Rochelle Koff, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Rochelle Koff

Rochelle Koff is a reporter in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau. She previously worked at the Miami Herald as a business, news and features editor, reporter and Broward restaurant critic. Rochelle was also a reporter at the Sun-Sentinel and earned a bachelor's degree from Temple University.

Phone: (850) 224-7263.

Email: rkoff@tampabay.com

Twitter: @RKoff

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  1. Climate wars continue as Crist meets with FSU scientist

    Blog

    Democrat Charlie Crist said he's already a "believer" in climate change but said he listened to a scientific presentation Friday partly to highlight the differences between him and Gov. Rick Scott.

    The presentation took place during a press conference as Jeff Chanton, a Florida State University oceanography professor, showed slide after slide showing the impact of global warming on Florida and the world. Chanton was one of 10 scientists who last week sent a letter to Scott requesting a sit-down to discuss climate change since the governor has often said he's not a scientist when asked about global warming....

  2. Bondi calls on emergency medical workers to help fight human trafficking

    Blog

    Attorney General Pam Bondi is turning to emergency medical workers to help fight human trafficking in Florida, which is the third highest ranked state for the crime.

    Emergency medical providers are at the "front line to help to identify possible victims of human trafficking," Beth Brunner, CEO of the Emergency Medicine Learning and Resource Center in Orlando, said in a press release....

  3. Movers & Shakers

    Blog

    Legislative director leave

    A longtime presence in state government, Darrick McGhee has left his job as director of legislative affairs for Gov. Rick Scott, and will be starting a new position as vice president of government relations for the lobbying firm, Johnson & Blanton, on Aug. 4th

    Darrick is "an outstanding human being, a really good guy," said Travis Blanton. "He's very knowledgeable of the (state) agencies because he's worked in several and he's very knowledgeable about how Florida government works."...

  4. ALF reforms fail again in the Legislature

    Blog

    Legislative leaders identified reform of Florida’s assisted-living facilities as one of their top goals this session, but once again lawmakers did not adopt measures to improve conditions in the 3,048 facilities around the state.

    It is the third year the Legislature has not passed reforms proposed after a 2011 Miami Herald investigation that revealed the neglect, abuse and death of residents at some in ALFs....

  5. Politics blamed in latest demise of Florida's assisted-living reforms

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Legislative leaders identified reform of Florida's assisted-living facilities as one of their top goals this session, but once again lawmakers did not adopt measures to improve conditions in the state's 3,048 facilities.

    It is the third year the Legislature has not passed reforms proposed after a 2011 Miami Herald investigation revealed the neglect, abuse and death of residents at some ALFs....

  6. Movers & Shakers

    Blog

    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....

  7. Families, lawmakers push for parasailing regulation (w/ video)

    Tourism

    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....

    Amber White, 15, left, died after a ’07 parasailing crash in Pompano Beach. Sister Crystal, then 17, survived.
  8. Florida Democrats: Scott shouldn't use state seal, official pix on campaign website

    Blog

    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.”...

  9. Legislators file medical marijuana legislation as a "framework" for constitutional amendment

    Blog

    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. ...

  10. State issues warning about unlicensed combat sports

    Blog

    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....

  11. Crist says he'll meet UF students over state's rejection of campus center as early voting site

    Blog

    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."...

  12. Bondi, legislators push for crackdown on hit-and-run drivers

    Blog

    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....

  13. State gets five-year extension of a funding waiver to help at-risk children

    Blog

    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....

  14. Sexual predator reform gains momentum as legislators pass a flurry of bills

    Blog

    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.”...

  15. Too many 'medically fragile' children still in nursing homes, attorney tells Senate committee

    Blog

    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....