The Point, Feb. 2, 2022: Two Gainesville real estate brokers facing racketeering, other charges

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The stories near you

• Fresh Take Florida: Prosecutors charge prominent real estate brokers with racketeering, stealing trade secrets. “State prosecutors on Tuesday formally charged two prominent real estate brokers with felony criminal charges of racketeering, fraud and stealing trade secrets as part of a long-running investigation into a business dispute with their former employer. The men, Daniel James Drotos, 34, and Michael Steven Ryals, 65, were the same brokers who faced scrutiny last year over a controversial multi-million dollar land deal for the Alachua County School Board.”

• WUFT News: Alachua County introduces new 24-hour fire rescue unit. “Amid an uptick in reported emergencies, Alachua County Fire Rescue Station 80 has added a second rescue crew and additional emergency response equipment. The new crew, called Rescue 36, is a 24-hour rescue unit. Its addition in January to Station 80 aims to relieve the preexisting crew’s (Rescue 80) workload, reduce response times and improve the quality of care for patients.”

• WUFT News: Why your favorite grocery items may not be in Gainesville stores. “Zeezenia International Market, a local grocery store that sells Middle Eastern products, has been hit hard by these shortages. As a result, it has experienced delays and increased prices for essential products, including rice, pasta, flour and oil. Supply chain backlogs began when the pandemic hit and have continued to worsen, said store owner Zeezenia Ebrahim. Most products are from India and the Middle East, regions where international shipments have experienced the longest delays.”

• Gainesville Sun ($): Commissioner Harvey Ward files to run for Gainesville mayor. “He joins a growing field that includes fellow Commissioner David Arreola, former Gainesville Regional Utilities General Manager Ed Bielarski and Donald Shepherd, who also have filed to run for the Aug. 23 election.”

• WCJB: City Alachua Police Chief Chad Scott is leaving the department and is rejoining the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. “He returns to the sheriff’s office with the rank of major and will be in charge of the department of operations.”

• Gatorsports: ‘What a traveling nightmare’: Fans react to Florida State vs. Florida football move to Friday. “The move to more games throughout the week has been a plus for ESPN and other networks airing live sports as college football is a ratings boon. But fans looking to attend the games live have voiced their displeasure for breaks in tradition, and they brought up the high school football playoffs, which now will have to compete with one of the biggest games of the year in Florida.”


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Around the state

• Politico: Florida halts redistricting effort after DeSantis asks Florida Supreme Court to weigh in. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in another sign that he may veto a new congressional map being drawn by the state Legislature, asked the state’s highest court on Tuesday to tell him whether or not a 200-mile congressional district linking Black neighborhoods must be kept intact.”

• News4Jax: Northeast Florida gets over $54M for projects through resilient Florida grant program. “Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Pinellas and Miami-Dade counties Tuesday to announce the award of grants totaling over $404 million for 113 environmental resilience projects across the state through the Resilient Florida Grant Program, which will help prepare coastal and inland communities for the adverse impacts of flooding and storm surge.”

• WMFE: Conservation groups sue U.S. Fish and Wildlife over record manatee die-off. “The groups want the federal agency to update and strengthen protections on manatee habitat. The groups say manatees face threats like loss of habitat and poor water quality, which has led to harmful algae blooms and widespread seagrass losses that have left the animals starving.”

• USA Today Network ($): Bill would scrap 2021 deal as public notices battle begins anew in Florida legislature. “Lawmakers will again consider a proposal to allow government agencies in Florida ‘the option to publish legal notices on a publicly accessible website instead of in a print newspaper,’ according to a House staff analysis.”

• News Service of Florida: Florida House Set To Vote On Measure That Would Eliminate School Board Salaries. “A state bill that would eliminate salaries for school board members and increase scrutiny of the way public-school instructional materials and library books are chosen is now primed for consideration by the full House.”

• Miami Herald ($): FIU to build facility to simulate 200 mph hurricanes, 10-20 foot storm surge. “The project’s research could help develop stronger structures in the face of stronger storms stemming from warmer seas.”

• WTSP-Tampa: Deputy murdered at St. Augustine vacation home remembered as ‘bright spot in a dark world.’ “Hillsborough County Deputy Abigail Bieber is remembered as a dedicated professional with the sheriff’s office, someone who had the demeanor of a veteran law enforcement officer despite her age, the agency said in a statement. The 30-year-old was found shot Saturday, Jan. 29, at a St. Augustine vacation rental home.”

• WFSU: A new Marsy’s Law case involving police is bolstering media groups seeking answers from the Florida Supreme Court. “A recent case out of Boynton Beach is calling new attention to Marsy’s Law, Florida’s 2018 law designed to boost and protect crime victims’ rights. A 13-year-old boy on a dirt bike was killed the day after Christmas as police tried to pull him over for riding recklessly. Now, the Boynton Beach police officer who attempted the traffic stop is seeking to have his identity withheld.”

• NPR News: Remembering the man who ‘laid the groundwork for the modern civil rights movement.’ “Seventy years ago, one of the first civil rights leaders of the modern era was killed in a bombing in Florida. Harry T. Moore isn’t as well known as civil rights icons Medgar Evers or Martin Luther King Jr. Moore’s activism began earlier, in the 1930s. His work in Florida investigating lynchings and registering African Americans to vote cost him his life.”

• WUSF: Florida leads nation in ACA signups with a record 2.7 million. “Subsidies from the president’s coronavirus relief act and an extended enrollment period helped add 600,000 Floridians through the federal marketplace.”

• WJCT: Florida among leaders in removing Confederate memorials, thanks to Jacksonville. “Florida removed the third-most Confederate memorials of any state last year, driven mostly by Jacksonville activists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

• ESPN: Brian Flores sues NFL, three teams, as former Miami Dolphins coach alleges racism in hiring practices. “Brian Flores has sued the NFL and three teams — the Dolphins, the Broncos and the Giants — alleging discrimination regarding his interview processes with Denver and New York and his firing last month by Miami. The 58-page lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court Tuesday and seeks class-action status.”

• NPR News: Tom Brady announces his retirement from the NFL. “Widely regarded as the greatest football player of all time, the quarterback is finally calling an end to his history-making 22-year career.”


From NPR News

• Health: Even if they can find a test, not everyone wants to know they have COVID

• Health: How some states are trying to upgrade their glitchy, outdated health care technology

• Race: Here’s the story behind Black History Month — and why it’s celebrated in February

• Education: More than half of teachers are looking for the exits, a poll says

• Politics: Here’s who will help Biden’s Supreme Court pick navigate Senate hearings

• World: The U.S. and Russia are still far apart on Ukraine, Putin says

• Weather: A pair of monster lightning strikes have shattered records for distance and duration

About today’s curator

I’m Ethan Magoc, a news editor at WUFT. Originally from Pennsylvania, I’ve found a home telling Florida stories. I’m part of a team searching each morning for local and state stories that are important to you; please send feedback about today’s edition or ideas for stories we may have missed to emagoc@wuft.org.

About WUFT News

Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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