Wednesday's Afternoon Update
What You Need to Know About Florida Today
Experts question Gov. Rick Scott's port-dredging planHours after rejecting Florida's high-speed train, Gov. Rick Scott declared the state would spend $77 million on dredging the Port of Miami — a project he said would create 30,000 permanent jobs. But some experts contend digging out the Miami channel will not boost employment by anywhere near that number, much less ensure more shipping to the port. Among those expressing doubts are Robert Poole. a Libertarian researcher whose criticism of high-speed rail was instrumental in Scott's decision to kill the $2.7 billion project. "That strikes me as a very big number," Poole said of the Miami jobs projection. "I don't have any idea where they came from." Scott said he supports dredging because the Panama Canal is being widened to enable much larger cargo ships to pass through its locks by 2014. That, in turn, will allow the massive ships access to the Gulf of Mexico and the East Coast. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Meet Michael Aubin, president of Wolfson Children's Hospital in Jacksonville. Aubin was founding administrator and COO at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital of Tampa.
State officials target 'fraud tax'
With Florida a hotbed for staged auto accidents and shady medical clinics, state lawmakers today began working on proposals to revamp the personal-injury protection insurance system.
A House subcommittee this morning approved a controversial bill that would limit fees for attorneys who sue insurance companies in disputes about so-called PIP claims.
This afternoon, House and Senate sponsors and state Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater are scheduled to hold a news conference to detail broader bills that include beefing up fraud investigations and penalties.
One of the proposals in those bills also would allow insurers to offer premium discounts to customers who agree to use networks of "preferred" medical providers after accidents --- an idea that would give insurers more certainty about the doctors and clinics that provide treatment.
Rep. Mike Horner, a Kissimmee Republican who is sponsoring the bill dealing with legal fees, said the combination of legislative proposals would help reduce what he described as a "fraud tax" that is driving up the costs of auto insurance in Florida. [Source: Health News Florida]
St. Petersburg's Baywalk put up for sale for $8 million
BayWalk has been listed for sale.
Price tag: $8 million.
Colliers International Tampa Bay is marketing the one-time crown jewel of downtown St. Petersburg around the globe starting today.
The 74,500-square-foot retail complex opened in 2000 and fell into foreclosure in early 2009. It has remained in retail purgatory ever since. Businesses have continued to walk away. Only 12 percent is currently occupied.
Michael Milano, managing director at Colliers, said CW Capital, owners of the complex believe the time is right to sell.
Several potential buyers have expressed interest in recent months. That pushed the company to put the complex on the market, he said.
[Source: St. Petersburg Times]
Homes bought five years ago the hardest to sell
Practically everyone who bought South Florida homes in 2005 or 2006 wishes now they hadn't. Not since the Great Depression was there a worse time to buy. With the housing frenzy in full force, nearly 79,000 houses and condominiums sold in those two years in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Buyers paid peak prices, often with little or no money down, never imagining that values would plummet by more than half. Homeowners who paid cash five or six years ago likely would lose tens of thousands of dollars if they tried to sell now. Many others can't think of selling because they're "underwater," owing far more on their mortgages than the properties are worth. Values still are falling in most of the region, and that trend is expected to continue into next year. It could be a decade or more before underwater borrowers regain their lost equity. In the meantime, their options are limited and all come with major drawbacks. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Transit agencies cope with rising demand, declining revenues
It's a strange time for public transportation in Florida.
High gas prices and the recession are causing more people to look at using buses and trains.
But the economic downturn is also reducing revenue for governments, which is causing government officials to look into cutting back on public transit.
"We are getting pressure to expand transit with less money," said Liz Suchsland, assistant general manager of Votran , Volusia County's public transit system. "And that's not easy to do."
That dichotomy was the main focus at a luncheon Tuesday at the Florida Department of Transportation offices in Jacksonville. It was sponsored by Women's Transportation Seminar , an organization dedicated to the professional advancement of women in transportation.
[Source: Florida Times-Union]
Out of the Box