When Gov. Rick Scott unveiled a proposal this month to revive Florida's popular environmental land-buying program, to the tune of $150 million a year, the news caught Greg Brock off guard.
"I was kind of shocked," said Brock, who recently retired from the Division of State Lands.
That's because Scott's administration has spent the past three years dismantling the division of the Department of Environmental Protection that's in charge of assessing and acquiring environmental land, according to Brock and other former DEP employees. ...
TALLAHASSEE — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam this week provided the most detail yet on his hunting trips to King Ranch in Texas, saying he did not discuss state business, such as water policy, while visiting hunting land leased by U.S. Sugar.
However, Putnam still won't answer key questions about his trips to King Ranch, where he and other top Florida Republican elected officials have visited since U.S. Sugar leased land there in 2011....
TALLAHASSEE — Standing alongside Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and representatives from business groups, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland on Monday touted federal legislation to block federal oversight of waterways and wetlands in favor of state and local government agencies.
"If the big government bullies are successful, it will mean higher costs for doing business, more uncertainty in the workplace, and fewer jobs," the Panama City Republican said during a news conference in the state Capitol. "States and local governments are sometimes better able to manage waters within their boundaries than the D.C. bureaucrats a thousand miles away."...
08/17/14 State Roundup
To say that Steve Crisafulli is comfortable working with the sugar industry is an understatement.
Crisafulli, who becomes the most powerful man in the Florida House of Representatives this fall, has been a major beneficiary of the state's sugar industry. During the last two election cycles, agricultural interests have contributed at least $200,000 to Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and his political action committees. U.S. Sugar contributed nearly half of that total, $94,500....
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 35
The race for this seat on the Pinellas-Pasco bench pits a first-time candidate named Jon Newlon, a family law attorney with a solo practice, against an incumbent with nearly a quarter century of experience, Circuit Judge Bruce Boyer. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer
Bruce Boyer, 67
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Group 16
Brian Battaglia and Kimberly Sharpe have taken different paths through the legal system, but both say their experience has prepared them for taking the bench as a Pinellas-Pasco circuit judge. Craig Pittman, Times staff writer
Brian Battaglia, 53
Kimberly Sharpe, 33...08/12/14Environment
One in every five jobs in the Tampa Bay watershed depends on keeping the bay itself healthy, according to a new study unveiled Tuesday.
A clean bay also contributes about $22 billion to the bay area's total economic activity over the larger, six-county region, according to the study conducted by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program.
The survey — the first look at the bay's economic impact since 1999 — looked at employment, real estate, food services and lodging in an area that includes all or parts of counties from Hernando to Sarasota. The two agencies also sent a detailed survey to 76 professionals working in industries affiliated with the bay....08/08/14Environment
Cue the theme song. You know the one — the one with all that foreboding bass, the one that kids who haven't seen the movie like to hum when they're splashing at the beach and pretending there's a deadly predator nearby.
Shark Week, by far the most popular week of programming on the Discovery Channel, is lurking, ready to chomp down on the nation's TV screens again this week.
And that means David Shiffman is sharpening his harpoon....08/04/14Environment
Amid mounting criticism of his stance on climate change and his secret hunting trip to Texas with sugar industry officials, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday unveiled an eight-page plan for how he will improve Florida's environment if the voters give him four more years in office.
Scott, speaking before the Martin County Chamber of Commerce and the Loxahatchee River Environmental Center in Jupiter, pledged to spend $1 billion on restoring the Everglades, cleaning up the polluted Indian River Lagoon, saving the state's declining springs and providing more water for the state's continued growth....08/01/14 Blog
A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.
A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft....07/31/14Gubernatorial
TALLAHASSEE — A month after Gov. Rick Scott took a secret hunting trip to the King Ranch in Texas last year, he faced a big decision.
A seat had come open on the board that oversees Florida's efforts on the multibillion-dollar project to repair damage to the Everglades caused by agriculture. To fill that position, Scott picked a corporate executive named Mitchel A. "Mitch" Hutchcraft. ...07/30/14 Blog
Before he was governor, Rick Scott attacked another Florida politician for accepting campaign funds from U.S. Sugar. He even said Bill McCollum, his opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, had been "bought and paid for.''
Four years later, Scott has received at least $534,000 for his reelection campaign from the corporate giant, and went on a 2013 hunting trip to its hunting lodge at King Ranch in Texas....07/30/14Gubernatorial
TALLAHASSEE — Before he was governor, Rick Scott attacked another Florida politician for accepting campaign funding from U.S. Sugar. He even said Bill McCollum, his opponent in the 2010 Republican primary, had been "bought and paid for.''
Four years later, Scott has received at least $534,000 for his re-election campaign from the corporate giant and went on a 2013 hunting trip to its lodge at King Ranch in Texas....07/27/14 Blog
On a Friday in February 2013, Gov. Rick Scott stepped aboard a Texas-bound plane to take part in a secret ritual for Florida's power elite.
As other politicians had done before and would do after, Scott was departing for historic King Ranch, one of North America's premier hunting grounds. The trips, records indicate, were financed all or in part with contributions from Florida's sugar industry, right down to the hunting licenses....07/25/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Free hunting trips, whether to King Ranch in Texas or destinations closer to home, are a fixture of Florida politics.
It was nearly 25 years ago that details emerged about lawmakers hunting and fishing with lobbyists. Their crime: not reporting the trips, which was a violation of a 1970 law.
Back then, all county and state elected officials were required to report gifts worth more than $25, so the public would have an idea of who might be influencing their politicians....