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Michael Van Sickler, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, and St. Petersburg City Hall. He now covers state politics and government as part of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau.

Phone: (850) 224-7263.

Email: mvansickler@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

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  1. Emails detail GOP consultants' mission to circumvent Fla.'s gerrymandering ban

    Politics

    The Republican consultants had to be hush-hush — "almost paranoid" in the words of one — because of their high-stakes mission: Get go-betweens to help circumvent a Florida Constitutional ban on gerrymandering.

    The plot was spelled out in a newly released batch of once-secret emails that show how the consultants surreptitiously drew congressional and state legislative maps. They then recruited seemingly independent citizens to submit them in an effort to strengthen the hand of Florida Republicans when the GOP-led Legislature redrew lawmaker districts in 2011....

    House Redistricting Chairman Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes, and Senate Reapportionment Chairman Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, confer during August's special session to redraw two congressional districts ruled unconstitutional last month. Newly released documents indicate that the redistricting process was steered by GOP consultants working with Republican legislators to draw districts that intentionally favored incumbents, in violation of the state constitution. [AP photo]
  2. Shaken by campus shooting, FSU fans comforted by game day rituals and a narrow win

    Human Interest

    TALLAHASSEE — Matt Pave showed up at Lot 6 on Saturday like he's done on every game day since 1995 — five hours before kickoff, as soon as tailgating is allowed outside Doak Campbell Stadium.

    He's never considered canceling his tailgate, not even when he learned that Myron May, a 2005 Florida State alumnus, had opened fire on campus Thursday, wounding two students and a library employee before being killed by police. In fact, Pave considered it even more important that the tailgate go on....

    With an FSUnited sign referring to Thursday’s campus shooting hanging from their tent, Robert West, 31, center, and other Florida State University alumni play beer pong during a tailgate party before the game against Boston College in Tallahassee on Saturday.
  3. For FSU shooter, strong start followed by mental unraveling

    College

    WEWAHITCHKA — There was a knock on the door of the home in this tiny town not 75 miles from Tallahassee, and at the doorstep stood the man who, in a few weeks time, would open fire on students in the library at Florida State University.

    Myron May, a 31-year-old alumnus, had returned to the state that had raised him.

    He had driven to Wewahitchka from New Mexico, where things had not been going so well. He told Abigail Taunton, a long-time family friend whose boys he had run cross-country with, that he was considering declaring bankruptcy....

    The gunman who shot three people at Florida State University's library early Thursday before being killed by police was Myron May, a lawyer who graduated from the school, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press. [Facebook.com]
  4. New leaders Steve Crisafulli, Andy Gardiner vow to continue Legislature's push to the right

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The Republican hegemony of the Florida Legislature continued Tuesday with the formal elections of the next leaders of the House and Senate, two like-minded Central Florida lawmakers who vowed to capitalize on the mandate given to them by voters.

    House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, and Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, won unanimous approval to lead the two chambers, both of which are overwhelmingly Republican, for the next two years....

    Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, was unanimously elected president of the Senate on Tuesday.
  5. Bondi to lead Republican Attorneys General group that's now under fire

    State Roundup

    Nevermind all the bad publicity her ties to the Republican Attorneys General Association have brought her.

    Over the weekend, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi doubled down by getting elected the group's new chairwoman.

    "It is an honor to be selected by my fellow Republican Attorneys General to lead RAGA at such a critical time in our country's history," Bondi said in a statement. "We will continue to stand up for the rule of law and protect the citizens of our states."...

    Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, has been selected to lead the 38-member House Democratic caucus.
  6. Florida House elects Steve Crisafulli as Speaker

    Blog

    The Florida House on Tuesday elected Rep. Steve Crisafulli as its next speaker, who vowed that he will deliver a conservative agenda for small government.

    “Across this nation, voters rejected failed big government policies that overpromise and underdeliver,” Crisafulli said. “They told us they want leaders who understand what it takes to get our economy going again. They expect competency from their government. They expect us to get the job done.”...

  7. Gardiner and Crisafulli take control of Legislature today

    Blog

    One climbed the legislative ranks rung by rung for more than a decade, his steady progress made possible by a quiet determination.

    The other is a scion of a politically powerful family who made it to the top only after scandal and an election upset cleared the way for his rise.

    Their paths converge at the apex of Florida politics today when Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, becomes president of the Florida Senate and Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, becomes speaker of the Florida House....

  8. House Dems elect Mark Pafford as leader with no drama, little discord

    Blog

    In a Monday evening ceremony devoid of the public infighting that had been expected, Rep. Mark Pafford was elected to lead a shell-shocked 38-member House Democratic caucus still nursing its Election Day losses.

    “It’s important that we maintain our unity over the next two years to be the best at what we do,” Pafford told Democratic members. “And that’s to be the voice for those who don’t have a voice.”...

  9. Florida House, Senate get new leaders in Steve Crisafulli, Andy Gardiner

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — One climbed the legislative ranks rung by rung for more than a decade, his steady progress made possible by a quiet determination.

    The other is a scion of a politically powerful family who made it to the top only after scandal and an election upset cleared the way for his rise.

    Their paths converge at the apex of Florida politics today when Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, becomes president of the Florida Senate and Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, becomes speaker of the Florida House....

    State House speaker-designate Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, left, and state Senate president-designate Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, right. [Times files]
  10. Dwayne Taylor drops bid to replace Mark Pafford as House Dem leader

    Blog

    For the second time this year, Rep. Dwayne Taylor called off his own bid to replace Rep. Mark Pafford as Florida House Democratic leader.

    Taylor, of Daytona Beach, said he concluded this weekend that he wouldn't be able to work with Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant, who strongly supported Pafford.

    "I took last week to evaluate what was said coming from Florida Democratic leadership," Taylor said. "When you're the minority leader, you have to be able to work with them. I just don't think I can work with them."...

  11. What bad publicity? Bondi elected new RAGA chair in Miami Beach

    Blog

    Nevermind all the bad publicity her ties to the Republican Attorneys General Association have brought her.

    Over the weekend, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi doubled down by getting elected the group’s new chair.

    “It is an honor to be selected by my fellow Republican Attorneys General to lead RAGA at such a critical time in our country’s history,” Bondi said in a statement. “We will continue to stand up for the rule of law and protect the citizens of our states.”...

  12. Travis Hutson makes bid to replace John Thrasher in Senate

    Blog

    In what could be a crowded field to replace John Thrasher, Rep. Travis Hutson announced he had transferred $300,000 from his House account to help him win the Jan. 27 special election of Senate District 6, which covers St. Augustine.

    Although campaign records show he’s only raised $180,000, Hutson, R-Elkton, raised $120,000 since November, so it won’t appear in reports filed at the Division of Elections until December, said a spokeswoman, Kristen Bridges, of Bascom Communications....

    The new John Thrasher for St. Augustine residents?
  13. Blame game gets complicated with House Democrats

    Blog

    Rep. Dwayne Taylor of Daytona Beach continued his campaign this week to unseat Rep. Mark Pafford of West Palm as Florida House minority leader by writing a letter to members that said the Democratic party had failed to raise adequate money in 2014....

    Rep. Dwayne Taylor
  14. As Bondi downplays controversy, records suggest more out-of-state lobbying

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Attorney General Pam Bondi on Wednesday tried to downplay recent media reports about her relationships with Washington corporate lobbyists by saying they don't interfere with her official duties.

    "No access to me or my staff will ever affect what we do — and we've shown that — to protect consumers of this great state," Bondi told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. "We're proud of our record."...

    Reports have linked Attorney General Pam Bondi and representatives from Dickstein Shapiro who were not registered as lobbyists in Florida.
  15. Questioned on trips and lobbyists, Bondi defends her record

    Blog

    Ahhh, the first Cabinet meeting after winning re-election.

    It should be a time to glory in getting confirmed for another four years, take a deep breath, and relax.

    And it was all of that after Wednesday's uneventful Cabinet meeting for Gov. Rick Scott, who looked more relaxed than he has in months, and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam....

    State Attorney General Pam Bondi gives a victory speech in Tampa after after winning reelection last week.