Florida fines key county $3.5 million for mandating vaccines
Florida has issued its first fine to a county it says violated a new state law banning coronavirus vaccine mandates and for firing 14 workers who failed to get the shots. The Florida Department of Health on Tuesday issued the $3.5 million fine for Leon County, home to the state capital, saying the municipality violated Florida's “vaccine passport" law, which prohibits businesses and governments from requiring people to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. “These are people that, presumably, have been serving throughout this whole time and now all of a sudden they’re basically getting kicked to the curb,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at a news conference in St. Pete Beach.news.yahoo.com
Florida woman given 30 years in husband's homicide
A Leon County circuit judge handed down the sentence for Denise Williams, rejecting arguments from her attorney that she was only a minor participant in the plot to kill her husband, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Mike Williams, a 31-year-old real estate appraiser, disappeared in December 2000 during what was supposedly a solo duck hunting trip to a lake in Jackson County.news.yahoo.com
Florida school districts can impose student mask mandates; tragedy in Afghanistan
A Leon County judge has ruled that Florida school districts can require students to wear masks, and on this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” we hear from Duval County School Board Chair Elizabeth Andersen and local attorney and parent Chris Hand. We also have state Rep. Cord Byrd, who supports parental choice. And the rush to evacuate Afghanistan has turned violent. With American and Afghan casualties, it has become emotional for veterans. U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz, the first Green Beret elected to the U.S. House, gives his view.
Conservation dispute should be heard in trial, judge says
A Leon County circuit judge has said a trial is needed in part of a long-running lawsuit about how the Legislature carried out a 2014 constitutional amendment aimed at land and water conservation. Environmental groups in October asked Circuit Judge Charles Dodson to grant summary judgment finding that some state budget items from 2015 and 2016 violated the constitutional amendment. Summary judgment would have short-circuited the need for a trial. “On summary judgment, plaintiffs must prove the nonexistence of a genuine issue of material fact. But Dodson wrote in his ruling last week that a dispute about the constitutionality of specific budget items remained after the appeals-court decision.
Fire extinguisher dry off lands Florida man in jail
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida man who wasn’t on fire was arrested Tuesday night after police say he sprayed himself with a fire extinguisher in an attempt to dry himself off. Florida State University police found David Mann, 54, on the top floor of a parking garage with an extinguisher and covered in powder, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Mann told police he had been drinking and fell asleep and then fell in water when he woke up. He said he was using the extinguisher to try to dry himself off, police said. Mann was being held in the Leon County jail Wednesday night.
Judge gives more time in unemployment case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rejecting arguments by the state and Deloitte Consulting LLP, a circuit judge has given more time to plaintiffs to file a revised class-action lawsuit stemming from problems in Florida’s unemployment-compensation system. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper issued an order this week that gives plaintiffs' attorneys until Monday to file an amended complaint. But Cooper gave plaintiffs' attorneys 30 days to file an amended complaint, which would refuel the legal fight. The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in April after hundreds of thousands of coronavirus-caused unemployment claims overwhelmed the state’s online CONNECT system. The Department of Economic Opportunity runs the unemployment system, while Deloitte was a contractor that helped put CONNECT in place in 2013.
Avoid these mistakes while filling out your ballot
Right now, these boards are saving thousands of voters from their own mistakes in every county. After observing the Leon County canvassing board in action, here are some key takeaways:1) Don’t vote for more than one candidate in a race. As Lindley said, one ballot had voted for two candidates in a race while another had voted for three. 2) Avoid red ink when filling out your ballot. What’s clear after watching the Leon County canvassing board is that its members go out of their way to make sure the intent of the voter is understood.
Florida’s COVID data doesn’t match school districts'
It became apparent once the Department of Health released its data that the figures didn’t line up with those provided by school districts. As it turns out, that’s because the report used different data than districts when it comes to listing positive cases. While Duval County Public Schools reported 75 cases of COVID-19 from Sept. 6 to Sept. 26, the state reported 91 cases. A representative for the health department said the reason for the differences is that the agency independently collects its data through labs and its own efforts — not from school districts. For the most accurate picture on a day-to-day basis, education advocates recommend checking with your school district’s COVID-19 data dashboard.
Florida activists released after rally over police shootings
Leon County jail records showed most were taken into custody for resisting officers and assembling unlawfully. They were met by a phalanx of law officers from the Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff's Office, the Florida Highway Patrol, as well officers from the nearby Capitol and Florida State University. For months, activists have staged rallies in Tallahassee to bring attention to police killings they say were unjustified. The incident led Leon County to put in place a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. While the grand jury declined to hand down indictments against the police officers, it found areas of concern.
Gun pulled at protest prompts Leon County to institute curfew
TALLAHASEE, Fla. Leon County instituted a curfew Tuesday, several days after a man pulled a gun at a protest against police violence, officials said. Leon County Commission Chairman Bryan Desloge signed an order declaring a local state of emergency that includes a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. starting Wednesday and lasting for a week. The proclamation cites Tallahassee protests that have turned violent, specifically a Saturday confrontation where a man pulled a gun on protesters. Leon County has instituted a curfew effective from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Wednesday evening (Sept. 2) and continuing each day until Tuesday (Sept. 8) morning. The man got up and pulled a gun, police said.
State says school ruling should remain on hold
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida officials are urging a Leon County circuit judge to keep in place a stay on his ruling that a state mandate to reopen brick-and-mortar schools is unconstitutional. Ron DeSantis immediately filed a notice of appealing Dodson’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal. Under law, that notice of appeal automatically placed a stay on Dodson’s ruling — effectively putting it on hold until the Tallahassee-based appeals court can resolve the case. Late Tuesday, attorneys for the Florida Education Association and the Orange County teachers union asked Dodson to lift the stay. “The court should deny the motion and maintain the stay so that families already beset by uncertainty and concern will not be further burdened by repeated and potentially contradictory orders,” the state’s lawyers wrote.
Florida school reopening ruling appealed, triggering stay
The filing triggered an automatic stay that puts on hold Mondays ruling by Circuit Judge Charles Dodson, attorneys for the state wrote, citing legal precedents. The unions argued, in part, that the order violated a state constitutional guarantee of safe and secure public education. Schools districts have risked losing funding if they did not comply with Corcorans order, and many have already opened. The notice of appeal, as is common, did not detail arguments that the state will make at the appeals court. It also was not immediately clear how long it will take the court to consider the case.
Fight over face mask mandate goes to appeals court
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A battle about the constitutionality of a Leon County ordinance that requires people to wear face masks to try to curb the spread of COVID-19 is headed to a state appeals court. The Leon County case is one of several playing out across the state after local governments passed face-mask requirements to try to address the pandemic. The notice of appeal, as is common, does not detail the arguments that Power and his attorney, Sabatini, will make at the Tallahassee-based appeals court. E.g., motorcycle helmet laws, seatbelt laws and prohibitions against smoking in public buildings,” Cooper wrote. Leon County and other local governments have passed such ordinances as Gov.
Florida university system fights fee refunds case
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The state university system is asking a Leon County circuit judge to toss out a potential class-action lawsuit in which students are seeking partial refunds of fees they paid for the spring semester. The lawsuit, filed in May, stems from universities shutting down their campuses because of the coronavirus pandemic and moving to online classes. The plaintiffs argue they should receive partial refunds of such expenses as activities fees, athletics fees and transportation fees. Student fees are used for the benefit of all students throughout a particular institution. The named plaintiffs in the case are University of Florida graduate student Anthony Rojas, Florida Atlantic University undergraduate Amanda Heine and Florida Atlantic graduate student Jordan Sperling.
Registration to vote in Florida’s primary closes Monday
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida residents face a Monday deadline to register to vote in next month’s primary elections. The Aug. 18 ballots in most counties will include partisan primaries for congressional and legislative seats. Also, voters will cast ballots in local races, many of which are nonpartisan. “There is a lot of thought out there and misconception that since it is a primary election, only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to vote,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley said. Statewide voter turnout during the 2018 primary elections was just 27%.
Challenge to mask requirement in Florida county rejected
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. A circuit judge Friday rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of a Leon County ordinance that requires people to wear face masks in businesses to try to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The ruling came as many local governments across Florida have passed mask mandates --- and as controversy has swirled around Gov. The Leon County Commission passed the ordinance June 23 amid a surge of coronavirus cases in the state. As of Friday morning, Florida reported 244,151 cases since the pandemic began, with 2,161 cases in Leon County. Leon County is home to Florida State University, Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College.
Lawsuit asserts mask ordinance violates privacy rights
Starting at midnight Thursday, people entering businesses in the states capital will be required to wear a face mask or face fines between $50 and $250. But Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power said the lawsuit he intends to file will make a privacy argument because the ordinance exempts people with certain health issues from wearing a mask. Florida does have heightened privacy protections embedded in the state Constitution, but Morley is skeptical a court would strike the ordinance down. But Dr. Ron Saff, who has advocated for a statewide mask mandate on behalf of Physicians for Social Responsibility, hopes that isnt the case. The governor does not typically wear a mask during news briefings at the Capitol and has consistently rejected the idea of issuing a statewide mask order amid the coronavirus pandemic, citing concerns over equal enforcement.
Slave cemetery poses questions for Florida country club
Delaitre Hollinger, the immediate past president of the Tallahassee branch of the NAACP, visits the Capital City Country Club in Tallahassee, Fla., on Dec. 17, 2019. Hollinger says the slaves buried at the country club deserve to have their dignity restored. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan)TALLAHASSEE, FL – The rumors swirled for decades: A dark history long lay buried under the grassy knolls and manicured lawns of a country club in Florida's capital city. A huge swath of the property became the Capital City Country Club, now an 18-hole golf course in one of Tallahassee's most sought-after communities. “A hundred years ago when the golf course was constructed there was certainly no technology to decipher what was or wasn't here," he said during a recent visit to the country club.
School boards try to speed up education law fight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – School boards and the state are sparring about whether a challenge to a controversial 2017 education law should move quickly to the Florida Supreme Court. Cooper’s ruling led 11 school boards to appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. It also set the stage for adding new charter schools -- dubbed “schools of hope” -- that will serve students whose traditional public schools have been considered low-performing. The school boards contend in the legal challenge that the law usurps their constitutional authority to operate public schools. In the filing last week seeking to move quickly to the Supreme Court, the school boards said they need to make decisions about issues such as their budgets.
Judge denies gag order for Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll's accuser
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Leon County judge denied a gag order for the former employee accusing Florida Lt. Gov. "I'm not going to enter a gag order, but I'm expecting compliance with the rule of professional conduct," said Judge Frank Sheffield. The prosecution wanted a gag order for Carletha Cole, a former employee charged with illegally recording a conversation with a member of Gov. Steve Andrews, one of Cole's attorneys, said the judge wasn't happy with out lawyers on both sides were handling the case. Even before the gag order was issued, both sides agreed to tone it down.