New state ombudsman for the elderly takes the helm
Leigh Davis has been named the state’s new top advocate for the elderly in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities.
Davis, who has 30 years experience in the health-care and long-term care industry, filled the role of long-term care ombudsman for the Department of Elder Affairs on Feb. 3. In her position, she’ll oversee the statewide council of trained volunteers who visit facilities and investigate complaints and act as advocates for the elderly....
TALLAHASSEE — Crystal White was enjoying a parasailing adventure with her sister Amber in Pompano Beach on a summer day in 2007 when something went horribly wrong. The wind picked up, pulled the boat to shore and the rope attaching the parasail to the boat snapped. The two young girls were first slammed into a beach hotel and then a tree.
White, now 24, sustained head trauma and other injuries but survived. Amber died two days later, just before her 16th birthday....
Gov. Rick Scott may wear the state seal on his cowboy boots, but it shouldn’t be popping up on his campaign website, say Florida Democratic Party officials, who argue that Scott isn’t following state laws prohibiting the use of the seal in public campaigns.
The official state seal appears when visitors to the campaign website click on a few videos, including a Feb. 3rd announcement of $80 million in cancer research funding and another on education. Florida statutes state that “in no event shall approval be given for the use of the Great Seal for the following: (a) Political or campaign purposes.”...
For the fourth year, Democratic legislators and advocates for medical marijuana are pushing for a measure to legalize the drug. What makes all of them more hopeful about success this session is the Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative amendment, which will be on the ballot Nov. 4.
“We’ve seen a seismic shift in how the legislature is beginning to look at these issues,” said Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, at a press conference Monday to announce his 157-page bill, the "Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act" (SB 962), with House sponsor Rep. Joe Saunders, D-Orlando. ...
Florida has its share of under-the-radar “combat sports,” including “fighting” matches involving strippers, backyard brawls and unlicensed boxing events.
One of those events involved celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman, who was banned from holding an unlicensed celebrity fight in a Fort Lauderdale hotel in 2011. Feldman was recently in the news for planning a controversial boxing match pitting George Zimmerman, acquited in the death of Trayvon Martin, and rap star DMX, expected to take place in March in Philadelphia, if it actually happens. The hype alone has prompted a groundswell of opposition....
Blasting the state's decision to block the University of Florida's student union as an early voting site, Charlie Crist posted a Facebook notice Friday stating he'll meet with students and voters at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday at Turlington Plaza to discuss the issue.
The posting follows a tweet from the Democratic candidate at 6:15 p.m. Thursday: "This is an outrage," Crist tweeted. "Stay tuned on how we can protest Rick Scott's awful insult to every student & voter in the state."...
Attorney General Pam Bondi, legislators and law enforcement leaders are joining the widow of a Miami cyclist killed in a 2012 hit-and-run crash on a South Florida causeway in her campaign to crack down on hit-and-run drivers.
At a press conference Tuesday, Patty Cohen said she has been pursuing a change in the law, which now gives drunk drivers an incentive to leave the scene of a hit-and-run, since her husband Aaron was struck by a motorist on the Rickenbacker Causeway’s William Powell Bridge on Feb. 15, 2012....
Florida’s child welfare system got a boost Monday with the approval of a five-year renewal of a federal waiver that allows the state to have more options in helping children from troubled homes.
The waiver enables the state to use Title IV-E federal foster care funds to pay for services it deems necessary for children in at-risk families, whether it's mental health counseling or substance abuse treatment. In the past, that money could only be used for children placed in the foster care system. The waiver "allows us to have more flexibility in the services we provide families," said Stephen Pennypacker, assistant secretary for programs for the state Department of Children and Families....
Senate and House committees on Tuesday speedily passed additional measures to tackle the issue of sexually violent predators, considered a major priority for the upcoming session.
Sen. Eleanor Sobel, chairman of the Senate’s Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee, said the proposed bills would “plug in the holes in the program and protect our vulnerable children and protect others from sexually violent predators.”...
In light of a Justice Department lawsuit against Florida over the care of disabled children, a Senate committee gathered experts for a status report on the system on Wednesday.
The federal suit, filed in July, stated that Florida health care agencies acted with “deliberate indifference to the suffering” of frail and disabled children by placing them in nursing homes designed to care for elders....
Alia Faraj-Johnson, press secretary for former Gov. Jeb Bush, will be joining Hill+Knowlton Strategies as a senior vice president, leading the firm's Tallahassee office.
Prior to joining H+K Strategies, Faraj-Johnson served as managing director of public relations and public affairs at Sachs Media Group. She was Bush’s press secretary and communications director from 2002 to 2007, and managed communications at 18 state agencies....
Working with volunteers and paid petitioners, the group pushing for legalized medical marijuana in Florida is working furiously to get the rest of its petitions delivered to election officials, said Ben Pollara, campaign director for United for Care.
He said about 100,000 signatures were turned in today around the state, bringing the total delivered to nearly 800,000. He expects another 100,000 will be dropped off by tomorrow afternoon, with yet another batch turned in by next week. The petitions include the roughly 150,000 collected before the group temporarily suspended its drive in the fall....
Some Floridians will be celebrating new positions or continued appointments in 2014. If you know of any movers and shakers in the world of politics or state government, please send them to Rochelle Koff at firstname.lastname@example.org
Three picked for Florida Women's Hall of Fame
Dottie Berger MacKinnon, Sheriff Susan Benton and Louise Jones Gopher have all been selected for the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Gov. Rick Scott chose the three women from a list of 10 nominees chosen by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women....
Raising the speed limit even five miles on rural stretches of Florida’s roads could lead to more fatalities and injuries, according to a law enforcement official, consumer group spokesman and safety council official, who held a press conference Thursday to oppose a bill that would increase limits in certain areas.
“If this law passes and 100 more people die in Florida as a result of a higher speed limits, that would not surprise me,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives for the National Safety Council....
TALLAHASSEE — Outraged by cases involving repeat sexually violent predators, four Florida senators filed bills Tuesday to signal an aggressive approach to protecting the state's children.
"Together these bills will make Florida scorched earth for those who seek to harm our children," Senate President Don Gaetz said in a statement, calling the legislation a "centerpiece" of a joint House and Senate agenda. ...