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(55) stories found containing 'ron desantis'

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  • Guest Commentary: Homebuilders Helped Rewrite State Law to Speed New Subdivisions

    Jason Garcia, Seeking Rents|Updated Jun 15, 2024

    Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill that will let homebuilders across Florida throw up new housing subdivisions faster and cheaper. The new law, records show, was largely written by Lennar Corp., one of the nation's largest residential developers. Dubbed by lobbyists as the "Lennar permitting language," the legislation (Senate Bill 812) will compel cities and counties across Florida to issue building permits for most of the homes in a proposed subdivision before the...

  • GUEST EDITORIAL: Florida Lawmakers Want to Weaken State's Ethics Laws, Only Ron DeSantis Can Stop Them

    Jason Garcia, Seeking Rents|Updated Apr 28, 2024

    Last fall, the state agency that investigates potentially corrupt Florida politicians urged lawmakers in Tallahassee to strengthen the state's ethics laws. The Florida Commission on Ethics wanted to tighten conflict-of-interest rules. It proposed legal protections for whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoing. It suggested garnishing the salaries of guilty public officials who refuse to pay their fines. Florida lawmakers ignored all three of those ideas. They decided to weaken the...

  • Five Candidates Will Vie for Two Commission Seats

    News Staff Reports|Updated Feb 28, 2024

    The final ballot is set for the April 2 City Commission election is set, and all registered voters within the city limits of Lake Wales will have an opportunity to choose two two guide the city through the current wave of growth. Area residents outside the city limits are ineligible. Incumbent commissioner Daniel Williams will face two challengers in Brandon Alvarado and Crystal Higbee in the race for Seat 2 on the commission. Williams was elected in 2001, representing...

  • Kris Fitzgerald Files For US Congressional Race

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jul 27, 2023

    Former Lake Wales City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald has filed to run for the US Congress from Florida's 15th district, which includes a portion of Polk and Pasco counties and much of Hillsborough County. Fitzgerald's formal announcement of candidacy is expected to come in a news conference next week. Her filing makes her the first challenger to Republican incumbent Laurel Lee, who won the seat only last year. Fitzgerald met with for an exclusive interview...

  • Fitzgerald Denied Return to Commission Due to Move Outside District

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated May 25, 2023

    Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include citation of a written opinion from City Attorney Chuck Galloway to city commissioners, released to the press today. April 17 - In a surprise twist, former city commissioner Kris Fitzgerald has been denied a return to her open seat on the Lake Wales City Commission despite her sudden reinstatement by Governor Ron DeSantis last week. Lake Wales City Attorney Chuck Galloway read a statement at the opening of Tuesday night's...

  • Kris Fitzgerald Reinstated to City Commission Seat

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated May 17, 2023

    City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald has been reinstated to her seat on the Lake Wales City Commission nearly two years after her suspension by Governor Ron DeSantis following her arrest on felony charges. Her acquittal on all charges in a jury trial last October allowed for her resumption of service. Fitzgerald served only two months of her elected term prior to being suspended. The reason for the long delay in her reinstatement is unclear. Reached via text message,...

  • City Commission Gives Attorney "Unsatisfactory" Marks in Annual Review

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 1, 2023

    It was a very unhappy group of Lake Wales City Commissioners who spent more than 45 minutes discussing their generally dismal evaluations of City Attorney Chuck Galloway Wednesday. At their regular workshop meeting the commission discussed the notes they had turned in as part of an annual performance review. Galloway received a total of eight "unsatisfactory" scores from four commissioners who completed their evaluations. Commissioner Daniel Williams had not yet submitted his,...

  • Governor DeSantis' Delayed Reinstatement of Suspended Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald Raised at City Commission Meeting

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Mar 4, 2023

    The expected reinstatement of suspended City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald was raised again by Commissioner Terrye Howell, who questioned the lack of action from Governor Ron DeSantis at the most recent meeting of the commission. DeSantis suspended Fitzgerald in June of 2021 after she was charged with two felonies. Fitzgerald was acquitted by a jury trial in October. Florida statutes call for the governor to end her suspension "forthwith" upon her exoneration of the charges....

  • Lake Wales City Commission Tightens Rules on Public Speaking During Meetings

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Jan 13, 2023

    New requirements will be faced by those wishing to speak during the public access portion of Lake Wales City Commission meetings following action taken Tuesday. On a 3-2 vote the commission approved a resolution providing for a registration form to be completed by each speaker prior to the meeting containing their personal information and the purpose and topic of their statement. Commission chambers were filled during the meeting with several forced to watch a television feed...

  • Commissioner Fitzgerald Expected to Be Reinstated by Governor DeSantis

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 30, 2022

    A written appeal for re-instatement has been sent to Governor Ron DeSantis by former Lake Wales City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald, who was found not guilty in October of charges lodged against her only weeks after her election in April 2021. Fitzgerald faced a weapons charge after confronting a young relative who was accused of a sexual assault on her daughter. Her acquittal in an October jury trial came more than a year after her arrest. Florida Statutes 112.51.6 allows the...

  • Former Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald Acquitted of All Charges

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Dec 14, 2022

    Former Lake Wales city commissioner Kris Fitzgerald, who was removed from office after being charged with two felonies, has been found not guilty in a jury trial. Fitzgerald was arrested June 3, 2021 after being sworn in to office in May on the two felony charges. She was released from the Polk County Jail after posting $11,000 bond. Polk Sheriff Grady Judd boasted of the arrest at a press conference, claiming that he had taken a dangerous criminal off the street. "Can you...

  • Hilligoss Wins Mayoral Race, Krueger Elected to City Commission

    Robert Connors, Managing Editor|Updated Apr 12, 2022

    The unofficial vote tabulation is completed and It is apparent that Jack Hilligoss and Danny Kreuger will fill the mayoral post and that of city commissioner. With the votes tabulated, Jack Hilligoss has apparently won the three-way race for mayor, with almost 44% of ballots cast. Under the Lake Wales City Charter there are no run-offs in city elections, so a plurality is sufficient for victory. In the City Commission race, Daniel Krueger defeated James Loydd by less than 100...

  • Six Candidates Qualify for Two Open City Seats

    Tom Paulson, City Editor|Updated Feb 23, 2022

    Six candidates have qualified for election to two open seats in the City of Lake Wales government in the April 5 municipal elections. Voters will have an opportunity to choose a new mayor and a District 4 city commissioner. Qualifying opened at noon Monday and closes at the same hour on Friday. Three candidates for mayor of Lake Wales include former Commissioner Curtis Gibson, current Commissioner Jack Hilligoss, and political newcomer Tammy James, a downtown investor and...

  • Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida Legislature's Seminole Gaming Compact

    Michael Moline - Deputy Editor, Florida Phoenix|Updated Dec 13, 2021

    A federal judge has undone a signature achievement of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ time in office by invalidating the Seminole Gaming Compact, a deal between the state and the tribe that purported to OK statewide sports betting and bring billions of dollars to state coffers. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in Washington, D.C., ruled that Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, in allowing the gambling deal to take effect in August, violated the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), by allowing sports betting to take place t...

  • Feds dragging their feet on a plan to feed starving Florida manatees

    Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix|Updated Dec 13, 2021

    The first time I met Martine de Wit, she was dressed in scrubs, ready to step into a laboratory containing eight dead manatees. Her job, and that of the dozen people assisting her in this St. Petersburg lab behind Eckerd College, was to find out what killed them - sort of a "CSI: Sea Cow," but without any rock stars screaming over the opening credits. These eight deaths weren't much of a mystery. Seven were victims of a lingering red tide algae bloom, while the eighth...

  • Waiving Rules for Moving Florida Gopher Tortoises Helps Only Developers

    Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix|Updated Dec 10, 2021

    Do you like the neighborhood where you live? I sure like mine. My wife and I bought a 1926 Craftsman fixer-upper in St. Petersburg back in the mid-1990s, and we've been here ever since. We love the brick streets, the shady oaks, and the down-the-block proximity of a waterfront park. Our neighbors are pretty cool, too. They include a scientist, a professor, a couple of actors, a newspaper editor, a liquor store manager, and a lawyer (in court she may be a bulldog but in person...

  • County Commissioner Neil Combee Promotes Ulcer Medication as Covid Cure

    Updated Sep 7, 2021

    A Polk County Commissioner is coming under fire for promoting a common ulcer medication as a cure for Covid-19. There is no medical or clinical evidence to support his claim. Neil Combee, who represents the northwest corner of Polk but is elected county-wide, asserts that "the government knows" that the over-the-counter medicine is effective but is covering it up for unknown reasons. He offered no explanation as to why any authority would do so but says that he "doesn't trust...

  • Commissioners Unanimously Choose Pastor Hilligoss to Fill Temporary Vacancy

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Aug 3, 2021

    After hearing from supporters of the four applicants, Lake Wales City Commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Jack Hilligoss to the temporary vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. Hilligoss will be sworn in Aug. 17 and will serve until either Fitzgerald is reinstated or a commissioner is elected in April 2022 to complete the final two years of the term. Hilligoss, 55, is senior pastor of HighPoint Church and has been a...

  • Former Commissioner's Wife Now Wants Appointment to His Seat

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 31, 2021

    The wife of former Lake Wales City Commissioner Pete Perez has indicated her interest in filling his old seat, which is vacant now due to the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. He served as a commissioner from 2015-2017. Jacqueline Perez, 79, served as president of the Social Committee at Lake Ashton, a two-year term where she coordinated monthly social events which she said resulted in positive revenue for the group. Prior to retiring she served as a da...

  • Former Commissioner Wojcik Offers to Return to City Service

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 31, 2021

    Former Lake Wales City Commissioner Betty Wojcik has applied to fill the temporary vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. Commissioners at their Aug. 3 meeting will consider Wojcik and any others who apply before then. A Lake Ashton resident, Wojcik served on the commission from 2011-2015. She retired in 2014 as executive director of the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce. Asked why she was interested in serving, Wojcik said "It just...

  • Pastor Hilligoss Seeks Temporary Appointment to City Commission

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 31, 2021

    Pastor Jack Hilligoss has added his name to the list of people interested in filling the city commission vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. Commissioners will consider making an appointment at their Aug. 3 meeting. Hilligoss, 55, is senior pastor of HighPoint Church and has lived in Lake Wales since 1997. He is a 1992 graduate of Warner Southern College. In his email asking to be considered Hilligoss pointed out that all three of...

  • Commissioners Reject First 3 Applicants for Temporary Appointment

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 23, 2021

    Despite a gathering of supporters, a contingent speaking on his behalf, and the endorsement of the mayor, deputy mayor and a number of Republican elected officials, Al Goldstein on July 20 lost his bid to return to his former seat to fill the vacancy created by the suspension of newly elected Lake Wales City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. After Fitzgerald defeated him April 6 by just 32 votes, Goldstein lashed out in a media interview, citing racism as a factor, suggesting the...

  • Suspended City Commissioner's Seat May be Filled July 20

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 15, 2021

    Lake Wales City Commissioners at their July 20 meeting will consider naming a temporary replacement for suspended Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald. The city charter requires commissioners to vote to select a new commissioner within 30 days of a vacancy. Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Fitzgerald July 7, little over a month after she was arrested on felony charges. Interested applicants are asked to submit to City Clerk Jennifer Nanek a resume and letter explaining why they want to...

  • Nominating Committee Seeking Applicants for County Judge Vacancy

    Updated Jul 15, 2021

    Qualified attorneys who would like to be considered for a county judge opening have until 5 p.m. Friday, July 23 to apply. The Tenth Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission has been asked to provide Gov. Ron DeSantis with nominees for the vacancy on the Polk County Court created by the elevation of Judge Lori A. Winstead to the Tenth Judicial Circuit Court. The commission requests that interested candidates submit an application for consideration. Applicants must meet the...

  • Governor Suspends New Commissioner Fitzgerald from Office Over Felony Charges

    Chevon T. Baccus APR, Executive Editor|Updated Jul 8, 2021

    Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order today (July 7) suspending newly elected Lake Wales City Commissioner Kris Fitzgerald from office. Fitzgerald waived her arraignment this week and entered pleas of not guilty, asking for a jury trial on two charges: interference with custody of a minor and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Fitzgerald was arrested June 3 on two felony charges for allegedly taking an 11-year-old boy from his home without permission an...

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