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Friday's Daily Pulse

Florida cities ramped up foreclosures to hurt speculators. Instead they helped them

In cities around Florida, the goal was to target properties owned by real estate speculators who obscured their ownership of derelict properties through layers of shell companies. But these foreclosures have often had the opposite effect, taking properties out of the hands of individual owners and delivering them to real estate speculators, and at a discount. More from the Miami Herald and Yahoo News.

Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of March 24th

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Florida passes on millions in federal gun violence prevention funds

Florida is leaving up to $15 million in federal money on the table that could be used to fight gun violence. Florida was one of only six states that did not receive funding through a new federal grant to help carry out emergency risk-protection programs. Such orders are used by law enforcement to temporarily seize guns from people suspected of being a danger to themselves or others. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

Commentary: Lessons learned from Florida hurricanes

Resilience is a popular theme these days. Why not build on this theme with forward-thinking and sound planning? Once again, under the leadership of Florida’s governor, state and local government agencies could work together to make Florida safer and more resilient. We learned lessons in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. There is no reason we cannot learn lessons from Hurricane Ian. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

4 Florida universities among the Top 100 in the country

Deciding where to go to college is a daunting decision for anyone in that position. Do you go to a state school or out of state? Do you start at community college or go straight to a four-year school? Luckily for people in Florida, 4 of the state’s universities are in the Top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best National University Rankings.” [Source: WFTV]


› Feed the hungry, fight climate change: The campaign to curb food waste in South Florida
Ellen Bowen is on a mission to combat food waste in South Florida — a campaign that not only feeds the hungry but, perhaps surprisingly, can also help curb climate change. Bowen is the founder of the South Florida chapter of Food Rescue US, a group of 1,000 local volunteers that collects perfectly good food that would otherwise be thrown away at grocery stores, restaurants and events and delivers it to churches, shelters and food pantries across the region.

› Milton bans smoking in parks and on public rec areas. Event organizers could get an out.
By order of the Milton City Council, smoking will no longer be tolerated at public parks, properties and recreational areas. The council finalized passage of an ordinance March 14 prohibiting smoking and vaping "on public property specifically designated as being used for outdoor recreational or park purposes and where children regularly congregate." It prohibits smoking and vaping on all city property except public right-of-ways, city spokeswoman Bethany Anderson said.

› Pasco sheriff discontinues controversial intelligence program, court documents say
The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office has stopped keeping a list of people deemed likely to commit future crimes and repeatedly sending deputies to their homes, according to documents filed March 14 in a federal lawsuit. Attorneys for the Sheriff’s Office noted in a court paper that in 2021 and 2022 the agency phased out what was referred to as the “prolific offender designation process or prolific offender checks.”

› Sales at Darden Restaurants grow by 13.8%
Orlando-based Darden Restaurants saw sales increase 13.8% to $2.8 billion in the quarter ending Feb. 26, but the owner of Olive Garden and other chains kept price increases below inflation, executives said Thursday. Prices went up in the quarter about 6.3%, compared with inflation of 7%, said CFO Raj Vennam. Same-restaurant sales grew 11.7%.

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› ‘I think it’s grave.’ Reaction to Jackson/UM suspending adult heart transplant program
Jackson Health System’s abrupt suspension of its adult heart transplant program took South Florida by surprise because of its stellar reputation in the transplant field. Stuart Grossman, who has headed a major South Florida personal injury and medical malpractice law firm for decades, said the admission by Jackson that it “voluntarily stopped” its heart transplant program suggests that “something is very wrong.”

› Thirsty? New JEA water treatment facility soon will turn on the tap in St. Johns County
It might not be the prettiest project under construction from a layman's aesthetic perspective. It's infrastructure after all. But it will be crucial when residents turn on the faucet in Northwest St. Johns County for a drink of water. The JEA Rivertown Water Treatment Plant is a significant facility being built to serve the rapidly growing northern St. Johns County where new homes and businesses are sprouting like mushrooms after a spring rain.

› Want to learn a new language? Seminole libraries open learning labs
Want to learn to speak Spanish, Portuguese, German or Swahili? Or maybe you’re planning a trip to Iceland, Denmark, Wales or Mauritania and would like to know a few basic phrases in the languages of Icelandic, Danish, Welsh or Wolof. Thanks to a $90,000 donation from a longtime resident, the Seminole County Library System on Wednesday opened six new language-learning labs at the Jean Rhein Central Branch in Casselberry and at the four other county branch libraries.

› Sarasota-Bradenton area physician to lead statewide group
Bradenton and Sarasota area podiatrist Dr. Alissa Zdancewicz has been elected president of the Florida Podiatric Medical Association. Zdancewicz is the fourth woman in Florida and the first from the Sarasota-Bradenton region to lead the organization, according to a statement. In her role she will oversee the policymaking board that serves Florida’s podiatrists, doctors who specialize in the treatment of the lower extremity.