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Friday's Daily Pulse

Citrus industry gets sour forecast

Federal officials Thursday reduced a forecast for Florida citrus production this growing season, dealing a setback to a struggling industry that continues to rebuild from Hurricane Ian. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a forecast that, in part, projected Florida will produce 19.8 million boxes of oranges during the 2023-2024 season, down from a 20.5 million projection in a January forecast. [Source: News Service of Florida]

Business BeatBusiness Beat - Week of February 9th

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Red tide, manatees and hurricanes: NASA PACE spacecraft to collect Florida environmental data

Algal bloom and red tide detection and prediction. The health of seagrass beds, a key food source for manatees. Coral reef bleaching. And even hurricane forecasting. Florida's shallow-water coastlines may be environmentally analyzed in unprecedented detail via NASA's PACE spacecraft, which launched amid cloudy conditions at 1:33 a.m. EST Thursday atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. More from the  Daytona Beach News Journal and the Tampa Bay Times.

Watchdog agencies push back against state bill barring anonymous complaint investigations

County ethics commissions across the state are sounding alarms over legislation they say would cripple their efforts to fight corruption. The legislation, should it become law, could result in Palm Beach County “reclaiming its previous title of Corruption Capital,” said Michael Kugler, chair of the county’s ethics commission in a news release. “It would result in the unraveling of successful ethics reform in Palm Beach County.” [Source: Palm Beach Post]

Associated Industries of Florida launches coalition to navigate AI use, regulations

The AI revolution is here, and the Associated Industries of Florida is launching a new initiative to develop policies and guidelines for its use and regulation. The AIF Coalition for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in Business will feature a mix of technology companies, such as tech industry behemoths Google and Meta, as well as Florida businesses, such as Florida Blue, JM Family, HCA, TECO and Disney. [Source: Florida Politics]


› In Hillsborough, nonprofits that get government money face new rules
Hillsborough County Commissioner Josh Wostal hoped to change how local nonprofits get funding from the government — in some cases, money that could be spent on roads and public safety, he said. Part of the board’s Republican majority, Wostal created a seven-point plan intended to bring transparency and accountability to nonprofits that have received $225 million in county money over the last decade.

› City officials in Sarasota and Manatee eye proposed state policies on vacation rentals
Local officials are leery of how proposed restrictions that cap the fees cities can charge for vacation rental registration could impact local ordinances already on the books. Vacation rentals have been a hot-button issue among local and state officials for years, and legislators have proposed new restrictions that cap registration fees, outline maximum penalties, and preempt other regulations to the state.

› Landstar System Inc. CEO optimistic as he retires
Landstar System Inc.’s results dropped in 2023, giving retiring Chief Executive Jim Gattoni a lot to talk about in the company’s year-end conference call with analysts Feb. 1. “I’d like to thank everybody for having this be my longest call in 10 years on my last day as the president and CEO of Landstar. So that’s special,” he said. However, Gattoni is optimistic that the Jacksonville-based trucking company can handle this down cycle for freight traffic as he heads into retirement.

› Fort Lauderdale to recoup $400,000 from massive water pipe break caused by FPL subcontractor
Fort Lauderdale is finally recovering $400,000 spent repairing a massive water pipe it didn’t break. A subcontractor for Florida Power & Light drilled a hole into the city’s main water supply line close to five years ago, leaving tens of thousands of residents without water along with hundreds of businesses. Faucets stopped flowing and toilets stopped flushing, forcing hundreds of businesses to close that day, on July 17, 2019.

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› Who loves the homey Florida State Fair? Me, says celeb daredevil Bello Nock
Bello Nock is all over the place. A daredevil and circus performer who’s made Time magazine’s list of America’s Best Artists and Entertainers — and an “America’s Got Talent” celebrity — he’s off to Amsterdam, Monte Carlo, Australia, creating shows as part of his family entertainment business. But Nock, 55, will tell you he has a soft spot for his yearly gig at the Florida State Fair in Tampa, going on now in his home state.

› FAU trustees chairman steps down after presidential search controversy
The leader of the Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees is stepping down, saying his presence has become a distraction due to a controversy over a search for a new president. Brad Levine plans to remain a member of the trustees, but plans to step down as chairman. His announcement, which came at a Thursday trustees meeting, comes two weeks after the State University System’s Board of Governors issued a vote of no confidence against him.

› President of Primark U.S. discusses growth ambitions as Jacksonville distribution center opens
Primark, an international clothing retailer, recently opened its second U.S. distribution center in North Jacksonville. Kevin Tulip, the president of Primark U.S., discussed what else the distribution center's location in Jacksonville means for the company's growth in Florida and the Southeast.

› Award-winning journalist accuses WLRN of discrimination — claiming anti-Hispanic bias
Less than two weeks after the host of WLRN’s “Sundial” show reported allegations of discrimination and anti-Hispanic sentiment to his employers at the South Florida public radio station, WLRN canceled the show and fired host Carlos Frias and his team, Frias’ attorney told the Miami Herald.