The close of the 2012 tropical weather season Friday marks seven years without a hurricane hitting Florida, but don't expect property insurance rates to drop anytime soon. Just consider the theme of an insurance industry conference here this week: “Staying the Course.” In Florida, property insurance has been on a course of higher rates and efforts to kick people out of state-run Citizens Property Insurance. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
» The mixed messages of hurricane season 2012
Gov. Rick Scott is set to lead a 200-person trade mission this weekend to Colombia, Florida’s second-largest trading partner. The mission, organized by Enterprise Florida with participants from 116 companies, is Scott’s seventh as governor. The entourage is scheduled to leave Sunday and be in Colombia into Wednesday. More from the Palm Beach Post and the Tallahassee Democrat.
Citizens is doing its best to provide an inferior product, the president of Florida’s last-resort property insurer told an industry conference Thursday. Gilway said such steps as not covering pool cages and outbuildings or homes worth more than $1 million are part of a plan not to compete effectively with private insurers. [Source: Palm Beach Post]
» Column: Not-so-upstanding Citizens
Bad news and controversy are routine in the vast state government under Florida Gov. Rick Scott's control. But don't look for clues in Project Sunburst, Scott's program for email transparency. That's because Scott doesn't use email as a primary form of communication, and neither does his top aide, chief of staff Adam Hollingsworth. [Source: Times/Herald]
The average daily price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the U.S. this year has never reached the highs seen in 2008, when the current all-time record of $4.11 was reached. Yet fuel prices have been so consistently high this year that American motorists are on pace to spend a record amount —- $483 billion, or $1.32 billion a day — on fuel for their cars and trucks. [Source: Tribune Newspapers]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Jacksonville council panels agree to faster incentives votes [Florida Times-Union]
Jacksonville City Council committees signed off Thursday on legislation that could allow the council to offer incentives for business expansion after as little as one council meeting.
› California Pizza Kitchen brings prototype to Sawgrass Mills [Miami Herald]
Innovative menu items are just one piece of what’s unique about California Pizza Kitchen’s new flagship restaurant unveiled Thursday at Sawgrass Mills in Sunrise. The first of its kind, the Sawgrass location aims to reinvigorate the brand that started in 1985 in Beverly Hills.
› Residents appeal plan for Walmart on Ringling [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
A neighborhood group headed by former mayor Kelly Kirschner is appealing a planning board decision to allow Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to build a 24-hour-a-day Supercenter on the fringes of downtown Sarasota.
› Critical Hollywood audit spurs controversy [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
A scathing forensic audit of Hollywood's finances called several expenditures made by the city's redevelopment agency contrary to law.
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› Miami-Dade pending home sales spiked in October [Miami Herald]
The number of sales contracts on single-family homes and condos in Miami-Dade jumped sharply in October despite the very low inventory of homes on the market.
› Some in Congress oppose wider ban on big snakes [Orlando Sentinel]
The monstrous snakes that have invaded the Everglades and gobbled up some of its endangered wildlife are Florida's problem, not cause for a nationwide ban, some Republicans in Congress declared on Thursday.
› Sarasota Military Academy breaks ground on expansion [Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
Jack Urfer, an unassuming man, seemed a bit taken aback as he shook the city manager's hand and smiled awkwardly for the half-dozen cameras. “It's too much,” Urfer said about the hoopla. But for officials, this was their opportunity to thank the businessman single-handedly responsible for a $5 million expansion project at Sarasota Military Academy.
› Mystery Monkey gets a new home [Tampa Bay Times]
It's official: Cornelius, formerly known as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay, will be moved to a zoo in Pasco County early next week.