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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. Half of Florida lawmakers fail or nearly fail review of support for public records

    State Roundup

    WEST PALM BEACH — Half of Florida's legislators failed or nearly failed in a review of their support for public records and meetings given by Florida newspapers and an open-government group after this year's legislative sessions.

    State Senator Bill Galvano, R- Bradenton (left) and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran ranked on opposite sides of the spectrum in an analysis of support for open records. Galvano scored a B-minus and Corcoran scored a D-plus.
[Times file photo]
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