April 17, 2014
The Tate Lady Aggies and the Jay Lady Royals will be in action tonight in their district softball championship games.
The top-seeded Tate Lady Aggies beat Fort Walton Beach Wednesday night 12-1 in five. The win earned the Lady Aggies a chance to play Thursday night for the District 1-7A championship against the third seed Navarre Raiders, 7 p.m. at Tate High School. The Raiders upset number two Niceville Wednesday 2-1.
The Jay Royals beat Baker Wednesday night to advance to the championship game of the District 3-1A softball tournament. Jay will host Chipley at 7:00 Thursday night for the district championship after Chipley beat Holmes County.
April 17, 2014
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set the Gulf recreational red snapper season in state waters Wednesday. The season will be a total of 52 days in 2014 and will start the Saturday before Memorial Day (May 24 this year) and remain open through July 14, closing July 15.
Starting the season the Saturday before Memorial Day will provide recreational red snapper fishing through an important holiday weekend, helping attract more visitors and bringing economic benefits to our coastal communities, FWC said.
The federal season is currently projected to be 11 days long, starting June 1 and remaining open through June 11. This season is subject to change depending on projections by NOAA Fisheries for when the recreational red snapper quota may be caught.
Florida state waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end, out to about 200 nautical miles.
The daily bag limit will remain two per person in state and federal waters.
April 16, 2014
An Escambia County woman died in a two vehicle traffic crash Wednesday morning.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 89-year old Christene Wyatt Gileland was westbound on Highway 98 at South 61st Avenue in a 1996 Ford Escort, as a 2000 Mitsubishi Galant driven by 54-year old Anna Mare Rue was southbound on 61st Avenue and approaching Highway 98 in the left turn lane. The vehicles collided, with both coming to rest in the intersection.
Gileland was pronounced deceased following the crash, while Rue received minor injuries.
Charges are pending the completion of a traffic homicide investigation, according to FHP.
April 16, 2014
An Escambia County jury voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend the death sentence for 32-year old Joshua Wayne Douglas.
Douglas was convicted last week of the brutal rape and murder of a woman whose body was found in wooded area off Nine Mile Road. The body of 25-year old Jamie Broxson was found near a Gulf Power substation not far from Broxson’s home in November 2010. Douglas was tied to the murder by DNA evidence.
One additional hearing will be held May 23 for the purpose of presenting any further evidence for the court to consider before imposing sentence.
April 16, 2014
Five Tate High School band students have been named to the Nine Star Honor Band for the state of Florida.
The Nine Star Honor Band is sponsored by the Florida Bandmaster’s Association for the second year. It is for rising 10th grade students who have shown great musical aptitude and ability, and come from the highest quality band programs in Florida.
The Tate students selected were: Mallory Parker, Madison Philley, Madison Rondeau, Katlin Sainata and Danae Smith.
They will travel to Alamonte Springs on July 9 and 10 to perform with other sophomores from around the state. Their clinician will be Dan Wooten, director of bands at Niceville High School and former member and assistant director of the Tate High School Showband of the South.
Pictured: Nine Star Honor Band members from Tate High School are (L-R) Mallory Parker, Madison Philley, Madison Rondeau, Danae Smith and Kaitlin Sainata. Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.
April 16, 2014
In game one Tuesday afternoon, Holmes County defeated the Northview Lady Chiefs 3-0. In game two, the Baker Lady Gators defeated Freeport 11-4. Kyndall Hall and Danielle Steadham were both 1-3 at bat for Northview. Mallory Ryan pitched a complete seven innings for the Lady Chiefs, allow three hits and striking out seven.
Wednesday, Chipley will play Holmes County, and at 7 p.m. the Jay Lady Royals will take on Baker. Winners will advance to the championship game at 7 p.m. Thursday in Jay.
April 16, 2014
The girl was 17 years old, a good student, headed toward college — and pregnant.
But her attempt to get an abortion without her parents finding out led to an appeals court issuing sharply divided opinions last week about how a key part of the state’s parental-notification law should be applied.
Florida voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that requires parents to be notified before their minor daughters can have abortions. But that amendment and subsequent laws created a process for minors to go to court to prevent the notification.
The process, known as a judicial bypass or waiver, was at the crux of the case involving a teen, identified in court documents as Jane Doe 13-A, seeking to have an abortion without her parents being told. A Leon County circuit judge ruled against the girl’s request, but a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed that ruling in a 2-1 decision.
Appeals-court Judge T. Kent Wetherell, in an opinion released Friday, wrote that the girl was a high-school senior who earned A and B grades in advanced classes and had been accepted to colleges. He wrote that she feared she would be kicked out of the house by her deeply religious parents if they found out she was pregnant and planned to have an abortion.
“(As) a practical matter, the denial of a judicial waiver in this case would leave appellant (the minor) with two options: carry an unwanted pregnancy to term or notify her parents of her intent to have an abortion,” wrote Wetherell, who was part of a majority with Judge L. Clayton Roberts. “It is clear from appellant’s testimony that either of these options would irreparably harm the parent-child relationship and would disrupt, if not destroy, appellant’s plans for her future. On the other hand, if the petition is granted, the parent-child relationship may not be harmed at all because appellant’s parents may never find out about the pregnancy or the abortion and appellant will be able to attend college and make a better life for herself than she likely would have had otherwise.”
But appeals-court Judge Scott Makar wrote a 33-page dissent that said the appeals court should give deference to the lower-court ruling that would have led to the girl’s parents being notified. He also indicated that the case was the first time an appeals court had fully explored changes that lawmakers approved in 2011 to the judicial bypass law. Those changes included new legal standards that gave greater deference to the decisions made by circuit judges.
“The purpose of the Parental Notice of Abortion Act is to safeguard the constitutional rights of parents in the care and upbringing of their children by requiring their notification — not consent — before an abortion can be performed on their daughter while concurrently providing exceptions where the minor is clearly and conclusively shown to be sufficiently mature or that parental notification would not be in her best interest,” Makar wrote. “It is a balance of interests, but one presumptively struck in favor of parental notification.”
The issue of parental notification had long been controversial before voters approved the 2004 constitutional amendment. In most cases, courts rule in favor of minors who seek to use the judicial-bypass process. A footnote in Makar’s dissent said that 95 percent or more of minors’ petitions were approved from 2006 to 2011 and that the rate fell to 89 percent in 2012, after the legislative changes.
Though Friday’s opinions do not fully explain the chain of events in the case of Jane Doe 13-A, it appears that they were issued about five months after the case went to court.
Makar’s dissent said the girl sought the judicial waiver Nov. 5 and that a circuit judge ruled against her three days later. The next week, the girl filed an appeal, and a three-judge “emergency panel” was assigned to the case. By law, the panel had to make a decision within seven days.
While the opinions do not detail what happened after that point, the case caused sharp disagreements that went beyond the three-judge panel. Other documents released Friday show that a proposal for the full, 15-member appeals court to hear the broader issues in the case was defeated in a 9-6 vote.
“At stake here is not the minor child Doe’s right to choose to terminate her pregnancy,” wrote Judge Ronald Swanson, who wanted the full court to consider the issues. “All would undoubtedly agree the abortion most probably has taken place and Doe was able to make that choice without requirement that her parents be informed of the decision. At this point, what is at stake is one of the foundational principles of judicial restraint: that an appellate court will not substitute its view of the facts for that of the trial court when the trial court enjoys the vantage point of observing the demeanor and credibility of the witnesses.”
But in the case of Jane Doe 13-A, Wetherell and Roberts took issue with the conclusions reached by the circuit court, such as whether the girl was mature enough to make the abortion decision. Wetherell wrote that appeals courts are not required to “rubber-stamp” the lower court decisions.”
by Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
April 16, 2014
Tax breaks are in. Gambling? No dice. Lower tuition is OK, but alimony is a no-no.
Blame the GOP-dominated Legislature’s attempt to give Gov. Rick Scott a helping hand for what people are calling one of the most boring sessions in recent history.
But, while they are doing all they can to keep the governor in office, Republicans also have their eyes on a bigger prize — the presidential race two years from now.
“Absolutely it’s important. We want the governor re-elected but it’s clearly important for 2016. No question,” said Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican and former head of the Republican Party of Florida who is also chairman of Scott’s re-election effort.
Lawmakers recently put the kibosh on gambling legislation that was sure to split the Republican faithful. And, after Scott vetoed a similar effort last year, they opted to not even consider a prickly overhaul of the alimony system, putting the issue on hold for at least another year.
But they are angling to land on the incumbent Republican’s desk a cornucopia of items that appeal to Hispanics, gun owners, drivers, families footing the bill for university educations and anyone disgusted by revelations that sexual offenders let loose by the state preyed again on children.
The Legislature quickly passed a package of measures aimed at cracking down on child molesters, even after critics complained that the legislation fails to fully address the problem.
And lawmakers swiftly handed Scott one of his top priorities, a nearly $400 million rollback of vehicle registration fees increased during economic tough times in 2009, when Charlie Crist — Scott’s leading Democratic opponent — was governor.
With the May 2 end of the session fast approaching, the House and Senate are now wrangling over how to parcel out the remaining $100 million of the $500 million in election-year tax and fee cuts Scott made a top priority.
No election year on GOP turf would be complete without some National Rifle Association-backed legislation to pump up base voters. So Florida lawmakers are approving a suite of bills aimed at firing up gun owners. One measure would let gun owners who don’t have concealed-carry training pack heat during states of emergency. A “warning shot” proposal awaiting Scott’s signature would let people show guns and fire warning shots in self-defense.
Another gift to Scott — lower tuition for university students — is wrapped in a bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, a priority of House Speaker Will Weatherford. The House has already passed the bill, and Senate sponsor Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, says he has the votes for Senate approval once it makes it to the floor. The measure is viewed as an olive branch to Hispanic voters whom Scott alienated in his first bid for governor when he campaigned on bringing an Arizona-style immigration law to Florida. Scott further angered Hispanics when he vetoed a nearly universally-supported measure that would have let children of undocumented immigrants get temporary driver’s licenses.
“I think we’ve got a nice smooth session going on and that always helps. Everyone’s working together, the House, the Senate, the governor. I think it’s as much harmony here as I’ve seen during any session and that obviously should help him,” Latvala said.
Keeping the governor’s mansion, as well as the Florida House and Senate, in GOP hands is part of a longer-term strategy.
Florida, a critical swing state, helped President Obama get into the White House and stay there in the past two elections.
A Republican governor would help turn that around, Thrasher said.
“It makes a difference,” he said. “We’ve lost the last two elections in Florida. We need to win the next one in order to elect a Republican president.”
Thrasher said the 2016 election doesn’t put more pressure on Republicans to re-elect Scott, who remains unpopular, but “it clearly gives us some incentives to do that.”
Getting Scott re-elected could also help the GOP maintain a stronghold on legislative and congressional seats in 2016, especially in the state House, where about a dozen seats could now be up for grabs after new maps were drawn in 2012.
“It’s not just about the presidential. It’s about legislative. It’s about congressional. Anytime you have the governor in the mansion, that changes the dynamic for that party,” said lobbyist Nick Iarossi. “Where the Republicans have drastically outraised Democrats for the past decade, that could turn on a dime if Charlie Crist wins the governor’s mansion. That’s why everyone’s being cautious.”
But House Minority Leader Perry Thurston said Republicans are ignoring issues such as an expansion of Medicaid to lay the groundwork for the presidential race.
“For sure it’s positioning for 2016. They want it to appear that there are no problems here in Tallahassee, that everything’s moving along smoothly and they’ve got this $1.3 billion in surplus to try to camouflage to that effect. But there are a number of issues we’re not addressing. We need to address the issue of health care, which we believe is a crisis in this state. We need to fully vet the issue with DCF. They’re talking about new investigators but they’re not addressing the issue of the services. If you have more investigators, clearly there are going to be more cases and they’re going to need to place more children. They’re not addressing those placements and the services,” Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, said. “The governor’s race clearly is being done to set up how Florida will be a Republican governor-led state at the time of the (2016) election.”
But Steve Schale, a Democratic consultant who led Obama’s 2008 campaign effort in Florida and is advising Crist, said that it’s wrong-headed of Republicans to pin their presidential hopes on the governor’s race.
“I think it’s a very myopic view of the Tallahassee-centric world which doesn’t exist in the five blocks outside of Adams Street,” Schale said.
Obama won the Sunshine State twice with a Republican governor at the helm, Schale pointed out. And, Schale said, presidential elections are now so expensive and require such a large organization that, although a governor can help his or her party’s fund-raising efforts, state parties are relied on less and less to aid candidates.
“In a previous era you would have had to depend on party apparatus …because nobody could raise a billion dollars. But in this new world we live in, you don’t need a political apparatus in a presidential election. You don’t need it at all,” he said.
Obama won Florida by 3 percentage points in 2008, “arguably at the point at which our party was most inept,” Schale said.
“It may be materially important for some political leaders and some political consultants but it’s not in terms of the outcome of the election,” he said.
by Dara Kim, The News Service of Florida
April 16, 2014
submitted by Rep. Clay Ingram
It’s great to be home this week for a much needed break from Session. We’ve accomplished a great deal of work so far for hard working Floridians.
Last week the House passed HB 697, a bill I sponsored that expands the list of Schedule 1 synthetic drugs. This bill will now go to the Senate for their approval. I will continue to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi on keeping these dangerous drugs away from our children.
Last week the House passed bills expanding educational choice in Florida and also forbidding the collection of certain personal student data that would have violated student privacy rights. The House also passed a bill that would create new penalties for people who harm an unborn baby while committing a crime. These common sense, conservative measures will make Florida an even better place to live.
The Legislature will be off this week as we celebrate Passover and Easter with our families. I look forward to this time to see family and friends before heading back to finish the final two weeks of Session.
April 16, 2014
A Santa Rosa County man was sentenced to 330 year is prison Tuesday for the sexual abuse of three young girls.
Circuit Judge John L. Miller handed down the 330 year sentence to Donzell Kevin Nuckles after his February conviction on 10 counts of sexual battery upon a child by a person in familial or custodial authority and two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation for crimes he committed against the girls when he and his family lived in Pace.
Between February 2011 and October 2012, Nuckles, 40, committed various sexual offenses against his three victims, who ranged in age from 12 to 17 years old at the time the crimes were committed. The abuse was reported to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office in November 2012 and was investigated by Dectective Larry Tynes.
All three victims testified during the trial about the abuse they suffered.
As a result of the sexual abuse, one of the girls became pregnant and gave birth to the defendant’s child. DNA evidence introduced at trial revealed that Nuckles was the father of that child.