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Thursday's Daily Pulse

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]

See also:
» Tropical Storm Barry expected to develop today, become Hurricane Barry on Friday, forecasters say

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]


› 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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› Orlando’s PatientMatters helps hospitals, patients sort through complex maze of billing
More Americans are signing up for high-deductible health insurance plans, and that’s not only changing how families plan for their medical procedures, but it’s also prompting hospitals to change how they help families plan for their medical bills.

› Florida trappers remove 500th python from the wild
Trappers recently removed the 500th Burmese Python from the wild in Florida, as part of an ongoing program that allows private citizens to kill the invasive snakes. They have become well-established in South Florida, largely as a result of escaped or released pets.

› Apollo 11 took Tang to the moon, much to the chagrin of Florida orange growers
After first being taken into space by John Glenn in 1962, Tang saw its popularity soar like a Saturn V. In countless TV commercials and print advertisements in the 1960s and ’70s, Tang touted its ties to the space program. The space-themed ads were popular with moms and kids but irked Florida orange growers worried about losing juice sales to Tang.

› Miami flight training center plans major investment
An undisclosed flight training center already operating in Miami-Dade County plans to lease 83,000 square feet in Sweetwater and add ten flight simulators at a total cost of more than $104 million – almost $100 million for the simulators alone – in an operation that would add 73 jobs in the county.