(ran NTP edition)
In the mid-1980s, E.J. Salcines was Hillsborough state attorney and one of Tampa's most popular politicians when he became the target of a federal investigation. He was never charged, but the investigation cost him his office.
Wednesday, Salcines, 59, got redemption his supporters say was long overdue when Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
Supporters say Salcines' legal acumen won him the post. Others said ties to Chiles and political favors were a factor.
Salcines was one of the first Hispanic federal prosecutors in the Tampa area.
A survey by the state Department of Health shows middle and high school students in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough and Manatee counties are more likely to smoke than teens in any other part of Florida.
Forty-four percent of Tampa Bay high school students admitted they had used a tobacco product _ smokeless tobacco, cigars or cigarettes _ at least once in the previous 30 days. That's nine percentage points above the statewide average.
In Tampa Bay middle schools, more than 28 percent said they had used tobacco at least once in the past month, four percentage points above the state average.
In Tampa Bay middle schools, almost 8 percent of students surveyed were frequent smokers. By high school, the proportion was more than 20 percent.
Boys use tobacco more than girls, and white students are much more likely to smoke than Hispanics or African-Americans. Among high school students, white girls are 10 times more likely to be frequent smokers than African-American girls.
Bailout for day school
Parents who bailed out the debt-ridden Carrollwood Day School say they will buy the school if enough families re-enroll their kids to make it financially viable.
At a meeting Wednesday night, the interim board running the school said they are close to signing an agreement with owner and headmistress Kathy Gentner. The deal would turn the for-profit school into a non-profit corporation and relieve Gentner of much of the school's debt.
About 400 students were enrolled as of Wednesday.
Under the deal, the new group would assume two mortgages of about $600,000 for the south campus on Casey Road, a $15,000 promissory note, credit card debt, $39,000 in payroll taxes and Gentner's attorney and accountant fees.
Parents had to come up with $450,000 last month when Gentner announced that the school was on the verge of bankruptcy. Parents who already pre-paid next year's tuition of about $6,500 still must pay for two-thirds of the tuition for each of the next three years.
A Lutz man embroiled in a battle to start his own ambulance service needed an ambulance himself when he woke up with chest pains.
But Frank Griswold, who has accused a Tampa City Council member and the nation's largest private ambulance provider of collusion to keep him out of business, wasn't happy with treatment he got from county paramedics. His allegations are the subject of a federal grand jury investigation and a lawsuit.
"If things had been worse for me, this could have been a real catastrophe," said Griswold, whose bid for a county license to start an ambulance business was rejected in 1996.
Griswold, who has a pacemaker, called 911 around 5:45 a.m. April 14 because of stiffness in his chest. He became alarmed when an ambulance showed up without a fire engine escort and the paramedics' defibrilator unit beeped repeatedly.