ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a new toll relief program at the Florida Turnpike Headquarters Thursday.
The SunPass Savings Program launches on September 1, 2022 and will run for six months and will benefit SunPass and other Florida transponder users. According to a press release from the governor’s office, the program “is estimated to provide $38 million in relief to SunPass commuters.” Eligible roadways include the Turnpike, the 528, 95 Express, I-4 Express, Palmetto Expressway, the Sawgrass Expressway, and many others. The complete map of included roadways can be found at www.sunpass.com.
With the savings program, drivers who have 40-79 transactions per month will receive a 20 percent discount, and drivers who rack up 80 or more transactions per month receive a 25 percent discount. Gov. DeSantis acknowledged other toll organizations and the fact that they’re independent of the Florida government and outside of his authority, but said that a deal can be made legislatively.
“This program will help frequent SunPass customers keep more money in their pockets during a time of growing inflation,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Florida families who depend on these FDOT facilities for a timely commute to work will benefit from these savings. We will, of course, seek to enact greater savings for commuters in the next legislative session.”
“The SunPass Savings program is a way for us to give back to our loyal customers and thank them for their continued support,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “FDOT and Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise are proud to offer this additional cost-saving benefit.”
The governor reiterated the upcoming gas tax holiday in October, but spent much of his commentary slamming President Joe Biden’s economic policy, including the most recent law canceling student loan debt for millions of Americans, which Biden announced Wednesday. DeSantis said President Biden making that a law was unconstitutional. When Florida National News asked Gov. DeSantis how it was unconstitutional, he pointed out that it needs to go through Congress. “Could the Congress pass a law that passes that on to the taxpayer? I believe they probably would have the Constitutional duty to do it–I’m not saying that’s a good idea,” he explained. “But for an executive action through fiat to sanction and to just say you’re dumping this debt on the taxpayers, that is not something that is consistent with the rule of law.”
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com
Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — A former Florida tax collector whose arrest led to a federal probe into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 11 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor and other crimes.
Joel Greenberg, former tax collector for Seminole County, had pleaded guilty to six federal crimes, also including identity theft, stalking, wire fraud and conspiracy to bribe a public official. Prosecutors said he paid at least one girl to have sex with him and other men.
“Nothing justifies my actions. My conduct is so shameful. I feel remorse for what I’ve done,” Greenberg said in court Thursday.
Greenberg’s attorney had asked U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell for leniency, saying that his client had assisted in investigations of 24 people, including eight for sex crimes. Defense attorney Fritz Scheller said that Greenberg’s cooperation has led to four federal indictments, and that he believed additional ones were expected in the coming month.
Greenberg’s cooperation could play a role in an investigation into his friend Gaetz over whether he paid a 17-year-old girl for sex. Gaetz has denied the allegations and previously said they were part of an extortion plot. No charges have been brought against the Republican congressman, who represents a large part of the Florida Panhandle.
Federal prosecutors had asked for a significant reduction in Greenberg’s prison sentence, agreeing during a court hearing on Wednesday to a reduced range of nine years and three months to 11 years. Presnell ended up imposing the upper limit of that range.
The minor in the sex crimes case was almost an adult and had advertised as being over age 18 in her escort profile on the website “Seeking Arrangements,” which facilitates “sugar daddy” relationships, Scheller wrote in court papers.
The defense attorney also said that Greenberg “has provided significant substantial assistance to the government in the areas of public corruption, election fraud, wire fraud, and sex trafficking.”
Scheller also had asked the judge to take into consideration Greenberg’s struggles with mental illness, starting with an attention deficit disorder diagnosis at age 7 and panic attacks, depressive and anxiety disorders as an adult. At the time he committed the crimes, he had bipolar disorder with symptoms of mania, which affected his judgment and impulse control, Scheller said.
Greenberg has been linked to other Florida politicians and their associates. So far, none has been implicated in the sex trafficking investigation.
Some documents related to Greenberg’s cooperation were filed under seal and out of the public eye, with prosecutors and the defense attorney saying they were part of ongoing investigations being conducted by federal authorities in Florida and Washington, as well as state investigators.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023
WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.
“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.
Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.
“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”
“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.
Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.
For more information on the events, visit https://www.BuenaVistaEvents.com or https://www.MisterRogersWeekofKindness.com.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Fire Chief Charlie Salazar Break Ground on Fire Station 11
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, District 2 City Commissioner Tony Ortiz and Orlando Fire Chief Charlie Salazar invite the Dover Shores community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Orlando Fire Department Station 11, “The Beast of the East.”
The new 14,918-square-foot station will be built at the corner of Curry Ford Road and Gaston Foster Road where the previous station was located. The state-of-the-art facility will provide Dover Shores and the surrounding neighborhoods with a modern facility, equipped with the latest in technology and space to accommodate multiple, specialized units and equipment.
The station will be home to 30 firefighters, house four bays, four units – an Engine, a Tower, a Rescue and a District Chief – and is designed to promote firefighter health and safety while providing top-rated service, functionality and rapid response times to the community it serves. The modern facility features new technology that further enhances station operations, including:
- Individual crew bunk rooms and restrooms to accommodate and promote diversity in the workplace.
- A decontamination room with a shower and two airlocks with pressurization to further keep potential carcinogens out of the living quarters.
- Sleeping quarters and active crew quarters that have acoustic separation to allow for rest, recuperation and camaraderie.
- Escalating emergency tones to reduce fatigue and heart-rate response.
- Physical agility rooms that promote a healthy lifestyle for top firefighter performance.
- Open kitchens and dining rooms to allow for the crew to cook and eat together.