Posts Tagged ‘Orlando’

Rick Scott yanks cop-killer case from Aramis Ayala, reassigns it

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Gov. Rick Scott has used an executive order to pull the prosecution of alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd away from Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala and to reassign it to State Attorney Brad King in Lake County.
Scott’s unprecedented move comes hours after the unprecedented announcement by Ayala that she would not prosecute death penalty charges, including in the case of Loyd, charged with killing his pregnant girlfriend Sade Dixon last December and that of Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton in January.
The move is the latest event in a day of uproar that began with reports that Ayala, a newly-elected state

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Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala vows no death penalties

Thursday, March 16th, 2017
Saying she has concluded that Florida’s capital punishment laws are unjust for all, State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Thursday she will not pursue the death penalty in any cases in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit, which includes Orlando.
The policy begins with perhaps the most-obvious and highest-profile potential death penalty case that has come along in Orlando in years, that of alleged cop-killer Markeith Loyd. She said she would prosecute him for life imprisonment for the alleged murders of his pregnant girlfriend Sade Dixon last December and that of Orlando Police Master Sergeant Debra Clayton in January.
Making her announcement on the steps

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Val Demings, Darren Soto, Stephanie Murphy submit transportation list

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017
Orlando’s three Democratic members of Congress, U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy, have sent the White House a wish list of transportation projects that include I-4, Sunrail and the Orlando International Airport.
The trio sent the list Wednesday urging the administration of President Donald Trump to push the Central Florida package because of what they described as Orlando’s unique position.
“Central Florida – in particular the greater Orlando metropolitan area – is home to numerous high-profile destinations, venues and institutions, and therefore requires a world-class transportation infrastructure network to support the safe and efficient movement of residents and

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Draft-Anna Eskamani for Orange Mayor movement draws Bob Poe backing

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
A social media campaign to draft Anna Eskamani to run for Orange County mayor is catching steam on Facebook and has convinced at least one major potential mayoral candidate to declare he won’t run because he’d rather back her – Bob Poe.
Eskamani, a 26-year-old Orlando Democrat who is director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, said Tuesday she is inspired and humbled, and is exploring the possibility of running for the top job in Orange County this year.
“I’m definitely giving it serious thought. But at the end of the day, I’m listening to the

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Darren Soto: Current GOP health care bill won’t pass

Monday, March 13th, 2017

The current bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act will never pass Congress in its current form, freshman U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat, told members of the Polk County Tiger Bay Club during a Monday lunch in Bartow.
“I believe ‘Trumpcare’ will be difficult in the House now that the joy of victory has subsided. And things in the Senate can come unraveled,” said the new congressman from Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which includes Osceola County and parts of Polk and Orange counties, during a post-luncheon interview.
“We must have a health care system other than (patients

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Federal grant to provide $8.5 million to help Pulse victims

Monday, March 13th, 2017
The U.S. Department of Justice is awarding an $8.5 million grant to help the victims of last June’s massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
The grant, to be awarded Tuesday by the Department of Justice to the Florida Office of Attorney General Pam Bondi, was announced Monday by the office of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida.
Florida will get $8,466,970 to assist survivors and victims’ families of the mass shooting, which left 49 dead and 53 wounded, as well as to help witnesses, and first responders. The Antiterrorism Emergency Assistance Program grant, administered through the DoJ’s Office for Victims of Crime,

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Orlando judge revokes bond for wife of Pulse nightclub shooter

Sunday, March 12th, 2017
A federal judge in Orlando on Friday revoked bond for the wife of the gunman responsible for the Pulse nightclub massacre, the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
U.S. District Judge Paul Byron reversed the decision of a magistrate judge in Oakland, California, last week to release Noor Salman on $500,000 bond and ordered her jailed pending trial on charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction. Acting upon a request from prosecutors, Byron said Salman hadn’t overcome a legal presumption that she was a flight risk or a danger to the community.
“Upon consideration, this court finds that no condition

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Jason Brodeur raises nearly $400K in 2020 Florida Senate bid, then gives $165K back

Friday, March 10th, 2017
Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur had a very, very good fundraising month in February in his campaign for Florida Senate District 9 in the 2020 reelection, raising nearly $88,000 in his campaign account and another $318,000 in his independent political committee – but then gave much of it back.
“We worked real, real hard,” Brodeur, of Sanford, stated in comments to FloridaPolitics.com, adding that his PAC, Friends of Jason Brodeur, is going to report in April that it raised another $100,000 in the first few days of March before the Legislative Session started and shut down all fundraising.
However, a big

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Space Florida approves loan to get OneWeb factory under construction

Friday, March 10th, 2017
With a $17.5 million, third-party loan arranged and approved Friday by Space Florida, OneWeb expects to begin construction of its satellite factory next week outside the gates of Kennedy Space Center.
OneWeb already had received approval for a $17.5 million package of state incentives through the Florida Department of Transportation in a deal SpaceFlorida worked out last year. The loan, through SunTrust Bank, approved Friday by the SpaceFlorida Board of Directors, expedites the flow of that money to get construction started, while OneWeb and its partners, principally Airbus, work through some corporate arrangements on longterm financing.
The company is committed to building

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Central Florida Expressway Authority to look closely at Split Oak Park highway proposal

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Plans to push an extension of the Osceola County Parkway through an environmentally-sensitive Split Oak Forest Park are not yet the concern of the Central Florida Expressway Authority but they soon will be and that agency’s leaders promised worried environmentalists Thursday that they will look closely at it.
“We’re going to engage the environmental community, all of the stakeholders … to be a part of the process,” vowed CFX Executive Director Laura Kelley.
Kelley was responding to a wave of opposition that earlier this week washed over the Orange County Board of County Commissioners, another agency with limited or no jurisdiction

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Brevard County wins twice in pursuit of place on expressway board

Thursday, March 9th, 2017
Brevard County’s push to get onto the Central Florida Expressway Authority Board won almost simultaneous victories Thursday in a Florida House panel and the expressway authority’s board itself.
The effort is being spearheaded by state Rep. Tom Goodson, a Merritt Island Republican whose House Bill 299 would create a 10th seat on the expressway board and reserve it for a Brevard County representative.
On Thursday that bill swiftly and unanimously cleared the House Government Accountability Committee with no discussion and no debate. It’s the second House committee the bill has cleared. A companion bill, state Sen. Debbie Mayfield‘s Senate Bill 720, awaits two

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Bill to name state road Arnold Palmer Expressway clears senate

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
The Florida Senate passed a bill to rename a section of State Road 408 in honor of Arnold Palmer Wednesday.
SB 480, sponsored by Altamonte Springs Republican Sen. David Simmons, earned unanimous approval in the floor vote, as well as its lone committee stop in the Senate Transportation Committee.
In addition to renaming the state highway in honor of the golf legend, the bill contains a $1,000 appropriation for the Department of Transportation to place markers designating the “Arnold Palmer Expressway.”
The bill’s House companion, HB 225 by Orlando Republican Rep. Mike Miller, has already worked its way through two committees with

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Carlos Smith, Jeff Clemens introduce decriminalize pot bills

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Lake Worth Democratic state Sen. Jeff Clemens want people to stop going to jail or prison for possessing small amounts of marijuana.
The pair of lawmakers introduced bills this week that would make possession of one ounce or less of cannabis – described as a “personal use quantity” to be a civil violation, rather than a misdemeanor. Punishment would come in the form of fines and community service, rather than jail time.
Smith filed House Bill 1443 and Clemens Senate Bill 1662.
Unlike a similar ordinance enacted by Orlando last summer, in these bills

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NASA’s $19.5B plan headed for Donald Trump’s desk

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
President Donald Trump will get his first chance to signal his vision for space now that both houses of Congress have approved a $19.5 billion bill cosponsored by both Florida senators to continue NASA’s programs.
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved the one-year spending plan late Tuesday, calling for continued support for commercial space companies launching from Kennedy Space Center, continued support for the International Space Station and the first steps in NASA’s planned Journey to Mars.
The U.S. Senate approved the Senate Bill 442 in February, creating the prospect that a NASA budget could be approved and signed for the

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Planned Osceola Parkway extension through park draws fire in Orange meeting

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Osceola County Expressway Authority plans to run a new highway through an Orange County nature park drew strong fire Tuesday at the Orange County Board of Commissioners meeting, but Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the commissioners were uncertain they could do anything about it.
Several dozen people came to the meeting to appeal to Jacobs and the commissioners to take a stand against the expressway authority’s planned route for an eastward extension of the Osceola Parkway, a multi-lane, divided, limited-access tollroad, because those plans now call for it to enter south Orange County for a few miles and then cut through

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Protests at Marco Rubio’s office say focus is on access, not booting him

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lost leases on his offices in Tampa and Jacksonville in part because of landlord’s impatience with the incessant barrage of protests out front.
Is Orlando next?
The plaza in front of the downtown Orlando office building housing Rubio’s Central Florida office was the site of another protest Tuesday, as it has been almost every Tuesday this year.
This time, it was For Our Future and other groups pressing a combination of state, local and federal liberal causes as part of the statewide Awake The State rallies.
The building itself was occupied by protesters for most of a day and

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Emily Bonilla clashes with other Orange commissioners over parks appointee

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
New Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla has to be getting used to being a kicked-around rookie on the Board of Commissioners, especially as an outspoken Democrat on a Republican-dominated panel, but Tuesday she got taken down by all of her fellow commissioners.
“I feel it is pretty disrespectful,” Bonilla told them during Tuesday’s meeting, after none of the other six members, including Mayor Teresa Jacobs, agreed to second her nomination of her trusted advisor to the county’s 11-member Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.
That brought strong retorts from others, including Democrat Commissioner Victoria Siplin, who insisted she meant no disrespect but

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Rick Scott criticized for not mentioning LGBT community in State of State

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Advocates blasted Gov. Rick Scott for failing to mention the LGBT community in his State of the State address, despite dedicating a significant portion of his comments on the June shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“We heard about the horror that our state has experienced; we heard about the heroism from first responders and ordinary Floridians; and we heard about the pain of the families who lost loved ones,” said Hannah Willard, the public policy director for Equality Florida, during a press conference after Scott’s State of the State address.
“What we didn’t hear was any mention of the

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For 1st time, Casey Anthony speaks about case

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
Casey Anthony knows that much of the world believes she killed her 2-year-old daughter, despite her acquittal. But nearly nine years later, she insists she doesn’t know how the last hours of Caylee’s life unfolded.
“Caylee would be 12 right now. And would be a total badass,” she told The Associated Press in one of a series of exclusive interviews. “I’d like to think she’d be listening to classic rock, playing sports” and putting up with no nonsense.
But discussing Caylee’s last moments, the 30-year-old Anthony spoke in halting, sober tones: “I’m still not even certain as I stand here today about

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Victor Torres seeks to save call-center jobs

Monday, March 6th, 2017
State Sen. Victor Torres has introduced a bill to force call center operators to give extended notices if they intend to shut down or move call-center jobs out of state or overseas.
The Orlando Democrat filed Senate Bill 1632 to require call centers that reduce their staffs by more than 30 days relocate outside of Florida to give notice to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation 120 days in advance.
It also requires the department to establish an inventory list of call centers and numbers of employees, and create financial penalties for companies not in compliance with notification requirements.

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Fourth Democrat, Nicolette Springer, enters Orange County commission race

Monday, March 6th, 2017
A fourth candidate has filed to run for the Orange County Commission’s District 4, with the entry of Lake Nona criminologist Nicolette Springer.
Springer, 39, a Democrat, is running for the southeast Orange County district seat being vacated in 2018 by Republican Commissioner Jennifer Thompson, who is term-limted.
She joins three other Orlando Democrats who already have filed in the race: Kevin Lance Ballinger, 57; Maribel Gomez Cordero, 50; and Priscilla Velazquez.
Springer is a wife, mother, professor, and social scientist with a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from UCF, and is a criminologist with a specialty in mental health and substance

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Donald Trump meets with 4th graders, private school leaders in Orlando

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
[The following is drawn from pool reports provided by Ted Mann, reporter for The Wall Street Journal.]
Accompanied by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and others, President Donald Trump dropped in on a Catholic school 4th-grade class the met with Orlando Diocese leaders Friday to talk about school choice.
With the 4th grade class of Jane Jones at St. Andrew Catholic School, Trump, who also was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, heard the students declare they were “scholars” and would be going to college and heaven.
St. Andrew is located in the

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Judge says Pulse gunman’s wife should stay in jail, for now

Friday, March 3rd, 2017
The wife of the Orlando, Florida, nightclub shooter must remain in jail, at least for the time being, a federal judge in Florida ruled Thursday, a day after a magistrate judge in California said she could be released.
U.S. District Judge Paul Byron in Orlando issued an order saying Noor Salman should stay in jail while he decides if she should be detained or released pending her trial on charges that she helped her husband scout out potential targets and created a cover story for him.
A day earlier, a federal magistrate judge in Oakland, California, ordered Salman’s release as early as Friday, saying it’s

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This time, David Smith feels fully prepared as he seeks House District 28

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
David Smith does his homework; anyone who’s ever worked with him knows that.
So as the former Marine colonel who now is a business consultant enters his 21-month race for Florida House District 28, the Winter Springs Republican is coming more prepared than he was in his humbling loss in his last attempt at public office, his 2014 primary challenge to then U.S. Rep. John Mica, until it was too late.
Even early on in that 2014 race – which he lost by more than 50 points – Smith was fully up on the the district’s demographic trends, its voting history,

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Darren Soto to file Zika bill

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto is introducing a bill that would extend funding to fight the Zika virus through the year 2023 and expand a local mosquito-control grant program to address other infectious mosquito-bourne diseases.
Soto, an Orlando Democrat, is expecting to file his bill today, dubbing it the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act” or SMASH Act.
“During the recent outbreak of Zika, instead of strengthening this program, Congress decided to provide money solely for mosquito control to combat Zika. When that money runs out, that’s it,” Soto stated in a news release issued by his office. “Instead

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Stephanie Murphy declares support for Puerto Rico to become state

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy declared on the floor of Congress Thursday morning that she would like to see Puerto Rico become America’s 51st state.
The Democrat from Winter Park represents a district, Florida’s 7th Congressional District, with a large Puerto Rican population.
In her speech, the freshman congresswoman said the decision ultimately needs to be up to the resident of the island territory, but that she hopes they chose statehood. Residents there will get that chance in a referendum scheduled for this June.
Her remarks came on the 100th anniversary of when Puerto Rican residents were granted U.S. Citizenship. However, it is

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Judge: Casey Anthony may have accidentally killed daughter

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
The judge who presided over Casey Anthony‘s murder trial says the Florida mother may have killed her 2-year-old daughter by accident.
Anthony may have been trying to quiet the child, Caylee, with chloroform and accidentally used too much, former Circuit Judge Belvin Perry Jr. said Wednesday in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.
“There was a possibility that she may have utilized that to keep the baby quiet … and just used too much of it, and the baby died,” he said.
Perry said it’s a theory and if jurors in Anthony’s 2011 trial had come to that conclusion, they might have convicted her of

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Augustus Invictus accuses Libertarian Party chairman, vows challenge

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017
Former Libertarian Party U.S. Senate candidate Augustus Sol Invictus is accusing his national party chairman of collaborating with communists and vowing to challenge him at the party’s national conference in Pennsylvania in April.
Invictus, an Orlando lawyer, was a candidate who made the party nervous from his announced candidacy until he was defeated in a primary in August. A self-avowed nationalist, he’s openly admitted to pagan rituals such as drinking goats blood, to multiple LSD uses, and to homicidal fantasies, and has advocated ideas that many critics characterized as neo-Nazi and anarchist.
But he’s not going away.
In an open letter he

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Linda Stewart, Amy Mercado introduce bills to protect bears, their food and habitat

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017
As state Rep. Amy Mercado declared Florida’s now annual black bear hunt as a “slaughter,” she and fellow Orlando Democrat state Sen. Linda Stewart laid out their bills Wednesday to ban the hunts for 10 years and take steps to keep bears happy enough in the forests to stop raiding neighborhoods.
“The bears, we’ve encroached on their homes. They were here first. And a slaughter of the bears is unacceptable,” Mercado said.
Her House Bill 491 and Stewart’s Senate Bill 1304 would call on the state to stop the harvest of the bears’ primary food before they go into winter denning

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Robert Bigelow tweets he wants his space stations in lunar orbit

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

If SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is preparing to send civilian space-tourist astronauts around the moon by the end of 2018, how about having a place they can stop while they’re there? Take pictures? Buy souvenirs? Relax with some Tang?
Another New Space billionaire entrepreneur is launching that proposition, or something like it, Wednesday.
Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow‘s company makes in-space habitats. One is now attached to the International Space Station and he and his company are developing permanent, stand-alone habitats to serve as private space stations in orbit around the Earth, ready to house private astronauts.
As NASA tries to

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