Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

News at Noon: Out-of-state groups dominate Amendment 2 fundraising; airport chief gets another raise; utilities agree to halt 'hedging' of natural gas purchases; Universal Orlando teases 'aqua coaster'

For the past two months, most of the money fueling Florida's medical marijuana fight hasn't been coming from Florida families hoping for patient access to medical marijuana or anti-drug activists who worry about the impact on their home state. Since Sept. 1, for every $1 donated to the two political committees behind the Yes and No on Amendment 2 campaigns from inside Florida, $2 has come from out-of-state.

TAMPA AIRPORT CEO JOE LOPANO GETS ANOTHER RAISE

The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority has given a new contract and an 8 percent raise to Tampa International Airport CEO Joe Lopano. Lopano's annual salary is now $393,824.02, per an amendment to his contract that went into effect on Oct. 1. On April 5, 2018, Lopano will receive another 15 percent pay bump. Meantime, airport staff made a presentation during this morning's board meeting, sharing the top markets they plan to go after next, in Europe, Latin American and the western U.S.

DUKE, TAMPA ELECTRIC AGREE TO HALT FUEL PRICE 'HEDGING,'

Regulators and the state's largest utilities have reached an agreement for a moratorium on "hedging" of natural gas purchases, a gamble on future fuel prices that has cost customers billions. The practice was intended to reduce the volatility of electric bills by eliminating wide price swings in energy costs. It has been a consistent money-loser for customers — topping $6 billion since 2002 and $1.38 billion since the start of 2015.

[Universal Orlando]

The 200-foot volcano at Volcano Bay features the Krakatau Aqua Coaster inside.

UNIVERSAL TEASES 'AQUA COASTER,' WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY AT NEW WATER PARK

That towering volcano shell being built along Interstate 4 in Orlando is gearing up to be the main attraction of Universal's Volcano Bay water park, set to open in spring of 2017. The Krakatau Aqua Coaster will take riders in specially-designed canoes through the peaks and valleys of that 200-foot volcano, plunging upward, downward and through glittery waterfalls.

FENNELLY: CUBS TEASE BUT COME THROUGH AFTER 108 YEARS

If this World Series didn't make you like baseball, or like baseball again, you never will, writes Times sports columnist Martin Fennelly. In an instant, familiar faces became part of history. Joe Maddon went from second guessed for eternity to baseball immortality. Ben Zobrist will never have to buy another glass of milk in Chicago. Zo and Joe, up on stage. Just what Rays fans need at this point: formers with trophies in their arms. "I couldn't have been happier for both of them," writes Fennelly.

BROWARD ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR RESOLVES GOP CHALLENGE OVER MAIL-IN BALLOTS

Broward County Supervisor of Elections Brenda C. Snipes agreed Wednesday evening to alter the way her office reviews and opens mail-in ballots after her methods were challenged by the Republican Party of Florida. Snipes, whose office has dealt with a series of mishaps and complications this election cycle, received a letter from state party chairman Blaise Ingoglia alleging that her office has illegally processed and opened scores of ballots.

So much has changed since Week 1, when Tampa Bay edged Atlanta 31-24 in Dirk Koetter's NFL head coaching debut. However, if the Bucs win on "Thursday Night Football," they will be within a half-game of the Falcons for the NFC South lead, with the head-to-head sweep in their favor. With that in mind, Times reporter Greg Auman offers five things to watch tonight.

IN PRIVATE GATHERING, OBAMA LOOKS TO LIFE AFTER PRESIDENCY

For one night in Miami Beach, President Barack Obama wasn't campaigning for Hillary Clinton or raising money for the Democratic Party. He was an outgoing president thanking friends and planning for life outside the White House.

LARGO FIREFIGHTER HOSPITALIZED AFTER TRAINING INCIDENT

A Largo firefighter was seriously injured this morning after he fell out of a building during a training exercise. According to Largo Fire Rescue, the firefighter was rappelling out of a second-story window at the department's training grounds when his equipment failed. He fell 14 feet and landed on his back. He was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg with a spine fracture and will need three to six months to recover.

JEB BUSH HAS VOTED, BUT WE DON'T KNOW FOR WHOM

Former Florida Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush has already voted. Miami-Dade County election records show his mail ballot was received Oct. 17, but a Bush spokeswoman contacted by the Miami Herald this week wouldn't say which candidate Bush picked in the presidential race. Bush has said he won't vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

[David A. Straz Center Jr. for the Performing Arts]

Playwright Simon Stephens learned author Mark Haddon had been a longtime fan of his plays, a discovery he called "very flattering."

ADAPTING 'A CURIOUS INCIDENT' BROUGHT OUT THE BEST IN PLAYWRIGHT

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which opens Tuesday at the Straz Center, has been acclaimed for its electrifying portrayal of an unusual mind. British playwright Simon Stephens read Mark Haddon's novel in 2004 and admired it., and the two writers struck up a friendship several years later. When producers approached Haddon about turning his book into a play, the author thought of Stephens.

News at noon is a weekday feature from tampabay.com. Check in Monday through Friday for updates and information on the biggest stories of the day.

Comments

Updated: 3 minutes ago

Updated: 5 minutes ago
Where you can trade in your Gasparilla beads for doughnuts

Where you can trade in your Gasparilla beads for doughnuts

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts will be trading old Gasparilla beads for its famous glazed doughnuts.Anyone who brings in 12 pounds of beads to Krispy Kreme on Saturday will be rewarded with a dozen original glazed doughnuts, according to a news release.For t...
Updated: 8 minutes ago

Updated: 10 minutes ago
Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wallace jumps from Tampa overpass

TAMPA — Former Florida state Rep. Robert Wallace ended his life Monday by jumping from a Dale Mabry Highway overpass, records show. He was 65.At least one witness saw Wallace go off the overpass and plunge between 40 and 50 feet onto Gunn Highway, ac...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

Updated: 14 minutes ago
Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

Investor calls for Bloomin’ Brands to let Outback Steakhouse stand alone

TAMPA — A second activist investor is calling for a big shake-up at Bloomin’ Brands Inc. In a letter to Bloomin’s CEO, Barington Capital Group, a New York-based investment firm, urged the Tampa-based restaurant conglomerate to let Outback Steakhouse ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to what’s been deemed the best beach in the country. Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor reclaiming the crown tw...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Each lap remains a lease on life for distance runner Jon Mott

Each lap remains a lease on life for distance runner Jon Mott

LAKELAND — It took only one moment of teenage audacity for Northeast High's top distance runner to be immortalized as a sprinter.Days before his high school graduation, Jon Mott sneaked off to a dugout in the baseball stadium. There, he strippe...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

Alex Trebek will moderate a Republican debate in the Pennsylvania governor’s race

We’ll take "surprising side gigs" for $1,000! "Jeopardy" host Alex Trebek will moderate a debate among Republican hopefuls vying for the Pennsylvania gubernatorial nomination.The longtime game show star will be questioning candidates at an Oct. 1 for...
Updated: 1 hour ago