ORLANDO, Fla. – In 2019, State Representative Geraldine F. Thompson (D – Windermere) and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried met in Fried’s offices with administrators of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to discuss exoneration of the Groveland Four—four young African American men who in 1949 were falsely accused of raping a white woman in Groveland, Florida. After being represented by Thurgood Marshall, the United States Supreme Court granted a new trial for the Groveland Four in 1951. Though the Florida Cabinet, at the urging of Commissioner Fried, Representative Thompson and others, granted a pardon to the Groveland Four on January 11, 2019, Representative Thompson understood that a pardon is something that is granted to guilty individuals and she continued to push for exoneration to clear the names and have the innocence of the Groveland Four acknowledged.
Directors of FDLE indicated during the January 2019 meeting that they would review all information regarding the Groveland Four and issue an opinion. Nothing from FDLE has been forthcoming regarding the Groveland Four in 2021, though members of the families of the men have pressed for resolution. Representative Thompson’s contacts with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to urge exoneration of the Groveland Four have been ignored and instead FDLE filed a complaint against Representative Thompson with the Florida Commission on Ethics regarding an appropriations’ request that then Senator Thompson made for the Sankofa Project in 2016. The complaint from FDLE to the Florida Commission on Ethics was filed on April 28, 2021, outside of the five-year statute of limitations under which the Ethics Commission is bound.
Representative Thompson said, “This is reprisal from Governor DeSantis and his appointees including the Florida Secretary of State, Laurel Lee, who referred the Sankofa issue, despite no findings of improprieties, to the U. S. Attorney of the Middle District where she once worked. She also once worked for U. S. District Judge James Moody, the father of State Attorney General, Ashley Moody. Lee was appointed as judge by former Governor Rick Scott and as Secretary of State by Ron DeSantis and is married to former Florida Senator Tom Lee. The referrals from Laurel Lee and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement follow a lawsuit which Thompson filed in 2020 with the Florida Supreme Court. Representative Thompson won that lawsuit through a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court when the Court ruled against DeSantis and affirmed Thompson’s contention that the Governor acted unlawfully to appoint a constitutionally unqualified political crony to the Florida Supreme Court. “There was no finding of criminal wrongdoing regarding Sankofa after numerous examinations, so this is a reach and another approach to attack me in a different arena even though it is outside of the five-year statute of limitations which applies to complaints with the Florida Commission on Ethics. This is straight out of the Trump play book to use governmental agencies to bully and silence detractors,” said Representative Thompson.
State Rep. Morales Urges Gov. DeSantis to Assist Puerto Rico in the Wake of Hurricane Fiona
ORLANDO, Fla. – State Representative Daisy Morales (D-Orlando) has sent a letter to the Governor urging him to assist with and release much needed resources to aid Puerto Rico in the wake of the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Fiona.
The letter reads:
“Dear Governor DeSantis,
“With the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria right behind us, Hurricane Fiona, which has now dealt catastrophic damage to Puerto Rico according to Governor Pedro Pierluisi, is an opportunity for us to help our loved ones on the Island.
“With expected flooding, mudslides and blackouts, conditions are extremely dangerous.
“I’m asking the Executive Office of the Governor and the Division of Emergency Management to closely monitor the situation and begin preparations for relief efforts. I am also asking your office to facilitate discussions with city and county governments, and transportation authorities, to prepare for a potential influx of our fellow citizens from Puerto Rico, as was the case with Hurricane Maria. I am also asking your office to assist with the potable water residents of the island needs with the contamination of its existing water supply. Florida, and in particular Central Florida, will always stand with and support Puerto Rico.
“My district, District 48, has one of the largest Puerto Rican populations in the state and I know that, like myself, many Floridians are concerned for the safety and well-being of friends and loved ones currently there.
“Puerto Rico is still rebuilding from Hurricane Maria and must now redouble its efforts in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. Florida must be committed to doing everything we can to help the families impacted by Hurricane Fiona and aid in the recovery process.
“Thank you for your consideration.”
Other governors have already stepped into action, some as early as Sunday. Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf announced that two members of Pennsylvania Task Force 1 (PATF-1) Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) are deploying to Puerto Rico to support response operations there. They will serve with a federal Incident Support Team and are prepared to remain deployed in Puerto Rico for up to two weeks.
New York governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement Sunday that “the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is monitoring the storm closely and will be able to rapidly deploy assistance if requested by the federal government and Puerto Rico.”
Thus far, it appears that Florida governor Ron DeSantis has not yet taken action.
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ Brings the South to Your Mouth at ICON Park
ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – “Put some south in yo’ mouth.”– Brother Jimmy’s BBQ certainly delivers on its motto at ICON Park on International Drive.
The barbecue chain, launched in North Carolina in 1989, opened its new location at ICON Park in early August and opened its doors to the media Wednesday, providing a sample of rich ribs (both sauced and dry rub), pulled pork, mac and cheese, baked beans, cornbread, and tea (sweet and unsweetened).
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ cuisine is made fresh in-house, with the butcher chopping, seasoning, smoking and slicing fresh meat before your very eyes. Utensils await diners in tall receptacles on each table, next to a small container showcasing three barbecue sauces: Original, North Carolina, and Chipotle; and in true southern charm, diners can enjoy their drinks in mason jars.
The 7,200-plus square foot restaurant offers an open, inviting dining experience that lulls you to stay a while. The furniture there was taken directly from the restaurant’s New York location and shows some “personality” in the slight wear of the wood and unique giant metal pig figurines peppering several tables. The restaurant offers its own photo both (and a board close to the main entrance to post the pics for others to see), tons of TV screens to watch whichever game you wish to see, and the whole back half of the establishment is a mini-arcade with pinball, mini basketball, and yes, beer pong. Also, kids eat free at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ with the purchase of one entree.
Looking for some good barbecue in a great atmosphere? Learn more and check out the menu on the Brother Jimmy’s BBQ website.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | email@example.com
Gov. DeSantis Announces Toll Relief Program
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. | firstname.lastname@example.org