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Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Ways to Connect

Bobbie O'Brien

Republican National Convention organizers have felt the sting of criticism that previous conventions didn’t benefit most small businesses when the big political party came to town.

The Tampa Bay Host Committee has been working to change that perception holding seminars and setting up an online Small Business Directory to help small businesses get their piece of the pie.

Sporting an impeccable coiffure and fashionable earrings, hair stylist Jessica Wilson signed up for the Host Committee’s workshop on how to build your customer base using Facebook.

Over the next two days, MacDill Air Force Base will serve as the transfer point for two Tampa Bay Area fallen soldiers killed in a bomb blast two Sundays ago in Afghanistan.

Arriving Today

The transfer for Army Staff Sgt. Ricardo Seija is scheduled today, Tuesday at 11 a.m. under the care of the Air Force 6th Air Mobility Wing and with Seija's family on the flightline to welcome him home.

Just as Florida leaders ramp up state efforts to woo business and industry leaders during the Republican National Convention,  the state’s desirability for doing business has dropped dramatically according to a new poll.

The CNBC America’s Top States for Business Study in 2012 ranks Florida 29th out of 50 among business friendly states. That is a plunge of 11 spots. Florida ranked 18th  in 2011 CNBC study.

Just weeks before Clarence Williams III, 23, was scheduled to return from Afghanistan, the Brooksville soldier was killed by an explosive device that also took the life of a man who graduated from a Tampa high school.

Williams' sister, Abrill Edwards, told the Tampa Bay Times that she talked with her brother on Sunday, the day he was killed. She said her brother read the Bible daily and confirmed he was due to come home in two or three weeks.

Bay Pines VA

A recent report from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General finds that Bay Pines VA Health System in Bay Pines, Florida failed to provide adequate follow-up care for veterans considered at high risk for suicide.

There's more emphasis being placed on suicide prevention and follow-up care because of the increased rate of suicide among veterans and active duty service members.

Military Order of the Purple Heart

This year, lawmakers gave Florida’s chief judges the power to set up a “Veterans Docket” for military members and veterans in minor legal trouble. Retired Army Reserve Brigadier General and Okaloosa County Judge T. Patt Maney advocated for the idea.

FBI.gov

Federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with laundering millions of dollars stolen from the Medicare program and funneling the money into Cuban banks. According to a Miami Herald report, this is the first time the Medicare money laundering scheme has been directly linked to Cuban banks.

Bobbie O'Brien

Jurors will resume their deliberations over the fate of famed pitcher Roger Clemens this morning. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner  is on trial for perjury after his denials to Congress that he used steroids or human growth hormone.

Clemens’ legal saga has gone on for more than four years including one mistrial. It’s changed the public image of the veteran ball player, but it’s also drawn his family closer together. During closing arguments Tuesday, Clemens’ four sons sat behind him in the courtroom.

MilitaryFactory.com

Forged from the steel of the World Trade Center, the USS New York will make Florida's Naval Station Mayport its home port sooner than expected.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced Friday that the USS New York  is scheduled to move from its current home port in Norfolk, VA in the last quarter of 2013. That's ahead of schedule by more than a year. The USS Iwo Jima and the USS Fort McHenry will follow in 2014.

Florida Government

Florida's Secretary of State is suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for refusing access to a federal database containing information about citizenship.

The State of Florida wants to use the federal database to verify the citizenship of Florida voters and purge non-citizens who may be registered illegally. But, the federal government has said the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program) database is not comprehensive and lists mostly green-card holders and naturalized citizens.

Purple Strategies

Mitt Romney has taken the lead in Florida and Ohio according to  a new poll of swing states from Purple Strategies. A Sayfie Review exclusive shows Romney with 49 percent vs. Obama with 45 percent among Florida voters.

But, President Barack Obama still leads overall  by 2 percent in the Purple Poll. That's down from the April Purple Strategies survey.

Bobbie O'Brien

On Tuesday, 74 war veterans and their guardians will lift off from the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport headed to the nation's capital. It's called an "Honor Flight" and it's designed to give veterans a day in Washington DC to visit the memorials.

World War II Veteran and retired Circuit Judge John P. “Jack” Griffin and his son, Tampa attorney Chris Griffin, will be on that plane.

What is the fate of women in Egypt after the revolution? That is the question former WUSF intern Carmel Delshad tried to answer in her award-winning,  interactive project, I Marched Along.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF

Florida Democrats met in Tampa this weekend to elect delegates for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. The political column, The Buzz, characterized the gathering as “sad – given the state of the party in Florida these days.”

Yet, several of the more seasoned party leaders are optimistic about the upcoming elections.

“I think Democrats are going to have a lot of good young people who are going to be running for statewide and local offices. I’m encouraged. I’m an optimist,” former governor and former U.S. Senator Bob Graham said.

Bobbie O'Brien

After 10 years of war, the number of veterans is growing and so are their needs. Stetson University's College of Law responded by establishing the Stetson Veterans Law Institute at its Gulfport campus.

It was a long road getting established. The way was led law professor Charlie Rose III, director of Stetson’s Center for Excellence in Advocacy, who is also a retired U.S. Army major.

Tampa Police Department

Army Sergeant Johnny Aparicio, currently based at Central Command on Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base, can rest easy. A fourth and final suspect is under arrest in connection with the May 13th early morning attack on the soldier.

Brandon Miller, 18,  surrendered at the Orient Road Jail and will face a judge Wednesday.

Taimy Alvarez/Sun Sentinel/MCT

An Army World War II Veteran, who was awarded the Bronze Star as a medic in the Battle of the Bulge and honored by France with its Chevalier Legion of Honour, received another distinction from the State of Florida this year.

Photo by Bobbie O'Brien

The wail of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.” The sharp crack of three rifle volleys being fired. The playing of “Taps.”  All the traditional Memorial Days moments were present at the MacDill Air Force Base Memorial Day ceremony.

Also there in full dress uniform: units from Special Operations Command, Central Command, the Joint Communications Special Element and the 6th Air Mobility Wing.

Military families and dozens of civilians, invited by MacDill Air Force Base Commander Col. Lenny Richoux, sat on folding chairs under the morning sun.

You can locate a VA National Cemetery nearest you that is holding a 2012 Memorial Day Ceremony HERE.

FLORIDA MEMORIAL DAY CEREMONIES

SUNDAY, MAY 27

Photo by Bobbie O'Brien

"Bring it on!" That was Michelle Faedo's response when asked if she would put her Cuban Sandwich up against one from Miami.

WUSF interviewed Michelle and her husband, Robert Faedo, when Tampa City Council was considering its vote to make the "Cuban" its signature sandwich in April.

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