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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. Rick Scott appoints Jim Boxold as next Florida DOT secretary

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott on Friday appointed Jim Boxold to be Florida’s next transportation secretary.
    Boxold, who since 2013 has been former Secretary Ananth Prasad’s chief of staff and director of legislative affairs, was one of three finalists recommended Thursday by the Florida Transportation Commission.
    Previously, Boxold served 10 years as the director of cabinet affairs for the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.
    “Jim will bring passion, energy and experience to our mission of making Florida the premier destination for jobs. I am grateful for Secretary Prasad’s service and I am confident Jim is the best person to carry on his commitment to excellence in improving our state’s infrastructure in the years ahead,” Scott said in a statement.
    Boxold said in a statement, “It is an absolute honor to be appointed as Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation today. Under Governor Scott’s leadership, transportation has been made a top priority to help drive our state’s economic growth and improve the lives of families. We will continue to focus on the Governor’s mission to make Florida the best state to live and get a great job.”

     ...

    Jim Boxold, Florida's new DOT secretary
  2. Gov. Rick Scott names new transportation secretary

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — On Friday, Gov. Rick Scott chose Jim Boxold, a longtime capital insider, to be Florida's next transportation secretary.

    Boxold, who since 2013 has been former Secretary Ananth Prasad's chief of staff and director of legislative affairs, was one of three finalists recommended Thursday by the Florida Transportation Commission.

    "It is an absolute honor to be appointed as secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation today," Boxold said in a statement. ...

    Jim Boxold, 40, was chief of staff to the former secretary and has held key political posts.
  3. Scott set to quickly replace FDOT's Prasad

    Blog

    The Florida Transportation Commission recommended three men to Gov. Rick Scott for the replacement of outgoing FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad on Thursday.

    That’s pretty quick turnaround considering that Prasad announced he was leaving on Dec. 2. Also, keep in mind that the $10-billion agency is the state’s biggest builder, overseeing 6,500 employees and a work plan through mid-2019 that has nearly 7,000 projects, including 762 new lane miles, 7,345 repaved miles, 190 repaired bridges and 76 replaced bridges....

  4. Sen. Jack Latvala gears up for another growler battle

    Legislature

    TALLAHASSEE — It was one of the most spirited battles in the Legislature this year, pitting scrappy independent craft brewers against wealthy beer distributors intent on preserving their dwindling customer base.

    On Tuesday, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, renewed the fight, filing a 2015 bill that would give microbreweries what they have long craved: half-gallon "growler" containers. ...

  5. Latvala orders another round of growlers

    Blog

    It was one of the most spirited battles in the Legislature last year, pitting scrappy independent craft brewers against wealthy beer distributors intent on preserving their dwindling customer base.

    On Tuesday, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, renewed the fight, filing a bill that would give microbreweries what they have long craved: half-gallon "growler" containers. Rep. Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, plans to file an identical companion bill in the Florida House....

  6. Economists project nearly $1 billion surplus for Florida budget

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Lower gas prices and rising consumer confidence prompted state economists on Monday to boost revenue estimates for next year's budget by $622 million.

    The calculations improved the odds that Gov. Rick Scott will deliver on his campaign promise to cut taxes and fees, which lawmakers must approve. When Scott first announced a plan in late August to slash taxes and fees by $1 billion over the next two years, state economists were projecting next year's budget to have a surplus of only $336 million....

  7. WSJ: McCollum on what went right for GOP in 2014 and his support for Jeb Bush in 2016

    Blog

    Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum was featured in the Wall Street Journal's The Weekend Interview column on Saturday. McCollum is the chairman of the Republican State Leadership Committee, which raises money for state legislative and judicial races.

    As the WSJ points out, Republicans had a big year. McCollum explains how they did it. Later, he's prompted by the writer, Allysia Finley, on who he favors for president....

  8. Video: Leslie Dougher on why she's the best candidate for RPOF chair

    Blog

    In our final video installment on the race for chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Leslie Dougher explains why she should be re-elected. She certainly has the bonafides. After getting elected earlier this year (Lenny Curry departed to run for mayor of Jacksonville), the Republicans had a monster year in Florida, securing the governor’s mansion for another four years, sweeping the Cabinet, and picking up a super majority in the Florida House. But while she’s won the endorsements from Gov. Rick Scott, Dougher is getting challenged by the party’s grass roots members, who argue the party needs to move away from its top-down-management style. Rep. Blaise-Ingoglia of Spring Hill, former state Rep. Kurt Kelly of Ocala, and Martin County Republican State Committeeman Eric Miller have already made their case for why they should be elected RPOF chairman. The election is next month. ...

  9. ICYMI: NYT keeps up reporting on AGs, Pam Bondi

    Blog

    In case you missed it, the New York Times published another story this weekend on attorneys general and, once again, it touched on Florida’s own Pam Bondi.

    Sunday’s story by Times reporter Eric Lipton was the sixth he’s written about attorneys general since October. It spotlights Oklahoma Attorney Scott Pruitt to illustrate how energy industry lobbyists have enlisted the help of mostly Republican attorneys general in their legal battles against President Obama’s administration....

  10. McCollum returns to AG's office with clients, Bondi helps

    Blog

    When the cruise line Royal Caribbean sought to amend a 1997 consumer protection agreement with the Florida Attorney General’s office, it hired a lawyer familiar with the agency’s inner workings.

    Former Attorney General Bill McCollum called on the staff of his successor, Pam Bondi. Six months after the June 2013 meeting, Bondi’s office granted McCollum’s request.

    Royal Caribbean’s advertised rates would no longer have to include fees for services, like baggage handling and loading cargo. The fees, which can inflate a trip’s cost by more than $100, could be listed separately from the company’s advertised rates....

  11. Former attorney general's contact with Pam Bondi's office raises questions

    Politics

    TALLAHASSEE — When the cruise line Royal Caribbean sought to amend a 1997 consumer protection agreement with the Florida Attorney General's Office, it hired a lawyer familiar with the agency's inner workings.

    Former Attorney General Bill McCollum called on the staff of his successor, Pam Bondi. Six months after the June 2013 meeting, Bondi's office granted McCollum's request.

    Royal Caribbean's advertised rates would no longer have to include fees for services like baggage handling and loading cargo. The fees, which can inflate a trip's cost by more than $100, could be listed separately from the company's advertised rates....

    Emails show Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has been lobbied by unregistered lobbyists.
  12. 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]
  13. 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....

    Tailgate parties set up before the Florida State game against Boston College in Tallahassee on Saturday. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  14. 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]
  15. 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....

    State Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, left, and state Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, join Gov. Rick Scott in greeting guests prior to Scott delivering his State of the State address in Tallahassee last year.