11/21/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — In the same room where students once jeered his claim to the presidency of Florida State University, John Thrasher won praise Friday for providing reassurance in the aftermath of Thursday's campus library shooting.
Thrasher attended his first meeting with his new bosses, the FSU trustees who hired him. Weeks ago, they were criticized by students and faculty members for hiring a veteran legislator, former lobbyist and leader of conservative causes at odds with liberal academia....
In the same room where he was jeered and heckled by Florida State students as a candidate for university president, John Thrasher drew widespread praise Friday for being a reassuring presence in the aftermath of Thursday's shooting at the campus library.
Only 10 days on the job, Thrasher attended his first meeting of FSU's board of trustees Friday, a day after troubled gunman Myron May shot and wounded three students, one critically, before being shot and killed by university police. Thrasher has met numerous times with FSU students, attended a candlelight vigil and personally reopened Robert Manning Strozier Library Friday morning as 100 students waited to get inside to study for pre-holiday exams....
State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, knew Myron May, the man identified by police as the gunman in the FSU shootings, from their days working together in student government at Florida State.
May was a member of the Student Senate and Gaetz was president of the Insight political party on campus. The Insight party was focused on community outreach programs, and May got involved in the party’s community service committee....
Florida State University President John Thrasher, who started the job only earlier this month, was in New York at the time of the shootings and immediately returned to Tallahassee.
As a state senator three years ago, Thrasher was instrumental in blocking legislation that would have allowed guns on campus in some cases. He called it "beyond personal." Here is an excerpt from the March 9, 2011, story from the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau:...
11/20/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State University President John Thrasher, who started the job only earlier this month, was in New York at the time of the shootings and immediately returned to Tallahassee.
As a state senator three years ago, Thrasher was instrumental in blocking legislation that would have allowed guns on campus in some cases. He called it "beyond personal." Here is the March 9, 2011, story from the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau:...
11/19/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Two Florida inmates — one a deaf man from Tampa and the other a mentally ill man who is the focus of a searing documentary film — sought mercy from the state Wednesday. Both got a flicker of hope that they might one day see freedom.
Mark DeFriest, 54, who grew up in rural Gadsden County, has been in prison since 1979 for stealing his father's tools. He became a serial escape artist, gained the nickname "Houdini of Florida" and is the subject of a film, The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest. He has spent 35 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, and is due for release in 2085, when he would be 125....
TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's second inaugural celebration will be much more low-key than his first one and a lot less expensive, too.
The black-tie ball is gone, replaced by no-frills barbecues around the state. The inaugural parade is history, replaced by a tribute to military veterans.
Scott appears determined to set a serious, no-nonsense tone at the start of his second term, without the over-the-top trappings of his first one four years ago....
Gov. Rick Scott's second inauguration will be a decidedly low-key affair with a statewide "Jobs Jamboree" tour starting Dec. 1. There are no plans for an inaugural ball or parade in Tallahassee, but instead Scott will attend a series of informal barbecues hosted by Florida businesses in Tampa, Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Jacksonville and Pensacola during December. Details on specific events will be announced later....
11/18/14 State Roundup
Florida's 2014 election results were certified Tuesday, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott defeated Democrat Charlie Crist by 64,145 votes, a margin of 1.07 percent. More than 75,000 voters skipped the race for governor, a sign of the widespread disapproval of both candidates. Despite a mediocre statewide turnout of 50.5 percent, this was Florida's first midterm election in which more than 6 million voters cast ballots. A closer look at the numbers:...
A closer look at U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham's victory in North Florida's sprawling 2nd Congressional District shows that she ran stronger than Charlie Crist in all 12 counties that are whollly contained in the district.
Graham ran an impressive ground game and campaigned as a centrist problem-solver candidate to appeal to independents, Republicans and conservative Democrats. But the results show that from Perry to Chipley, people voted for Graham who couldn't bring themselves to vote for Crist. Across the district, Graham got about 7,000 more votes than Crist....
Gov. Rick Scott received not one but two sustained standing ovations Tuesday in the Florida House as part of the one-day organizational session celebrating the installation of a new speaker and Senate president and the elections of new members.
The sustained applause reflected the gratitude of Scott's fellow Republicans -- and a sense of relief -- that he will be around for four more years....
11/17/14 State Roundup
She was a teenager when she joined the front lines of the civil rights movement in Florida. She was the first black woman to practice law in Hillsborough County. She was a rare female president of the male-dominated National Bar Association.
State Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa blazed another trail Monday as she became the first African-American woman to lead the Senate Democratic caucus. Her mission will be to help rebuild the Democratic Party one day at a time while pushing an alternative agenda on education, health care and many other issues for the next two years....
11/17/14 State Roundup
TALLAHASSEE — Melissa Sellers, who successfully managed Florida Gov. Rick Scott's re-election campaign, will handle the reins of state government as his new chief of staff.
A native of Texas and University of Texas journalism graduate, Sellers starts Dec. 1. She replaces Adam Hollingsworth, who long ago planned to resign after the election. He was paid $151,000 a year.
"It's humbling," she said Monday. "I'm honored."...
Sen. Arthenia Joyner of Tampa formally took office Monday as leader of the 14-member Senate Democratic caucus, a job that puts her in familiar territory -- fighting uphill for a liberal agenda in a conservative Legislature.
In an afternoon ceremony in the Senate chamber attended by her sisters and friends, Joyner was unanimously elected by her fellow Senate Democrats. In a fiery speech, she ripped into the Republicans' agenda, comparing it a Berlin Wall that breeds human misery on issues such as health care, the minimum wage and civil rights....
Melissa Sellers confirmed Monday she has accepted the post of chief of staff in Gov. Rick Scott's administration, effective Dec. 1. Sellers, 32, managed Scott's successful re-election campaign and has been viewed as the odds-on favorite for the powerful position.
"It's humbling and I'm honored," said Sellers, 32, a journalism graduate of the University of Texas. The chief of staff controls access to the governor, acts as his intermediary with the Legislature and state agencies and is chiefly responsible for executing the governor's agenda....