Bipartisanship in Washington — or lack thereof — and what Florida voters can do about it. That's what two former Congressman are talking about in a series of town halls around the state. Former Congressmen David Jolly and Patrick Murphy have teamed up on a speaking tour called Why Gridlock Rules Washington and How We Can Solve the Crisis. Jolly, generally considered a moderate Republican from Pinellas County, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2014 to this past January. He was unseated by former Florida Governor Charlie Crist, now a Democrat. Like Crist, Patrick Murphy also used to be a Republican but joined the Democratic Party before he was elected to Congress in 2012. He represented the Palm Beach area until last January. Murphy ran for Senate in 2016 but lost to Marco Rubio. Now the two men are hosting town-hall style events in cities around Florida, giving attendees a behind-the-scenes take on what they say goes on in Washington, D.C. and sharing ideas about how to make lawmakers reach across the aisle more often. This week on Florida Matters we'll talk with Jolly and Murphy about what they hope to accomplish on this tour. We'll also hear highlights from their recent town hall in Tampa. The event was held at the University of South Florida on October 12. Dr. Susan MacManus, Distinguished Professor of Political Science at USF, and Adam Smith, Political Editor for the Tampa Bay Times moderated the discussion. They asked Jolly and Murphy their own questions and passed along some questions from the audience. How do you feel about the way things are going in government? Should Florida have open primaries, re-draw its districts or implement campaign finance reform? Share your questions and comments on our Facebook page or email FloridaMatters@wusf.org. For more information on the speaking tour, visit FixWashington2017.com.
One of the area's leading African American family-owned newspapers, The Weekly Challenger in St. Petersburg, just celebrated its 50th anniversary. Tampa's preeminent Hispanic newspaper, La Gaceta, is approaching 100 years. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the history and cultural impact of ethnic publications in the Tampa Bay area. Since 1967, The Weekly Challenger has been a source for news and information for the African American communities of Tampa Bay. The paper was founded by Cleveland Johnson, Jr. His wife Ethel Johnson took over after his death in 2001. She passed it down to their daughter Lyn in 2012. La Gaceta is a weekly newspaper in Tampa founded by Victoriano Manteiga in 1922. Published in English, Spanish and Italian, it's the only trilingual newspaper in the United States. Victoriano Manteiga passed the publication down to his son Roland after his death in 1982. Roland's son Patrick Manteiga inherited ownership in 1998. We'll learn more about how these newspapers got their start this week on Florida Matters. We'll hear about how the evolving state of race relations in the Tampa Bay area over the past several decades has played a role in the content and popularity of minority publications. We'll also discuss how these newspapers plan to stay afloat in an increasingly digital society. Our guests include: Lyn Johnson, editor and publisher of The Weekly Challenger Patrick Manteiga, editor and publisher of La Gaceta Rodney Kite-Powell, Director of the Touchton Map Library and Saunders Foundation Curator of History at the Tampa Bay History Center Follow the links above to view these newspapers' most recent stories. And step back in time and read old editions of the publications by checking out these links to archives: The Weekly Challenger's digital archives at USF St. Petersburg's Nelson Poynter Memorial Library La Gaceta's digital archives at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries Old editions of La Gaceta as well as photographs and letters to its founders, part of USF Tampa Libraries' Digital Collections The digital archiving projects are ongoing, so if you have any old copies of these newspapers you would like to contribute, reach out to either the publication or library and learn more about how you can help preserve history. Share your thoughts on the show and any memories reading these newspapers with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
We're starting something new on Florida Matters. Once a month we're going to gather together some experienced reporters from around the state for perspective on the important news happening in Florida. This week we're talking about the consequences of Hurricane Irma, and lessons learned from the storm. Our panel includes: Tamara Lush, Correspondent with the Associated Press Kate Stein, reporter with WLRN in Miami Romona Washington, Executive Editor of the Highlands News-Sun and the Highlands Sun What lessons have you learned from your experience during Hurricane Irma? And what would you like to see your community do differently for the next storm? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
Hurricane Irma was the strongest storm to hit Florida in 12 years, and it impacted nearly the entire state — from wind damage and storm surge, to evacuations, gas shortages and of course the loss of power for millions. Our partner station in Miami WLRN pulled together reports from public stations all across the state to give you an idea of the scope of Irma's impact and what we can learn from it. This week on Florida Matters we're listening to highlights from the program "After Hurricane Irma" hosted by WLRN's Tom Hudson. In the first part of our show we hear how one reporter experienced the storm and its aftermath just miles from where the eye first came ashore. We also learn more about Irma's impact on agriculture and how storm surge caused record-breaking floods in parts of the state. Irma did not manage to break the string of years two major Florida cities have escaped a direct hit. Miami was last a target in 1926; for Tampa, 1921. In the second half of our show we'll hear from Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn about how their cities fared this time around and lessons learned from Irma. You can hear the full two-hour version of WLRN's After Hurricane Irma program by clicking here for Part 1 and here for Part 2. Keep the conversation going about what life has been like for you after Hurricane Irma on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
Communities across Florida are preparing for the potential impact of Hurricane Irma, and one natural line of defense we have is the state's beaches. But not all beaches are equally suited to protect us, thanks to past storm damage, coastal development and Florida's ever-changing landscape. This week on Florida Matters we're taking another listen to our discussion on coastal erosion and how to fix it. This past spring, Pinellas County State Senator Jack Latvala and Representative Kathleen Peters sponsored bills aimed at saving the state's beaches from continued erosion. Coastal management legislation that would have, among other things, created a three-year work plan for prioritizing which renourishment projects to fund each year overwhelmingly passed the Senate but failed to make it through the House. But lawmakers did agree to dedicate a minimum of $50 million for renourishment efforts – more than the state has given to beaches in over a decade. Is the boost in state funding enough to combat the issue of coastal erosion? And is it even worth spending money replenishing beaches that Mother Nature may soon wash away? Our panel to discuss these topics includes: State Representative Kathleen Peters (R-Treasure Island). Robin Sollie, President and CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. Andy Squires, Coastal Resources Manager for Pinellas County and board member with the Florida Shore and Beach Preservation Association. Ryan Mills, reporter with the Naples Daily News. Mills co-produced last year's Shrinking Shores series which helped shed light on Florida's beach erosion problem. Is your favorite beach slipping away due to erosion? Share your thoughts and photographs with us in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
For the first time in over 20 years, the World Rowing Championships will return to the U.S. next month in Sarasota-Bradenton. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the sport of rowing and what it means to host the championships in the Tampa Bay Area. We'll also visit Nathan Benderson Park, where the event will be held, to take a ride on the still waters of the new rowing facility. Our panelists include: Meredith Scerba, Executive Director of the 2017 World Rowing Championships. Rob Ferguson, Corporate Director of Sales at Kinsman Hospitality and Chair of the Sarasota-Bradenton Hotel Committee. Laura Corbett-Brown, Head Coach of the Sarasota Scullers, the oldest youth rowing club in Sarasota. The World Rowing Championships will take place September 23 – October 1 at Nathan Benderson Park in Sarasota. Check out the website for a full schedule of events, ticket information and more. Share your questions and comments about the championships with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
Imagine leaving for work in the morning and finding out a few hours later that your home and every possession within it has been swallowed by the earth. Sinkholes in Florida make that a real possibility. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about sinkholes and what homeowners can do to protect themselves and their property. Our guests include: Kevin Guthrie, Pasco County's Assistant County Administrator for Public Safety. Guthrie has been overseeing efforts to mediate the sinkhole that swallowed two homes in Land O'Lakes on July 14 and eventually destroyed five others. Dr. Lori Collins, Co-Director of the University of South Florida Library's Digital Heritage and Humanities Collections. Collins is involved in a special partnership between a team of USF scientists and Pasco County to study the Pasco sinkhole and create 3-D models of it to learn from in the future. Dr. Chuck Nyce, Assistant Professor with the William T. Hold/The National Alliance Program of Risk Management and Insurance at Florida State University. Nyce is involved in a research project that studies sinkhole insurance claims to determine what kind of impact they have on property values. Special thanks to all our listeners who participated in the discussion both on and off the air. You can keep the conversation going on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org. Check out the links below to see some 3D models of the Pasco sinkhole created by Dr. Lori Collins and the other members of the USF Libraries research team. Saxon Lake Sinkhole 3D Laser Scanning Model by University of South Florida Libraries on Sketchfab
Summer is in full swing and for those who can't get out of town, a staycation can make all the difference. This week on Florida Matters we're taking a look at some ways to escape the everyday hustle and bustle and have some fun in the Tampa Bay Area. Reporter Mary Shedden starts us off by getting some staycation suggestions from Sharon Kennedy Wynne, who writes about "Things to Do" for the Tampa Bay Times. Florida Matters producer Stephanie Colombini gives us a bird's eye view of postcard-perfect Tampa Bay on a zip line tour in Oldsmar. Host Robin Sussingham takes us on a tour of a chocolate shop in Belleair Bluffs. Reporter Cathy Carter talks with Wayne Atherholt, St. Petersburg's Cultural Affairs Director, about the city's flourishing art scene. And for night owls, reporter Daylina Miller wraps things up for us with an evening ghost tour in Ybor City. Be sure to click the links above for more information about our Tampa Bay staycations and plenty of great photos. What are your favorite things to do in the Tampa Bay Area? Keep the conversation going on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
Tourism brought in an estimated $109 billion a year to Florida at last count. This week on Florida Matters we're taking a look at the current state of Florida's number one industry. You may have heard about the tug-of-war during the last legislative session between Governor Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. They were battling over how much taxpayer money should go toward Visit Florida, the organization in charge of promoting the state to potential visitors. Gov. Scott wanted to increase funding, Corcoran hoped to slash it. In the end, Visit Florida kept its state support at about the same year-to-year level of $76 million. So what's ahead for tourism? How does the marketing agency prove its worth? And how popular is Florida among domestic and international tourists? Our panelists to discuss these issues are: • Santiago Corrada, President and CEO of Visit Tampa Bay • Maryann Ferenc, Visit Florida board member and CEO and owner of Mise En Place in Tampa • Dr. Abraham Pizam, Dean of the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management You can continue the conversation on tourism in Florida on our Facebook page, on Twitter or by emailing FloridaMatters@wusf.org.
Voters will soon pick the leader of one our state's largest cities — St. Petersburg. This week on Florida Matters we're talking about how the mayoral race is shaping up, and what's at stake in its outcome. The mayor's office is technically nonpartisan. But some have accused the two front-runners, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker, of turning this campaign into a Democrat vs. Republican battle. There are four other candidates qualified to run in the race that holds its primary on Aug. 29. In the preview above, Florida Matters host Robin Sussingham talks about the issue of partisanship in this election with long time political journalist William March, and Peter Schorsch, political consultant and publisher of FloridaPolitics.com and SaintPetersBlog.com.