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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.

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.

John O'Connor

You may know Taco Bus for its street food standards with recipes direct from Mexico.

Or, you may know them from their frequent appearances on the Food Network, Travel Channel or Cooking Channel.

Owner Rene Valenzeula says he fine with either.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Harlem's world-famous Sylvia's Queen of Soul Food Restaurant now has a location in St. Petersburg, on the ground floor of the historic Manhattan Casino on 22nd Street South.  

"Good food plays a huge part, but it's the atmosphere around the food," said Dan Mitchell, the executive chef at Sylvia's. "And it doesn't just fill you physically, but when you get finished, your whole soul and everything has just been lifted."

He admits it's a little hard to explain what soul food is.

Florida has rejected an offer of more than $50 billion over 10 years from the federal government to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. So the question remains: how will health care be funded for more than a million low-income Floridians? This week on Florida Matters,  a panel discussion that was held last week at Stetson University College of Law to discuss the options. It was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative. 

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

At age 26, he was the youngest member of Congress when he took office in 2001, but after a decade in Washington, Adam Putnam of Polk County said he wanted to leave on his own terms and come back to Florida.

“Nobody wonders now why it was that I wanted to get out of Congress.” Putnam told Florida Matters. “At the time, I said I wanted to get out with my soul and my sanity still in tack and I’m proud that I did. But the things that were frustrating me in Congress have only gotten worse. It’s just a hot, wet mess in Washington.”

The next mayor of St. Petersburg won't have any shortage of issues he'll have to handle. At the top of that list is what to do about the Tampa Bay Rays wanting to leave Tropicana Field. Current Mayor Bill Foster recently retreated from his position of not negotiating with the team on its long-term lease. And Rick Kriseman has his own ideas on how to keep - and possibly negotiate an exit - for the team. They spoke recently at the Palladium.

Courtesy of Jeff Klinkenberg

This Saturday, book lovers from all over will be flocking to the Tampa Bay Times 21st Annual Festival of Reading at the University of South Florida. Find out more and hear readings by Authors Jamie Ford, Jeff Klinkenberg, Ira Sukrungruang and Stephanie Hayes here.

This week on Florida Matters, WUSF’s Carson Cooper hosted a discussion on medical marijuana. 

John Sajo

A group called United for Care is behind the push to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medical marijuana on the 2014 Florida ballot. The group is chaired by Orlando attorney John Morgan, founder of the law firm Morgan & Morgan, who is bankrolling the campaign. 

    

This week on Florida Matters, WUSF’s Carson Cooper hosts a discussion on medical marijuana in Florida.

Joe Roberts

Tampa's downtown movie palace, The Tampa Theatre, has stood through boom times and depressions. The jewel still stands along Franklin Street. It has been there since 1926 and was the first commercial building in Tampa with air conditioning.  

Back then the movies were a novelty and people would line up, pay 10 cents to get in and then stand in an even longer line to await the departure of another patron.

Then they'd go inside to watch the movie, and stay until they reached the point at which the story began for them and leave. Apparently, this is where the term, "this is where I came in" comes from.

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Take a non-competitive three mile run, add in a few microbrew beers (or wine, if that's your poison), mix in new friends, and you have the kind of fun night a number of Tampa Bay area bars and fitness stores are getting behind.

These "running social clubs" aren't really a "pub run," that kicked-up version of a pub crawl where participants run from bar to bar, but a weekly gathering of people with good health and socializing on their minds.


Exploring The Little Manatee River By Kayak

Sep 25, 2013
Katie O'Connor / Florida Matters

My wife, Katie, and I like our sightseeing a little bit adventurous.

We think one of the best ways to explore a new place is in a kayak.

It's one of the first things we did when we moved to Tampa two years ago.

We paddled down the Hillsborough River into the bay and made a pass by Derek Jeter's house.

We took a kayak out to visit the ruined Eberhard Faber pencil factory on a juniper-filled island near Cedar Key.

Looking at the Dalí Museum Through New Eyes

Sep 24, 2013
WUSF/Yoselis Ramos

When it comes to art, I have but a thimble of knowledge.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

Part of being a tourist is exploring the local dining scene.

In August, 99 food trucks paraded from downtown Tampa to the Florida State Fairgrounds, setting a new record for the world’s largest food truck rally. The old record belonged to Miami, with 64 trucks.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

How do young adults diagnosed with a form of autism describe themselves?

This week on Florida Matters, we meet Andrew Casey, 23, who interviewed his peers about their diagnosis and how they define themselves. And Andrew explains how he manages with Asperger's Syndrome which is on the autism spectrum.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

You may have heard what scientists and researchers say about autism, but what about the folks who are diagnosed with it? 

This week on Florida Matters, we meet Andrew Casey, who explains how he manages with Asperger's Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum.

His step-mother, Danielle Casey, and Dr. Karen Berkman with the University of South Florida's Learning Academy also join Florida Matters host Carson Cooper.

Hunger Relief in Tampa Bay

Sep 10, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued its Food Security in the United States report for 2012 and it revealed almost 15 percent of U.S. households are what it calls "food insecure."  

That means at some point during the year, members of those households did not have consistent access to adequate food for active healthy living.

The Mosaic Company recently hosted a hunger relief forum at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. In full disclosure, Mosaic is a business sponsor of WUSF Public Media.  

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Currently, there’s only one Florida Democrat actively campaigning for governor; Nan Rich joins WUSF this week for a special Newsmaker edition of Florida Matters.

The former state lawmaker and senate minority leader gives her assessment of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s first term in office, which she likened to a dictatorship.

“The problem with his administration is that he believes he doesn’t have to talk to legislators,” Rich said.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Currently, there’s only one Florida Democrat actively campaigning for governor and she is accusing Republican Gov. Rick Scott of running the state like a dictator.

“The problem with his administration is that he believes he doesn’t have to talk to legislators,” former State Sen. Nan Rich said.

Watch as the south Florida Democrat tells Florida Matters her take on Scott and if she would cut taxes as governor.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

As Labor Day approaches, we're taking a look at the local labor market on this week's Florida Matters.

Of course, no matter what line of work you’re in, it all starts with landing that very first job.

Florida Matters: The St. Petersburg Pier, The Lens

Aug 20, 2013

The aging St. Petersburg Pier officially closed to the public on May 31st. The city of St. Petersburg plans to demolish it and replace it with a new pier, a design called the Lens. But not so fast, opponents of the Lens design gathered more than 20,000 signatures to force a referendum on whether or not to move ahead with those new plans. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday August 27th.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

We asked our readers to tell us what they thought was confusing about the Affordable Care Act, and you called, e-mailed and Facebooked us with questions. On Florida Matters, WUSF’s Craig Kopp sits down with attorney Linda Fleming of Carlton Fields; Julian Lago, the regional vice president of the National Association of Health Underwriters, and Health News Florida Editor Carol Gentry to help answer some of those questions. 

To listen to the complete show, visit the Florida Matters website

Brad Garner / Dept. of Veterans Affairs

It’s reportedly the largest wheelchair sporting event in the world and its coming to the Tampa Bay area July 13-18. It’s the 33rd annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

During the 2013 legislative session, Florida lawmakers were unable to agree on a plan to expand health care coverage for more low-income Floridians.  WUSF’s Carson Cooper talked to three state representatives about that issue for this week’s episode of Florida Matters. 

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