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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. 'Horrific' conditions at Florida prison ignored until legislator's surprise inspection

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — When the inmates at Columbia Correctional Institution started shouting at him during one of his surprise prison inspections, Rep. David Richardson knew something was amiss.

    "I've done this long enough to know adult males never want to talk to an outsider in a group setting," said the Miami Beach Democrat.

    The fear of retaliation and being singled out by gangs wasn't enough to silence their need to complain about the problems they faced at the prison: toilets that won't flush, no hot water, a majority of showers that didn't work, broken heating system, cell windows jammed shut, head-splitting noise from an exhaust fan....

    Established in 1992, Columbia Correctional Institution is 6 miles east of Lake City on U.S. 90. It currently has about 1,100 adult male inmates, but it can hold 1,400. As of August, it had a staff of about 268. [Special to the Times]
  2. Rep. Richardson finds 'horrific' conditions at another Florida prison

    Blog

    When the inmates at Columbia Correctional Institution started shouting at him during one of his surprise prison inspections, Rep. David Richardson knew something was amiss.

    “I’ve done this long enough to know adult males never want to talk to an outsider in a group setting,” said the Miami Beach Democrat.

    The fear of retaliation and being singled out by gangs wasn’t enough to silence their need to complain about the problems they faced at the prison: toilets that won’t flush, no hot water, a majority of showers that didn’t work, broken heating system, cell windows jammed shut, head-splitting noise from an exhaust fan....

  3. Corcoran announces litmus test for appointments to constitution revision board

    Blog

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran had an idea in 2012 when three of the Florida's Supreme Court's liberal justices were up for a merit retention vote: raise money to defeat them.

    The Land O'Lakes Republican was determined that several decisions that involved the justices who made up the court's majority -- from redistricting to school vouchers, to the death penalty and other issues -- needed to be repealed. He approached business groups seeking their support....

  4. Prison official keeps high-paid job as state settles $800,000 case against him

    Blog

    The state takes no blame for what former Florida Department of Corrections inspector general Jeffery Beasley has done, but it is paying $800,000 to end a retaliation lawsuit brought by his former employees and is keeping him in a newly created job that pays $116,500 annually.

    As “director of intelligence” at the state’s prison agency, Beasley admits that his position was created after the whistleblowers filed their lawsuits and he left the inspector general’s post last fall, according to his deposition in another pending retaliation lawsuit reviewed by the Herald/Times....

  5. Report: Florida is battleground for utilities and fossil-fuel-backed anti-solar campaign

    Blog

    With Florida now a battleground over the future of solar energy, "utility interest groups and fossil fuel industry-funded think tanks is providing funding, model legislation and political cover for anti-solar campaigns,'' according to a new report funded by environmental activists and think tanks that are opposing the effort. 

    The report, “Blocking the Sun,” released by the Environment Florida Research & Policy Center, singles out Florida's four largest utilities -- Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Gulf Power and Tampa Electric -- as being among 17 entities nationwide that are working aggressively "to block solar policies."...

  6. Analysis: Trump won 14 of Florida's congressional districts while Clinton won 13

    Blog

    An new analysis of how Florida's congressional districts voted in November by Democratic data guru Matt Isbell shows that voters crossed party lines heavily in two Miami-Dade districts to re-elect Republican incumbents, despite overwhelmingly support for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Florida Congressional Districts Trump v Clinton...

  7. State agrees to pay $800,000 prison settlement on same day as another inmate riot

    Blog

    The Florida Department of Corrections was forced to quell yet another disturbance at a North Florida prison early Tuesday, deploying a response team to quiet an inmate unrest for the fourth time this year at Franklin Correctional Institution.

    "The situation was quickly and effectively resolved and resulted in no injuries to staff or inmates,'' said Michelle Glady, spokesperson for the agency. "At this time the facility remains on lockdown. The department is currently assessing the facility for damages and has placed involved inmates in confinement pending disciplinary review."...

  8. Florida to pay prison whistleblowers $800,000 to end lawsuit

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Years after three prison investigators came forward with evidence of inmate abuse and cover-ups at the Florida Department of Corrections, the state has agreed to settle a retaliation lawsuit — and pay them $800,000.

    The prison agency also agreed to end lawsuits by three other department whistleblowers, closing a chapter in what has been one of the most tumultuous eras in state prison history....

    Julie Jones, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, which has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by three prison investigators who said there was a cover-up of inmate abuse at a North Florida prison. The FDC also agreed to end lawsuits by three other agency whistleblowers. The agency agreed to pay $800,000, including $250,000 in attorneys fees. Jones had previously told a Senate committee that the whistleblowers were "a group of disgruntled employees." [SCOTT KEELER    |  TIMES]
  9. FPL gets approval to raise customer rates and increase profit share

    Blog

    Florida Power & Light customers will see their utility bills rise by $400 million beginning in January after state regulators approved a 2017 rate increase Tuesday, to be followed by $411 million in rate hikes in the next three years.

    The monthly increase at the end of the four years for a customer that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month would be would be about $9.48, starting with $5 more next year. It is less than the $13.23 increase the company initially projected....

  10. Candidates for Florida Supreme Court narrowed to 3, all with conservative credentials

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's goal of reshaping the Florida Supreme Court drew closer Monday as the nominating commission controlled by the governor interviewed 11 candidates and nominated three who demonstrated they are judicial conservatives.

    The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee sent the governor three candidates to replace Justice James E.C. Perry, one of two black judges on the high court, from the list of six women and five men, all of whom are white. Perry, 71, is retiring from the seven-member bench on Dec. 30 because he has passed the state's mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges. The appointment will be Scott's first to the state's highest court....

    In this March 4, 2015, photograph, people file into the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee for a hearing on a challenge to the state's congressional districts. (SCOTT KEELER   |   Times, 2015)
  11. Candidates for Florida Supreme Court narrowed to 3; all with conservative creds

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott’s goal of reshaping the Florida Supreme Court drew closer Monday as the nominating commission controlled by the governor interviewed 11 candidates and nominated three who demonstrated they are judicial conservatives.

    The Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee sent the governor three candidates to replace Justice James E.C. Perry, one of two blacks on the high court, from the list of six women and five men, all of whom are white. Perry, 71, is retiring from the seven-member bench on Dec. 30 because he has passed the state's mandatory retirement age of 70 for judges. The appointment will be Scott’s first to the state’s highest court....

  12. Diaz emerges as victor in Miami legislators' partisan battle over delegation chair

    Blog

    Democrats played their rules cards aggressively Tuesday in the quest to name the chairman of the powerful Miami-Dade delegation that includes 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans.

    Despite their attempt to flex their muscles, four Democrats crossed over and the group re-elected Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, to the one-year post that has the power to make appointments to several local boards of directors....

  13. Negron, Corcoran now officially in charge of Florida Legislature

    Blog

    Under new leadership, the Florida Legislature entered a strange new world Tuesday as the House speaker condemned the entrenched power of lobbyists and called for major changes in spending sure to be opposed by the Senate and Gov. Rick Scott.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, described a Capitol controlled by lobbyists and politically-wired vendors, with lawmakers doing their bidding at the expense of taxpayers....

  14. House rejects recount dispute, swears in Robert Asencio over David Rivera's objections

    Blog

    After a ruling by the Secretary of State that Democrat Robert Asencio's 53-vote victory over former state Rep. David Rivera was legitimate, the Florida House swore in the Democrat, rejecting Rivera's challenge. 

    The race for House District 118 faced a recount and was certified Tuesday morning by the state Elections Canvassing Commission, administered by Secretary of State Ken Detzner. After 10 hours of counting ballots, Miami-Dade County's elections department last week declared that Asencio finished with 31,412 votes and Rivera 31,359 — a margin 15 votes closer than when the recount began....

  15. Oscar Braynon has some thoughts for Richard Corcoran on the new House rules

    Blog

    Newly-elected Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon is out of the gate with some pretty pointed comments about the sweeping new rules proposed by incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran

    "I look at these rules and I think, he must be expecting criminals and unethical people to come to the House. I know I expect senators to come to the Senate,'' he said in an interview with the Herald/Times....