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Charlotte Sutton, Senior Editor/Health and Politics

Charlotte Sutton

Charlotte Sutton is senior editor/health and politics, at the Tampa Bay Times. Since moving to Florida in 1986 she has covered news all over the state, including hurricanes, politics, arts and entertainment. She and her husband, a writer and teacher, live in St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 893-8425

Email: sutton@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SuttonTimes

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  1. 'Sleepless in America' could be your wakeup call

    Health

    Exactly when it happened, precisely where I was, I truly cannot recall.

    But the terrifying lurch my brain and stomach made late one night when I realized I had nodded off while driving down Interstate 75 somewhere in south Georgia? That I will never forget.

    Those sensations came back with last week's news of the 16-year-old Texas boy who fell asleep driving the family car on a trip to Disney World. His parents and three siblings were killed; two more siblings were injured....

  2. New documents show GOP consultants steered Republican lawmakers in redistricting

    Blog

    By Kathleen McGrory, Michael Van Sickler and Sergio Bustos, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

    TALLAHASSEE — Republican consultants worked side-by-side with Republican lawmakers in guiding them on drawing new Florida congressional districts that intentionally favored incumbents in violation of the Fair District amendments to the state Constitution, according to documents and emails contained in a long-running redistricting lawsuit.
    The Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau first obtained the lengthy documents, posting all 538 pages on its blog, Political Fix Florida, on Sunday. The Times/Herald obtained the same documents.
    The 538 pages of documents and emails were to be released to the public on Dec. 1 following U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ decision Friday rejecting an emergency request to keep the information out of the public eye.
    GOP consultant Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based firm Data Targeting had argued in the petition to the high court that releasing the documents publicly was a violation of his First Amendment rights.
    Media organizations, including the Associated Press and Miami Herald, had asked in a friend of the court brief for the documents to be released.
    The documents and emails suggest that Republican consultants proposed legislative districts to accommodate Republican incumbents and candidates.
    In one exchange, West Palm Beach consultant Rich Johnston asked Bainter and Mike Sheehan, who works for Bainter’s firm, for a spreadsheet containing the home addresses for candidates and incumbents.
    “Still have a problem in Manatee,” Johnston wrote in an Oct. 19, 2011, email to consultants Bainter and Mike Sheehan. “[Republican Sen. Bill] Galvano is west of Bradenton over by the water. Can we wrap the rest of Manatee County into SD 21 and retreat some out of Sarasota?”
    On Oct. 24, Sheehan told Johnston he had “adjusted [Senate District] to include the [Republican Sen. Anitere] Flores residence within the district. I was right next to the [sic] boarder so very little had to be changed.”
    On Nov. 10, 2011, Johnston asked Bainter to include “5007 Eagle Point Drive, Jacksonville” address in District 5. Property records show that address belongs to Michael and Judy Hogan.
    On Nov. 28, Johnston wrote: “Is there a way to put [Republican Rep. Steve] Crisafulli back in play?”
    The emails also suggested that the consultants labored to keep their work under wraps.
    “Just to ease your minds, I have tried to do most of the asking over the phone, so their is no e-mail trail if it gets forwarded. [...],” Jessica Corbett, of the firm Electioneering Consulting, wrote in a Nov. 29 email to another Data Targeting employee, Robert Krames. “I have stressed discretion to all.”
    “Good,” Krames replied. “Thank you.”
    In another email, Krames reached out to former Republican state Sen. Corey Baker, of Eustis, to help recruit people to speak in support of the maps at committee hearings.
    Bainter also addressed some long-standing questions about elected officials’ residences.
    In an Nov. 10, 2011, email to Johnson, Bainter said that former state Sen. John Thrasher, who recently became president of Florida State University, didn’t live in his St. Augustine district.
    “He actually lives in Clay County and would hope to end up there,” he wrote.
    The documents and emails emerged in connection with a lawsuit first filed in 2012 against the Florida Legislature and others by a coalition of Democratic-leaning groups and seven individuals led by the League of Women Voters. The groups say state Senate Republicans redrew districts for partisan advantage in violation of voter-approved “fair districts” amendments to the Constitution.
    The Fair District coalition declined to comment on the documents Sunday, noting that the court order sealing the documents had not yet been lifted.
    In July, Circuit Judge Terry Lewis sided with the League of Women Voters and others in ruling that GOP legislative leaders, guided by Bainter and other Republican consultants, drew two congressional districts that intentionally favored incumbents in violation of the Fair District amendments. Lewis blasted the political consultants for conducting what he described as a “secret, organized campaign” to subvert the redistricting process in violation of the state constitution.
    Lewis rejected Bainter’s claim that he had a First Amendment right to the secret documents that were requested by the coalition of voters groups challenging the congressional districts.
    When Lewis made his ruling on July 10, he gave legislators until Aug. 15 to modify the map and fix two districts in particular. Lawmakers responded by calling a rare summer-time special session and modified seven of the state’s 27 congressional districts, then appealed to the court to approve it.
    Lewis upheld the revisions and allowed Florida’s flawed congressional districts to remain in place for two more years....

  3. Blame and shame won't control diabetes, but action can

    Health

    A few days ago, the last remaining Ebola patient in the United States, a New York physician who treated patients in Africa, got the all clear and is back at home. The two nurses in Dallas who contracted the disease from Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died at their hospital, also are doing fine.

    So, if you've been worried about Ebola in the United States, know that things are looking up here, though the crisis continues in West Africa....

    Dr. Munira Siddiqui
  4. Help seniors get the most out of Medicare Advantage open enrollment

    Health

    Do you think you have the power to stop somebody from making a really bad decision?

    If so, you probably don't have kids.

    But if you're dealing with a grownup, I think you have a much better shot of at least suggesting there might be a better option they could consider.

    It's open enrollment season for people on Medicare, the time when they can drop a plan that doesn't serve them, and pick a new one that could save them serious money and aggravation. But studies show most people never switch their Medicare Advantage or drug plans once they have enrolled — even though the plans often change the doctors, hospitals and medications they cover. ...

    “It’s a delicate matter,’’ Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center said of offering to help.
  5. Soul Injury Ceremony aims to ease the pains of veterans, others

    Health

    Deborah Grassman has made it her life's work to ease veterans' last days on earth. So she immediately knew what might help a man she met two years ago in an Ohio veterans home.

    As a soldier in the Vietnam War, he couldn't get leave for the funeral of his brother, who was killed in combat. By the time he did go home, his brother was long buried, and no one wanted to talk about it.

    For decades, the surviving soldier kept his grief buried, too. But as his own death neared, he needed resolution....

    Deborah Grassman
  6. Baby boomers have changed Road Scholar, CEO says

    Health

    Back in January, I wrote about our plan to bicycle from Berlin to Prague, using it as motivation to keep our 2014 fitness resolutions.

    The trip (which you can read about at tbtim.es/biketour), did indeed serve that purpose. But it turned out to be good for us in other ways, too.

    On the physical side, it's the only time in my life I have ever eaten absolutely everything I wanted, and still dropped 5 pounds. ...

    Jim Moses is president and CEO of Road Scholar.
  7. Storybook charm and scars of war line bike path from Berlin to Prague

    Travel

    BAD SCHANDAU, Germany

    Clustered about as closely as 19 adults and bicycles could, we gathered alongside a steep, two-lane road in a part of eastern Germany nicknamed the "Saxon Switzerland'' for its rugged beauty.

    Our mission: Join the uphill parade of cars, trucks, buses and RVs, without benefit of a bike lane or even a ditch to plunge into if all else failed.

    Our goal: A lovely old spa town nestled along the Elbe River near the Czech border....

    The Road Scholar adventurers left their bikes behind for a bus trip up to the Basteibruecke, a cliff formation overlooking the Elbe River that shows why this region of eastern Germany came to be known as the “Saxon Switzerland.”
  8. Mindful eating could be the healthy dietary change you need

    Health

    What if it turns out that how we eat is just as essential to our health as what we eat?

    Our cover story today focuses on the importance to children of the family meal. Gathering at the table at least a few times a week, numerous studies indicate, is essential to healthy emotional and physical development.

    But this isn't just kids' stuff.

    Mindful eating — the exact opposite of what our dashboard dining culture promotes with every drive-through window — is a hot topic in nutrition research....

  9. Nifty items can help bicyclists beat the heat

    Health

    One of the interesting features of living in Florida is that Labor Day doesn't really mark the end of summer. The calendar says September, but we can fully expect to keep on sweating for weeks and even months.

    On Oct. 5, my husband, some friends and I will be getting on our bikes and — we intend — riding farther than we ever have before. Some time ago, we signed up for the Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life event, and decided to go for the 62-mile course starting at Fort De Soto and winding through St. Petersburg. This is also known as a "metric century,'' as it's equal to 100 kilometers....

    The Relaj Shape water bottle developed by a Tampa couple lets riders stay hydrated without blocking their vision.
  10. Avoiding the HPV vaccine for your kids? Maybe it's time to reconsider

    Health

    If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you might be wrestling with a big question: Whether to get your child the HPV vaccine.

    Unlike other vaccines, this one isn't a requirement to go to school, and a lot of Florida parents are declining it. In fact, we have the second-worst HPV vaccination rate in the nation. Just a quarter of girls ages 13 to 17 (and even fewer boys) have received all three doses of the vaccination needed to protect against the human papillomavirus. ...

  11. Tanning is popular — especially with teens — but unhealthy

    Health

    Do you think you look better with a tan?

    A lot of us naturally pale people do. Fashion historians date the advent of the stylish suntan to 1923, when Coco Chanel came back from a Riviera cruise on the Duke of Westminster's yacht sporting a bronze tint. Not long after, Vogue started using tanned models, and that was that.

    About 50 years later, I was a child with my nose perpetually in a book. I remember my mother insisting I read in the back yard so that I could "get some color.''...

    Experts say the average adult needs 1 ounce, or “one shot glass,” of sunscreen for full coverage. 
JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times
  12. Crist touts 'fairness' plan

    Blog

     Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist today in St. Petersburg announced what he's calling his "First Day of Fairness'' plan,  listing what he would do on his very first day in office if elected governor. In addition to longer-term issues such as Medicaid expansion -- which would require the Legislature's approval, no sure thing in Florida as Gov. Rick Scott knows well -- Crist highlighted these points in an appearance at the Enoch Davis Center:...

  13. Physician groups slam "Docs vs. Glocks'' ruling

    Blog

    Friday's decision by a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Florida's law against physicians asking patients about guns prompted sharply worded statements Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

    An earlier injunction blocking enforcement of the "physician gag law,'' also known as "docs vs. Glocks'' remains in effect while the full court considers an appeal by the plaintiffs to rehear the case. The pediatrician's group said Monday it is urging its members to keep asking parents whether they have guns at home, and if so whether they are stored safely....

  14. How lessons from auto racing are helping with patient safety

    Medicine

    Even if you're not a fan of auto racing, a pit crew at work is a marvelous sight. Moving with practiced precision, the team changes tires, refuels, adjusts, repairs and gets the driver back on the course — in seconds.

    After a 12-hour heart transplant surgery some years ago, two British physicians relaxing in front of a break room TV saw a Formula One crew in action and had a revelation:...

  15. Cyclists and motorists are both responsible for road safety

    Health

    Our cover model today, former St. Petersburg City Council member Leslie Curran, is a living billboard for bike helmets. The 2010 cycling accident that put her in a coma for nearly two weeks would have been fatal, her doctor says, if not for her helmet.

    She's in good company. After I shared the story of my own low-speed tumble last month, a number of you wrote to tell me about spills in which you cracked your helmets — but not your skulls. ...