November 21, 2014

Monday's Afternoon Update

What You Need to Know About Florida Today

Will Short Gorham | 6/20/2011

Teachers union files suit against Gov. Scott

The Florida Education Associate announced today it has filed a class action lawsuit against Gov. Rick Scott and other trustess of the state retirement plan for unconstitutionally imposing a 3 percent pay cut on teachers to balance the budget. The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court on behalf of 11 workers from across the state, including two nurses and a social worker in Miami Dade County, a custodian in Madison County, and a social studies teacher in Hillsborough County. The Police Benevolent Association, the largest union of law enforcement in the state, also joined the lawsuit. The workers are asking the court to sequester the more than $1 billion the state saves from reducing teacher pay 3 percent and ending the cost of living increase on their retirement benefits while the case moves through the judicial system. [Source: Times/Herald]

MUST-KNOW FLORIDIAN

Floridian

Meet Frank Garcia. Though he is technically an amateur paleontologist, he has discovered priceless Ice Age fossils in river bottoms, roadbeds and mines all over Florida. Some animal fossils, unknown to science when found, were later named after him by university-trained paleontologists. The Smithsonian is among the museums that store his finds.

Read more about Frank (and his dog Webster) from the St. Petersburg Times and see video below:

Higher food prices to squeeze restaurant industry

Major restaurant companies may have trouble meeting earnings expectations as sales stagnate and food gets more expensive, according to two analysts who cover the industry. In a note published last week, Andy Barish and Alexander Slagle of Jefferies & Co. noted a recent USDA report predicting tighter food supplies. Heavy rainfall is reducing corn production, while U.S. farmers are exporting more food because of the weak U.S. dollar and rising demand in emerging markets. High corn prices are also expected to make it expensive for farmers to feed livestock, driving them to slaughter herds for food earlier. That will tighten supplies in the future. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


Florida banks peeking around the corner at prosperity

While no one is saying Florida's bludgeoned banking industry has turned the corner, some analysts believe the banks finally may be peeking around it. The state led the nation in bank failures last year, and it still has the highest percentage of troubled banks in the country. But Florida's banks and thrifts just eked out their first profit in three years, and the pace of bank failures has slowed considerably so far this year. The pros seem to agree that 2011 will be a better year, but solid recovery for the banking sector will not happen until after the real estate markets rebound -- and that may still take a while. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]


Visit Florida seeking digital-services bids

Visit Florida, the state's public-private tourism-marketing agency, announced it is reviewing its advertising and digital-services business and is seeking bids from interested companies. "As the No. 1 trafficked destinations-marketing organization website in the country, it's important that we ensure Visit Florida's advertising, website and social-media efforts remain cutting edge," said Chris Thompson, Visit Florida's president and chief executive officer. The agency said its review includes areas such as brand creation; media buying and co-op marketing; website design, hosting and search-engine optimization; digital-media sales; and social media. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


Long commutes: a worker's woe, but a dream for the unemployed

Commuting bothers Daniel Cross. But working doesn't. So he drives 40 miles each morning from Boca Raton to an electronics plant in Sunrise, where he has worked since losing a job much closer to home two years ago. "I can't complain about it,'' said Cross, an electronics engineer. "I'm just lucky to be employed.'' The statewide jobs report released Friday was latest measure of the mixed blessings for Cross and commuters like him. With Miami-Dade's unemployment rate of 13.4 percent at a record level and Broward's 9.0 percent close to an all-time high, commuting has emerged as both a chore and a privilege. Workers unable to find job within a reasonable distance from their front doors are increasingly willing to travel for a paycheck, hiring managers said. [Source: Miami Herald]


Budget Cuts Cats
stray cats Stray Cats Strut
Call the Animal Services Department in Hillsborough County and you'll hear this recording: "Please be advised that due to budget cuts, Animal Services no longer handles nuisance calls, such as barking dogs or trapping of cats. Effective Oct. 1, the shelter will be closed to the public on Mondays as well as Sundays and holidays." Residents of Hillsborough, home to Tampa, must contend with stray cats and their neighbor's yappy Chihuahua without government help after plunging revenue forced the county to shrink payrolls excluding law enforcement by 15 percent since 2007. Fewer workers means the county also cut back on litter removal, original programs on its television channel and maintenance of athletic fields. Read more from Businessweek.


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More people to hit the road this Thanksgiving
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