Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
As new storm passes, Panhandle residents cope with Hurricane Michael flashbacks
It is hurricane season again in the Panhandle, but most residents will tell you that in Bay County, it never really stopped being hurricane season. And as a soon-to-be-named Barry passes by the Panhandle’s doorstep, just its specter is causing Michael flashbacks. Many residents are still living in tents or ruined homes, waiting for contractors or government funds to help them rebuild. [Source: Miami Herald]
Ransomware attacks create dilemma for cities: Pay up or resist?
It’s been a bad summer so far for government information systems. Hackers have used ransomware to attack the data networks of Baltimore, the Georgia courts system and Lake City, Fla., to name a few. And the decision as to whether to pay the extortionists ransom is fraught. Pay them, get the decryption key and get your data and network back in fairly short order. Or refuse to cooperate with criminals and have it cost untold millions of dollars and create significant aggravation. [Source: WAMU]
CFO: Slow FEMA payouts are ‘crippling’ Florida cities and towns
A glimpse at the frustrations in Washington and Tallahassee over FEMA’s slow payout after recent storms were on offer Tuesday in Jacksonville. CFO Jimmy Patronis, talking to media after an event spotlighting storm preparedness, told of the conversations he’s had with Florida’s former Governor and current Senator, Rick Scott, about D.C.’s inability to come through for the Sunshine State. [Source: Florida Politics]
Child Baker Act cases continue to climb in Florida
Florida has once again broken the records for the number of people mentally evaluated, involuntarily, under the state’s Baker Act. Newly-released figures from the 2017-2018 fiscal year show there was a 10 percent increase in the number of children being mentally evaluated from the prior year. The new numbers represent the months before new mental health funding made it into public schools after the Parkland shooting. [Source: WFTV]
Florida won’t renew contract with troubled SunPass contractor, transportation secretary says
Florida’s transportation department won’t renew its contract with the company that botched its takeover of the SunPass tolling system last year, Transportation Secretary Kevin Thibault told the Times/Herald during a Wednesday interview. State officials will instead re-bid the second half of Conduent’s 14-year deal with the state, after the New Jersey company’s failures led to customers being overbilled and suffering long customer wait times. [Source: Times/Herald]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Tampa firm aims to grab market share behind new software patents
Although she was born at Fort Bragg, Sara Moola never served in the military. But a new software product made by her company, Tampa-based Visual Awareness Technologies & Consulting, could improve the effectiveness of U.S. armed forces worldwide. VATC, which also has offices in St. Petersburg, recently received two patents for the software.
› Jacksonville Beach businessman pleads guilty to $57 million in money laundering
A 36-year-old Jacksonville Beach businessman pleaded guilty Tuesday in a $57 million money-laundering conspiracy involving laboratory testing services, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Marcotte owns Beaches Recovery Services in Jacksonville Beach, the 34-page plea agreement said.
› Orange County comptroller’s audit recommends transparency requirements for Visit Orlando
A newly released audit of Visit Orlando, the region’s tourism cheerleader, recommends imposing transparency requirements on the tax-funded agency. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said the year-long examination didn’t uncover evidence of misappropriation of funds.
› How local farmers are finding space in crowded Pinellas County
Small crops are growing near industrial and residential areas across Florida’s most densely populated county. But the urban farmers who tend them are serious about their work.
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