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State Rep. Daisy Morales Condemns Gov. DeSantis’s Congressional Map, Disney District Dissolution Bill

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Rep. Tray McCurdy, D-Orlando and Rep. Angie Nixon, D-Jacksonville sit on the Florida Seal in protest as debate stops on Senate Bill 2-C: Establishing the Congressional Districts of the State in the House of Representatives Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Capitol in Tallahassee, Fla. Rep. Daisy Morales, D-Orlando, joins the protest, holding a sign. The session was halted on the protest. (AP Photo/Phil Sears)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Daisy Morales (D-Orlando) issued a strong statement Thursday after participating in a sit-in on the Florida House floor in protest against Florida governor Ron DeSantis‘s Congressional map and went on to slam his campaign to dissolve Disney’s special districts.

 

State Rep. Morales’s Statement on DeSantis’s Congressional Map

“Our democracy is being attacked. The governor eliminating two Black Congressional seats is a power grab and it’s wrong. Stripping seats from Black representation is the same as saying the Black voice–the Black vote–doesn’t matter. With this map passing, I’m deeply concerned because it means he’ll likely target the one and only Puerto Rican representing Florida in Congress next, Darren Soto, all in the name of catering to his party. We don’t want to disenfranchise the 1.2 million Puerto Ricans in Florida.”

Rep. Morales joined African American State Representatives Yvonne Haynes Hinson (D-Gainesville), Travaris McCurdy (D-Orlando) and Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville), along with several others, in protest against DeSantis’s map erasing two African American Democratic congressional districts.

Rep. Morales, now the most senior elected Puerto Rican in the Florida House, was the sole Hispanic that protested alongside her African American colleagues on the House floor. She held a sign that had a powerful rebuke: “Legislators: Work for the people, not for the party.”

She went live on Facebook sharing her reaction to the new Congressional map during the sit-in in Spanish and English.

 

Rep. Morales’s Statement on Governor DeSantis’s Bid to Strip Disney

Rep. Morales went on to condemn Governor DeSantis’s current bid to strip Disney of its self-governance status in her official statement.

“I also oppose the decision to strip Disney of its special districts. Disney provides jobs to thousands of people. If it’s successfully stripped, central Florida taxpayers would face a greater cost for fire, water, road improvement, and first responder services to the tune of nearly $1 billion.”

SB 4-C, the controversial bill passed by the legislature on Thursday, would eliminate the Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney’s special district that functions as its own government, and several other similar districts by June 2023. The bill does, however, allow for the districts to be reestablished in the future. The bill is now on DeSantis’ desk to be signed into law.

Rep. Morales closed out her official statement with a promise.

“I will continue to fight, I will continue to hold the line with my colleagues until we get justice.

“Voting is a right, not a tool to be manipulated. Our sit-in at the Florida Capitol is what democracy looks like: civil disobedience in the name of standing up for what’s right. Democracy never sleeps. The fight isn’t over yet. Governing by revenge is a recipe for chaos.”

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

NBA

Magic Beat Raptors for Second Win in a Row

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ORLANDO, Fla. (Florida National News) – The Orlando Magic (7-20) continued their winning ways against the Toronto Raptors (13-13), defeating them 113-109 , just two days after a come-from-behind overtime victory against the Los Angeles Clippers. This two game winning streak puts an end to the Magic’s previous nine game losing streak.

The Magic started strong, taking a 37-25 lead into the second quarter, led by 10 first quarter points from Franz Wagner. But the Raptors caught up to the Magic midway through the second quarter led by Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. But at halftime, the Magic held a slight lead, 67-63.

The Magic extended their lead to 94-87 with remarkably impressive scoring from Franz Wagner who added 14 points in the third quarter alone. In the fourth quarter, the Raptors tied it up 108-108 with about two minutes remaining after two free throws by OG Anunoby. Paolo Banchero made one of two subsequent free throws, and Moe Wagner drew the charge from Gary Trent Jr. to negate his two point basket. Fred Van Vleet later added a free throw to tie the game at 109-109. A Franz Wagner tip layup put the Magic up 111-109. A missed shot by Fred Van Vleet sealed the Raptors loss. Banchero’s two free throws put the Magic ahead 113-109 at the end of the game.

Franz Wagner led the scoring for the Magic with 34 points, while Paolo Banchero scored 23. Mo Bamba finished with 13 rebounds. Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz ended with 5 assists.

Several Magic players remain injured and were unable to play, including Wendell Carter Jr. (plantar fascia strain), Gary Harris (strained right hamstring), Chuma Okeke (left knee soreness), Jalen Suggs (right ankle soreness) and Jonathan Isaac (left knee recovery). Isaac has started his rehab program, playing in full contact 5 on 5 practice games with the Lakeland G League affiliate, and hopes to return to the court soon for Orlando.

The Magic face the Raptors at Amway once again on Sunday, 12/11 at 6:00 p.m. Be sure to follow www.FloridaSportsChannel.com and www.FloridaNationalNews.com for more.

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Orlando

Gaetz friend gets 11 years for sex crime, other counts

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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.

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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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