Florida wants to reopen prisons to house more inmates
The state wants to reopen some prisons because of projections of a growing inmate population. The Department of Corrections wants the Legislature to open nine shuttered facilities next year from Miami to the Panhandle, including two prisons, five work camps and two re-entry centers at a cost of $59 million. The prisons, in Raiford and Polk City, were closed in July 2012 and were touted by Gov. Rick Scott as good-news, cost-cutting steps in the budget. Florida's current inmate population is about 101,000. More at the Tampa Bay Times.
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» Crime & punishment: Changes at Florida Dept. of Corrections
FAA to allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronics
Air travelers will soon be able to use their tablets and other electronic devices from gate to gate, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday. The agency said it has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronic devices during all phases of a flight. Phone calls remain banned, however, and laptops will still need to be stowed on takeoff and landing due to their weight. [Source: Washington Post]
Attorney David J. Stern, known as the mortgage industry’s “foreclosure king,” may soon lose his authority to practice law in Florida. The Florida Bar wants him out. This week, Palm Beach County Court Judge Nancy Perez says Stern “created chaos on the courts of the state of Florida, prejudicing the whole system as a whole.” Perez’s recommendation for disbarment now goes to the Florida Supreme Court. Stern could appeal. [Source: TBO]
The financial instrument that became Public Enemy No. 1 during the housing crisis is back with a new set of stripes, as private-equity giant Blackstone shops a new rent-backed security based partly on the cash flow from homes in Tampa Bay. More than 3,200 single-family homes back a $480 million security, including 257 from Tampa Bay, investment reports show. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
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» By-the-numbers: Breaking down a rental home deal
Confections by pastry chef Kim Yelvington of Bern's restaurant will soon be on sale at Chocolate Pi in Tampa. » Read more
Breads, desserts and all the pizza dough, exotic ice cream and chocolate truffles in between are playing bigger roles today in top Florida restaurants. Restaurant editor Chris Sherman looks at ten of the best from around the state. (Warning: the photo gallery could make you hungry!)
» Full story...
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Florida’s top job recruiter gets large raise [Miami Herald]
The board of Enterprise Florida, the organization set up to lure companies to the state, approved a new two-year contract on Thursday for president and CEO Gray Swoope. The new contract allows Swoope to make up to $375,000 in salary and bonuses -- or a 25 percent increase over what he makes now.
› Layoffs: SunTrust, HSN announce staff reductions
SunTrust Banks, Florida's third-largest lender, plans to cut 800 mortgage jobs in response to the sharp drop in refinancing activity. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]
HSN has eliminated 59 jobs as part of what it called a yearlong restructuring to optimize growth and improve efficiency of the TV and online shopping network. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
› Is a smartwatch for you? [AP]
Smartwatches that display message alerts and weather updates are popping up everywhere this holiday season as consumer electronics companies try to persuade you to add them to your shopping list. But is there really a big demand for computerized wristwatches? Samsung and Sony have devices out, and Qualcomm has one coming before the holidays. Apple is believed to be making one, and a new report says Google is developing one, too.
» Take a Florida Trend quick poll: Does a smartwatch appeal to you?
› Florida man hits the lottery jackpot — again [AP]
An Orlando, Fla., man who won a multimillion dollar jackpot last year playing the Florida Lotto has done it again. The Florida Lottery says 67-year-old James Bozeman Jr. has claimed a $3 million Florida Lotto jackpot from the drawing held on Aug. 31, 2013. Last year, Bozeman claimed a $10 million Florida Lotto jackpot. The lucky man purchased both winning tickets from the same 7-Eleven in Edgewood.
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» A-Lotto money
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
› In Florida, Wasserman-Schultz responds to GOP attacks on health law [Miami Herald]
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from Weston, countered criticisms about the cost of the new health plans. Wasserman Schultz cited the cases of three South Floridians: a breast cancer survivor, a self-employed consultant and a pre-kindergarten teacher.
› Fla. landowners may plan prescribed fires [AP]
It is now easier for Florida landowners to plan prescribed fires that will help conservation efforts for dozens of imperiled species while also reducing the likelihood of wildfires, according to The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency said it had issued a biological opinion to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service that streamlines the process for private landowners. Many of the areas in the opinion represent some of America's most endangered ecosystems, including the Florida scrub, longleaf pine sandwhill and pine rocklands.
› Profile: Iconic outdoors shop owner Bill Jackson turns 98 [Tampa Bay Times]
Bill Jackson, founder of one of the largest and most well-known outdoor specialty shops in Florida and the nation, celebrated his birthday this past Monday with much fanfare. People from all over Florida came to pay homage to the man who not only introduced thousands to backpacking, camping, fishing and hunting but who also is credited with being one of the pioneers of the state's scuba diving scene.
› Jacksonville utility to pay employee bonuses [Florida Times-Union]
It’s been a good year for JEA employees. Most of the taxpayer-owned utility’s 1,950 workers will take home $1,000 bonus checks in mid-November for reaching consumer-satisfaction and cost-cutting goals that JEA says resulted in more than $31 million in savings last fiscal year.