Wednesday's Daily Pulse
What You Need to Know About Florida Today
› CityPlace Office Tower Sells to California Real Estate Trust
The signature CityPlace Tower is under contract to be sold to a private real estate trust for the princely sum of about $130 million, reflecting the investment community 's continued demand for trophy commercial properties. KBS Realty Advisors of Newport Beach, Calif., is the buyer of the 18-story, 300,000-square-foot tower, located at the entrance to CityPlace along Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach, according to sources knowledgeable about the deal. The tower, which opened in 2008, now stands at about 90 percent leased and is filled with top-flight law firms, investment firms and the Palm Beach offices of the vaunted Cleveland Clinic medical center. The price is said to be around $435 square foot, according to real estate sources. A closing is set for late March.
› Supreme Court Fast-Tracks Rail Lawsuit
Just short of three months on the job, Gov. Rick Scott is being challenged in court by two senators, one a fellow Republican, over his rejection of $2.4 billion of federal funds for a high-speed rail project. The Florida Supreme Court put the case on the fast track Tuesday, giving Scott just 24 hours to respond to the lawsuit filed that morning by Sens. Thad Altman, a Viera Republican, and Arthenia Joyner, a Tampa Democrat. The bipartisan pair accuse Scott in the suit of overstepping his authority as governor and violating the constitutional separation of powers. They're also asking for an injunction preventing the White House from giving the money to other states. "The fusion of powers of too many branches into one single branch of government jeopardizes our democracy," Altman told reporters Tuesday. "That system of government is in crisis, is in jeopardy." Joyner was less diplomatic. "This is not a monarchy. He is not a king," she said.
› Cove Marketplace Shines Light on Port Canaveral Businesses
A burst of sunshine provided a 30-minute reprieve from the rain and gray skies Tuesday morning, just long enough for officials to mark the formal opening of the Cove Marketplace at Port Canaveral. To hear the nearby restaurateurs tell it, business has been fairly sunny since the marketplace's soft opening on Feb. 14. During the marketplace's Monday through Wednesday schedule, places such as Fish Lips Waterfront Bar & Grill and Rusty's Seafood & Oyster Bar are reporting anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent increases in business. "It has been a boon to us and hopefully a boon to other people in this port," said Rusty Fisher, who operates Rusty's along with his son, Rhett.
› Online Coalition of Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists Answers Questions about Health-Care Law
At a time when many Americans are confused about the healthcare overhaul law, a coalition of groups representing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and consumers has launched a website to answer questions about the Affordable Care Act. "There's a lot of confusion about what the law involves, there's confusion about whether the law is actually in effect and a lot of confusion about the politics of it, what's going on in Congress and what's going on in the courts," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, a Winter Park doctor and president of the American Medical Association. The new website — HealthCareandYou.org — doesn't delve into the politics behind the law, but spells out what the law means to consumers, depending on the state they live in and their age. The website also provides a timeline, telling consumers when different parts of the law go into effect. "The law is complicated, and the goal is to help the American people understand it," Wilson said. "So this website was put together by a coalition of what we would describe as the nation's most-trusted organizations that represent consumers, nurses, pharmacists and physicians."
› Jaguars, NFL Prevail in Casino Trademark Case
In the legal arena of the courtroom, a federal lawsuit filed by the National Football League against a Mayport-based casino cruise ship was no contest. The NFL won a quick victory over Jacks or Better LLC after the business repeatedly refused to remove a photo of Jaguars quarterback David Garrard from its web site. The photo illustrated the casino boat's sports betting. Jacks or Better LLC, whose casino boat departs from Mayport and sails off-shore for gambling, agreed to pay $5,000 and not use images of Garrard or any NFL trademarks without first getting written authorization. Senior U.S. District Judge Howell Melton signed an order on Friday closing the case after both sides signed a permanent injunction and final judgment. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league usually can enforce its trademarks by sending cease-and-desist letters that explain the NFL's legal rights. "But that wasn't the case in this matter," he said. "We're pleased with the decision."
› Hospitals Seek $100M from Sarasota County
Three private hospitals in Sarasota County are seizing on obscure language in a 1959 state law to file a lawsuit that could force the county to pay them $100 million in reimbursement for medical care provided to the indigent. The three for-profit hospitals — Venice Regional Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota and Englewood Community Hospital — filed suit against Sarasota County on Friday, citing the provision that they say allows any hospital in Sarasota County to bill the county for the costs of indigent care. The hospitals have sent the county bills totalling close to $100 million since discovering the provision in late 2008, county officials said. If the hospitals win in court, the county could be forced to pay that and tens of millions more in the future. But the county has refused to pay the hospitals, saying that the provision is unconstitutional.
› USF Study Finds Beaches Cleaned of Oil
The goopy oil and sticky tarballs that once tainted Florida's sugar-white beaches have been thoroughly cleaned up, and even the layers of buried oil beneath the sand are gone, according to a new study by University of South Florida scientists released Tuesday. However, they still found residual oil contamination on those beaches, detected by using ultraviolet lights. Geologists Ping Wang, Rip Kirby and Jun Cheng found little to no visible oil on the surface, below the sand or in the swash zone — where waves wash up onto the beach typically deposit seaweed and debris — in the areas they surveyed, which stretched from Panama City Beach west to Dauphin Island, Ala. "We found that most of the small surface residual tar balls on the beach were removed or further pulverized to sizes that cannot be identified with untrained eyes," their report says. "The beaches appear to be in similar condition as before the spill, except the massive temporary tire/tilling tracks" from the cleanup machinery.