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Orange County Commissioners Approve Sales Tax Referendum on November Ballot

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Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings (center) and Orange County Commissioners Mayra Uribe (left) and Maribel Gomez Cordero in a board meeting January 26, 2021. Photo: Orange County Government (via Twitter).

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – By a vote of four to three, Orange County approved the inclusion of the Transportation Sales Tax referendum on the ballot for the general election on November 8th.

The measure would ask Orange County voters to approve a one-cent sales tax increase that would be used to improve transportation in the county.

Commissioners Christine Moore, Mayra Uribe and Maribel Gomez Cordero joined Mayor Jerry Demings on the vote. Mayor Demings had been pushing to include the tax since 2019.

“I’m happy that our Board, at least the majority, saw fit to give the power to the people and let residents decide whether to tax themselves in this manner,” Mayor Demings said after the vote.

If voters approve, the sales tax in the county would be increased to 7.5 percent.

According to the presentation before the vote, the improvement in transportation–which would include a commuter train–would create over 5,000 new jobs, $4 billion in economic output, a $910 million increase in personal income, and $2.4 billion in gross domestic product (GDP).

Demings’ team estimates that $21 billion are needed to improve the current transportation system in Orange County. With the sales tax $600 million annually could be raised to cover that, according to the team’s calculations.

Commissioners Emily Bonilla, Nicole Wilson and Victoria Siplin opposed the measure. Wilson in particular said that there was a lack of transparency in the plan.

As a compromise, the commissioners agreed to create a citizens oversight board to evaluate the city’s transportation plans.

Demings assured both the opposing commissioners and voters that he would work to ensure that everything is indeed transparent.

A 2022 Orange County survey indicated that a majority of residents desire a better transportation system and are concerned with growing traffic. The full results of the survey can be seen here.

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Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News, and Assistant Editor for FNN News en Español. | info@floridanationalnews.com

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Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023

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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”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

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.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

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.

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Florida

Trump prepares to launch 3rd campaign for the White House

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PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is preparing to launch his third campaign for the White House on Tuesday, looking to move on from disappointing midterm defeats and defy history amid signs that his grip on the Republican Party is waning.

Trump had hoped to use the GOP’s expected gains in last week’s elections as a springboard to vault himself to his party’s nomination. Instead, he finds himself being blamed for backing a series of losing candidates after Republicans failed to take control of the Senate. While the party was on the cusp of retaking control of the House on Tuesday, it could end up with its narrowest majority in decades.

“Hopefully, tomorrow will turn out to be one of the most important days in the history of our Country!” Trump wrote on his social media network on Monday. An announcement was expected at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday from his club in Palm Beach.

Another campaign is a remarkable turn for any former president, much less one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the U.S. Capitol in a deadly bid to halt the peaceful transition of power on Jan. 6, 2021. Just one president in U.S. history has been elected to two nonconsecutive terms: Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892.

Trump is also facing a series of intensifying criminal investigations, including a Justice Department probe into the hundreds of documents with classified markings that were discovered in boxes and drawers at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Aides and allies had urged Trump to wait until after the midterms were over — and then until after a Dec. 6 Senate runoff election in Georgia — to announce his plans. But Trump, eager to return to the spotlight, is also hoping to stave off a long list of potential challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who cruised to reelection last week and is now being urged by many in his party to run for president a well.

Trump has tried to blame Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s performance — and McConnell allies have criticized Rick Scott, the Florida senator who heads the Senate Republicans’ campaign committee.

However, Trump has received the brunt of criticism for elevating candidates in states like Pennsylvania and Arizona who were unappealing to general election voters because they embraced his lies about the 2020 election or held hard-line views on issues like abortion that were out of step with the mainstream.

While Trump has the backing of the No. 3 House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik, others were already moving on.

Asked whether she would endorse Trump in 2024, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told reporters Monday: “I don’t think that’s the right question. I think the question is, who is the current leader of the Republican Party?”

Her answer to that question: “Ron DeSantis.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a longtime Trump critic, compared Trump to a pitcher who keeps losing after GOP disappointments in 2018, 2020 and now 2022.

“He’s been on the mound and lost three straight games. If we want to start winning, we need someone else on the mound. And we’ve got a very strong bench that can come out,” Romney said. “I know, there’s some fans that love him. Just like, you know, an aging pitcher, they’re always fans that want to keep them there forever. But if you keep losing games, try to put some new players on the field.”

Others expressed concern that Trump’s announcement would be a distraction from the Georgia race and urged potential candidates to focus there.

“What’s really important for anybody who wants to be a 2024 candidate is to help us right now in 2022 to finish the cycle by winning the state of Georgia,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

“We obviously had higher expectation in the Senate, which didn’t pan out. I think there are a lot of different things that contribute to that,” Thune added. “But I do think that, you know, folks who were unduly focused on the 2020 election, that’s not a winning strategy with independent voices.”

Even the former president’s right-flank allies in the House Freedom Caucus kept their distance ahead of Trump’s announcement.

“I am focused on what’s happening here,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the Freedom Caucus chairman, as lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill on Monday. “I’m just not paying attention to any of those things, so I don’t want to comment on that.”

Meanwhile, in Utah, 86 Republican lawmakers on Monday sent out a news release urging DeSantis to run, reflecting dissatisfaction with having Trump as their party’s standard-bearer. The state’s Mormon majority has long been skeptical of Trump’s isolationism and foul language.

And in Michigan, Paul Cordes, chief of staff of the Michigan Republican Party, penned a four-page internal memo that criticized Trump-backed candidates for “statewide sweeps” that will give Democrats full control of the state’s government for the first time in 40 years. That includes Tudor Dixon, who lost the governor’s race to Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer by double digits.

Trump, Cordes wrote, was “popular amongst our grassroots and a motivating factor for his supporters, but provided challenges on a statewide ballot, especially with independents and women in the midterm election.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, another Trump critic who is considering her own run in 2024, highlighted losses by Trump-backed candidates while speaking Tuesday morning at The Washington Post’s Global Women’s Summit.

“This is certainly not the rollout I’m sure Donald Trump wanted for his announcement tonight. But it’s also not the first time he’s been totally detached from reality,” Cheney said. “There’s no question he’s unfit for office. And I feel confident he will never be president again.”

Meanwhile, Josh Holmes, a Republican consultant close to McConnell, said Trump remains “far and away the favorite” as he enters the race. But Holmes also said that a third presidential bid will be considerably different for Trump.

“There’s never once been a primary victory by a presidential nominee that is waged in a backward-looking fashion. Everything is about the future,” Holmes said.

As for DeSantis, Holmes said: “His national profile right now is undeniable. … We’re going to find out” whether he can maintain that strength.

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Florida

Attorney General Moody Secures $390 Million Through Historic Multistate Action Against Google Over Location Tracking Practices

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Attorney General Ashley Moody today announced a historic multistate action against Google over the tech giant’s location tracking practices. The announcement follows a historic multistate investigation by Attorney General Moody and 39 other state attorneys general into the company’s location tracking practices and cybersecurity disclosures. As a result of the investigation, the business will pay the states $390 million—including $26 million to Florida. Google must also provide consumers more information and clearer options as it relates to tracking practices.

Attorney General Ashley Moody said, “Big Tech is watching us, but Silicon Valley needs to know that we are watching them too, and if they violate our consumer protection laws, we will take strong action to protect our citizens. This is a historic case for the privacy of Americans and the protection of consumers nationwide, and I am proud our office helped lead this massive, nationwide investigation.”

Location data is a key part of Google’s digital advertising business and is among the most sensitive and valuable personal information the company collects. Even a limited amount of location data can expose a person’s identity by tracking routines that can be used to reveal personal details.

The attorneys general initiated the multistate investigation following a 2018 Associated Press article that revealed the company records users’ movements, even when explicitly told not to. The article focused on two account settings: Location History and Web & App Activity. Location History is turned off by default, but Web & App Activity, a separate account setting, is automatically turned on when users set up a Google account, including all Android phone customers.

As detailed in the agreement, the attorneys general found that Google allegedly violated state laws by misleading consumers about location-tracking practices in various ways since at least 2014. Specifically, the company caused confusion among those who thought location tracking could be limited by turning off Location History, while Web & App Activity continued to track users’ locations.

Under the agreement, Google agreed to a series of provisions designed to give consumers more transparency into the company’s practices, including:

  • Showing additional information whenever account settings are turned on or off;
  • Making key information about location tracking unavoidable; and
  • Creating an enhanced Location Technologies webpage where users can get detailed information about the type of location data Google collects and how it’s used.

The agreement also places limits on the usage and storage of certain types of location information and requires account controls to be more user-friendly.

Florida took a leading role in the investigation and agreement negotiations, represented by Consumer Protection Division Multistate and Privacy Bureau Chief Patrice Malloy.

Attorney General Moody is joined in this final action by the attorneys general of the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

To view a copy of the agreement, click here.

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