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News at Noon: Reasons Democrats shouldn't freak out over Trump; Pasco approves news school zones; competency hearing in Pinky case; health secretary pick grilled

 President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Friday.    [Associated Press]

President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Friday. [Associated Press]

Donald Trump will enter office with the lowest approval rating of any president-elect. But even those liberals sporting "Not my president" buttons can find some reason for hope. The former Democrat from New York has sent ample signals that he will govern much more moderately than his Cabinet picks might suggest.

PASCO LOOKS FOR WAYS TO IMPROVE ON A SCHOOL REZONING PROCESS

Many Pasco County parents affected by their school district's latest attendance zone revisions, approved Tuesday after months of acrimonious debate, gave the process poor reviews and called for a new model. District officials justified the moves as needed to ease crowding in over-capacity campuses and to fill open seats at new schools or in under-capacity ones.

COMPETENCY EXAM FOR MAN ACCUSED OF KILLING BUSCH GARDENS FLAMINGO

Doctors will evaluate the mental competency of a man accused of killing Pinky the flamingo last summer at Busch Gardens, a public defender said in Hillsborough Circuit Court. At issue is whether 45-year-old Joseph Corrao understands and is able to participate in his court proceedings.

CARLTON: TIME TO DO SOMETHING SMART ABOUT TEXTING AND DRIVING

Legislators should be ashamed to let another year pass without empowering police against stupidity in the name of safety, writes Times columnist Sue Carlton. Nearly every state in America now has laws on texting while driving. Count Florida among the 11 with wimpier laws that say texting drivers have to do something else stupid — like speeding or swerving — before police can pull them over. "Officers can't enforce the law. They can see it, but they can't do anything," says state Rep. Emily Slosberg. Two pieces of pending legislation she's backing could change that this year.

POINTED QUESTIONS FOR TRUMP'S PICK FOR HEALTH SECRETARY

President-elect Donald Trump's pick for health secretary said today that the health care system is losing focus on patients, its first priority, and he offered assurances that the new administration is not planning to launch into a Medicare overhaul. Rep. Tom Price testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at the start of a confirmation process that's expected to be highly contentious.

AMERICA HAS A MESSAGE FOR DONALD TRUMP: STOP TWEETING

Sixty-nine percent of respondents in a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll said that Trump's tweeting is bad, agreeing with the statement that "in an instant, messages can have unintended major implications without careful review." The poll follows a Times story on the president-elect's Twitter habits.

HOW TRUMP CAME UP WITH 'MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN'

The four words that would help propel Donald Trump to the White House were an inspiration born years before, when hardly anyone but Trump himself could imagine him taking the oath of office as the 45th president of the United States.

NEW SCHOOL NAMED AFTER TAMPA CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY

The Hillsborough County School Board has voted to name the district's new elementary school in Riverview after Warren Dawson, a Tampa attorney who was instrumental in the effort to desegregate the county's public schools. The school is currently under construction and slated to open in August.

FLORIDA SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO HEAR CASE ON TAX CREDIT SCHOLARSHIPS

The long legal fight against Florida's corporate tax credit scholarship program appears to be over. The Florida Supreme Court has refused to hear the Florida Education Association's petition seeking standing to challenge the program.

REVIEW: SHHHHH, AND GET IN YOUR SEAT; VAN MORRISON IS ON STAGE

Van Morrison is ageless without being archaic. It is his insistence on delivering music on his terms that separates him from oldies acts that survive on nostalgia. In some ways, it is hubris as art. He is that good, and that confident in his delivery. Morrison plays tonight and Thursday at Ruth Eckerd Hall to complete a three-night gig in Clearwater. And so there will be no pyrotechnics. No stage banter about how great it is to be in Tampa Bay. On stage, he is the jazz club owner who isn't going to pander to the clientele. Check out John Romano's review.

WANT TO BUY BURT REYNOLDS' PERSONAL 1978 'BANDIT' TRANS-AM?

If you've ever wanted to own a car modeled after the iconic Trans-Am from the film Smokey and the Bandit, not to mention a car in Burt Reynolds' personal collection, get to Arizona and get there quick. According to the auction listing on the Barrett-Jackson website, Lot 1401 is a "Pro-Touring Firebird is owned by actor Burt Reynolds."

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.

News at Noon: Reasons Democrats shouldn't freak out over Trump; Pasco approves news school zones; competency hearing in Pinky case; health secretary pick grilled 01/18/17 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2017 12:18pm]
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  1. Roosevelt Blvd closed at I-275 after truck hauling crane hits overpass

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A truck transporting a construction crane hit the Interstate 275 overpass at Roosevelt Boulevard Tuesday.

  2. One Pasco County student arrested for bringing weapons to school, another for threatening shooting

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    Two Pasco County students from different schools were arrested Tuesday, one for having weapons on school grounds and the other for threatening a school shooting.

  3. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier

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    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
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    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time

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    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]