Archive for December 2017

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto launches task force on Puerto Rican arrivals to Central Florida

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto (Steve Cannon / AP)

U.S Rep. Darren Soto announced the formation of a regional task force to address the needs of displaced Puerto Rican evacuees who have arrived in Central Florida since the island was bombarded by Hurricane Maria.

The task force met for the first time Thursday in Kissimmee. It also includes U.S. Rep. Val Demings, state Sen. Vic Torres and state Reps. Amy Mercado, John Cortes and Carlos Guillermo Smith, all of whom are Democrats, as well as several officials from Osceola and Seminole counties.

Soto, D-Orlando, recently visited Puerto Rico with fellow Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson.

In a statement, Soto’s office said the group will seek “effective ways to tackle the housing, educational, employment and healthcare challenges facing new Puerto Ricans in the area.” More than 280,000 people have arrived in Florida from Puerto Rico since Oct. 3, according to state figures.

Seminole tax collector asks Scott to allow pre-payment of 2018 property taxes »

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Criminal Charges Recommended in Florida State Student’s Fraternity Hazing Death

A grand jury on Tuesday recommended that prosecutors pursue criminal charges in the death of Florida State University fraternity pledge Andrew Coffey, who died on Nov. 3 after a Pi Kappa Phi “big brother” ritual.

Coffey, 20, passed out after drinking a bottle of Wild Turkey bourbon at the off-campus party and had to be carried by members of the fraternity, according to the grand jury finding. The next morning, he was found without a pulse by another pledge. An autopsy determined that he had a blood alcohol level of .447 — which Dr. Lisa Flannagan characterized as “abusive alcohol intake” in her testimony.

“We do see evidence that will support criminal charges and we leave the decision as to specific charging up to the State Attorney or a future Grand Jury,” the grand jury wrote. An investigation into Coffey’s death is still ongoing.

In an attachment to the report, Coffey’s parents called for more “accountability” from members of the fraternity, describing Coffey as a hard-working “friend to everyone” who planned to enlist in the Navy.

“Even as we are heartbroken, we are also troubled. Troubled that our son died alone in a room full of people,” they wrote. “Troubled that no one stood up and said ‘stop,’ ‘no,’ ‘enough.’ Troubled that a group of young people saw someone in crisis and didn’t act. And troubled that this continues to happen, again and again.”

“When young people continue to die senselessly due to indifference, reckless conduct and irresponsibilty, it is clear that change is not only necessary but crucial,” they added.

Coffey is one of several fraternity pledges who have died this year after alleged hazing rituals, leading many universities — including Florida State — to suspend Greek life and consider reforms to combat a dangerous drinking culture.

“While alcohol abuse is pervasive throughout our community, the scale on which it is embraced within the FSU chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity is alarming,” the grand jury’s presentment said. “The Grand Jury finds that while Andrew Coffey’s alcohol consumption was not physically forced, the acts that culminated in his death occurred within an environment of hazing.”

“Willingness of the pledges to engage in life-threatening behavior in no way absolves fraternity members of their criminal culpability if they did anything to incite or encourage the behavior,” the report stated.

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What Florida is saying about Doug Jones’ defeat of Roy Moore in Alabama | Miami Herald

Florida is reacting to Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. Here is what leaders are saying on Twitter:

God Bless America!

— US Rep Kathy Castor (@USRepKCastor) December 13, 2017

Steve Bannon is a cancer. Good people in Alabama were the first dose of chemo.

— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) December 13, 2017

It’s a good night folks. A very, very good night.Congratulations Senator-elect @GDouglasJones.

— David Jolly (@DavidJollyFL) December 13, 2017
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Roy Moore lost. Steve Bannon lost. Donald Trump lost.Pedophilia lost.Bigotry lost.Homophobia lost.Racism lost.Doug Jones won.Mitch McConnell won.African-Americans won.Women won.Victims won.Justice won.Morality won.Values won.Sanity won. Decency won.America won.

— Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) December 13, 2017

I do not pray as much as I should. In fact, I seldom do. But when I saw Jerry Falwell, Jr. praying on line today for a Roy Moore victory, I decided to post up on him. I prayed on and off all day that Moore would be defeated. Jerry, who’s your daddy?

— Mac Stipanovich (@MacStipanovich) December 13, 2017

The people of #Alabama put country first tonight by rejecting the disgusting Roy Moore. Congratulations to the Bannon wing of the @GOP for gifting a seat to @SenateDems in one of the reddest states. You have no future in our country’s politics. #AlabamaElection

— Carlos Curbelo (@carloslcurbelo) December 13, 2017

Good wins over evil. Congratulations to Senator-Elect @GDouglasJones (D-AL). A victory for women and a strong message about what America won’t stand for. Look out @realDonaldTrump, @GOP, this is only the beginning.

— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) December 13, 2017

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Find An Apartment Quickly In Tampa

Do you need an apartment in Tampa quickly? There are always going to be a lot to choose from, so you don’t have to worry about there not being something out there for you. Here’s a little more so you can find what you need.

You’re going to want to look at listings regularly so you can see what people put up online that they have for rent. If you don’t see something you like today, then you can look again the next day or even in a few hours after you first check and chances are there will be more apartments. This is a large city and people move into and out of apartments all the time. Contact people that have listings up you’re interested in ASAP if you want to be first in line or close to it so you have a chance at getting the apartment if you like it.

Go look at reviews for the apartment complex you’re thinking of moving to. You need to know what people thought of it when they lived there, and you may even find some current reviews from residents that live there now. If all you hear are negative things about the place, then you know that it’s not worth your time to try and live there. It’s better to go with what people like because that means that you have a better chance at enjoying your time while you live there. Bad reviews are going to come up for many apartments, but if they outweigh the good then you know to avoid that place.

An apartment in Tampa is easy to find if you use the tips you were just given. Just make sure you are careful about what you pick out. That way, you don’t get stuck with a place that you are not going to like and want to move out of.

After Taggart meets with Florida State, Oregon Ducks left to wait

On a trip to Arizona on Monday, Oregon coach Willie Taggart went recruiting, then got recruited himself.

Taggart, along with co-offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo, visited four-star quarterback commit Tyler Shough in the Phoenix area before Taggart met with Florida State officials nearby.

Taggart was reportedly set to return to Eugene that night to meet with UO officials, who worked late into the night. But it remained unclear as of Monday evening whether Taggart is still committed to UO or Florida State, the program from Taggart’s home state seeking a replacement for new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher.

The Orlando Sentinel reported Monday that FSU and Taggart’s agent were negotiating a contract with a goal of announcing him as the coach of the Seminoles on Tuesday.

If Taggart leaves after a lone 7-5 season in Eugene, he would owe Oregon $4.5 million — the $3 million buyout his contract stipulates plus the repayment of an additional $1.5 million that UO covered for his South Florida buyout last year.

Taggart is scheduled to earn $2.9 million in the first year of his contract but prior to UO’s Civil War rout on Nov. 25 was offered an extension worth more than $20 million over five seasons.

Unlike lengthy coaching searches in past years, time is precious now because, for the first time, football recruits can now sign earlier than the first Wednesday in February. An early signing period runs from Dec. 20-22, and many programs, such as Oregon, are expected to ink the bulk of their recruiting class then.

That looming 72-hour signing period has accelerated the pace with which Florida State wants to wrap up its first coaching search in Taggart’s lifetime — 41 years.

Jimbo Fisher’s successor in Tallahassee must quickly attempt to revive interest in the program that flagged during the team’s 6-6 season, after FSU opened ranked third nationally. With seven decommitments in the past week, Florida State’s 2018 recruiting class currently has 11 members and ranks 31st.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have the nation’s seventh-best class, which remains on pace to be the highest-ranked in history. But one recruit — Tre’Shaun Harrison, a four-star athlete from Seattle — has already decommitted, citing "uncertainty" surrounding Taggart’s future in Eugene, and the Ducks are losing a critical weekend of visits on Dec. 15, because the program will instead be in Las Vegas preparing for a Dec. 16 bowl game against Boise State.

Whether Taggart ultimately chooses to hold together his current class or add to a new one in Florida, the quick turnaround before the early signing period is why many expect a quick resolution.

"Coach Taggart was a big part of my commitment," Madison High School linebacker and 2018 UO commit M.J. Cunningham told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Monday. "I was closer to him than my position coach. If he leaves, I’d definitely consider Oregon and stay committed for awhile to see how things go, but I’m going to see what’s out there for me. Oregon was always a dream school, so they’ll always be in the discussion. If he leaves, I won’t decommit right away."

Cunningham said he spoke with defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt on Monday and that while he didn’t offer any hints as to Taggart’s decision, Leavitt "was pretty much saying if Taggart leaves, he’ll still be there."

Shough, the quarterback who hosted Taggart Monday morning, told The Oregonian/OregonLive that the meeting was "great" though there was "no real news about an update between the schools. He talked about Oregon most of the time, and us."

Oregon later canceled Taggart’s meeting Monday evening with four-star receiver commit Miles Battle in Houston. Battle tweeted that no make-up date has been set with meet with Taggart.

— Andrew Greif

Madison linebacker and Oregon Ducks pledge M.J. Cunningham

Texas four-star WR Miles Battle will no longer be visited Monday evening by Willie Taggart.

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