Thursday's Daily Pulse
What you need to know about Florida today
How much has Florida overpaid in unemployment benefits? It won’t say.
Like many states, when Florida mistakenly pays someone unemployment benefits, officials work hard to claw back the money. This year, when demand for benefits reached unprecedented levels because of the coronavirus pandemic-related economic restrictions, Florida officials had to keep track of more payments than ever. As Florida’s economy is beginning to show signs of a resurgence, an untold number of Floridians are getting notices from the department notifying them that they were paid by mistake. Those people owe the state money. [Source: Tampa Bay Times]
More Disney World layoffs revealed: 8,857 part-time union employees are losing their jobs
About 8,857 part-time Disney World union employees furloughed during the coronavirus pandemic will now be laid off as the theme park cuts about 20% of its workforce. Late last month, the Walt Disney Co. announced it was laying off 28,000 people across its theme park division nationwide, although details were not given how many people would be affected in Orlando. Disney later notified the state that about 6,700 non-union employees at Disney World were losing their jobs as of Dec. 4 as a part of the 28,000 total. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Florida surpasses 15,000 deaths from COVID-19
The Florida Department of Health on Wednesday reported that a total of 15,084 people have died from COVID-19 complications in the state. These confirmed fatalities include 14,904 residents plus 180 people from other states who died here. The bleak milestone was reached as the state reported another 139 deaths on its daily coronavirus pandemic report. Most of the deaths listed on the state’s daily statistical tallies did not happen in the last 24 hours. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Commentary: Tax breaks for ‘high-crime’ theme parks and deli counters at Publix? Oh, Florida
About two decades ago, Florida lawmakers said they wanted to offer incentives to businesses that would invest in urban, high-crime neighborhoods. What a nice, noble idea. Except that’s not quite how it played out. While the plan was pitched as a way to encourage companies to invest in neglected communities, Universal Orlando and its hotel partners have gotten half of all the $35 million in statewide incentives … for investing in multi-million-dollar rides and four-star resorts on its own property. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]
Ariana Grande wants her fans to vote. Her tweet may have brought down Florida’s website
Pop superstar Ariana Grande’s fans may have been too much for Florida’s voter registration website to handle. One possible explanation: Grande tweeted a message about 3 p.m. Monday encouraging her fellow Floridians to register to vote. She has more than 77 million Twitter followers, and her tweet was subsequently retweeted nearly 7,000 times. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Workplace policy check-up prepares for the ‘new normal'
Almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, some companies still struggle to manage the workplace and personnel realities they face. From remote work policies; to how, when, and whether workers should come back to the office; to how technology is deployed and used, a quick check-up of practices and policies can help ensure the office reflects the new reality. [Sponsored report]
ALSO AROUND FLORIDA:
› Duke nuclear plant demolition timeline cut from half-century to 7 years
Duke Energy is poised to begin demolition of its shuttered nuclear plant, with a timeline reduced from nearly six decades to seven years because of a drop in costs. Duke’s 890-megawatt reactor near Crystal River at the Gulf of Mexico has been out of commission since 2009, when a construction accident crippled the containment building. In 2015, facing a projected demolition cost of more than $1 billion, Duke was prepared to let the plant remain for 60 years before removing it.
› As economy returns, Miami-Dade commissioners might stay away from county hall
Returning to County Hall won’t be simple for the Miami-Dade commissioners, as safety, capacity and cost obstacles could prolong virtual meetings even as the local economy reopens. “Our biggest challenge is [the] amount of space for elected officials at the dais,” Internal Service Director Tara Smith said during a special meeting on Covid-19 last week. “We can accommodate the public in a safe, socially distanced manner in the seating and with overflow, like we normally would for overflow in the lobby, but there are several considerations we have to think about for the dais.”
› Fast-growing Tampa cybersecurity firm welcomes new executives
A-LIGN, which specializes in cybersecurity and compliance for some 2,500 clients around the world, has hired Mike Herdegen as chief technology officer and Brian Gladstein as senior vice president of marketing. Tampa-based A-LIGN has seen rapid growth in the past few years, with gross annual revenue rising from $39.67 million in 2018 to $45.91 million last year. Its payroll has swelled from 203 to 329 employees in that time.
› State to Fort Lauderdale: Pay record fine for sewage spills or invest in environment
After a series of epic sewage spills that killed fish and fouled the air in neighborhoods from Rio Vista to Coral Ridge, Fort Lauderdale was hit with a $2.1 million whopper of a fine — the largest in state history. But on Tuesday night, commissioners approved a deal with state officials that would allow the city to spend more than $3 million on an environmental restoration project in lieu of paying the fine.
Go to page 2 for more stories ...
In case you missed it: