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Watershed: ‘Wake up now’
Today WUFT News continues its series WATERSHED, an investigation into statewide water quality marking the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and Florida Water Resources Act of 1972. Funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center’s nationwide Connected Coastlines reporting initiative, UF journalism fellows reported on the state’s waters half a century after those sweeping laws. What progress can the state celebrate, and what waters are still ailing, or worsening amid climate change, pollution and outdated infrastructure? What bold actions are possible now?
This installment blends history and science to report on the loss of Wakulla Springs glass bottom boat tours, which celebrated Florida’s seemingly endless depths of clean, clear water for a century. Now, with the water too murky to see through the glass, the boats are grounded — a symbol of the pollution plaguing the state’s freshwater and the cascade of consequences to come.
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Around the state
• News4Jax: Gov. DeSantis again appoints Judge Renatha Francis to Florida Supreme Court. “Francis, who will be the court’s first Jamaican-American justice, was the only Black nominee on the list presented to the governor this summer. The court has not had a Black justice since former Justice Peggy Quince stepped down after reaching a mandatory retirement age in 2019.”
• Politico: Florida medical board moves to block gender affirming treatments for minors. “Florida’s medical board on Friday voted to begin the process of banning gender-affirming medical treatment for youths, a move that comes as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has become increasingly vocal in his opposition to such therapies.”
• New York Times ($): ‘This Broke Me’: Parkland Trial Reveals Depths of Families’ Sorrow. “The crime scene visit capped 12 days of often gruesome video and autopsy evidence in an agonizing trial in which the jury will decide if Mr. Cruz, 23, who has pleaded guilty, should be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The defense is scheduled to begin its case on Aug. 22. The judge will first hold a hearing without the jury to decide if defense lawyers can use a map of Mr. Cruz’s brain as evidence of the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome.”
• WUSF-Tampa: In video, Andrew Warren criticizes DeSantis and vows legal action after his suspension. “Andrew Warren says he will pursue legal action after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him last week as Hillsborough County State Attorney. In a strongly worded video posted on his Facebook page, Warren said DeSantis is ‘trying to overthrow democracy’ and is ‘trying to overturn the results of a fair and free election.’”
• Florida Politics: Judge tosses Rebekah Jones from congressional race. “Leon Circuit Court Judge John Cooper from the bench said Jones could not run as a Democrat because she had not been a registered Democrat for 365 days before qualifying as a candidate for Congress. … Jones, a former data scientist with the Florida Department of Health, drew national attention claiming she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data, but an Inspector General in May determined her allegations were unfounded and unsubstantiated.”
• Palm Beach Post ($): COVID in Florida: Wave appears to be flattening with new infections, hospitalizations holding steady. “The latest coronavirus surge across Florida appears to be slowing, just as the school year starts. COVID-19 hospitalizations have been stable the past few weeks. Viral concentrations in sewage have dropped. Testing positivity rates statewide have declined. And Florida’s official caseload remains flat.”
• Miami Herald ($): Spared last year, Surfside condo owners hit with property tax bills totaling about $800,000. “When a Surfside condominium tower collapsed last year killing 98 people, a wave of sympathy reached all the way to Tallahassee: Gov. Ron DeSantis and state legislators forgave the unit owners’ tax bills, totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars. Their generosity, however, did not extend to this year.”
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About today’s curator
I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to [email protected].
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