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Florida Matters

man walking outside
University of South Florida

On July 1, Steven Currall marked his first anniversary as president of the University of South Florida.

While he faced "expected" concerns like the consolidation of the accreditation of the three USF campuses under one umbrella, he also had to deal with crises like the coronavirus pandemic and racial equity concerns of faculty, staff, and students.

Gov. Ron DeSantis
GOVERNOR'S PRESS OFFICE

Governor Ron DeSantis slashed a billion dollars from the state budget. And as the coronavirus pandemic drags on, future cuts are likely. 

That's the focus of this week's Florida Matters. 


Victoria Mejia
Zoom

On Florida Matters this week, we're taking a look at life behind the front lines - the front lines of the war on the coronavirus.

Many first responders - doctors, nurses and people just willing to lend a hand - have forsaken the relative comfort of their own hometowns and ventured into the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

people posing for a photo on a couch in a business
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters, we hear why Black Americans get arrested at a rate higher than other groups.

It's a very complex issue, and there there are many reasons - some believe they're overpoliced or targeted by police for no reason. One professor says it's the result of centuries of discrimination that are built into our culture.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Many studies are showing the coronavirus has sickened and killed black Americans at a disproportionately high rate. One study found that the 22 percent of U.S. counties that are majority black account for nearly half of coronavirus cases - and almost 60 percent of deaths from Covid-19.

Protesters at Cyrus Green Park in Tampa
Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Brian Butler is a former Army officer, president and CEO of his own Tampa company, and African American.

That last definition has defined much of his life - including being stopped several times for no reason other than his color. In the wake of protests and riots after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Butler was moved to write an opinion piece in the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida Matters talks to Butler about whether he's grown accustomed to being profiled and whether he harbors any bitterness because of it.

Jennifer Rominieki
Courtesy Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Not only small businesses and restaurants have been hurt by the pandemic. Many nonprofits are having an existential crisis, as donors hold on to their wallets and government help begins drying up.

One of the nonprofits affected is Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota.  Florida Matters' Steve Newborn talks with president and CEO Jennifer Rominiecki about how the community is coming to the aid of nonprofits like hers.

As we transition back to normal, Florida Matters looked for some analysis on the unique challenges Tampa Bay businesses, non-profits and the economy will be facing as we transition from stay-at-home orders to heading back to work again.

So we got some insight with Balaji Padmanabhan, the Anderson Professor of Global Management, the Director of the Center for Analytics & Creativity and a professor in the Information Systems and Decision Sciences Department at the University of South Florida Muma College of Business.

Firefighting boats attempt to put out the blaze at the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig
U.S. Coast Guard

April 20 marks 10 years since the BP oil spill began off the Louisiana coast when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded. Over the next six months, more than 200 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf.

It's considered to be the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

The image shows David Brancaccio on the left and host Bradley George on the right talking on stage during a live interview at the Palladium in downtown St. Peterburg.
WUSF Public Media

Just days before officials began shutting down large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID 19, David Brancaccio, host of the Marketplace Morning Report, visited downtown St. Petersburg for a live event.

He joined Florida Matters Host Bradley George at the Palladium as part of the Aresty Speaker Series, and touched on a wide variety of topics from the effect coronavirus was having on the global economy, as well as Brancaccio's ongoing Econ Extra Credit project, in which he is reading a chapter a week from an open source economics textbook.

Alsace Walentine, owner of Tombolo Books, stands outside of her store next to a sign that says "Curbside pickup here!"
Mary Shedden / WUSF Public Media

The coronavirus pandemic is not only taking its toll of the nation’s healthcare system, but also its businesses. This week, Florida Matters takes a look at small businesses, which are particularly hard hit.

Host Bradley George spoke with Alsace Walentine, co-owner of Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg and Eileen Rodriguez of the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of South Florida.

Florida Matters Wants To Hear Your Coronavirus Stories

Mar 21, 2020
Empty Business
U.S. Air Force

The threat of coronavirus has turned every aspect of life upside down. WUSF’s Florida Matters wants to hear from you.

Do you own a small business, or work for one in the retail or restaurant sector? How has your work life changed? 

Hulk Hogan on stage
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Professional wrestling, or as it’s called in some circles, “sports entertainment,” has a long history in Florida and in Tampa.

Despite not being officially allowed to live in Florida until 1763, Jewish people escaping expulsion and exclusion were among the earliest settlers of the state.

A new comprehensive history – "Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories" – takes a look at that historic individuals who include politicians, business leaders, artists and Nobel Prize winners.

As the Florida Legislature opens its 2020 session, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed House and Senate members Tuesday during his State of the State address.

He discussed some of the “bold” steps the state took in 2019 around such areas as education, the environment, health care and public safety, and stressed that “we have much more to do.”

This week on Florida Matters, we sat down with local political reporters to look at the2020 Florida Legislature and discuss some of the most pressing issues facing our state.

It was a year full of politics, historic anniversaries and ever changing industries here in Florida. This week on Florida Matters, we take a look back at a few stories that helped shape our area in 2019.

Whenever asked about her secret to longevity, the answer is not one that’s generally expected.

Holiday traditions take shape in many forms, and this week on Florida Matters, we take a look at some of our WUSF staff's favorite family holiday traditions.  

“So this is what my childhood tastes like.”

Nora and Ariel
Dalia Colón

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. But how about the reindeer with pretzel antlers and a red M&M for its nose? This season, WUSF reporters are sharing their holiday food traditions. Today, Dalia Colón introduces us to her family and their custom of baking reindeer cookies.

On Friday’s Roundup we discussed school safety in Florida. Reporting by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel this week found that a disturbing number of violent threats against students and teachers come from mentally impaired children who are fixated on violence, and have easy access to guns.

It started 30 years ago. That's when Rex Jensen first got a call to check out some land owned by the Uihlein family just off I-75 near Sarasota.  That is all Jensen needed to see and he knew this land was going to be a success.

We bring you a special Thanksgiving program featuring some of our favorite stories about food in the Sunshine State. There is a lot to be thankful for here in the land of citrus, seafood, and Spanish flavor with a splash of southern charm.

travelerfolio.com

From roller coasters to virtual rides, Florida's theme parks have helped redefine family entertainment. With Disney experiencing its own struggles with long lines and rising ticket prices, we wanted to learn what is being done to deliver this once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Sen. Bill Nelson was a three-term Democrat who served in Washington for more than 45 years before losing his seat to Rick Scott in the 2018 mid-term election.

Republican State Representative James Grant says Florida’s Constitution should operate like a constitution and that people shouldn't be playing political games with it.
JamesGrantFL.com

A proposed new “citizens amendment” could be on the ballot for Florida voters in 2020. It would replace two words in the state constitution with one word. Instead saying every citizen can vote, it would say only a citizen can vote.

The measure is picking up steam, even though it’s already illegal for noncitizens to vote. In fact, a group called Florida Citizens Voters has raised more than $4.6 million and says it has gathered more than the double of the signatures that a petition needs to be included in next year's ballot.

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.


Jeanette Abrahamsen / USF Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications

In 2017, our series, "Telling Tampa Bay Stories," took us to Tampa's Progress Village. In 2018, the focus turned to Plant City -- a Hillsborough County community where agriculture and development, history and progress all meet.


It's 2019. As WUSF prepares to bring you the news you rely on this year, we’re looking back at some of the station's big moments in 2018 through the lens of Florida Matters.


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