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Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas is capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald and co-bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a graduate of the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. Before she became bureau chief for the Herald in 2004, Mary Ellen was Tallahassee bureau chief for Florida Trend magazine and also served as a senior writer for the Palm Beach Post. She was bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post from 1990-94, after which she worked part time for 10 years while her daughters were young. She is married to John Kennedy, senior writer for the Palm Beach Post's Tallahassee bureau. They have two daughters.

Phone: 850-222-3095

Email: meklas@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

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  1. Four extraordinary days at the Florida Capitol: How Artiles went from defiance to resignation

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Last Monday afternoon, at the start of the state Legislature's seventh week of session, Sen. Audrey Gibson raced up three floors to present one of her bills to the Florida Senate's Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

    Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat, stood behind the lectern and tried to catch her breath as she told colleagues about a 6-year-old from back home who had been involuntarily committed to a mental-health facility for three days for a "temper tantrum." She filed legislation to require such facilities to speed up their evaluation of the about 30,000 admitted each year under the state's Baker Act....

    Frank Artiles, R-Miami, resigned his seat in the Florida Senate on Friday.  (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)
  2. Hooters 'calendar girl' and Playboy 'Miss Social' were Frank Artiles' paid consultants

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Just months before his resignation Friday, Sen. Frank Artiles scored a coup in November when he unseated Democrat Dwight Bullard with an aggressive $1 million campaign in a district that favored Democrats.

    But the long list of expenditures filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Artiles' political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, also raised some questions. Why did the committee hire a former Hooters "calendar girl" and a Playboy model with no political experience as "consultants?" Were the payments related to a trip to the Kentucky Derby or a fishing tournament in Key West? What was the more than $51,000 in reimbursements to Artiles for?...

    Rep. Halsey Beshears, R-Monticello, said he and Artiles have hosted fishing tournaments in the Keys three years in a row in which they "invited everyone across the board." He said he could not recall the women who were either hired as consultants or who came from Tallahassee. [Special to the Times]
  3. Frank Artiles resigns, says he needs time for personal reflection, growth

    Blog

    Sen. Frank Artiles resigned from the Florida Legislature today, consumed by a scandal that erupted three days earlier over a diatribe of insults the Miami Republican unleashed against two lawmakers at a Tallahassee bar.

    In a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Artiles said he was stepping down for the sake of his family and of the institution of the Senate, whose work ground to a near halt this week as Republican leaders grappled with Artiles’ political future....

    Artiles
  4. Frank Artiles, Miami state senator, resigns after racist, profane remarks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Sen. Frank Artiles resigned from the Legislature on Friday, consumed by a scandal that erupted three days earlier over a diatribe of insults the Miami Republican unleashed against two lawmakers at a Tallahassee bar.

    In a letter to Senate President Joe Negron, Artiles said he was stepping down for the sake of his family and of the institution of the Senate, whose work ground to a near halt this week as Republican leaders grappled with Artiles' political future....

    Republican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, resigned Friday for using racial slurs and obscene insults in a private after-hours conversation with African-American colleagues. [Associated Press]
  5. Controversy over Miami lawmaker's racial slur engulfs Florida Legislature

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Controversy raged in the Florida Capitol for a second day over Sen. Frank Artiles' racist and sexist tirade, distracting and slowing down the Legislature on Thursday, just two weeks before the end of the annual lawmaking session and building pressure on the Miami Republican to resign — or risk the potential career-ending condemnation of the Senate.

    The Senate abruptly canceled formal meetings Thursday afternoon as leaders scrambled to find a quick resolution to Artiles' political future. As a Senate lawyer began taking sworn statements about Artiles' Monday-night verbal assault on two black colleagues at a bar near the Capitol, the senator hired a defense attorney who argued Artiles' use of the n-word and other insults are constitutionally protected free speech....

    Sen. Frank Artiles, R- Miami, is showing no signs of stepping down. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  6. Artiles asks Negron to recuse himself, asks for independent investigator

    Blog

    The Florida Senate abruptly canceled all formal meetings Thursday afternoon as Senate leaders scrambled to find a quick resolution to the political future of Sen. Frank Artiles, the Miami Republican being asked to resign by his Senate colleagues after his racist-laced comments about them in a bar earlier this week.

    Artiles hired a lawyer and formally asked Senate President Joe Negron, the Senate's general counsel, Dawn Roberts, and five other senators to recuse themselves from the pending investigation, and appoint an independent investigator. He suggested the Senate does not have jurisdiction and the inquiry is flawed....

    Frank Artiles
  7. What's next for Frank Artiles? Asks and apologies

    Blog

    As a freshman senator this year. Frank Artiles has filed more bills than just about anyone except maybe Republican freshman, Sen. Greg Steube; so how will that play out when his bills come up before some of the colleagues he has insulted?

    The Senate Judiciary Committee hears two of Artiles' top priority bills Wednesday:  SB 12, a claims bill against the Department of Transportation on behalf of the family of Jacksonville man who was killed when his car skidded out of control because of standing water from a clogged drainage basin. He also seeks approval for a more controversial bill, SJR 134, which is a constitutional amendment to require Miami-Dade, Broward and Volusia counties to elect their sheriffs. ...

    Frank Ariles being sworn in to the Florida Senate in November
  8. Legislators prepare an apology and vindication for families of Groveland Four

    Blog

    The Florida Legislature moved closer Tuesday to extending an historic apology to the families of four black men who were wrongly accused of rape in 1949 then tortured, murdered or unjustly imprisoned after one of the ugliest racist episodes in state history.

    Known as the Groveland Four, none of the four men — Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — are still living, but members of their families were seated in the gallery of the House chamber when lawmakers voted 117-0 to unanimously join as sponsors of HCR 631. The measure exonerates the men and asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to expedite consideration of posthumous pardons....

    Legislators are advancing a bill that will apologize to four young black men were falsely accused of rape in 1949.
  9. Almost 70 years later, Florida prepares apology to families of the Groveland Four

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature moved closer Tuesday to extending a historic apology to the families of four black men who were wrongly accused of rape in 1949 then tortured, murdered or unjustly imprisoned after one of the ugliest racist episodes in state history.

    Known as the Groveland Four, none of the four men — Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee and Ernest Thomas — are still living, but members of their families were seated in the gallery of the House chamber when lawmakers voted 117-0 to unanimously join as sponsors of HCR 631. The measure exonerates the men and asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet to expedite consideration of posthumous pardons....

    Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall, far left, and an unidentified man stand next to Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Charles Greenlee.
  10. State's chief inspector general overseeing Opa-locka's financial crisis resigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, the top investigator for two governors who has been accused of suppressing whistleblowers at the state's prison agency and most recently was assigned the task of sorting through the financial troubles in Opa-locka, has resigned her post saying she "wanted to leave on my terms."

    In an exclusive interview with the Times/Herald late Monday, she said she wanted to leave before the arrival of a new governor and before legislation advances that adds new powers to her office. Miguel's letter of resignation to the governor was dated April 4 but not announced by the governor's office until late Monday. ...

    Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel
  11. Scott's inspector general: 'I wanted to leave on my terms'

    Blog

    Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, the top investigator for two governors who has been accused of suppressing whistleblowers at the state’s prison agency and most recently was assigned the task of sorting through the financial troubles in Opa-locka, has resigned her post saying she “wanted to leave on my terms.”

    In an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald late Monday, she said she wanted to leave before the arrival of a new governor and before legislation advances that adds new powers to her office. Miguel’s letter of resignation to the governor was dated April 4 but not announced by the governor’s office until late Monday....

    Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel
  12. In breakthrough for water plan, Gov. Scott endorses reservoir, faster fixes for dike

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott added some tension to the feud between the House and Senate over priority legislation Monday and endorsed Senate President Joe Negron's proposal to build a deep-water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee on existing state lands to reduce the need to discharge polluted water into fragile estuaries.

    "This is a big step toward protecting our pristine environment," the governor said in a rare press conference on a pending legislative issue. "This additional storage, in conjunction with our currently planned projects around the lake, will help reduce harmful discharges to the estuaries in South Florida."...

    Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R- Stuart, greets Florida Gov. Rick Scott on the floor of the Senate during the first day of the 2017 session. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  13. Scott agrees to Negron's reservoir plan, with conditions

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott added some tension to the feud between the House and Senate over priority legislation and on Monday endorsed Senate President Joe Negron's proposal to build a deep-water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee on existing state lands to reduce the need to discharge polluted water in fragile estuaries.

    But the governor added a new condition, saying his support was contingent on legislators finding $200 million to loan the federal government to accelerate improvements to the Herbert Hoover Dike....

  14. Are legislators 'hijacking' the will of voters or injecting common sense?

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's experiment in direct democracy is being tested this year in the state Legislature.

    Five amendments to the state Constitution relating to the environment, solar power, education, redistricting and medical marijuana are getting a rewrite as lawmakers — mostly in the House — attempt to revise what voters approved with their own ideas of how the amendments should work....

    Florida lawmakers are considering proposals to implement or modify measures approved by voters in a way that critics say would subvert the will of the public [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  15. Hijack or help? Florida legislators inject their own ideas for voter-approved amendments

    Blog

    Five amendments to the state Constitution relating to the environment, solar power, education, redistricting and medical marijuana are getting a rewrite as lawmakers — mostly in the House — attempt to revise what voters approved with their own ideas of how the amendments should work.

    The proposal to expand access to medical marijuana — a citizens initiative approved by 71.3 percent of voters in November — is being used by the House sponsor to inject provisions sought by opponents of the amendment. They want to impose new rules on doctors, new conditions on what constitutes chronic pain, and a ban on using medical marijuana in a smoke-able form....

    Voters in Miami-Dade County go to the polls during the August 2016 primary.