Rep. Jeff Miller Endorses Trump For President

April 29, 2016

Thursday, House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (FL-01) endorsed Donald Trump for president.

Miller has represented Florida’s 1st Congressional District since 2001. Prior to being elected to represent the people of Northwest Florida in Washington, he served in the Florida State House. Since 2011, Miller has served as chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and in 2014, he negotiated a sweeping VA reform law that included his proposal to provide accountability by empowering the VA secretary to fire poorly performing managers.

“Donald Trump is the only person who has what it takes to shake up the status quo and entrenched bureaucrats in Washington D.C.,” Miller said. “I am more and more convinced that he has the ability to reach in and right the wrongs in the Department of Veterans Affairs once and for all.

“America needs Donald Trump and his conservative agenda to shore up and secure our borders and to rebuild our military,” added Miller. “I stand today with Donald Trump, and l support his candidacy for President.”

“Miller is the kind of results-oriented person we need more of in Congress,” said Trump. “He has uncovered scandals within the VA and the poor treatment of our veterans, and I applaud those efforts. But our veterans deserve better than an agency that has failed them, and I look forward to working with Jeff to make sure every veteran gets the kind of care they have earned and the kind of care they deserve.”

Couple Arrested For Multi-State Crime Spree

April 29, 2016

A man and woman who were on a multi-state crime spree have been taken into custody after racking up charges locally and in several other states.

The pair were arrested in Montgomery County, TX, said Detective Shannan Briarton. They were wanted locally for purse snatching incidents that occurred last week at businesses in Pensacola and Santa Rosa County. They were taken into custody in Texas after a deputy found them sleeping in a car that had been stolen in Santa Rosa County.

The suspects – Timmie Sawyer, 25, of Oklahoma City, OK and Justin Turner 25, of Edmond, OK– have each been charged by the Pensacola Police Department with grand theft, fraudulently using credit cards more than two times, and robbery.

The first incident occurred around 2 p.m. April 16 when the suspects drove up to a woman in the parking lot of Walmart, 2650 Creighton Road. Sawyer tried to steal the woman’s purse but the woman, who was in her 20s, struggled with Sawyer and the couple left without the purse. The victim was not hurt.

The second incident occurred around 11 p.m. April 18 when Sawyer entered the Walmart in Pace, stole a 75-year-old woman’s purse out of a shopping cart and left the store, but not before Sawyer pushed a 64-year-old woman who tried to stop her from leaving. The woman fell but wasn’t injured.

Turner was waiting outside the Pace Walmart in a car that had been stolen from Oklahoma. The pair left the area, but returned a short time later and stole the 75-year-old woman’s car, which they located by using the key fob.

Briarton said the suspects have been linked to similar crimes in Niceville, Destin and Escambia County in addition to Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma. The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is also in the process of filing charges. The investigation is continuing and they may be tied to additional crimes elsewhere.

Anyone having information on the suspects is asked to contact Detective Shannan Briarton at (850) 435-1978, by email at or the Pensacola Police Department at (850) 435-1900.

Florida Legal Bills Mount In Gambling Dispute

April 29, 2016

Florida has paid more than $260,000 to private law firms in gambling lawsuits involving the Seminole Tribe of Florida, with the likelihood of hundreds of thousands of dollars more on the horizon.

The Seminoles and the state are fighting over the tribe’s “exclusive” right to operate banked card games, including blackjack, at five of the tribe’s seven casinos. The $260,000 tab for taxpayers started building shortly before two dueling lawsuits were filed by the Seminoles and the state in October and does not include legal bills that likely will pile up before the consolidated cases go to trial.

The state Department of Business and Professional Regulation has hired two law firms to work with agency attorneys on the case, overseen in Tallahassee by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle. A trial, originally slated for this summer, was recently postponed until October, at the request of both sides.

The agency, which oversees gambling, in August hired Detroit-based Dickinson Wright, a law firm with offices throughout the country, including in Nevada and Washington, D.C., to represent the state “in the mediation required” between the Seminoles and Florida regarding a 2010 agreement, called a “compact,” at the heart of the dispute.

The state has agreed to pay three of the firm’s lawyers — Robert Stocker, Dennis Whittlesey and Jonathan Secrest — $350 an hour, as well as paying hourly rates of between $195 and $275 for three other lawyers. State regulators originally agreed to pay the firm $45,000 for legal work, but the contract, amended several times, now totals $250,000. As of this week, the agency had paid Dickinson Wright $217,876.61, according to documents provided to The News Service of Florida.

In December, gambling regulators hired Bush Ross, a law firm based in Tampa, to also advise the agency on the compact. The agency initially agreed to pay the firm $50,000, but the amended contract is now worth $100,000. Under the contract, the state agreed to pay lawyers J. Carter Andersen and Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe $300 an hour, other lawyers $200 an hour, and an hourly rate of $100 for work done by paralegals. Thus far, the state has paid $43,118.83 to the firm.

According to court documents, much of the legal wrangling in the case has involved where the dispute would be heard. The two sides still have to go through a time-consuming information “discovery” process, and the Seminoles have just started taking depositions. Motions for summary judgment have not yet been filed, meaning the state is likely on the hook for a much bigger legal tab in the months to come, especially if the case goes to trial in October, as scheduled.

Since 2010, the Seminoles have had exclusive rights to offer the banked card games. In exchange, the tribe promised to pay the state a minimum of $1 billion over five years, an amount which it has exceeded. But the agreement regarding the cards — part of a larger, 20-year deal — expired on July 31. The terms of the compact gave the Seminoles a 90-day “grace period” after the agreement expired to continue operating the banked card games.

But, after mediation — brokered by a lawyer whose past clients included Mick Jagger and Leona Helmsley — failed, the tribe filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that Florida officials had failed to negotiate in “good faith” on a new deal.

The lawsuit also alleges that the state breached the compact by allowing pari-mutuel facilities to offer what are known as “player-banked” card games in which “the bank” is another player instead of “the house.” The tribe contends that allowing such games violated its rights to exclusivity in operating banked card games, which typically involve players betting against the house instead of each other.

Less than a week after the tribe filed its lawsuit, the state filed a separate suit in Tampa seeking to stop the banked card games at Seminole casinos.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires states to negotiate in good faith with tribes seeking gambling authority. Florida argued that the federal law only requires states to negotiate initial compacts but not to renegotiate deals when they expire.

“The contention is plainly wrong,” Hinkle wrote in January, rejecting Attorney General Pam Bondi’s request that the tribe’s lawsuit be dismissed. At the time, Hinkle also consolidated the tribe’s lawsuit and the state’s lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee.

Gov. Rick Scott and tribal leader James Billie in December signed a proposed 20-year compact in which the tribe pledged to pay the state $3 billion over seven years in exchange for being able to add craps and roulette to its casino operations. Lawmakers failed to approve the proposed deal, however, during the legislative session that ended in March.

by Dara Kam, The News Service of Florida

Fire Damages Atmore Apartment

April 29, 2016

Fire damaged an apartment in the 100 block of 6th Avenue in Atmore Thursday afternoon. There was no word of any injuries or the cause of the fire. The Atmore and Poarch Fire Departments responded. photos, click to enlarge.

Barons Beat The Wahoos

April 29, 2016

The Birmingham Barons won the opening game of its five-game series, 4-0, with Pensacola by limiting the Blue Wahoos lineup to three hits in the game at Regions Field.

Barons pitcher Tyler Danish, who’s in his second year in Double-A with the White Sox organization, gave up a hit in the second inning to Blue Wahoos left fielder Tony Renda and in the third inning to second baseman Alex Blandino, who ended up stranded at third base.

In the ninth inning, Renda hit a two-out triple off of Danish and was 2-4 on the night improving his batting average to .275.

Danish, the No. 11 prospect, pitched a complete game, giving up just three hits, walking two and striking out six. He improved to 2-2 on the season with a 3.56 earned-run average.

Pensacola pitcher Sal Romano gave up all four Baron runs in six innings, walked two and struck out seven.

Romano fell to 0-1 and his ERA increased to 4.09. He gave up a two-out home run to Birmingham’s Richmond in the second inning and a homer to first baseman Nicky Delmonico in the fourth inning.

After hitting .289 against the Jackson Generals in its home stand, Pensacola went 3-29 against the Baron’s Danish. The Blue Wahoos left 11 runners on base for the game.

The Barons added two more runs in the seventh inning to go up, 4-0. Delmonico scored on a single by DH Josh Richmond. Next, Birmingham third baseman Trey Michalczewski crossed the plate on a catcher Josh Dowdy single to right field.

FHP Seeks Clues In Ensley Hit And Run Crash

April 28, 2016

The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for clues in a hit and run accident Wednesday afternoon in Ensley.

According to the FHP, the driver of a Toyota Camry ran a stop sign at Hannah Street and Palafox Street, hitting a 2004 Nissan Titan driven by 29-year old Isai Chino Clemente of Pensacola.  The Camry continued on past the collision, striking a fence.

Clemente was transported to West Florida Hospital with minor injuries.

The driver and passenger of the Camry fled the scene east on Hannah Street. Both were described as black males in their late teens to early 20’s.

Anyone with information on the crash is asked to call (850) 484-5000 ext. 330 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 433-STOP.

Opponents Take Aim At ‘Docs V. Glocks’ Law

April 28, 2016

Doctors and physician groups filed an 86-page brief this week asking a federal appeals court to reject a controversial Florida law that would restrict doctors from asking questions and recording information about patients’ gun ownership.

The brief came as the full 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear arguments June 21 about what has become known as the “docs v. glocks” law. The state filed a brief last month urging the court to uphold the law.

The plaintiffs’ brief filed Monday argued, in part, that the 2011 law violates the First Amendment rights of physicians to discuss safety-related issues with patients.

“In (the law), the Florida Legislature does what no legislative body has done before or since; it prevents doctors from providing patients with truthful advice to keep their families healthy and safe — speech that is recommended as standard protocol by national medical associations,” the plaintiffs’ brief said. “If (the law) is allowed to stand, it sets precedent for states, at the bidding of other industries or special interests, to prevent doctors from speaking to patients about risks posed by other dangerous products or activities. The First Amendment does not allow the state to single out and censor one topic (firearms), or one group (doctors, or patients), or to so interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.”

The full appeals court agreed in February to take up the case, after a three-judge panel issued three rulings upholding the constitutionality of the law.

The law, backed by groups such as the National Rifle Association, includes a series of restrictions on doctors and other health providers. As an example, it seeks to prevent physicians from entering information about gun ownership into medical records if the physicians know the information is not “relevant” to patients’ medical care or safety or to the safety of other people.

The NRA filed a friend-of-the-court brief last week that said it championed the law after members were asked intrusive questions about gun ownership during visits to doctors’ offices. The NRA brief described the law as “a modest regulation of the medical profession that does not infringe upon First Amendment rights.”

by The News Service of Florida

Tate Wins Regional Quarterfinal

April 28, 2016

The Tate High Aggies won the regional quarterfinal Wednesday night 4-2 over Navarre. The Aggies are headed to the regional semifinals as they host Milton on Tuesday.

Trace Penton  gave up just two hits, allowed no earned runs, walked one and struck out two during his three innings of work. Jake Davis pitched the win. He allowed two runs over four innings. He struck out three, walked two and surrendered three hits.

Tate hitters – Mason Land 2-3 R; Logan McGuffey 1-2 HR, RBI, R; Logan Blackmon 1-3 RBI.

Fire Destroys Escambia Home

April 27, 2016

The cause of a Wednesday morning fire that destroyed an Escambia County home is under investigation by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office.

The blaze in the 200 block of Hansen Boulevard,  off Highway 29 near Brentwood Elementary, was reported about 8:40 a.m. The home was mostly involved in flames when the first firefighters arrived on scene.

They were able to quickly extinguish the fire. There were no reported injuries.

It was not immediately known if anyone lived in the structure. photos by Kristi Price, click to enlarge.

Healthy Start: Signs Of Recovery In Century

April 27, 2016

Contractors have started work on tornado repairs to two buildings in Century used by the Healthy Start program.

The roof of the Healthy Start building  at 511 Church Street was damaged during the EF-3 tornado that tore through Century on February 15. The county-owned building was cleaned, dried out and temporary tarps were put in place. The tarps were no match for Easter weekend winds and rain, with water once again pouring into the building.

Healthy Start moved next door to another county-owned building at 501 Church Street, a building that Healthy Start had already leased but had not yet been renovated. The building is former location of the Health and Hope Clinic.

Century site manager Laura Nelson said all Healthy Start services, including WIC and patient visits by Jay pediatrician Marian Stewart, have continued at the new location.

Tuesday, contractors were busy removing water damaged furniture from the Healthy Start building at 511 Church Street, while additional crews were hard at work putting new roof on the former Health and Hope building at 501 Church Street.

Pictured: Contractors were working hard Tuesday at two county-owned buildings used by the Healthy Start program in Century.  Photos for, click to enlarge.

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