Posts Tagged ‘University of Florida’

Broward Health’s new policy: You want public records? Pay me

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

By Dan Christensen
Rocked by scandal and run by leaders under criminal indictment for violating Florida’s Sunshine Law, Broward Health is now moving aggressively to choke off disclosure of potentially embarrassing public records.
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Far right uses Fla. stand-your-ground law to recruit for white supremacist rally at UF

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

By Noreen Marcus
After lengthy negotiations, white supremacist Richard Spencer will speak at the university’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts on Oct. 19. The date, finalized this week, was reported by a counter-protest group that is organizing online and acknowledged by Spencer’s lawyer.
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House bill advances to give University of Florida $2.5M for medical marijuana study

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The University of Florida would get about $2.5 million to study the effectiveness of medical marijuana under a bill that cleared the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday.
HB 3159 by Cape Coral Republican Rep. Dane Eagle is aimed at the compassionate use bill lawmakers approved in 2014, which legalized low-THC, high-cannabidiol marijuana for the treatment of some diseases, such as epilepsy in children.
A similar, $1 million UF study was approved by the legislature back in 2015, with that money heading to a pediatric neurology lab.
Eagle’s budget request form for the bill lists UF Pharmacy professor Almut Winterstein as the requester. According to the document, about $1.2 million of the money will go to salaries and $654,000 for contracted services with most of the rest going toward data storage and travel expenses.
Since the 2014 law, the Legislature has approved full-THC marijuana for terminally ill patients and Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana for many other non-terminal medical conditions.
Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell said Eagle’s bill was a “key component” of the legislation lawmakers need to pass in order to put that constitutional amendment into action.
HB 3159 now moves on to the full Appropriations Committee, its final stop before it’s ready for a floor vote in the House.
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Florida consumer sentiment in February drops from record high

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

After three months of positive gains, consumer sentiment among Floridians fell 3.3 points in February to 94.0, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.
The pattern in Florida is similar to consumer sentiment at the national level, which also dropped 2.2 points in February to 96.3 from January’s record 98.5 according to the University of Michigan’s survey of consumers.
“While readings about current economic conditions increased slightly, expectations for the future decreased sharply among Floridians in February,” said Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
Floridians’ perceptions of their personal financial situation now compared with a year ago ticked up six-tenths of a point this month, from 87.7 to 88.3. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance inched up seven-tenths of a point, from 100.7 to 101.4.
“The increase in these two components reflects that current economic conditions have improved in general among Floridians. These perceptions are particularly strong among men, those 60 and older and those with income levels over $50,000,” Sandoval said.
However, all three components that ask about future economic conditions showed a marked decrease. Expectations of personal finances a year from now showed the greatest decline in this month’s reading, dropping 6.6 points from 106.0 to 99.4.
Opinions about the national economy were also negative: Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 5.2 points, from 96.8 to 91.6. Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next five years fell from 95.1 to 89.3, a 5.8-point drop.
“Expectations about future economic conditions increased between November and December of last year, but have declined since then. Floridians are pessimistic about their future personal finances independent of their socioeconomic and demographic status. The greatest declines in perceptions about the national economy

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Higher education budget chair favors vocational training as voting begins

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee OK’d eight member requests for state funds Wednesday, including programs boosting technical training for people not headed to college and a veterinary lab at the University of Florida.
As did chairmen of other budget panels reviewing member projects (see here and here), Larry Ahern of the higher ed panel warned members that their votes merely rendered the projects eligible for inclusion in the House version of the appropriations act.
It did not guarantee them a place in that bill.
“Let me be clear that a vote for a project today does not mean that project will ultimately be funded at that level or even in the House bill. This is just the next step in the process of developing our budget,” the Seminole Republican said.
Which bills have the best chance of making the cut?
“A compelling state interest is one of the big ones. Is it something that’s already being done somewhere else?” he said. “Ultimately, is this even the right place in the budget for some of these projects?”
Ahern is particularly interested in vocational projects — apprenticeships, internships, other forms of nonacademic training.
“I find those very attractive because of their ability for those not going to college or a university to have a career path that pays a better-than-average wage,” Ahern said.
For example, the panel approved $200,000 for a partnership with car dealers to train young people for relatively high-paying jobs in auto shops. The bill is HB 2235.
(Here’s the background on the bills debated.)
“There is a demand for those jobs, but they’re not able to train enough young adults to fill these jobs,” Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., said.
HB 2237 would provide $300,000 to buy a 3D printer for Daytona State College, to train young people for associate of science degrees in “additive manufacturing” — an emerging

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In mock court, UF law students argue case echoing infamous FSU ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuit

Friday, February 17th, 2017

The black-robed justices who filed solemnly into a courtroom at the University of Florida law school Thursday morning were not the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, but they were announced as if they were.
“All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the court is now sitting,” a bailiff boomed out as students, law professors and attorneys with Holland & Knight — the law firm that sponsored the event — stood respectfully.
But when Florida’s chief justice, Jorge Labarga, took a seat behind the long desk at the front of the room, along with four of his colleagues from the state’s high court, and said, “I’m actually Justice Roberts” — referring to the chief justice of the nation’s high court — laughter and applause erupted throughout the room.
Ignoring the outburst, Labarga continued. “We’re here today to decide over … ah, the case of …” he flipped through a file before him, “Chilton State University and Jane Doe.”
Over the more than two hours that followed, two law students representing that fictional university and two students representing a fictional female student presented arguments explaining why the university had, or did not have, responsibility under the federal law known as Title IX to investigate her allegations that she was raped at an off-campus event by a male student who had a leadership role at the university that they both attended.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The law also addresses sexual harassment and rape of students.
In the fictional case presented at UF’s 33rd Annual Raymer F. Maguire Appellate Advocacy Competition, events, characters, circumstances and questions of law — discussed by the students and the justices — sounded strikingly

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Florida consumer sentiment continues upward climb

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Consumer sentiment among Floridians in January ticked up another one-half point to 97.8 — the highest reading since March 2002 — from December’s record-breaking revised figure of 97.3, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.
Florida’s upward trend also tracks the national figures released last week by the University of Michigan, with the national consumer sentiment index at the highest level since February 2004.
Of the five components that make up the Florida index, three increased and two decreased.
Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago showed the greatest increase, rising 5.4 points from 82.8 to 88.2. With the exception of those 60 and older, this view is shared by all Floridians.
Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket household item such as an appliance increased slightly from 101.2 to 102.3.
“Perceptions of current conditions improved among Floridians in the last month as a result of the positive economic picture that prevailed in the state during the last year,” said Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “Floridians are optimistic about their own finances. The recent surge in the level of confidence comes from perceptions and expectations about Floridians’ individual financial situations.”
Expectations of personal finances a year from now rose 2.5 points, from 103.9 to 106.4. However, views on the future of the national economy were gloomier: Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year dropped 3.3 points, from 99.9 to 96.6, while anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next five years decreased 2.7 points from 98.5 to 95.8.
Economic data in Florida continue to be generally positive. Although the December unemployment rate in Florida remained at 4.9 percent, the number of jobs added last year statewide was 251,400—a 3.1 percent increase compared

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Florida consumer sentiment soars amid holiday shopping, improved state economy

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Consumer sentiment among Floridians surged up 6.9 points in December to 97.2, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey. This is the highest reading since March 2015 and the second-highest since February 2004—before the Great Recession of 2008.
All five of the components that make up the index increased.
Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago rose 1.4 points, from 81.5 to 82.9. Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a big-ticket item such as an appliance jumped 8.2 points, from 92.6 to 100.8, with a particularly sharp increase among those 60 and older.
“Perceptions of present conditions have largely improved as a result of the buying conditions in the holiday shopping season in conjunction with the strength of the state’s economy,” said Hector Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.
The future also looks bright to survey participants: Expectations of personal finances a year from now rose 2.9 points to 104.4. Expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased 11.6 points, from 88.1 to 99.7, and expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years rose 10.2 points, from 87.9 to 98.1.
“Overall, Floridians are far more optimistic this month,” Sandoval said. “The gain in December’s sentiment reading comes mainly from consumers’ future expectations about the economy, independent of their demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status. These are very positive signs, which provide great conditions for the upcoming change in federal government.”
The Florida unemployment rate ticked up one-tenth of a point to 4.9 percent in November. As 2016 ends, the Florida labor market is in its best shape since the Great Recession with sustained job gains over the last years. Compared with last year, the number of jobs added in November statewide increased

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Tom Rooney blasts Weather Channel documentary: Lake O is not ‘toxic’

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

A recent Weather Channel documentary alleging Lake Okeechobee “pollution” drew a storm of controversy among Florida scientists, farmers – and at least one U.S. Congressman.
“Toxic Lake: The Untold Story of Lake Okeechobee,” an online video posted last week, gives what many call an extremely inaccurate and incomplete picture of the environmental circumstances surrounding Lake O. The nearly 11-minute video places much of the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of Florida’s sugar industry.
In the video, Weather Channel reporter Kait Parker claims she spent eight months researching the issue, concluding Lake O is “toxic” due to a “man-made calamity.” She then attributes much of this past summer’s algal bloom along the Treasure Coast to releases from the lake.
Parker also blames the phosphorus load for feeding algae blooms, an allegation directly contrary to findings in scientific research conducted by both the University of Florida and South Florida Water Management District.
In fact, scientists learned that much of the nutrient entering the St. Lucie waterway – resulting in last summer’s catastrophic algae blooms – came not from Lake O, but from the watersheds of coastal counties. Indeed, many people in in the area around and to the south of Lake Okeechobee insist the water is not only safe, but it is used frequently in homes, businesses and schools throughout the region.
One of those most bothered by the Weather Channel claims is Republican Congressman Tom Rooney.
In response to the video, Rooney, who represents parts of Lake O in Florida’s 17th Congressional District, drafted a letter Wednesday to The Weather Channel, Inc. CEO Cameron Clayton, looking to set the record straight on “Toxic Lake.”
“While I’m pleased that the Weather Channel is drawing more attention to the struggles surrounding the Lake,” Rooney writes, “I strongly disagree with their one-sided reporting on this complicated and years-long issue.”
Rooney says Lake Okeechobee

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Payroll data show gulf in pay between men and women at UF

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

New payroll data show that only eight women are among the top 100 highest-paid faculty members at the University of Florida.
The Independent Florida Alligator reports that the top woman earner at Florida earned $524,450 and the top male $984,759. Of the top 20 highest paid faculty, one is a woman.
Dr. Shahla Masood, a professor at the College of Medicine, is the fourth-highest paid female faculty member. She told the paper that several factors contribute, including that some female faculty members are fearful of speaking up and being ignored, criticized or retaliated against.
Florida State University in Tallahassee did better, boasting 26 women in the top 100 earners there.
UF spokeswoman Margot Winick says the administration is aware of the disparity and working to recruit a more diverse faculty.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.
The post Payroll data show gulf in pay between men and women at UF appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Florida vs. Miami a possible matchup for TaxSlayer Bowl

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

Jacksonville’s TaxSlayer Bowl will announce its teams on Sunday. And there is a strong chance the matchup could have a Sunshine State feel.
The bowl will select one Atlantic Coast Conference team and one Southeastern Conference team.
The four ACC options: Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
The four SEC options: Kentucky, Auburn, Florida, and Arkansas.
Of those options, the most compelling matchup would be a rekindling of the Gators/Hurricanes rivalry, which was a perennial from 1938 to 1987, before the University of Florida backed down from being thrashed by the Miami juggernaut of the 1980s.
The rivalry went dark until 2001, and has been peripatetic since.
The last game between Florida and Miami was in 2013; the Hurricanes won a home tilt 21-16.
The TaxSlayer Bowl is on New Year’s Eve, at the ungodly hour of 11 a.m.
Despite the start time, the game is a decent draw. Georgia/Penn State drew over 58,000 last year, in a stadium that holds nearly 10,000 more.

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Florence Snyder: On Veterans Day, a Valentine to UF’s bug-busters

Friday, November 11th, 2016

The bad news is that a variety of bed bug not seen in Florida in 60 years is back. The good news is that the University of Florida is on the case.
Like its cousin the “common bedbug,” the tropical bed bug under investigation by UF researchers will drain your blood and your bank account. The difference is, the tropical bed bug can do it faster.
Doctoral candidate Brittany Campbell and her colleagues at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have taken to the peer-reviewed journals and any news organizations which will listen to spread the scary news about the return of a nasty brand of bedbug that could “….. develop more quickly, possibly cause an infestation problem sooner, and also could spread more rapidly.”
Like Zika, the story starts small. Patient Zero is a family in Merritt Island whose home was overrun in 2015. UF’s entomologists can’t pinpoint the bedbugs’ point of entry, but the list of suspects includes nearby Port Canaveral. Ports are great engines of globalization, and, since ancient times, a great way to spread all manner of pestilence.
The creepy crawlies are formidable opponents, but we rarely think of them until they are, literally, sucking our blood.  Previous generations have fought back with high-powered pesticides.  It seemed like a good idea, until the cancers and birth defects began to show up.
This Veterans Day weekend, UF researchers are in their labs, looking for safer weapons of war against bedbugs, mosquitoes, and fellow-traveling forms of vermin. Let’s thank them for their service.
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Airbnb hosts in Tallahassee, Gainesville score during football season

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Airbnb scored a touchdown in Florida college towns this football season.
A new report from the home-sharing company showed the hundreds of Airbnb listings in Tallahassee and Gainesville “substantially increased the cities’ lodging capacity for football games,” allowing both communities to host more visitors during home games.
And a boost in lodging options means football travelers are more likely to stay for the whole weekend, driving up spending on foods, beverages and shopping.
According to the Airbnb report, Gainesville’s host community earned $362,000 in supplemental income when the Gators played at home. About 53 percent of the host community in Gator country rents out an extra room in their home.
The biggest weekend for Gainesville hosts? Homecoming weekend when the Gators hosted the University of Missouri. Gainesville hosts made $102,898 during the weekend. And, in case you were wondering, the Gators beat Mizzou, 40-14.
About 45 percent of the Tallahassee Airbnb host community rents out an extra room in their home. The Tallahassee host community has earned $211,000 in supplemental income when the Seminoles play at home.
The best weekend for Tallahassee hosts was the weekend the Seminoles hosted Clemson. Tallahassee host made $78,467, which likely helped soften the blow of a Clemson win.
“We like to provide our Seminole boosters the best game day experience possible,” said Caroline Conway, the director of communications for Seminole Boosters. “From tailgating to tickets to lodging it’s important for our members to have options that (suit) their needs, and Airbnb has done just that. They have added lodging options for our Booster members in Tallahassee and on the Road.”
In July, the Tallahassee City Commission voted to repeal the city-wide business license tax. That decision, according to the report, removed a barrier for residents interested in sharing their homes through the home-sharing app.
Airbnb is working to secure tax agreements with 36

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Consumer sentiment ticked up in September

Friday, September 30th, 2016

Consumer sentiment took an upward turn in September.
The latest University of Florida consumer survey found consumer sentiment among Floridians was up 2.8 points in September. The report found four of the five components increased in September, while on remained unchanged.
The report found perceptions about a person’s financial situation climbed 3.2 points from a year ago, up from 77.3 to 80.5; while opinions about whether to buy a big-ticket item are up 4.2 points. Those two components, researchers said, indicate Floridians of the economy improved in September.
Those increase are driven by Floridians over the age of 60, said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, in a statement. However, Sandoval said “in general, Floridians expressed more positive views compared with last month’s index score.”
The state’s economy grew in August, but there appear to be concerns about the quality of the new jobs. Sandoval said more Floridians are in “lower paying jobs compared with pre-recession levels.”
“Adding more low-wage and low-skill jobs does not directly translate into a higher standard of living for Florida workers,” he said.
The report also noted the political climate could be impacting Florida consumers.
“It’s not unusual to see politics creep into the consumer sentiment index during a presidential election, particularly in the expectations of U.S. economic conditions,” said Chris McCarty, director of the Bureau of Economic and Business Research, in a statement. “The contrast between the candidates’ approach to the economy is as stark a contrast as any election in recent memory. While the polls show a tight race, this may ultimately bode well for (Hillary) Clinton in Florida.”

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Study: Florida could have 33 million residents by 2070

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Florida could grow to more than 33 million residents by 2070, and the percentage of the state that is developed could jump from less than 20 percent to 33 percent, according to a new study presented Wednesday.
Florida’s population would expand by 15 million people from 2010 to 2070 if growth trends continue, according to the study conducted by the University of Florida’s GeoPlan Center for the smart-growth advocacy group, 1000 Friends of Florida, and the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.
The number of acres of developed land would jump from 6.4 million to 11.6 million during that same period, the study concluded.
The state currently has around 20 million residents, making it the third-most populous state in the nation.
The study proposes managing the growth by focusing on higher population density, filling in empty spaces in urban areas rather than building outside urban areas and adding more conservation lands to the state. Under these alternative growth recommendations, the amount of developed land would only increase to 9.7 million acres.
Although Florida’s predicted population growth is slightly smaller than it was a decade ago, the study’s authors said the 15 million additional residents will affect Florida’s quality of life and environment as almost 5 million more acres is used to build neighborhoods, office complexes and school campuses.
“Can we do better? Yes. We believe that is possible,” said Margaret Carr, a University of Florida professor and one of the authors of the study.
The study’s authors say almost 2 million acres could be spared from development if the population density for future projects increases by 20 percent and if redevelopment in urban areas takes precedence over building in undeveloped areas. If development occurs in new areas, priority should be given to areas next to existing communities and infrastructure, the study said.
Vivian Young, communications director for

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College students avoid voting booths like the library on a Saturday night

Monday, September 12th, 2016

College students demonstrated it again in last week’s primary election: they don’t vote, at least not in primary elections.
As first reported by Orlando Sentinel columnist Beth Kassab over the weekend, University of Central Florida’s on-campus students gave a dismal turnout, 4.3 percent, the worst in Orange County.
Kassab noted even worse turnouts were seen among students at the University of Florida and Florida State University. Her conclusion was clear: it’s a statewide phenomenon.
It’s not just that the UCF on-campus Precinct 538 was the worst in Orange County. Nearby precincts 506, 537, and 435 also were among the worst, salted among a few other low-turnout areas scattered around Orange County including the Deseret Ranches area in far southeast Orange, pockets in Orlando’s west side, and the tourist areas of Lake Bryan and Millenia, each with fewer than 10 percent of registered voters casting ballots.
By contrast, the precincts in and around Winter Park and Maitland, as well as the area of south Downtown Orlando, College Park, and the city of Belle Isles, all saw voter turnouts in excess of 30 percent. All of those areas are predominantly high-income, professional, and white.
In Orlando, the UCF area factors big into the plans for Democrats set in tight races and hoping to flip seats now held by Republicans. Those Democrats are counting on appealing to the young voters there, who offer a large number of the registered Democrats in their districts.
Democrat Stephanie Murphy needs a big push there if she is to seriously challenge incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Former state Rep. Linda Stewart needs the Democratic-rich student votes in her bid to win Florida Senate District 13, now held by Republicans, by defeating Dean Asher. Carlos Guillermo Smith needs less of a turnout, since he has no Republican opponent in House District

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Diane Roberts: Marcocito, Secret Service code names and the Gators

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

Near the end of the latest televised dork parade billed as a “Republican Debate,” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked each candidate what her or his Secret Service code name should be.
“Secretariat,” whinnied Carly Fiorina.
“Humble,” hollered Donald Trump.
“Gator!” said Marco Rubio.
Sigh. Marcocito received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida after a year at the obscure (and now-defunct) Tarkio College in Missouri, and another year at community college. The miasma from the Swamp seems to have affected his brain.
So he gets on a sports radio show the other day, acting all football-studly, gratuitously dissing Florida State University as an institution for “people that can’t get into Florida.”
The Florida State University (the “The” is critical) President John Thrasher, late of the Florida Legislature, responded, “He’s a nice kid,” then sympathized with Rubio’s rock-bottom poll position, calling it “a reflection of where he got his education.”
Marco Rubio actually played football at South Miami High. But he’s not as sharp in the pocket as he used to be. In Iowa for the state fair, he threw a pass and hit a kid in the face.
This guy wants to be president of the United States.
Now back to the deep weirdness of tangling up college football’s splendidly irrational hatreds with the splendidly irrational hatreds in politics. Marcocito is actually correct that UF outranks FSU academically: The latest US News and World Report puts Florida at #47, tied with Penn State. And Lehigh. Florida State comes in at #96, tied with the University of Alabama.
But, as coach says on “College Game Day,” not so fast, my friend! Marcocito got his JD from Miami. Maybe he couldn’t get into the law schools at FSU or UF, both of which are ranked about 20 places higher than the U’s.
Stick that in your beak and whistle the Fight Song, Sebastian.

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