October 30, 2014

Tuesday's Daily Pulse

What You Need to Know About Florida Today

Will Short Gorham | 2/15/2011

Florida Jobless Benefits Among Leanest in U.S.

As Florida lawmakers push to contain unemployment costs, the system they are targeting already has some of the lowest benefits and participation in the nation.

The chief factors that define Sarasota's personality are the median age of its population and its wealth—attributes that have produced a community with a trove of quality-of-life resources.

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Florida's average weekly benefit is $232, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, making it the 47th lowest in the country. Its maximum benefit of $275 a week ranks near the bottom as well, far below the nation's other big states. New York's maximum rate is $405 a week, California's is $405, and Texas pays out $406. Florida falls below Georgia, which pays up to $330 a week, and South Carolina, which pays $326. The state also has one of the U.S.'s lowest recipiency rates, or the percentage of unemployed who actually get payments. Just 22 percent of all jobless workers receive unemployment payments under the state plan, a rate that ranks Florida 49th. The national average is 32 percent, according to the federal Labor Department. "Florida has always stood out to us as having the worst of both worlds," said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project, a worker advocacy group. "Eligibility requirements are restrictive, and benefits are very low." [Source: Orlando Sentinel]


Leadership Florida Poll: Floridians Pessimistic about Future

A majority of Floridians are increasingly pessimistic about the future of the state and agree with Gov. Rick Scott's focus on wasteful spending and jobs, according to a new poll commissioned by Leadership Florida. But they disagree with him that tax cuts and immigration reform are the solution, and believe that the state's business and elected leaders rarely have the state's best interest at heart, according to the survey of 1,220 Floridians between Jan. 3 and 16 by Nielsen Co. Sixty-three percent of respondents said the state is in worse shape than five ago or is getting worse. No surprise there, since five years ago Florida was at the peak of its real estate bubble and the economy hadn't tanked. What is surprising is the response they had to years of job creation efforts by everyone from local officials to the state Legislature and Cabinet: 55 percent said the state is doing a poor job creating jobs. [Source: Times/Herald]


Drug Monitoring Program Works in Other States

After seven years of debate, the Florida Legislature approved a monitoring system in 2009 that was set to start operating this year. But Gov. Rick Scott wants to repeal it, citing concerns about patient privacy, paying for the system, and how effective it would be.

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He hasn't talked about his objections in detail; his desire to repeal the program was buried in 800-pages of budget proposals and supporting documents. Scott's spokesman, Brian Burgess, did not return phone calls seeking more details. But 34 states already have such programs up and running and say they don't have the kind of problems Scott fears. Some say the real concern is that Florida, where an average of seven people die every day of prescription drug abuse, will continue to be one of the states without a database. "I don't think your governor understands the impact Florida's pill mills are having outside the state,'' said Kentucky Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo. "If there's no prescription drug monitoring program in Florida, I'm toying with putting a billboard just over your state line that says 'Welcome to the Oxy-tourism Capital of the World.' '' [Source: St. Petersburg Times]

Related:
» Scott Fires Back at Critics over Pill Mill Controversy
Florida Trend Exclusive » Pill Mills: Snapshots from the Prescription Drug War


Cade Museum Announces Award Semifinalists

A panel of business and innovation leaders has selected the "Sweet Sixteen" semifinalists for the 2nd Annual Cade Prize for Innovation. In the next round, now underway, a new panel of judges will choose the "Final Four" from among the Sweet Sixteen. The winner of the Cade Prize will be chosen from among the "Final Four" by a separate panel of judges and announced at a May 12th Gainesville gala. The winner receives a $50,000 cash prize and one year of free membership and office space at the Gainesville Technology Enterprise Center, sponsored by the Center for Economic Outreach. The three runners-up each receive $5,000, donated by Gainesville entrepreneurs Richard Allen, Infinite Energy, Bill Petty and Randy Scott. See the full list and learn more from the Cade Museum.


For Tampa Bay Rays, Synthetic Grass Is Greener When It's Free

Talk about turf wars. The Tampa Bay Rays are putting final touches on Tropicana Field's brand new installation of the latest version of AstroTurf. "The AstroTurf fiber and in-fill systems contain the very latest technology and will provide our players the best playing surface available," Rays president Matt Silverman said of the turf deal. AstroTurf provided the original Rays field in 1998. In 2000, the Rays then switched to a field from AstroTurf's arch rival, FieldTurf. "We've brought the outside inside now," Vince Naimoli, then managing general partner, boasted of the $1 million field. "When you see this FieldTurf, I would defy anyone to say it doesn't look like real grass." The Rays liked FieldTurf enough to put in a fresh version for the 2007 season. Now the Rays are back to AstroTurf. Seesaw battles occur when big synthetic turf businesses battle for sports franchise bragging rights and sales. But there's more to the Trop's AstroTurf vs. FieldTurf competition. AstroTurf cut a deal with Major League Baseball to become MLB's "Official Synthetic Turf." But when AstroTurf said its new "GameDay Grass 3D60H" will adorn Tropicana Field, FieldTurf took exception. [Source: St. Petersburg Times]


ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:

› Clearwater Neighbors Don't Want WorkNet Location
An employment agency wants to set up shop in the East Gateway district near downtown Clearwater, but neighbors are against it. They don't want more unemployed people congregating in an area that already has a homeless shelter and a soup kitchen. That's the conundrum facing Clearwater's Community Development Board today. The board must decide whether to allow WorkNet Pinellas, a career training center, to move into a vacant building at 1315 Cleveland St. The building has sat empty since a fire damaged it in June 2009. The development board is deciding the matter because there are questions about whether WorkNet's relocation to this spot would fit Clearwater's plans for the neighborhood. The city's East Gateway development plan discourages more social service agencies from locating there because several already operate in the district.

› Orlando Home Prices at 13-Year Low
Orlando's median home price in January sank to $94,950, its lowest level since November 1997, with cash deals driving more than half of the sales, according to a new report by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. The midpoint-price for existing-home sales in the core Orlando market, primarily in Orange and Seminole counties, was down about 10 percent from December. Usually a drop in prices means a boost in sales, but January's total was down sharply from December, which is the historical pattern. Only 1,950 sales were recorded for the month by the local Realtors group, down 21 percent the previous month and the slowest month in a year.

› Jackson Health System Loses $11 Million in December
Hearing that Jackson Health System lost another $11.1 million in December and may be down to 12.7 days of cash by the end of March, Treasurer Marcos Lapciuc warned Monday that "there's a train at 200 miles per hour heading straight at us." The latest grim news came as Jackson executives prepared for Thursday's annual meeting with the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners to explain where Jackson stands and what it hopes to do. Commissioners have said repeatedly that the county doesn't have additional money to give Jackson. The system's main problem continues to be a decline in patient admissions, Jackson executives told the Public Health Trust at the meeting of its fiscal committee on Monday, although preliminary estimates for January show an increase in admissions.

› Pants Towne Endures with Old-School Service
Sears and Spencer's Gifts are the longest-running chains at Tyrone Square Mall. But the longevity leader among independent stores is Pants Towne. Its 37-year stand is a reminder that despite this age of e-commerce immediacy, predatory discount store pricing and fast fashion fads, simply offering what people want at a good price with attentive service works. Otherwise, how could Pants Towne survive with 28 rivals in the mall plus six others within 2 miles peddling blue jeans? We're talking old-school. No online selling. The owners work the register and buy the goods. They take special orders. To woo trendy teens, Pants Towne rode a sampling of Von Dutch for a while, then Dickies and Ed Hardy. They're fading. But the core remains the wall of cubicles jammed with eight styles of Levi's: from baggy and relaxed fits to currently popular slim, skinny and superskinny. "The fads bring people in, but the basics move 90 percent of our business. Levi's are hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet," said Steve Becker, a 55-year-old third-generation merchant and one-time stand-up comic who has sold jeans since his teens.

› Jacksonville Rental Garage Lifts D.I.Y. Mechanics' Work
Many car enthusiasts and do-it-yourself mechanics long for a better place to work on their cars, where their projects wouldn't dominate family garages or scatter grimy engine parts across their driveways -- often annoying their spouses. But perhaps the worst part -- certainly the most dangerous -- is when they have to work under their cars. First, vehicles have to be lifted with jacks, then lowered onto jackstands, leaving at-home mechanics slithering underneath on their backs and working in a very cramped space. Over the years, car lovers Mike Carralero, Scott Grimme, David Combs and James Quaranto often spent their weekends faced with the same problems. And then an idea occurred to them: What if they could install hydraulic lifts like full-time mechanics have in their shops? What if it was a space away from home, returning their garages and driveways to their families? When the four began talking about the idea with their friends, the response was positive, they said, and included offers to pay them to use such a workspace. And so Automotive Lift Rentals USA was born.

› Charles Pattison: Why We Need Growth Management in Florida
The Governor and Legislature are considering sweeping, unprecedented changes to Florida's growth management programs which would undermine more than 30 years of progress in dealing with growth impacts. For an informed debate, it is important to understand why our present system was created and what it was meant to do. Prior to the first statewide efforts to manage growth, thousands of acres of wetlands and beach and dune systems were being plowed under for new development. Salt water threatened to intrude into regional water supplies, and parts of the state faced severe water shortages. Roads became more congested and filled with potholes, schools more overcrowded, and natural areas continued to be paved over. Local governments, which approved all the new development, said the state (in other words, taxpayers) needed to pay to solve these problems. Outraged citizens, who only had limited ability to challenge inappropriate development decisions, clamored for state leadership to address the growing crisis.


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