News & Public Affairs

Wednesday April 16, 2014

Local law professor says Michael Dunn hung jury is another reason Stand Your Ground must go

Over the weekend 47-year old Michael Dunn was convicted of 4 out of 5 counts in the Jacksonville ‘loud music’ case. Dunn, who shot and killed teen Jordan Davis after firing ten shots into his SUV, was convicted of three counts of attempted murder and one of firing into an occupied vehicle. That he was not convicted of murder has enraged critics of the state’s controversial Stand Your Ground law including Stetson Law professor Charles Rose.

"The very real difficulty with the jury looking i...

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U.S. Rep Kathy Castor (D-FL) and ACLU of Florida president Mike Pheneger greet each other before a press conference calling on restoring rights to ex-felons.

photo by Janelle Irwin

U.S. Rep. Castor calls on state lawmakers to restore voting rights to ex-felons

Tampa area member of Congress Kathy Castor is calling on Florida lawmakers to make some drastic changes to the way ex-felons have their civil rights restored. During a press conference in downtown Tampa today Castor said that includes immediately giving them back the right to vote instead of making them wait 5-7 years.

“In most states across the country, once you have paid your debt to society, you’ve served your probation, you’ve paid your fines, your civil rights are automatically resto...

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Tampa activists replaced some canned goods in a grocery store with newly labeled ones to draw attention to the dangers of GMO foods.

photo by Sean Kinane, WMNF News 2013

Holistic doctor: GMO foods are weapons of mass destruction

Could genetically modified foods be causing cancer? Holistic Dr. Carlos Garcia thinks so. He’s so convinced GMOs can be deadly, he calls them a weapon of mass destruction. During a lecture at USF Tampa in January, he outlined the hazards and why they’re being ignored.

“The animals that were not fed or were fed non-genetically modified foods had a death rate of 20% female, 30% males before two years. They feed them the genetically modified foods – 70% of the female die, 75% of the males di...

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As Charlie Crist calls on lifting Cuba embargo, not all Cuban-Americans agree

Last week, former Governor Charlie Crist, who is running to get his old job back, announced he supports lifting the half-century trade embargo against Cuba. Many Cuban-Americans support his stance, but opinions vary. During a lecture at Eckerd College Wednesday night, Patsy Feliciano, director of diversity and inclusion at USF said she thinks the embargo should stand.

“I don’t believe that lifting the embargo is going to change a thing in Cuba. In fact, I don’t see there is an embargo. Cu...

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Tampa leaders and members of the black history committee kick off the city's 26th annual black history celebration.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Tampa celebrates black history with 26th annual expo

For the 26th year, Tampa leaders came together with the African-American community to celebrate the city’s rich history during a lively ceremony Friday at the Tampa Convention Center. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn called on young African-American students to pay attention to the fight that paved the way for their own success.

“If you don’t know your history, you’re going to repeat the mistakes. If you don’t know the trailblazers that came before you and pay homage to their contributions and to...

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Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer says voting should be made as easy as possible for registered voters.

photo by Janelle Irwin

No on-campus early voting site could be a problem for some UF students

Early voting may not be an option for some University of Florida students who don’t have cars. That’s because the Florida Division of Elections won’t let the school’s student union serve as an early voting location. Rachel McGovern, with the UF College Democrats said even though there is an early voting location off campus less than two miles away, it’s still a challenge for some students to get there.

“For some students who live on the opposite side of campus and have to then travel all ...

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Tampa City Council member Yolie Capin (left) asked for a workshop on the CRA funds because of talk they would be used for a baseball stadium.

photo by Janelle Irwin

Tampa City Council to consider spending TIF money on something other than baseball stadium

By the end of 2015, a downtown Tampa development group run by the city will have more than $13 million in annual expenses freed up for something else. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said that money could be used to raise $100 million to, hypothetically, entice the Tampa Bay Rays to build a downtown stadium. But during a workshop Thursday on what to do with the money, several cultural facilities owned at least in part by the city lined up to ask for a cut.

“It is a city-owned asset with a private,...

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Devil Spring in north Florida's Ginnie Springs.

photo by Seán Kinane (Nov 2012).

Are tough regulations needed to save Florida's springs?

Florida’s springs are in trouble. Whether it’s pollution causing algae outbreaks, or reduced flow threatening to dry up springs that have flown for decades or centuries, nearly everyone agrees something needs to be done. But there’s disagreement over what that would be.

Recently a coalition of powerful state business groups wrote a letter criticizing efforts by some Florida legislators to help reduce pollution near springs. And that has environmentalists, like David Guest, head of the Flo...

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Republican David Jolly faces Libertarian Lucas Overby and Democrat Alex Sink for the Pinellas County Congressional seat.

photo by Janelle Irwin, WMNF file photo 2014

Libertarian and Republican debate while contending for Pinellas congressional seat

Congressional candidates David Jolly and Libertarian Lucas Overby agree on a lot of issues, but not on whether or not to normalize relations with Cuba. Jolly, a Republican, has said he supports the current restrictions on trade and travel with the island country. During a debate I moderated Tuesday night for the Disston Heights Neighborhood Civic Association in St. Petersburg, Jolly said there are some circumstances in which he’d support lifting the longstanding trade embargo.

Alex Sink, t...

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Fifty years after Gideon and the right to counsel, public defenders are overworked

In the U.S. every person accused of crime has the right to legal representation. That’s thanks to a landmark 1963 Supreme Court decision in a case called Gideon versus Wainwright. The rights solidified in Gideon were celebrated last night at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport.

Stetson Law professor and Dean Emeritus Bruce Jacob was working for the Attorney General of Florida in 1963. Jacob was assigned the task of writing the legal brief and arguing this [landmark case](http:...

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