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Florida Matters

Florida Matters tackles tough issues, highlights little-known stories from our part of the world, and provides a greater perspective of what it means to live in the Sunshine State. Join us each week as we journey across the state to explore the issues important to Floridians and cover the challenges facing our community and our state. Listen to the show on WUSF 89.7 Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 7:30 a.m.  It's also on Classical WSMR 89.1 and 103.9 on Mondays at 10 p.m.

Tampa's cruise industry could be heading into rough waters. Cruise ships are getting bigger, but the Sunshine Skyway Bridge isn't. A new study by the Florida Department of Transportation looks at three options: build a taller bridge, build a new cruise facility west of the Skyway, or do nothing.

We discuss these options, and hear the opinions of passengers just returning from a seven-day cruise aboard the Carnival Legend at Cruise Terminal #2 at Tampa's Channelside.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF

Early Sunday morning, before the 2,000 passengers from cruise ship disembark, a line of taxi cabs forms outside Port of Tampa Bay Terminal #2 just beyond idling tour buses.

That’s where cab driver John Bailey stood waiting for fares.  He’s fully aware of the cruise ship debate and the options explored in a recent study.

Robin Sussingham

All over Florida, laws are changing to make it easier for suburban homeowners to do a little farming. It's becoming more and more common to have a neighbor who's growing his own organic vegetables, collecting eggs from his own chickens, or even raising bees for their honey.

We will take an in-depth look at the increasing popularity of backyard agriculture this week on Florida Matters on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

FMOPA

Three central Florida cities have been ranked among the best places in the country to staycation.

Tampa ranked eighth overall and Orlando was ninth in WalletHub.com's 2014 list of the 100 Best and Worst Cities to Staycation. Other Florida cities included on the list are St. Petersburg (No. 11), Miami (No. 63), Jacksonville (No. 75) and Hialeah (No. 85).

When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical.

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida.  He's also lived through several hurricanes.  

“I remember the worst one for me was in the Bahamas, where I was on the first floor and it was a pretty bad hurricane, and Nassau typically floods a lot,” Said said.

When he offers advice on preparing for hurricanes, it comes from his own experience.

Mary Shedden / WUSF 89.7 News

Most of us ponder evacuating when a hurricane approaches.

But at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, Jim McFadden sends an "Orion P-3" propeller plane and its crew straight into a storm's path.  The Chief of Programs and Projects for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aircraft Operations Center, McFadden is a veteran of more than 500 such flights.

At a recent hurricane awareness event at Tampa International Airport, he showed WUSF’s Mary Shedden and members of the public around the aircraft nicknamed "Miss Piggy."

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

This Friday will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the historic military landing at Normandy during World War II. 

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at D-Day through the eyes of a C-47 pilot who was there.  First Lt. Gerald “Bud” Berry was among those who flew paratroopers behind enemy lines in the hours before the beach invasion. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

It's been said that in Florida, any building that's more than 30 years old is well, old, and worthy of being torn down for something new and shiny. That mindset has changed somewhat in recent years, and we take a tour of one historic neighborhood that's coming back to life.
 

A handful of architects and preservationists took a break from the recent Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Conference to take a bus ride around Tampa Heights and Ybor City.

State lawmakers ended this year's 60-day legislative session by passing a record $77.1 billion budget, along with laws that deal with everything from immigrant tuition to medical marijuana.

We take a look at what lawmakers did and did not do on Florida Matters tonight at 6:30 p.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM. 

Our panel includes state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, state Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, and senior political reporter William March of The Tampa Tribune.

Carmel Delshad / WMFE

This November, voters in Pinellas County will decide whether or not to raise the county's sales tax to 8 percent -- the highest in the state -- to fund Greenlight Pinellas.  That's the transit plan that would expand bus service and help build a light rail connecting Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club recently hosted a debate over the transit plan, and we'll take you there on Florida Matters Tuesday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 11 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Transit is changing in other parts of Florida, and we take a look at the first phase of SunRail, which opened this month in Orlando. 


Lottie Watts / WUSF

Florida Matters host Carson Cooper literally took your questions with him when he sat down this morning with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at City Hall to talk about the mayor's first 100 days in office.

For an upcoming Florida Matters, we gathered your questions and comments for the mayor, loaded the audio files on a laptop and played them for the mayor during the interview. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

The International Indian Film Academy's 15th annual awards takes place April 24-26 at various spots around the Tampa Bay area.

The event is held in a different country each year, and this is the first time the Bollywood Oscars will be held in the United States. It's expected to draw 800 million TV viewers from around the world.

It has been about 100 days since Rick Kriseman was sworn in as mayor of St. Petersburg.   For an upcoming Florida Matters, we will sit down with the mayor to talk about his first few months in office.   We want to know what questions you think we should ask. Post a comment, send an email to FloridaMatters@wusf.org or call and leave us a voicemail  at 813-974-8652.  

Kate Barth

In a Florida Matters show first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Have you missed the Veterans’ Day parade or the ceremony at your local VA National Cemetery?

Well, there’s still time to show your appreciation for the men and women who have served or are currently serving in the Armed Forces. Here are a few suggestions you can practice year-round:

In a Florida Matters show first aired Tuesday night on WUSF 89.7 FM, a panel of experts answers reader and listener questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

Florida Gov. Rick Scott delivered his annual State of the State address to kick off the 60-day legislative session Tuesday morning.

Our special coverage included analysis by StateImpact Florida reporter John O'Connor and senior political writer William March of the Tampa Tribune.

We will re-air portions of Scott's speech and the Democratic responses on Florida Matters this week on Tuesday, March 4 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 9 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Michael Rivera

Before the Florida legislative session starts March 4, Florida Matters is previewing some of the issues facing lawmakers this year:

Lottie Watts

The late C.W. "Bill" Young served in Congress for more than four decades. A special election will be held March 11 to decide who will replace him.

Democrat Alex Sink is running against Republican David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby to fill the open seat in 13th Congressional District, which covers most of Pinellas County.

Sink is Florida's former Chief Financial Officer. She lost in the last race for governor to Rick Scott. She recently moved from her home in Hillsborough County to Pinellas County.

Lottie Watts

The late C.W. "Bill" Young served in Congress for more than four decades. A special election will be held March 11 to decide who will replace him.

Republican David Jolly is running against Democrat Alex Sink and Libertarian Lucas Overby to fill the open seat in 13th Congressional District, which covers most of Pinellas County.

Jolly spent most of his career working for Congressman Young, most recently as his general counsel. Jolly has also has worked as a consultant, lawyer and lobbyist.

Baby boomers have seen it coming for quite some time -- retirement, senior living and senior survival. 

Experts say most of us begin planning too late for the help we might need as we get older.

On Florida Matters this week, we take a look at long-term care, including costs, legal issues and how you can start the conversation with your loved ones. 

Experts say most of us begin planning too late for the help we might need as we get older. 

On Florida Matters this week, we take a look at long-term care, including costs, legal issues and how you can start the conversation with your loved ones. 

Elder law attorney Emma Hemness tells WUSF's Carson Cooper few middle class people can afford long-term care.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Democrats and Republicans have been going back and forth over income inequality for years and years. 

President Obama brought up income inequality, also known as the gap between the rich and the poor, during his State of the Union address.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

Victor "Joseph" Doxa was a successful businessman with a six-figure salary and 7,000-square-foot home.

Then came the Great Recession.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

In January, StoryCorps is recording the oral history of people in its MobileBooth, parked in front of the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg. 

In this episode of Florida Matters, we will hear excerpts of some of the conversations that have been recorded so far.

Jihad Saadeh

Last April, Florida Matters brought you the story of University of South Florida student Noor Shakfeh, a Syrian-American who spent her spring break aiding Syrian refugees on the Syrian-Turkey border.

Florida Matters – guest host Bobbie O’Brien talks with Shakfeh and her cousin who has been granted political asylum in the U.S. and is living in Florida.

The following audio is a portion of WUSF's weekly public affairs program Florida Matters, which first aired January 14, 2014. Florida Matters guest host Bobbie O’Brien talks with a Syrian refugee who was granted political asylum in the U.S. and is living in Florida.

Mazen Jasem Al Mahmoud,30, shares what life was like in Syria before the revolution started, his surreal experience attending his first protest and then details of being detained and tortured several times by the al-Assad government.

Katie O'Connor

 

We're taking another listen to some of our most memorable stories of 2013.

How Many Ways Can You Cook Kale? Sweetwater Knows

Dec 13, 2013
Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

What do freshly harvested salad greens, university accounting majors and weekly loads of manure from the local zoo have in common?

They are all integral parts of the community created around Sweetwater Organic Community Farm.

Nestled along the banks of Sweetwater Creek in Tampa’s Town & Country neighborhood, the main farm or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) was founded by Rick Martinez almost two decades ago.

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