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Steve Newborn

Assistant News Director

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues, politics and transportation in the Tampa Bay area.

He’s been with WUSF since 2001, and has covered events such as President George W. Bush’s speech in Sarasota as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded; the ongoing drama over whether the feeding tube should be removed from Terri Schiavo; the arrest and terrorism trial of USF professor Sami Al-Arian; how the BP Deepwater Horizon spill affected Florida; and he followed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition through the state - twice.

Before joining WUSF, he covered environmental and Polk County news for the Tampa Tribune and worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center during the early days of the space shuttle.

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Coral spawning
Florida Aquarium

Scientists at the Florida Aquarium on Wednesday announced they have for the first time induced Atlantic coral to spawn in a laboratory. This gives hope for the beleaguered Florida reef.

The Hillsborough River
Southwest Florida Water Management District

Sparks started flying Monday during a meeting of Tampa Bay Water, and got so bad the chairman said it could threaten the future of the regional water authority.

"We are teetering on the edge of water war. Teetering," said Tampa Bay water chair and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandy Murman.

Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay Estuary Program

Sea levels locally may be rising more quickly than had been anticipated. The estimates for Tampa Bay have just gone up.

Scientists monitoring Tampa Bay have updated the most conservative estimate for the expected rise in the bay during this century. That means they're no longer considering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's prediction of a 2-foot rise. The conservative estimate now is from three to 3 1/2 feet above current sea levels.

Keri O'Neil
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

A bayside laboratory in Apollo Beach is ground zero for an attempt to preserve Florida's coral reefs, which are dying at an alarming rate.

Senator Marco Rubio
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio condemned white nationalism Tuesday in the wake of the mass shooting in Texas. It is being investigated as a federal hate crime.

During a trip to St. Petersburg, he compared the ideology to that of radical Muslim jihadis, saying both groups claim everyone else is evil and dangerous, and need to be "crushed."

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

The Florida American Civil Liberties Union is starting a new campaign to focus on three main areas where it believes civil liberties are at stake. The group is vowing to do whatever it takes until they succeed.

The ACLU is pivoting to concentrate its efforts in three areas: voting rights, immigrant rights and criminal justice reform. New state president Micah Kubic says this is in response to what he calls the "poisoned fruit" of the recent legislative session.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks in Englewood to announce the members of the Red Tide Task Force
Florida Governor's Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced the appointments of 11 researchers to a reinvigorated task force looking into combating red tide. The most recent red tide outbreak was the longest one in memory.

Big Bend
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Electric got the go-ahead from the governor and cabinet Thursday to switch part of the Big Bend power plant from coal to natural gas.

Florida Panther
Photo courtesy IFAS

An experiment to increase the genetic diversity of the Florida panther has apparently worked. That's the conclusion of a 10-year study released this week.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Tampa Electric recently announced plans to convert one of its coal-fired units at the Big Bend power plant to natural gas. But Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor wants the state to block that plan this week.

Nikki Fried
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried came to a St. Petersburg Exxon gas station Thursday with a message to drivers: be aware of illegal credit card skimmers at gas pumps, or your wallet might get taken for a ride.

A report released this week predicts a lot more days of extreme heat - so much that they're being called "killer heat" days. We conclude our three-part series with a plea from scientists for politicians to do something - before it's too late.

Heat Index
Union of Concerned Scientists

By Steve Newborn

In 1995, a heat wave killed more than 700 people in Chicago. It affected mostly elderly, African-American women who lived on their own.

A report released this week shows climate change could mean a lot more days of extreme heat for Florida and Tampa Bay, and with it, the likelihood residents will be exposed to significant health risks.

The loggerhead turtle is the most common sea turtle found in Florida. Females return to their nesting beach every two or more years.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

By Robin Sussingham, Stephanie Colombini, Steve Newborn and Cathy Carter.

They’ve had to battle shark attacks, pollution, massive beach developments and confusing light sources, but sea turtles are bouncing back.

With nesting season well underway, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham speaks with experts about how sea turtles are faring and efforts to protect them in our state.


A report released Tuesday says that the nation will face extremely hot days - along with deaths from killer heat waves - in the near future if carbon emissions aren't reduced. And perhaps not surprisingly, Florida may experience some of its hottest days on record.

News Service of Florida and Steve Newborn

Part of a new elections law that requires “sufficient nonpermitted parking” at early voting sites will create an unconstitutional burden on young voters attending colleges or universities, plaintiffs in a long-running dispute over campus early voting argued in documents filed Monday.

The parking requirement was tucked into a sweeping elections package during the waning days of the legislative session in early May. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the package (SB 7066), and the new law went into effect on July 1.

Flooding
U.S. Coast Guard photo

By Steve Newborn

Two members of Congress have joined a new coalition of  political, business and local leaders looking into combatting flooding from rising seas.  The pair - one a Republican, the other a Democrat - highlights the group's non-partisan outlook.

 Howard Franklin Bridge over Old Tampa Bay with algae bloom in the bay Algae bloom in Old Tampa Bay, north of Howard Frankland Bridge, August 2011.
Courtesy Southwest Florida Water Management District

By Steve Newborn

The state of Tampa Bay report comes out every three years, and the latest one shows the water body is in pretty good shape. It wasn't too long ago that pollution killed a lot of life in the bay.

The report says the bay is continuing its upswing, both in the clarity of the water and its numbers of fish and oysters. Ed Sherwood, executive director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, says sea grasses are nearly double the amount found in the 1970s.

Carlton Ward, Jr.

By Steve Newborn

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill late Friday that critics say will gut the state's system of managing growth. The bill also restricts governments from creating affordable housing.

The new law means anyone challenging a development that's inconsistent with that county's existing growth plan would have to pay the other side's attorney's fees if they lose.

Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

By Steve Newborn

In 1950, Manatee County had 34,000 people. Today, there are around 400,000.  In another generation, it's expected to have more people than Sarasota County. A forum was held Thursday at Bradenton's Pier 22 on how to plan for that growth.

USF President Judy Genshaft stands in front of a fountain on the Tampa campus.
USF Marketing and Communications

With University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft’s July 1 retirement approaching, this week's Florida Matters looks back at her 19 years leading USF.

Host Robin Sussingham talks to Assistant News Directors Steve Newborn and Mark Schreiner, who have covered Genshaft since both arrived at WUSF in 2001, shortly after Genshaft became USF's sixth president.


Tampa's reservoir
Southwest Florida Water Management District

The city of Tampa has withdrawn its request for $1.6 million to pay for a study of injecting reclaimed wastewater into the underground aquifer - so it could be used again.  The city took the request off the table at a recent meeting of Tampa Bay Water, the area's regional water supply authority.

For the view on the right, elevations below 16 feet above sea level have been colored dark blue, and lighter blue indicates elevations below 33 feet. This is an illustration of how Florida's low topography make it vulnerable to flooding
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory

A new national study concludes that rising sea levels could cost U.S. states more than $400 billion over the next 20 years. And Florida has the highest price tag.

The report is by the environmental advocacy group Center for Climate Integrity. It says Florida would have to pay around $75 billion to build new seawalls to defend against a two-foot sea level rise by 2040.

Andrew Warren
Hillsborough State Attorney's Office

The Hillsborough County state attorney announced Wednesday that the convictions of 17 people will be overturned because their cases hinged on three arresting police officers.

State Attorney Andrew Warren said the convictions will be vacated because his office cannot verify the testimony of the officers who were later fired. His move comes after an investigation by the new Conviction Review Unit, which was formed last year to give people a voice when they believe they have been unfairly convicted.

Florida House District Map
Ballotpedia

Republicans increased their lead in the Florida House of Representatives Tuesday night, as Randy Maggard defeated Democrat Kelly Smith in a special election in Pasco County.

Maggard, of Dade City, works as a vice president for a discount appliance chain. House District 38 includes most of eastern Pasco, including Wesley Chapel, Dade City and Zephyrhills.

Suncoast Parkway
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that would mandate construction of a new toll road and extend two others through relatively untouched parts of the state. So WUSF took a drive to the end of the Suncoast Parkway  - at least for now - to see what we would find.

Everglades
National Park Service

It was a mixed bag for environmentalists in the wake of this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. Lawmakers allocated more money than Governor Ron DeSantis asked for on Everglades restoration and fighting red tide and blue-green algae.

But there were some drawbacks, including a bill to build three new toll roads and getting a fraction of the money the governor proposed to buy environmentally sensitive lands.

WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Jennifer Rubiello, state director for Environment Florida - starting with the good that happened.

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez
Alejandra Martinez / WLRN

State lawmakers passed several bills in the wake of last year's scourge of red tide attacking the coastlines and blue-green algae coming out of Lake Okeechobee. But some environmentalists say they didn't address the source of the problem - nutrients flowing into waterways.

Hillsborough Legislative delegation
Steve Newborn / WUSF Public Media

Several members of Hillsborough County's legislative delegation gave their take on the just-ended Tallahassee session Friday at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Friday morning he will sign a bill instructing the state to build two new toll roads and extend a third through rural parts of the state.

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