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Wednesday's Daily Pulse

Foreclosure backlogs persist, despite efforts

Courts across Florida are chipping away at massive foreclosure backlogs, and while that pace may accelerate thanks to a new law aimed at further expediting the process, choked court systems remain a reality throughout the state. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Protesters call for Florida boycotts following Zimmerman acquittal

Angered by George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, protesters around the country have begun vowing on social-media channels to boycott everything from Florida vacations to state-produced orange juice. At least one industry expert said he did the calls for boycotts are unlikely to have any meaningful impact on Florida tourism. More from the Orlando Sentinel and TIME.

» Florida lawmakers urge Gov. Scott to address tension after verdict

Daniel O'Keefe
Daniel O'Keefe, new chairman of SFWMD » Story here.

Florida Trend Exclusive
Water challenges at SFWMD

Daniel O’Keefe, a real estate attorney in the Orlando office of Shutts & Bowen, is the new chairman of the South Florida Water Management District, the state agency that oversees water resources in the Everglades and 16 counties. O'Keefe discusses some of the many challenges facing the District including water runoff, belt-tightening measures for the government, Everglades restoration, and more. Go to full interview.

Florida remains a cruise powerhouse

According to a report released Tuesday by the Cruise Lines International Association, an industry group, the cruise industry generated $7 billion in direct spending in Florida, 36 percent of the overall $19.6 billion spent across the country. That’s a slight increase from 2011, when the figure was $6.7 billion in Florida. [Source: Miami Herald]

State approves ‘safety net’ for school grades

After some hand wringing over whether Florida's school grading system remains valid, the Florida Board of Education on Tuesday agreed to changes that will protect many schools from getting poor grades this year. The board agreed that the grades, which are due out by the end of July, will not decline by more than one letter regardless of student performance on the FCAT tests that underlie the system. More at the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald.


› Spending millions to bring meetings to Miami Beach
As Miami Beach considers an historic $1 billion upgrade of its convention center, the resort city also must decide how big of a bet to place on a major turnaround in the meeting business.

› Alachua County celebrates return to biodiesel production
After a hiatus of more than half a year, Alachua County is resuming biodiesel production thanks to a new law championed by the area's state legislative delegation that makes related reporting requirements more manageable.

› New chair takes over on Tampa Port Authority
Instead of sitting Tuesday in his usual spot, Stephen Swindal moved one seat to the left. It was not an insignificant move: That's where his friend William A. "Hoe" Brown, former chairman of the Tampa Port Authority, used to sit.

› Upscale office buildings hit the market
About a dozen high-end office buildings are up for sale in Broward and Palm Beach counties as owners look to cash in before interest rate hikes accelerate.

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› UF turns to social media to encourage students to exercise
An initiative at the University of Florida Department of Recreational Sports aims to imprint the comprehensive benefits of exercise on students (especially incoming freshmen) by tapping into students' most common ground: social media.

› Royal Polo hotel sells for $12.5 million
The Royal Polo hotel in Miami Beach has sold to Baywood Hotels for $12.5 million. Closed for years, the hotel is in “shell” condition but has been approved for 96 rooms, a restaurant and lounge. Seller Jonathan Plutzik, who also owns The Betsy hotel, bought the property in 2005 for $6.5 million.

› Former Progress Energy Florida CEO Jeff Lyash lands a new job
Former Progress Energy Florida CEO Jeff Lyash, who resigned from Duke Energy last year as a senior executive following Duke's controversial acquisition of Progress Energy, has resurfaced with a new job. A Texas energy consulting firm called CB&I said Lyash was named president of its power business unit based in Charlotte, N.C.

› One-in-four Florida House members a millionaire
Republican lawmakers are on average doing better than their Democratic counterparts when it comes to financial well-being. Of newly filed financial-disclosure forms that have been made public, the average Republican House member is worth $1.19 million, while Democratic House members average $835,666.