Submitted by cmosteller on Thu, 10/12/2017 - 13:28

FAC News Clips –October 12, 2017

 

Local News

 

Gainesville Sun

Ken Cornell: Budget includes spending on public safety, roads

Hurricane Irma proved that we have an incredible community and the overall response to this storm by county and city employees, our first responders, the School Board, state and federal agencies, and so many other governmental partners and volunteers was unprecedented. It is now time to undertake a careful process of reviewing and improving our preparedness for the future. To that end, at our recent town hall meeting, we took note of the many legacy issues related to flooding, public safety and infrastructure maintenance.

 

Citrus

 

USAToday

Florida officials issue dire warning: rescue citrus industry or find your orange juice elsewhere

WASHINGTON — Florida lawmakers are warning that Americans better get used to drinking orange juice from Brazil if they can't secure the federal help to rescue the state's billion-dollar citrus industry ravaged by Hurricane Irma. The September storm that pummeled the Sunshine State flooded groves and uprooted trees, many of them only weeks from harvest. An estimated 421,176 acres of citrus production were affected by hurricane or tropical storm force winds in a state that provides 60% of the nation's orange juice supply.

 

Tampa Bay Times

Florida orange crop expected to be lowest in 75 years

This was supposed to be the year Florida's citrus industry rebounded. After a decade of fighting a losing battle against a tree-killing disease and declining yields, growers thought this year's abundant crop promised a turnaround. Then, just weeks before harvest, Hurricane Irma hit. "This was a real punch in the face," said Andrew Meadows, spokesperson for citrus trade organization Florida Citrus Mutual. Overcome by almost $800 million in losses from the hurricane, the state' citrus industry is suddenly facing its lowest orange yield in 75 years, far worse than forecasts expected just a couple months ago.

 

Lakeland Ledger

Lakeland expert: Citrus crop could be worst in 75 years

LAKELAND – How low will it go? “That’s the 40 million-box question,” said Michael Sparks, chief executive at Lakeland-based Florida Citrus Mutual, the citrus growers’ representative. “Nobody knows.” It’s the question on the minds of Florida citrus growers and officials before the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its first estimate of the state’s 2017-18 citrus crop at noon today. The USDA reported last season’s orange crop at 68.75 million boxes, the grapefruit crop at 7.76 million boxes and tangerines and tangelos at 1.62 million boxes.

 

Drug Abuse

 

Fox 4 Now

Collier County gets federal funds, resources to help fight drug crime

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - Collier County is getting some big help from the federal government in the fight against illegal drugs. The county is now designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA.  "It's a lot of support," said Capt. Tom Storrar of the Collier County Sheriff's Office. "It basically relieves the pressure on our local budget." Storrar said that investigating drug crimes is a complex and often time-consuming operation, as well as huge drain on manpower.

 

Federal

 

Associated Press

Plan to scrap state and local tax deduction hits resistance

President Donald Trump's tax overhaul package is getting resistance from an unusual alliance of interests opposed to his plans to scrap the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Republican lawmakers from high-tax states such as New York, California and New Jersey, along with labor unions and business groups like Realtors, are pressing the Trump administration to reconsider plans to eliminate the deduction. These groups are wary of the financial pinch their constituents could feel.

 

Health Care

 

News Service of Florida

‘LIP’ money falls short of initial estimates

At the height of a budget showdown earlier this year, Gov. Rick Scott boasted that his friendship with President Donald Trump‘s administration would result in Florida getting $1.5 billion to help the state’s hospitals. But months later, the final amount will be considerably smaller, a top state Medicaid official said Wednesday. Instead the state will have about $790.4 million in supplemental Medicaid funds to spend this year.

 

Immigration

 

Palm Beach Post

County set to work with Trump on immigration to improve grant chances

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and the Board of County Commissioners have agreed to a Trump administration request for cooperation with its efforts to combat illegal immigration. But Bradshaw has told county officials that cooperation — which gives PBSO a better shot at coveted federal grant funds — won’t call for his department to do anything more than it is already doing. And it won’t, he insisted, include the use of deputies as quasi agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, whose stepped up enforcement efforts have drawn criticism from some who view them as harsh and unnecessary.

 

Mosquito

 

WEAR TV

Escambia County using new technology to fight mosquito-borne illnesses

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) — Escambia County has a new tool to fight mosquito-borne illnesses. The county and the City of Pensacola have teamed up with Gulf Power to use new technology to attract and kill mosquitoes. Gulf Power is testing these devices in areas around the county where lots of people gather. Kimberly Blair, a spokesperson for Gulf Power, said the company hopes they can change the way people deal with these pesky pests.  For example, looking out into the Southwest Escambia Sports Complex you may not notice how Gulf Power is helping fight mosquitoes.

 

Property Tax

 

WEAR TV

Condo owners on Pensacola Beach celebrate win in court over property tax

PENSACOLA BEACH, Fla. (WEAR) — Some condo owners on Pensacola Beach celebrated a big win in court on Wednesday. An appeals court ruled 2-1 that Portofino Resort and the Beach Club condos do not have to pay property taxes on the land their buildings are on because it is owned by the county. "Obviously they're thrilled," said attorney Todd Harris. "They're just like everybody else, they have questions about what's next." Harris is with R. Todd Harris, McDonald Fleming Moorhead Attorneys at Law.

 

Recovery

 

WFTS

FEMA debris pickup starts Monday in Polk County, major roadways will be blocked

LAKELAND, Fla. - Starting Monday, October 16, the FEMA Debris Contractor Crowder Gulf will establish rolling roadblocks on the major roadways with a concentrated effort to remove Hurricane Irma related debris. To date 2,600 loads totaling 100,000 cubic yards of storm-related debris has been removed from the public right of way. Greg James, Assistant Director of Public Works said, “Immediately after Hurricane Irma passed, our assessment teams estimated that there was over 300,000 cubic yards of storm debris. 

 

WFTV

Hurricane Irma relief: Thousands apply for food assistance in Brevard, Osceola counties

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Thousands of people who had to throw away spoiled food after Hurricane Irma slammed Central Florida filled the Cocoa Expo Sports Center Wednesday seeking financial assistance. More than 20,000 people have visited the site since Saturday to apply for the Food for Florida program, which helps residents who aren't on food stamps but whose homes were damaged by the storm. Wednesday was the final day to apply in person in Brevard County. Doors were supposed to close at 6 p.m., but by 4 p.m., officials had to close the gates due to concerns about traffic backups and safety.

 

CW34

Palm Beach County Cares prepares for influx of evacuees after Hurricane Maria

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS 12) — Palm Beach County Cares, a group of county leaders, businesses and non-profit organization, held a press conference at the Port of Palm Beach Wednesday afternoon to discuss its countywide relief to help Puerto Rican evacuees coming into the county. They are preparing for an influx of evacuees from the island, looking for a second chance here in our own backyard. More than a hundred students affected by Hurricane Maria have trickled into the Palm Beach County School system.

 

Fox 4 Now

Will Lee Co. hire more people for debris cleanup?

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Contractors working locally are offering their services to help cleanup storm debris in Lee County, but aren't sure if the county is willing to hire them. Steven Hayes with Select Recycling Waste Services came all the way from Virginia to work with the Florida Department of Transportation. After completing their work with FDOT, they still have workers and equipment in the area sitting idle. They wanted to extend their services to counties in the area since there is so much work to be done.

 

Vacation Rentals

 

FloridaPolitics.com

Matt Kiessling: Florida needs commonsense short-term rental policies

In an effort to stifle competition from short-term rentals and maintain their ability to price gouge consumers during compression periods, the hotel lobby is pressuring government officials in states like Florida to implement regulations that would severely restrict or ban homeowners from welcoming visitors into their private residence. A recent piece penned by the hotel lobby on Florida Politics cites AirbnbWATCH Florida as a coalition of “Florida residents and commercial lodging businesses of all sizes” –

 

Water

 

St. Augustine Record

Water Wars redux: Millions more wasted

The U.S. Supreme Court this week agreed to insert itself into a spat between Georgia and Florida. And this game probably wastes more money that the big one brings in each winter in Jacksonville — fondly known hereabouts as the “Worlds Largest Cocktail Party.” The dispute has been ongoing for some time and this one is known as “Water Wars.” Exhausting legal remedy, the case last year was handed over by the high court to a special master to mediate, and earlier this year he sided with Georgia.