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. Public records available -- for a tab of $132,348

    Blog

     State agencies often charge for public records, but one news organization encountered sticker shock when it received the bill for its request. Florida's 17th judicial circuit court charged the Center for Public Integrity $132,348 for records regarding the procedures and policies surrounding foreclosure cases last summer

    A story from the investigative news organization states that Alexandra Rieman, general counsel for the circuit that includes Fort Lauderdale and Broward County, said the public records request would require staff to sort through 149,000 emails. That, in turn, would require 2,500 staff member hours at rates of either $45 or $53 an hour, which added up to the $132,348 figure. And whatever records the court system did provide would cost another 15 cents a page, Rieman added, without including estimates of staffer hours and hourly rates....

  2. Florida's hangup: High cell phone taxes and fees

    Blog

    If you think you're forking over too much of your paycheck to pay your cell phone bill, you're not imagining things.

    Florida has the fourth highest average state-local cell phone tax and fee rate in the country at 16.55 percent, according to a study by the Washington-D.C.-based Tax Foundation.

    "If you add in the 5.82% federal rate, Floridians are actually paying 22.38% of their wireless bill in taxes fees on average. The U.S. average combined federal, state, and local rate is 17.05%," according to the group's press release....

  3. Survey: Public lacks information on amendments, rates state badly for health care for seniors

    Blog

    A majority of Floridians believe the passage of a constitutional amendment to allow medical marijuana will lead to recreational use, according to the latest report from the Sunshine State Survey. But most of those surveyed said they didn't get enough information about proposed amendments or only heard one side.

    The survey, administered by the University of South Florida School of Public Affairs and Nielsen, also offers Floridians' views on health care, race relations, elections and transportation....

  4. Movers & Shakers

    Blog

    Update on the Status of Women: Melissa Hagan has been appointed by Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.

    Hagan and her husband, Aaron, own Emerald Coast Interview Consulting, and she recently served as chief development Ooficer for Gulf Coast State College. Hagan, of Lynn Haven, is a former teacher, curriculum designer and caseworker for at-risk youth....

  5. Smith and Rader co-sponsor legislation

    Blog

    Prompted by stories written by a Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald capital reporter on problems plaguing the greyhound racing industry, Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale and Rep. Kevin Rader, D-Boca Raton, have filed the Greyhound Safety Act to tighten regulations. Reporter Mary Ellen Klas  found myriad concerns in areas ranging from greyhound injuries  to rogue operators being allowed to train and own racing dogs....

  6. Sheldon joins victims of pelvic mesh implants calling for stricter FDA rules

    Blog

    Pamela Wise, a 41-year-old mother from Starke, and Elizabeth Way, 53, of De Leon Springs, took the podium at a press conference Wednesday and shakily described the suffering they've endured from having pelvic mesh implants, a topic that's been highlighted mostly in sensational TV ads paid for by trial lawyers.   But the problem is real, they said. 

     "People have died and wanted to die because of this pain" Way, a former firefighter who now walks with a cane, said. ...

  7. Commission releases a 'framework' for regulating medical marijuana

    Blog

    The fate of Amendment 2 will be decided in less than five weeks, but one group has already released its recommended framework for how a system that regulates medical marijuana would work.

    The 12-member Florida For Care Blue Ribbon Commission, which includes Democrats and Republicans, and representatives of law enforcement, business, healthcare and other areas, has released proposed principles that range from patient protection to professional licenses and packaging. It addresses issues like physician requirements and continuing education, regulations on caregivers and a compassionate use registry....

  8. Sunshine State Survey finds Floridians concerned about environment and crime

    Blog

    Feeling safe in public places and concern about the environment are two critical concerns for Floridians, according to a new Sunshine State Survey on guns and the environment, administered by the University of South Florida and the A. C. Nielsen Company.

    "It's clear that Floridians are increasingly worried about security in public places," said Susan MacManus, the survey director and professor at USF's College of Arts and Sciences. "They're also getting a little more critical about what the state has been doing about the environment."...

  9. Former Gov. Bob Martinez leads initiative to improve voter turnout; TaxWatch releases election guide

    Blog

    Bob Martinez, who was a civics teacher long before he became the state's 40th governor, wants to get at the heart of voter apathy in Florida.

    Florida's recent primary turnout of 17.5 percent, the lowest in the past 16 years, dramatizes the need for a new initiative, said Martinez, who is heading the new TaxWatch Center for Florida Citizenship. 

    "There is a lot of work to be done," said Martinez, who spoke at the press conference Wednesday sponsored by TaxWatch, which also announced the release of its 2014 election guide. ...

  10. Movers & Shakers

    Blog

    New official in emergency preparedness post

    Cynthia Dick, a former city of Tallahassee fire chief, has been named the new state division director for Emergency Preparedness and Community Support.

    She will oversee the the Bureaus of Preparedness and Response, Emergency Medical Oversight, Public Health Pharmacy, Public Health Laboratories and Radiation Control.

    Dick brings more than 26 years of experience in emergency preparedness and response services to the job, according to a press statement....

  11. Ex-Florida Supreme Court justices against amendment for medical marijuana

    Health

    TALLAHASSEE — A group fighting Amendment 2 has won the backing of seven former state Supreme Court justices to oppose the effort to legalize medical marijuana. But the spokesman for a group working to secure the measure's passage downplayed the development, saying the current court is what matters.

    A divided Florida Supreme Court ruled in January that ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment meets all legal requirement....

  12. Seven former state Supreme Court justices say they oppose medical marijuana amendment

    Blog

    An anti-drug group fighting Amendment 2 has elicited the backing of seven former state Supreme Court justices to oppose the effort to legalize medical marijuana, but the spokesman for a pro-amendment group countered "what's relevant is the majority opinion" of the current court.

    A divided Florida Supreme Court ruled in January that ballot language for a proposed constitutional amendment meets all legal requirement....

  13. Florida Missing Children's Day comforts parents, celebrates law enforcement

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Hilary Sessions on Monday quietly placed a yellow rose by the picture of her daughter, Tiffany, who disappeared more than 25 years ago. Her tribute was echoed by others who honored the memories of missing or murdered children during an emotional ceremony held on Florida Missing Children's Day.

    "You take it one day at a time," said Sessions, a Tampa resident and director of the board of the Florida Missing Children's Day Foundation. Her daughter, a University of Florida student, vanished Feb. 9, 1989. Sessions spent much of the rally hugging and comforting parents. "You can feel the relief of these parents when they talk to someone who's been through this," she said....

  14. Families remember lost loved ones at Missing Children's Day

    Blog

    Hilary Sessions quietly placed a yellow rose by the picture of her daughter, Tiffany, who disappeared more than 25 years ago. Her tribute was echoed by other family members who honored the memory of their missing or murdered child during an emotional ceremony held Monday for Florida Missing Children's Day.

    In 2013, 35,124 missing children were reported missing, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. But Florida Missing Children's Day focused more on paying tribute to those children and honoring heroes than statistics....

    A few of the pictures displayed at the Florida Missing Children's Day honoring 21 missing or murdered children. The second picture is of Jimmy Ryce, a Redlands 9-year-old who was abducted and killed in 1995.
  15. Movers & Shakers

    Blog

    Circuit Court judge added to adult offender council

    Raag Singhal, a judge with the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Broward County, has been appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the State Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision.

    Singhal, 50, of Fort Lauderdale, succeeds Elisabeth Goodner and is appointed for a term that ends June 30, 2015.

    Former House general counsel joins Tallahassee law firm...