Legislature and grant recipients, many of whom are subject to extensive planning and oversight requirements,” Driskell wrote.

Some of the 238 LBC approved projects were similar to items DeSantis had removed from the FY 22-23 budget via veto.

The largest Local Support Grant would send $15 million to the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus for a flood hub and applied research facility. DeSantis vetoed $75 million in the budget for USF’s Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Training facility.

Don’t hold back

Sen. Shevrin Jones blasted the State Board of Education for approving what he called a “discrimination-driven agenda” that puts DeSantis in the forefront of national politics.

“These moves from the State Board of Education are the latest in Ron DeSantis’ politically-driven attacks on Florida’s most vulnerable communities,” Jones, a former educator and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, said in a prepared release.

As a Black man and the state’s only openly gay Senator, Shevrin Jones is a member of two at-issue communities. Image via Colin Hackley.

The Board of Education on Wednesday agreed to adopt rules to update school policy to comply with recently passed laws, many of which contemplated school safety, parental rights and LGBTQ issues. Much of the four-hour meeting was heated, including during one moment in which Board Chair Grady exchanged barbs with a local teacher.

One of the most contentious proposals was a rule requiring schools to notify parents of how bathrooms are designated and how locker rooms and dressing rooms are designated and supervised. Such measures have drawn opposition from the transgender community and their supporters.

“It’s clear that the Governor’s administration cares more about his positioning for the 2024 Republican presidential primary than ensuring every child has access to a safe, inclusive learning environment that will set them up for lifelong success. Threatening suspension or revocation of educators’ licenses is a dangerous abuse of power that only further destabilizes public education.”

And the winners are

DJJ Secretary Eric Hall appointed 15 people to the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group and reappointed six others.

Members of the Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group are responsible for providing guidance in support of federally funded activities, while also engaging with the department in the implementation and monitoring of its strategic priorities which are focused on building stronger youth, stronger families, and safer communities.

Eric Hall issued a lengthy list of appointments with some notable members.

The new appointees are: Margaret “Peggy” Aune, Florida Department of Education vice chancellor for strategic improvement; Lindsay Bettis, Miss Florida 2022 and community outreach director for Advanced Recovery Systems; Jack Brewer, founder and executive director of the Jack Brewer Foundation; Jack Campbell, state attorney for the 2nd Judicial Circuit; Michelle Cook, Clay County Sheriff; Angela Garcia Falconetti, president of Polk State College; Brian Ford, manager of constituent events for Special Olympics Florida; Glenton “Glen” Gilzean, president and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League; Elmo Golden, mentor for Dignity Speaks, Inc. and program director for the Jack Brewer Foundation; Tony Lloyd, Florida Department of Children and Families assistant secretary of administration; Gabriel Moreno, intern at the Florida Attorney General’s Office and a current fellow at Florida State University’s Institute of Politics; Debra Pace, superintendent of the Osceola County School District; Hunter Pollack, gubernatorial fellow at the Florida Department of Education; Angie Rivera, a recent high school graduate and valedictorian of Pace Center for Girls; and Antorn “Tron” Reynolds, published children’s author and former teacher for the Bay County School District.

The six people who Hall reappointed are: Kathy Atkins, executive director, Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs, Inc; Ed Brodsky, state attorney, Twelfth Judicial Circuit; Stacy Gromatski, president and CEO, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services; Tony Jones, special advisor for juvenile justice and community support programs, City of Gainesville; Gisela Laurent, circuit judge, Ninth Judicial Circuit; and Darrin Williams, director of afterschool programs, Duval County Public Schools.

Alt-transport styles

Friday marked the beginning of Mobility Week, an annual awareness campaign for safe, sustainable options for alternative modes of transportation.

“Each year, Mobility Week helps Floridians learn about the safe transportation choices available throughout their communities,” FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue said. “Special Mobility Week events being held across the state highlight the benefits of Florida’s multimodal transportation system and showcase new and sustainable mobility options that help people be more active. FDOT is proud to work alongside our partner agencies to offer communities a week filled with educating and exploring all the transportation options available in their local areas.”

Floridians have hundreds of events to choose from.

More than 500 events have been hosted across Florida and in all 67 counties since the inception of Mobility Week in 2016. This year’s events will take place IRL and virtually, though registration is required for the latter.

While Mobility Week is a seven-day event, the Love to Ride Florida Challenge is a month long event culminating on Nov. 30. Participants can ride their bikes anywhere — to work, to school or even to shopping malls. So long as the bicycle ride is at least 10 minutes, participants can log their efforts online or on their favorite apps. Points are accumulated with each 10-minute ride. Participants can compete for up to $750 in prizes.

A new neighborhood

Construction on a new maternal health clinic in Gadsden County is underway.

Sen. Loranne Ausley and Neighborhood Medical Center officials this week broke ground on construction of the Neighborhood Medical Center-affiliated clinic in Gadsden County.

“The health and wellness of mothers and children in Gadsden County are critical to the long term success of the community,” Neighborhood Medical Center CEO Jeanné Freeman said in a prepared release announcing construction is underway.

“Neighborhood Medical Center looks forward to meeting this need by using innovative best practices in the direct care of women from prenatal through childbirth and providing services to mothers and their children that address the whole mother and whole child.”

Loranne Ausley delivered for Gadsden County mothers and babies. Image via Colin Hackley

The Legislature included $750,000 for the Gadsden County project in the 2022-23 budget. Ausley and Rep. Ramon Alexander championed funding for the project.

Ausley’s office maintains that the Senator has helped secure more than $115 million for projects in Senate District 3, which comprises small rural north Florida counties.

“I strongly support continued state and federal investment in our rural and fiscally constrained communities. I’m proud to have worked to deliver these funds to help Gadsden’s most at-risk mothers and babies,” Ausley said. “This kind of smart investment in early care pays big long-run dividends. Funding the new health center will help us protect the long-term wellness of this community by better serving maternal and pediatric patients.”

Kudos to you two

Gainesville Police Department Sergeant Nicholas Ferrara, the 2022 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, was celebrated this week at a Florida Retail Federation-sponsored dinner.

Ferrara’s nickname is “The Wizard” because he has successfully identified more than 1,000 witnesses, offenders and victims in support of law enforcement investigations, a feat made possible due to his proficiency in facial recognition technology, automatic license plate readers, and expertise in open-source intelligence.

Diane Wantuck was the runner up while Nick Ferrara took the main prize. Image via FRF.

“His passion for people, partnership and technology has enabled Ferrara to identify countless suspects involved in criminal activity, not only in Florida but across the globe,” said Dan Doyle, an executive committee member of the Florida Retail Federation and chief human resources officer at Bealls. “He is a tremendous partner to retailers throughout our state, and his willingness to work with other law enforcement agencies to close organized retail crime cases is exceptional.”

Ferrara, who has been with the Gainesville Police Department for 25 years, is known for his tenacity and his extensive network of contacts. And as a result of his efforts, Ferrara has successfully identified offenders involved in murder, serial rapists, international organized crime, large-scale credit card fraud and multi-million-dollar schemes.

“Florida’s retailers are proud to partner with Florida’s law enforcement officers to keep our communities and businesses safe,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of FRF. “Law enforcement is our greatest ally in combating organized retail crime. We are grateful for all of Florida’s law enforcement officers who selflessly serve to protect our communities.”

FRF also recognized 2022 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year runner-up and 17 year veteran of the Coral Springs Police Department, Detective Diane Wantuck.

And so it begins

The Florida State University College of Business celebrated breaking ground on Legacy Hall, the 218,000-square-foot future home of the college and once completed, the largest academic space on the university’s campus.

“This is truly an amazing day of celebration,” FSU President Richard McCullough told a crowd of 400 people who gathered at the celebration.

“I could not be more excited to stand before you and talk about what a great project the new College of Business will be. It is going to be absolutely transforming for our university, for the region, for faculty, staff, students, alumni and the corporations we work with.”

University administrators, FSU Trustees and local officials broke ground on Legacy Hall. Image via FSU.

McCullough also thanked the Governor and the Legislature for their support.

Legacy Hall also has garnered financial support from successful alumni who College of Business Dean Michael Hartline recognized and thanked.

“We’re honored that you’re here with us to celebrate this historic day — this truly transformative day — not only for the College of Business but for Florida State University,” Hartline said after toasting donors, state and local officials, College of Business faculty and staff members, and friends of the university.

A financial trading room, a 300-seat auditorium, and a central atrium are some of the features included in Legacy Hall. FSU is hopeful that the five story Legacy Hall will bolster the national and global prestige of FSU and its College of Business. FSU has maintained a Top 20 ranking by the U.S. News & World Report for four consecutive years, and the College of Business boasts eight programs in the Top 25.

“Legacy Hall promises to accelerate our transformation into one of the nation’s — indeed the world’s — elite business schools,” Hartline said. “We’ve most assuredly been on that path: Our faculty members are globally respected for their scholarship and research, and eight of our programs and specialties continue to rank in the nation’s Top 25 — with two undergraduate programs in the Top 5.”

Pipeline scholar

Florida A&M University law student Rachel Smith has received a $10,000 Joel Stern Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Pipeline Scholarship.

The Plant City native attended the George Floyd memorial service in Minnesota and was inspired to pursue a career in law. After experiencing major health challenges within her family, Smith, now in her second year of law school, considered pursuing a legal career to focus on inequities in social justice and health care.

The scholarship program is open to second- and third-year Black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, LGBTQ and female students, as well as those from other diverse backgrounds. Image via FAMU.

“I am extremely grateful to have received this scholarship,” Smith said. “It has been a challenging year for me. This award is special because it will allow me to focus on my education, and will grant me the opportunity to continue to be a part of a plan to foster diversity in the legal field. I am beyond grateful.”

The National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms sponsors the scholarship, which provides financial support to students who contribute to the diversity of their law school student body as they pursue their legal career.

“Meeting lawyers at the George Floyd memorial service taught Rachel that each lawyer was a storyteller for their community when they advocated for the needs of their clients,” said Marie Maurice, scholarship committee chair. “She strives to tell someone’s story through advocacy work. Rachel’s sincerity and openness about her struggles and goals was inspiring. We are happy to support Rachel on her journey with the NAMWOLF Joel Stern Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Pipeline Scholarship.”

Campaign Directions

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — When the other guy’s CM quits three weeks out, it’s a safe bet you can start planning your second inauguration party.

Ron DeSantis — Down arrow — Ukraine can bite, or even Bayraktar, any hand it wants to.

DeSantis’ donors — Crossways — They’re getting rubber-stamped onto state boards, but a seat on the State Boxing Commission is way less exciting than it sounds.

Jimmy Patronis — Up arrow — No other pol save the Gov has been more omnipresent in Southwest Florida.

Wilton Simpson, Chris Sprowls — Up arrow — In less than three weeks, fixing Florida’s broken property insurance market will be someone else’s problem.

Your holiday plans — Crossways arrow — A two-week Special Session in December? Bah humbug.

FDOT — Up arrow — There are miles to go before they sleep, but at least the Sanibel causeway is up and running.

Joe Ladapo — Down arrow — Wish he’d work on flu vax awareness instead of podcasting with Steve Bannon.

AHCA — Down arrow — Imagine needing a JD and encyclopedic knowledge of Medicaid law for the same pay level as a correctional officer. No wonder the office is empty.

Board of Ed. — Down arrow — The letters sent about their bigoted bathroom rule can substitute for toilet paper in a pinch.

Office of Medical Marijuana Use — Up arrow — We’re going to miss seeing piles of Swisher guts in the Circle K parking lot. Not really.

Florida Blue — Up arrow — $4 million in food aid delivered, no copay necessary.

IGT — Up arrow — Campaign donations have better odds to pay out than lottery tickets. Tell us something we don’t know.

Walmart — Down arrow — In addition to being the largest retailer of low-quality consumer goods, they sell a ton of junk.

Email inboxes — Down arrow — The words “this is my final request” have truly lost all meaning.

Travis Hutson — Up arrow — “Winner by default” still means “winner.”

Audrey Gibson — Down arrow — Her campaign budget is so paltry that we’re hearing Roger Corman has signed on to direct.

Orlando Sentinel — Down arrow — If you’re going to waste an endorsement on a tomato can, at least pick Tuttorosso.

Brendon Leslie — Down arrow — It’s DUUUVAAALLL

Staff Reports


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn