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Deputy Charged For Inaction During Parkland Shooting

Jun 5, 2019

The Florida deputy who knew a gunman was loose at the Parkland high school but refused to go inside to confront the assailant was arrested Tuesday on 11 criminal charges related to his inaction during the massacre that killed 17 people. 

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is cheering the passage of the congressional disaster aid package. 

Hurricane season has started, and only about a third of Palm Beach County’s 55 nursing homes have a permanent generator in place to keep residents cool in case the power fails. Only about two-thirds of the county’s 185 assisted living facilities do.

Three Democratic lawmakers demanded Tuesday that the Trump administration shut down the country's largest child migrant facility in Florida and release hundreds of teens to small shelters or relatives.

South Florida U.S. representatives say their decision comes after a recent federal court filing by immigrant advocates with hundreds of pages of teens describing "prison-like" conditions endured in the Homestead, Florida facility.

The gate of Brooker Creek Preserve is closed with two cones in front of it and a sign that states center closed until further notice.
Mark Schreiner / WUSF Public Media

Residents in the Tampa Bay area are dealing with lingering smoke after a brush fire at Brooker Creek Preserve this week.

East Lake Fire Rescue, Oldsmar Fire and the Department of Forestry helped fight the fire at the preserve in north Pinellas County. Florida Forest Service officials said the fire burned 15 acres.

Trump Administration Halts Cruises To Cuba Under New Rules

Jun 4, 2019
Carol Highsmith, Jan. 10, 2010 / The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Trump administration on Tuesday ended the most popular forms of U.S. travel to Cuba, banning cruise ships and a heavily used category of educational travel in an attempt to cut off cash to the island's communist government.

Long-Sought Disaster Aid Package Passes House

Jun 4, 2019

A federal disaster-relief package, long sought by Florida officials and Panhandle residents recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Michael, received approval Monday from the U.S. House after three earlier attempts were blocked. 

Report: Blacks, Latinos At Risk Of Undercount In 2020 Census

Jun 4, 2019
U.S. Census Bureau

Emily Bonilla is worried her district in metro Orlando will be undercounted during next spring's once-in-a-decade head count of everybody in the United States because of who lives there: new arrivals, immigrants, the poor, renters and rural residents who sometimes regard government with suspicion. 

People board a HART bus.
HART

“I am Thomas Dunn.”

This was the sentence that echoed through the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit’s (HART) board of directors meeting on Monday.

One by one, bus drivers walked up to the microphone and spoke about how the murder of their colleague had affected them.

Hurricane Season Begins with No Threat to Florida

Jun 3, 2019

Today marks the official start of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and the second named storm of the year could already be developing. However, it poses no current threat to the United States.

There’s a war going on in Florida between the state legislature and environmental groups around the state.
 
At stake is the biggest toll highway expansion the state has seen in more than  half a century. Legislation  has passed to expand the Suncoast Parkway, extend  Florida's Turnpike and create a new toll road connecting Polk and Collier counties. The bill was signed by Gov.

Gallons of drinking water sits on shelves.
Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Hurricane season started June 1 and officials are sending out their annual message: it's imperative to know what to do before, during, and after a storm.

Hillsborough County evacuation zones.
Hillsboroughcounty.org

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. Emergency management officials say it's important residents know which evacuation zone they live in. Florida residents should have an evacuation plan in place before a storm is on the radar. 

  

When counties mandate evacuations, they will do it by zones A-E. The zones are set based on a home’s vulnerability to deadly storm surge, with Zone A being most vulnerable. Evacuation zones are not the same as FEMA flood zone designations.

An alligator broke into a woman's home in Clearwater early Friday morning.
City of Clearwater

A 10- to 11-foot alligator broke into a woman’s home in Clearwater early Friday and thrashed about, breaking wine bottles and knocking over furniture while a trapper removed it, police said.

Generator
OPEI

Hurricane season is here and Florida lawmakers want to help give your wallet a break when preparing this year. Through next Thursday, storm supplies like flashlights and generators will be tax-free to help families get prepared for the 2019 storm season.

A federal grand jury has subpoenaed documents related to former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, his failed 2018 gubernatorial bid, a charity and a wealthy donor. The Tampa Bay Times first reported the March 26th subpoena.

School ‘Guardian’ Program Grows

May 31, 2019

An executive order signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in February helped increase the number of counties participating in a controversial “guardian” program that allows school staff members to be armed on campus, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said Thursday. 

JERUSALEM – At the end of the day for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, it was about building relationships, making new connections and checking in with familiar political allies.

DeSantis spent the last day of his marathon mission to Israel meeting with embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with the Cabinet and several lawmakers before placing a prayer in the Western Wall for Florida’s safety this hurricane season and a prayer from a Panhandle girl who lost her house in Hurricane Michael.

Hurricane Irma was at Category 4 strength when it crossed the Florida Keys in September of 2017. And the Keys are still in the rebuilding process, even as a new hurricane season starts.

Senator Rick Scott stands at podium
Kerry Sheridan/WUSF

Hurricane season starts June 1, and now is the time to get prepared, officials said this week.

The Sarasota Orchestra wants to build a performance space specifically designed for its acoustics and to expand programming.
Sarasota Orchestra

The Sarasota Orchestra will look beyond the city limits for a new home. The announcement comes a week after Sarasota rejected the orchestra's plan to build a new music center at downtown Payne Park.

In a statement, the orchestra said "pressing calendar constraints and acoustic limitations at the six venues used by Sarasota Orchestra currently hinder growth and future achievement of its mission."

Rubin Disputes Allegations Amid Calls For Resignation

May 30, 2019
Office of the Financial Regulator

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis wants the state’s top financial regulator --- whom he championed for the job earlier this year --- to resign, amid allegations of sexual harassment.

A little nudging for storm prep shouldn’t be necessary after Matthew battered Florida’s east coast in 2016, Irma essentially drenched the entire state in 2017, and Michael ground up a chunk of the Panhandle last year.

Disaster Relief Package Blocked Again In Congress

May 30, 2019

A second congressional Republican, arguing for a vote by the full House, blocked an attempt Tuesday to pass long-stalled federal disaster relief funding that would assist Florida’s hurricane-ravaged Panhandle.

Tanzanian children playing soccer
Jordan Peloubet

A junior at Tampa Prep is raising money to help build a soccer field back in his birthplace of Arusha, Tanzania.

Jordan Peloubet said the field would provide a wonderful opportunity to the children of the village and their families. Led by his father, Drew, the Peloubet family has been able to work with the organization love.fútbol, a non-profit group that builds soccer fields in developing countries.

Prosecutor Ayala Will Not Seek Second Term

May 29, 2019
Renato Sago / WMFE

More than two years after she created a firestorm by saying she would not seek the death penalty, Central Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala announced Tuesday she will not run for re-election in 2020. 

Florida’s Director of Cannabis has only been on the newly-created job a few months, but is already helping architect the foundation for a state hemp program.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed challenging the use of solitary confinement in Florida prisons.

If you went to the beach over the Memorial Day weekend, you may have seen sea turtle nesting areas cordoned off for protection. That's because South Florida is in the midst of sea turtle nesting season, which began in March and ends in October.

Hurricane forecasting has come a long way since Ken Graham worked the night shift on the Gulf Coast, when warnings about killer storms like Hurricane Andrew came only three days in advance.

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