Takeaways from Tallahassee — Edge of change on the march?

Blue Tally Takeaways (1)
An alleged violation to the 2021 transgender sports ban grabbed headlines for the first time.

A 2021 law that banned transgender girls from participating in girls’ and women’s sports came into play this week as an alleged violation grabbed headlines for the first time.

A Broward County high school principal and four other staff members were reassigned from their positions when it came to light that a transgender student was playing on the girls’ varsity volleyball team in violation of the law known as “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.”

The state Department of Education spokeswoman warned of “serious consequences” for this violation of the said fairness law but students at Monarch High School in Coconut Creek didn’t appear to think that was at all just.

The student body staged walkouts Tuesday and Wednesday that the media covered, showing them holding signs that said “Let her serve” and “trans rights are human rights.”

The passage of that law, however, has led to a slew more looking to restrict the options of those who don’t identify with the gender they were assigned at birth

This apparently has been identified as a political winner. The Pew Research Center found last year that the belief that gender is determined at birth has increased as state legislatures increasingly pass these sorts of laws.

Monarch High School students’ definition of ‘fairness’ is quite different from the state’s. Image via The Associated Press.

Since 2017, the belief that one’s gender can be different from the one assigned at birth has shrunk by six percentage points to 38%, according to the Pew Center.

Officially, transgender students should be going only to the Monarch High bathroom designated for the gender they were assigned at birth, thanks to legislation passed earlier this year that applies to all public facilities in government buildings. Another law that took effect this year more tightly regulates what pronouns are used in Monarch High School’s classrooms and halls. And the state’s medical boards passed rules that ban gender-affirming and gender-conforming care for minors and put limits on care for adults.

The latest proposal (HB 599) that will be on tap this Session would make it so that nonprofit groups that receive state funding would not be allowed to hold “any training, instruction, or other activity on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

At the Broward School Board meeting this week, even members who lambasted the 2021 law regulating transgender athletes were silent on the staff reassignments, the Miami Herald reports.

Maybe they don’t want the Governor to suspend them as four of their fellow School Board members were last year?

Evidence suggests this won’t age well, however.

That same Pew Center research report found that when it comes to issues surrounding gender identity, young adults’ views don’t match those of their elders. Half of those ages 18 to 29 say someone can be a man or a woman even if that differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Only about a third of those older than 50 would agree.

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, Anne Geggis, Christine Jordan Sexton and the staff of Florida Politics.

But first, the “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

—Take 5—

Under investigation: Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler is at the center of an ongoing criminal investigation into allegations of sexual battery. One organization has reported that Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota County School Board member Bridget Ziegler, were in a consensual three-way relationship with the victim but that Bridget Ziegler wasn’t present when the alleged sexual battery took place. A lawyer for Ziegler insists his client will be exonerated in the probe. But Gov. Ron DeSantis — while saying everyone is innocent until proven guilty — has already called on Ziegler to resign while the investigation continues.

New details: A news outlet this week revealed that Pete Antonacci, who had been picked by DeSantis to lead a newly created election crimes unit, collapsed and remained unattended for 24 minutes after he abruptly left a September 2023 meeting in the Governor’s office. Antonacci, who had held various high-profile positions during his lengthy career in government, died that day. The Florida Bulldog had asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for records related to the incident in February but they were only recently released.

Marsy’s Law nixed: The state Supreme Court struck down a key provision of a constitutional amendment, known as Marsy’s Law, protecting victims from being identified. Several media organizations signed onto the lawsuit challenging the provision and advocates against it called the court’s ruling a win for governmental transparency. The challenge stemmed from cases in which the protections were used to withhold the names of police officers involved in lethal shootings. The ruling found that the law interfered with public records laws and, if it explicitly prohibited a victim’s name from being disclosed, could interfere with a defendant’s right to confront their accuser.

Hand it over: U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, chair of the Senate Budget Committee, announced he’s launching an investigation into Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort that has seen its policy count balloon to 1.33 million amid the state’s ongoing property insurance crisis. Whitehouse said his committee would seek documents and other information about Citizens’ ability to pay claims in the event of “climate-related disasters” such as hurricanes. The Democrat from Rhode Island said the inquiry was needed because Citizens may be forced to seek a federal bailout if confronted by large losses. The committee said it wants information turned over by Dec. 21.

Restrictions get pushback: Dozens of students walked out of a Monarch High School in Coconut Creek on Tuesday and Wednesday after the school’s principal and four other staff members were removed from their positions. Officials are investigating allegations that a transgender student played on the girls’ volleyball team, in violation of state law. A state Department of Education spokeswoman warned of “serious consequences” for those involved. The Sun Sentinel reported that the same student was involved in a court case that was dismissed last month challenging the law passed in 2021 — the first of a slew of laws that more tightly restrict transgender people.

—More chips—

Gov. DeSantis has awarded more than $28 million to expand semiconductor and chip manufacturing through five workforce development projects.

The awards are part of a workforce development initiative to dedicate at least $25 million to support the semiconductor industry through the Job Growth Grant Fund.

The newly allocated funds will create high-demand, high-wage jobs for Florida residents and is expected to strengthen Florida’s talent pipeline in the industry.

“Today’s awards will expand Florida’s manufacturing industry and provide high quality jobs for Floridians,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we are laying the groundwork for a strong economic future by investing in growing, high-demand industries that offer high-wage jobs for our residents.”

It wasn’t long ago that Florida’s chip industry consisted of Golden Flake and little else. The times they are a-changin’.

The state already ranks No. 5 in the nation for semiconductor manufacturing jobs and third in semiconductor businesses.

“Less than two months ago Governor DeSantis called for Job Growth Grant Fund applications to strengthen Florida’s semiconductor manufacturing industry and to enhance its workforce — our partners in economic development and workforce education around the state responded overwhelmingly,” said Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly. “Today’s awards provide more education options for the learner’s benefit and ensure that crucial industries have qualified and eager candidates interested in working in their field.”

DeSantis’ workforce development initiative, announced in September, dedicates $50 million through FloridaCommerce and Florida Department of Education projects and other workforce education initiatives supporting semiconductor manufacturing, advanced packaging, and research and development for the military, defense and space industries.

The bulk of the funding announced this week, $17.5 million, will go to NeoCity in Osceola County for construction of a multi-use semiconductor lab facility.

Meanwhile, Valencia College is slated to get more than $4 million to expand its robotics and semiconductor technician program; Santa Fe College is in line for $3 million to design and develop a new associate degree program in engineering technology; $1.8 million will go to Lake Technical College to expand its semiconductor program and create a new advanced manufacturing program; and more than $1.5 million is headed to Eastern Florida State College to establish a Center for Innovative Technology Education to train students in robotics operations, testing and repair.

—Blue wave—

The Sunshine State isn’t just for blue hairs anymore — the boys (and girls) in blue are flocking here, too.

According to Attorney General Ashley Moody, the scads of training and incentives programs for new and transplant law enforcement officers are doing their job and convincing police in so-called “soft on crime” states to head to Florida.

Don’t buy it? She’s got examples.

The Attorney General’s office this week debuted a string of videos, the “Sunshine Salute Sit-Down Series,” highlighting some of Florida’s newest cops. And yes, some of them are from the traditionally blue states that Florida’s electeds love to bash, such as California and New York. Oh, also Rhode Island, which we’re pretty sure only had one or two cops to begin with.

If Ashley Moody had her way, this plane taking off from LAX would be full of California cops yearning to breathe free. Stock image via Adobe.

“These officers took a tremendous leap of faith — many leaving their lifelong homes to answer our call to be a Florida hero. Some of their stories highlight a growing problem in parts of the country where leaders have chosen soft-on-crime policies over the safety of officers and the communities they serve. Some officers have moved here simply to start a family in a safer, freer environment. While others just like how Florida honors their service,” Moody said.

“I enjoyed meeting these courageous public servants, and it is an honor to help tell their stories. By sharing their experiences, we hope even more law enforcement officers from out-of-state will follow suit and move to the most pro-law enforcement state in the nation,” Moody said before directing prospective imports to BeAFloridaHero.com.

The Be A Hero initiative, launched two years ago, highlights law enforcement job opportunities across the state and markets the pot sweeteners put in place under the DeSantis administration, including a $5,000 starting bonus for new recruits. Moody’s office said more than 900 new law enforcement officers have moved to Florida from other states since the full array of benefits went into effect in July 2022.

—’Holiday Money Hunt’—

Floridians who haven’t been living under a rock for the past six years know Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis loves reuniting unclaimed property with its rightful owners.

Every month, the second-term Republican issues an update on how much moolah his office has shipped out — the running tally, as of Oct. 31, is about $2.2 billion.

That may seem like a lot, and it is, but the well is far from dry. According to Patronis, the state currently has $2.9 billion in unclaimed property chilling in the treasury. And it would be delighted to spend Christmas with you and yours.

A simple search on the state’s Treasure Hunt website could help you afford a little more holiday cheer.

“With the holiday season in full swing, I’m encouraging Floridians everywhere to join my ‘Holiday Money Hunt’ and search now (to) see if you or your business has unclaimed property in Florida” Patronis said.

“During the holidays, everyone can use a little extra cash, and a little unexpected check from the state of Florida might help the holidays be a little brighter this year. Join for the fun on social media. Use the hashtag, #FloridaHoldayMoneyHunt, and spread the word.”

For the unaware, unclaimed property is CFO jargon for cash and its accouterments. A non-exhaustive list of what’s in the state’s unclaimed property account: dormant bank accounts, insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, uncashed checks, deposits, credit balances and refunds, or even inheritances.

Anyone who thinks they may have some cash waiting for them — and even those who don’t — can run a quick search on the state’s unclaimed property database, FLTreasureHunt.gov. If there’s a hit, claimants need only fill out a few forms and provide some proof they’re the rightful owners of a given pecuniary holding.

—Instagram of the Week—

—The Week in Appointments—

State University System Board of Governors — The Governor appointed Ashley Bell Barnett, a community advocate, former educator, and donor to DeSantis’ presidential campaign to the SUS Board of Governors. Bell Barnett, who is also the daughter of Rep. Melony Bell, will take the seat after years of service on many advisory and administrative panels. She currently serves on the Polk State College District Board of Trustees and Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board — both DeSantis appointments — and the Polk Arts Alliance Advisory Committee. Her educational background includes a bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern College and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of South Florida. Read more on Florida Politics.

Government Efficiency Task Force — DeSantis has named five new members to the Government Efficiency Task Force, a voter-approved panel responsible for devising ways to improve Florida operations and fiscal efficiency. All are highly qualified. Most have donated to the Governor. They include Pedro Allende, Secretary of the Florida Department of Management Services; Eric Hall, Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice; Jason Weida, Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration; Tarren Bragdon, CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability, a Naples-based public policy think tank primarily focused on reducing the welfare state, restrictions on teenage workers and expansions of Medicaid; and Sal Nuzzo, Senior Vice President of the James Madison Institute, a libertarian free-market think tank headquartered in Tallahassee. Read more on Florida Politics.

— Kids, the government is bad! —

Most of us don’t remember getting past the New Deal in our general American history high school survey class, but state Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. took U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to task for not knowing about President Ronald Reagan’s desire to starve the government out of existence.

Diaz, a government worker himself, posted a clip of Cardona quoting the Gipper as if the Great Communicator, aka America’s True Saint, thought government was a kind, helpful sort of thing. As if!!

It’s the sequel to that time Ronald Reagan misquoted John Adams and said, ‘Facts are stupid things.’ Image via The Associated Press.

“As I think it was President Reagan said, ‘We’re from the government, we’re here to help,’” Cardona said as he gave a keynote address last month at the Western Governors’ Association winter meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo. “There’s technical assistance there. And there’s a playbook that could support the work.”

Social media lit up, schooling Cardona on what Reagan really said, providing quite an apt illustration of how differently progressives and conservatives view the government’s role. Without a hint of irony, Cardona left out the first part of Reagan’s quote. You know, the part about what the nine most terrifying words in the English language are?

“Our country is being run by morons,” a seemingly fuming Diaz posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Apparently, this is not a mistake that a graduate of Florida’s public schools would make.

“This is why we promote civics education in Florida,” Diaz posted.

—Down on Main Street—

Quincy Main Street in Gadsden County is December’s Florida Main Street Program of the Month, Secretary of State Cord Byrd announced.

“I commend the work of Quincy Main Street and their efforts to restore their historic downtown,” Byrd said. “I support the vision of Quincy Main Street to bring together individuals and businesses to share their community’s history and promote economic development.”

From its founding in 1825, Quincy was the political and commercial hub of Gadsden County. Starting in Florida’s Territorial Period (1821-1845), Quincy was at the center of a thriving tobacco-growing region that depended on the labor of enslaved Black Americans. After the Civil War and Emancipation, the arrival of railroads and the development of shade tobacco led to a period of significant economic expansion for the community, reflected in some of the oldest buildings located downtown.

Looks like a great place to enjoy a cigar and an ice-cold Coke. Image via Quincy Main Street/Stephen Tillman Photography.

Quincy, which is one of the oldest county seats in Florida, was also an industrial center for the tobacco industry, with many processing facilities and factories from the large tobacco companies located in the area. The tobacco industry entered a period of decline after World War II and was largely phased out by the 1970s.

The nine-block downtown business district, surrounded by a 36-block National Register Historic District, was shaped by two major influences: shade-grown, cigar wrapper tobacco and the Coca-Cola Company. Notably, Quincy was once the wealthiest town per capita in the United States, thanks to a trusted banker who urged his fellow townspeople to invest in Coca-Cola shares.

Quincy’s first Main Street program formed in 1987, making it one of Florida’s original Main Street communities. Since its designation as a Florida Main Street community, Quincy has become a thriving arts community anchored by the Gadsden Arts Center and Museum, the Quincy Music Theater, and internationally known artist Dean Mitchell’s Marie Brooks Gallery, all three housed in restored, renovated, and repurposed historic buildings.

Reorganized in 2016, Quincy Main Street Inc. is a private, non-profit organization formed by interested citizens concerned about the economic viability of the downtown district and possessing a desire to see a revitalized downtown Quincy as a destination for visitors and as a source of community pride for area residents.

— It’s a drag —

Leftovers from Christmas season 2022 got wrapped this week: The Hyatt Regency in Miami will have to pay a $5,000 fine for allowing “innocent children” to see what the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) termed, “the lewd and lascivious show ‘A Drag Queen Christmas,’” the agency said.

The show was at the James L. Knight Center, a 4,500-seat auditorium affiliated with the downtown hotel. Originally, the state was seeking to revoke the venue’s liquor license for violating the state’s public morals and decency laws by having children present as performers wore “sexually suggestive clothing and prosthetic female genitalia.”

No violations of criminal laws were found but administration officials indicated their satisfaction with the result.

‘A Drag Queen Christmas’ is quite the costly show. Image via Twitter.

“Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, when licensees break the law, they are held accountable,” said DBPR Secretary Melanie Griffin. “DBPR takes the safety and wellbeing of Floridians seriously; I thank our hardworking officers for thoroughly investigating these violations of Florida law and protecting minors at our DBPR-licensed establishments from this harm in the future.”

It was the third case involving drag shows that preceded the introduction of the “Protection of Children Law” prohibiting children from attending live performances of “any show, exhibition, or other presentation in front of a live audience which, in whole or in part, depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or specific sexual activities, … lewd conduct or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts.”

A drag show restaurant, Hamburger Mary’s in Orlando, has that law on hold, pending the outcome of a lawsuit.

The Plaza Live theater in Orlando also agreed in August to pay $5,000 for the same presentation of Christmas drag. And the drag show brunch in Miami that started the brouhaha, R House, also coughed up $5,000 for allowing minors to witness female impersonators do their thing.

The same show is back in Florida for this coming yuletide season. This time, though, it’s a two-night tour, instead of last year’s four stops — only Miami and Jacksonville made the cut.

In July 2022, the Governor declared his opposition to kids at drag shows, saying he wanted Florida to be a place where “kids can be kids.”

—Bring it on—

Starting Jan. 1, 2024 The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Division of Marine Fisheries Management and its saltwater angler recognition program, Catch a Florida Memory, will begin accepting applications for three new record categories.

FWC will add a Youth Weight category for anglers 15 and under, and Youth and Adult Length categories to allow for catch-and-release records.

Red drum, bonefish, permit and snook are categories eligible for records in the youth and adult length. To qualify for a length record, the fish must be caught on or after Jan. 1, 2024, measure at least 10 inches and be measured using a flat length measuring device with photographs showing measurement increments clearly visible.

Get hype — it’s about to be record setting season! Image via FWC.

The species eligible for records in the Youth Weight category include blackfin tuna, cobia, dolphinfish, flounder, gray (mangrove) snapper, gray triggerfish, hardhead catfish, red grouper, sheepshead, Spanish mackerel, spotted seatrout and yellowtail snapper. To qualify for a youth weight record, the fish must be caught on or after Jan. 1, 2024, weigh a minimum of 1 lb. and follow the documentation requirements of the adult weight category.

To qualify for a new record, a completed application form must be submitted with the angler’s signature and a notary stamp via CatchaFloridaMemory.com/Records. Applications must include a digital or print photograph clearly showing the gear used to make the catch, the angler with their catch, various views of the fish for identification purposes, and required weight or length verification photos.

Videos will also be accepted. Both youth and adult applications must be submitted within three months of the catch date. Anglers who obtain a new approved state record after Jan. 1, 2024, will receive a certificate, a Catch a Florida Memory decal, and custom fish metal decor courtesy of The Metal Edge.

To learn more and view current records, visit CatchaFloridaMemory.com/Records or check out the newest catches and see your achievements highlighted by following the Catch a Florida Memory Facebook page, and view angler catches and much more on Instagram by following @MyFWC and on FishBrain by following FWC Saltwater Fishing.

If you have questions about the Catch a Florida Memory program, call 850-487-0554 or email [email protected].

—It’s over, but remain vigilant—

The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially ended on Thursday, with the Florida Division of Emergency Management commemorating its expiry.

This season saw a total of 20 named systems, including Hurricane Idalia which was a high-end Category 3 storm that hit North Florida in August.

“After a very active 2023 season, and the devastating impacts from Hurricane Idalia, it is important for communities to prepare now for the 2024 season, as disasters can happen at any time,” FDEM Executive Director Kevin Guthrie said.

“As we get ready to make a plan for the next hurricane season, we would be remiss if we didn’t thank the first responders and State Emergency Response Team for their hard work during the 2023 season. It is with their dedication to the residents of Florida that we are able to respond to and recover from disasters faster than ever before.”

Hurricane season is over, but it’s never too early to prep for the next one.

Leading up to Hurricane Idalia, a state of Emergency was declared in 49 Florida counties.  Immediately after the storm made landfall, more than 500,000 meals, 400,000 one-liter bottles of water and 10,000 tarps were distributed at Point of Distribution (POD) locations by the State Emergency Response Team (SERT).

For ongoing Hurricane Idalia recovery information residents can visit FloridaDisaster.org/updates.

While the 2023 Atlantic Hurricane Season may be over, DEM says people need to remain cautious because there can be severe weather from now until April 2024. DEM issued severe weather safety tips which include:

—Preparing a disaster supply kit and heeding instructions from local officials. For tips to help you build a kit, please visit www.FloridaDisaster.org/Kit

—Making a plan  in case of a severe thunderstorm warning or tornado warning in your area.

—Knowing the difference between a severe thunderstorm watch and a severe thunderstorm warning. The former occurs when weather conditions favor thunderstorms capable of producing large hail or damaging wind. The latter means large hail or damaging wind is occurring or will occur.

—Knowing the difference between a tornado watch and warning. A tornado watch means weather conditions favor thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes. A tornado warning means a tornado is occurring or will be occurring and people need to seek shelter immediately in an interior room, away from windows.

— Knowing what to do in a flood including evacuating immediately . It’s important that people don’t drive through flooded roadways, according to state officials. If roads are flooded drivers need to turn around or they could drown.

DEM encourages all residents to have multiple ways to receive weather alerts, including local alerts in their area. Visit www.FloridaDisaster.org/AlertFlorida. For more severe weather safety tips, visit FloridaDisaster.org.

—Holiday  hours—

Take some time to celebrate with state Rep. Christine Hunschofsky next Saturday at her Holiday Office Open House event outside her district office.

Christine Hunschofsky is welcoming constituents to swing by the office next weekend. Image via Colin Hackley.

The two-hour party starts at 11 a.m. and gives constituents an opportunity to mingle with the Representative and her staff and learn about her office. There will be arts and crafts and refreshments, also.

The event is free to the public. Hunchofsky’s disrict office is located at N. 4800 W Copans Rd., Coconut Creek, 33063.

Still elite—

The third time remains the charm.

For the third time, Sachs Media has made the list of elite public relations agencies published by PR News.

PR News recently published its “Agency Elite Top 100” list for 2024 which includes the PR firm founded by Ron Sachs. Michelle Ubben is President and CEO of the Florida-based company that has offices across the nation.

Congrats to the team at Sachs Media for landing the threepeat!

Sachs Media’s earned elite status in part for building custom communications dashboards for clients to track and measure PR performance in real time. It also increased the frequency of its statewide omnibus surveys from monthly to weekly.

Other accomplishments that ensure the firm remains among the nation’s best PR agencies include a focus on employee happiness. To that end, the firm now gives extra days off and provides bonuses to its staff who volunteer their time to charitable causes.

—Sweet gig—

The Florida A&M University Concert Choir will be part of the Festival Tour of Vienna Sings 2023.

The 41-member choir, led by  Director Mark Butler, Ph.D. is scheduled to perform at the historic Melk Abbey Church, the Schonbrunn Palace, the Vienna City Festival and the Vienna Senior Living Facility.

“I think it’s a wonderful and well-deserved opportunity,” said Butler, director of choral activities and associate professor of music in the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (CSSAH). “This is one of the finest music ensembles on campus, with hard working young people who sing an extremely fine repertoire of choral literature that branches (into) so many genres and styles.”

The Florida A&M University Concert Choir is going international. Image via FAMU.

CSSAH Dean Valencia Matthews, Ph.D., and Concert Choir Accompanist Professor Joanna Sobkowska, Ph.D., joined Butler and the performers on the trip.

The invitation to Germany is bittersweet for senior vocal performance student and President of the FAMU Concert Choir Alex Williams, who was part of the choral group invited to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2020 in a show that was ultimately canceled due to the pandemic. 

“And now that we actually get to go to another country and share the gift that is the Concert Choir, is absolutely amazing,” said Williams.

The singers boarded a plane for Germany on Nov. 29 and will return next week.

—’This is our time’—

Florida State University President Richard McCullough reflected back on a year of accomplishments and outlined the university’s ambitious plans in a sweeping State of the University address this past Wednesday.

McCullough detailed the goals he presented to the Board of Trustees in September and emphasized the collective effort driving the university’s achievements before the crowd attending an FSU Faculty Senate meeting.

“The state of the university is excellent — and climbing,” he said. “We are trying to do big and bold, audacious things here at Florida State University, and we will accomplish our mission because we’re united by passion and purpose, powered by hope and optimism, and driven by a competitive spirit to achieve our greatest aspirations.”

He underscored the university’s success rates: 75% of  FSU students graduate in four years, and 96% of freshmen return for their sophomore year.

“This university has built a foundation on student success, and we will continue to invest in it,” he said, adding that such investments play a pivotal role in recruiting and retaining some of the finest young minds in America.

This year’s freshman class is among the best in FSU history, he said. The average high school GPA is a 4.3, average SAT is a 1310, and 72% of them ranked in the top 10% of their high school class.

Richard McCullough had plenty of good news to share in his State of the University address.

The university has also invested additional resources to enhance programming for first-generation students through CARE, the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement; allocated funding to increase the number of Honors students; and has grown its premier undergraduate scholarship, the Presidential Scholars Program.

He credited the faculty for their efforts to increase research expenditures to a record $400 million last year.

“This is incredible progress that the university has made, and it’s the faculty,” he said.

 McCullough also challenged faculty to set the bar even higher.

“Our research mission is incredibly important as we define and make a difference,” he said. “Research changes the world. Research drives economies and changes the way we live.”

McCullough highlighted the recent approval of a $98.4 million project by the Triumph Gulf Coast Board to establish aerospace and advanced manufacturing facilities in Northwest Florida.

“This is the kind of project that will help move FSU’s research goals forward and contribute to the economic growth of the entire region,” he said.

McCullough also celebrated success in the arts. He applauded the faculty’s commitment and outstanding quality to the arts and noted that both the film school and dance program are ranked among the top in the nation.

McCullough emphasized the importance of faculty and noted that the university had a successful hiring year that brought more than 200 new faculty members to FSU. He also acknowledged the vital support of the Governor’s office, Florida Legislature, the Florida Board of Governors and the community partners that bring to the university.

The university received record funding last Legislative Session which helped support multiple academic and capital projects, including renovations of the chemistry building and the relocation of the maintenance facility in the heart of campus.

FSU is also continuing to strengthen its relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In partnership with the Tribe, the university launched the Native American and Indigenous Studies Center, an intellectual and cultural hub for Native American and Indigenous research and artistic practice.

And, of course, the President praised FSU athletics for raising the university’s national visibility through sports and acknowledged the stellar seasons by the football, softball, volleyball and soccer teams — Go NOLES!!!

“We broke many university records. We’re dreaming big. We launched bold initiatives. And we continue to make audacious plans for the future,” he said. “And we will keep climbing. This is our time.”

—Capitol Directions—


Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — Weird poop prop aside, his debate game is getting better.

Ron DeSantis — Up arrow — He’s going to make the Chair run in less than 12 parsecs.

Christian Ziegler — Down arrow — So, how was your Thursday?

Bridget Ziegler — Down arrow — More like Moms for Libertines.

Moms for Liberty — Down arrow — We honor the fundamental right of parents to direct the moral upbringing of their children. And threesomes.

Joe Gruters — Up arrow — He looks like an angel now compared to Ziegler.

Jim Greer — Up arrow — Looking more like Tom Slade with every new chair.

Evan Power — Up arrow — Rested and ready!

Disney World Gay Days — Up arrow — Finally, an LGBT’er on the Mouse’s board! 

Matt Gaetz — Up arrow — At least he didn’t take videos.

Predictions — Up arrow — Per our earlier arrow this year, when it comes to moms, liberty or action, you can’t go wrong.

Joseph Ladapo — Down arrow — So, has that tenure review law kicked in yet?

Caroline Amesty — Down arrow — Break out the checkbook.

Jose Javier Rodriguez — Down arrow — Well, he lost by fewer than 32 votes this time.

Skylar Zander — Crossways arrow — Now that AFP is endorsing Haley, does he still get a Christmas card?

Mocking bird — Crossways arrow — You’re good for now, but Marion Hammer won’t be around forever.

Marsy’s Law — Down arrow — You can work around it with a Google search now.

Mark Wilson — Up arrow — He’s too focused on 2030 to pat himself on the back, so we’ll do it for him.

Pete Antonacci — Crossways arrow — If only he had maxed out to the Gov’s campaign.

Thomas Kennedy — Up arrow — It took a while, but a win’s a win.

FAMU football — Up arrow — They’re getting home-field advantage, now they just need to win ‘Bragg’-ing rights.

Mike Norvell — Up arrow — If you make the conference fear the spear, you win ACC coach of the year!

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

One comment

  • Michael K

    December 2, 2023 at 8:51 am

    Ron DeSantis: ruining lives for cheap political gain. This person caused no one any harm. Her fellow students support her and stand behind her. Ron thinks humiliating people shows strength – it does not. His bullying targets the most vulnerable among us just to rile up the radical MAGA base he’s courting. Why can’t we just learn to live and let live? That’s the lesson here that the students understand quite well, and the governor refuse to even consider. He seems to relish human cruelty.

Comments are closed.


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