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Virgin Trains Reports Ridership Spike, Operating Losses as Work Begins on Orlando Extension

July 8, 2019 - 8:30am
Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, in Fort Lauderdale

As Virgin Trains USA moves forward with its $4 billion, 170-mile expansion linking West Palm Beach and Orlando between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm during the first three months of 2019, a 2.5 percent increase over the last three months of 2018.

During the same first three months of 2019, it reported an operating loss of $23.7 million, a deficit anticipated as it launched its three-year Phase 2 expansion after securing $2.7 billion in private bonds to remove $600 million in bond debt from its Phase 1 construction of its Miami to West Palm Beach rail line.

Lake City Latest Florida Victim to Pay ‘Ransomware’ Hackers

June 29, 2019 - 9:00am

Another Florida city has succumbed to a “ransomware” attack and paid off cyber-extortionists in exchange for a decryption key to regain access to much of its paralyzed computer systems.

The Lake City City Council agreed to pay 42 Bitcoin -- about $460,000 to $480,000 --to end a cyber-attack that began June 10 and disabled the city’s email, online utility payment programs and even its phone system.

Bitcoin, a cyber-currency difficult to trace, is the preferred exchange tender in what is becoming a growing menace to cities and utilities nationwide.

DeSantis’ Appointment Raises Questions about Judge-Selection Process

June 26, 2019 - 7:15am
Alan Landman and Ron DeSantis

There are about 600 circuit judges across 20 judicial circuits in Florida’s state court system. They are elected by voters in local elections to hear felony cases, juvenile matters and civil claims, among other complaints.

If, however, for one reason or another, a circuit court judge resigns or cannot fulfill his/her duties -- say, for instance, he/she dies in office -- a qualified candidate can be appointed by the governor to complete the term. Appointed judges must run for election at the next general election after appointment to keep the seat.

Nine Proposals with an Increasingly Slim Chance to Be on the 2020 Florida Ballot

June 21, 2019 - 7:15am
(photo of petition protesters) Credit: AP/SSN archives

Three more potential constitutional amendments could soon clear the first obstacle for qualifying for the November 2020 ballot, but new petition-gathering rules adopted by state legislators and signed into law by Gov. Ron Desantis will make it less likely they’ll get much further.

State law requires petition drives to collect 76,632 signatures from verified Florida voters to trigger a Supreme Court review. If justices sign off on a proposal’s language, supporters must then submit 766,200 signatures by Feb. 1, 2020, to get on November’s ballot.

Cuba Ban Unlikely to Damage Florida’s $8 Billion Cruise Industry

June 17, 2019 - 7:30am
Cruise ship docked at Port of Old Havana

From Florida docks to Wall Street stocks, the Trump administration's new restrictions on travel to Cuba have fostered confusion and, in some cases, impromptu itinerary changes for passengers on Havana-bound cruise ships at sea.

But despite the loss of a new port-of-call that was gaining in popularity, the Cuba travel ban should have little overall impact on Florida’s $8 billion a year cruise industry.

The U.S. Commerce Department says that passenger and recreational vessels and private and corporate aircraft no longer will be allowed to travel to Cuba.

Scott-Era Blind Trust Loophole Is No More

June 11, 2019 - 7:00am
Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis

The Florida blind trust law that allowed multi-millionaire former Gov. Rick Scott – now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott – to place investments in blind trusts that aren't open to the public is no more.

Scott’s successor, Gov. Ron DeSantis, has signed a bill unanimously approved by both Florida chambers during the legislative session that prohibits public officials from placing assets in blind trusts while in office.

Nothing personal, DeSantis said.

House Bill HB 6041 “makes sense,” he said, adding his endorsement does not mean he believes Scott abused the blind trust law.

Airbnb Policies No Longer Reflect Anti-Semitism; Company's about to Get Florida Back

June 4, 2019 - 7:30am

Airbnb is now back in the good graces of the Sunshine State and could be formally removed from Florida’s list of “scrutinized” companies in June.

Airbnb, which lists more 45,000 Florida properties on its website, in November eliminated listings of about 200 properties on the West Bank, a flash point in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, but Israel disputes that determination.

Four Days, 20 Trade Pacts between Florida-Israeli Business, Tech, Academic Groups

May 31, 2019 - 7:00am
Tel Aviv skyline

Four days into Florida’s six-day trade mission to Israel, about 20 cooperative economic agreements have been signed between state government, business, trade, academic, technology and tourist organizations and corresponding entities in the Jewish state.

Among the most far-reaching for Florida small businesses could be the “Memorandum of Understanding” [MOU] signed between the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce at the Israel-America Business Summit.

As Morgan Continues Popping Off at '#Fraudster' Gillum, Biden Cashes in

May 24, 2019 - 9:00am
Joe Biden, John Morgan and Andrew Gillum

Lead Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was feted by Orlando trial attorney John Morgan Tuesday in a fundraiser at his Lake Mary home, where a large crowd -- who paid $1,000 to as much as $25,000 each -- contributed $1.3 million to his 2020 campaign.

The fundraiser was the second Morgan has organized for Biden and the second this week in Florida for the former vice president, who netted another $400,000 at a Monday campaign event hosted by developer Michael Adler in Coral Gables.


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