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The Point, Feb. 22, 2024: Public commenters criticize GRU Authority Board

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The stories near you

• WUFT News: Gainesville residents criticize GRU Authority Board. "Members of the public attending the Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) Authority Board meeting Wednesday expressed their frustration and concerns over transparency, confusion surrounding financial decisions, and the perceived lack of control by the board."

• WUFT News: Alachua County’s road renovation 10-year plan, explained. "Paul Saunders says he isn’t the type of person to regularly engage in local government, but he’s also not the type of person to enjoy driving around potholes."

• WUFT News: Senate bill would prohibit camping in public spaces, promises to establish safe campgrounds. "St. Francis House Executive Director Lauri Schiffbauer said she is hopeful for this temporary solution. She said to be effective, these campgrounds would need to have security measures, substance limitations and mental health resources."

• WCJB: ‘I saw a lot of police’: Ocala neighborhood blocked off by police after deadly car crash. "Two people in Marion County are dead after an accident causes one of the vehicles to burst into flames. Neighbors say their neighborhood was blocked off by police overnight."

• Mainstreet Daily News: Alachua County School Board finalizes book challenge policy. "As discussed in a Feb. 7 workshop, the policy update includes a process for those who want to contest classroom material, library materials, or materials included on a reading list."

• WCJB: City to crack down on ‘nuisance businesses’ in Gainesville. "Gainesville city leaders say they are cracking down on gun violence by starting with what they call ‘nuisance businesses’ in Gainesville."

• WUFT News: Death of beloved young manatee highlights ongoing threats, risks. "While she was being rehabilitated at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens for nearly two years, Asha won everyone’s heart."

• WMFE-Orlando: Forging history in the blacksmith shop at Ocala's historic Fort King."On Saturday, more than a dozen blacksmiths with the Florida Artist Blacksmith Association will haul their forges -- on trailers and truck beds -- to the blacksmith shop at the Fort King National Historic Landmark."

• The Point Podcast: Investing in a small airport. Thursday’s host, Ailee Shanes, speaks with Benton Stegall, the airport manager of Williston Municipal, on what $500,000 in federal grant money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be used for and how it helps the future development of the airport.

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Around the state

• News Service of Florida: An 'unborn child' bill advances in the Florida House. "A House committee on Wednesday approved a controversial measure that would allow parents to file civil lawsuits seeking damages for the wrongful death of an 'unborn child,' with critics of the bill saying it is too broad and could shrink the number of doctors who deliver babies in Florida."

• News Service of Florida: Florida House panel backs reprieve from local official financial disclosure requirements. "After dozens of resignations and two lawsuits, a Florida House panel Wednesday supported providing reprieves from a 2023 law that requires local elected officials to disclose detailed information about their personal finances."

• PolitiFact FL: The federal government still classifies pot as more worrisome than fentanyl. "Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is correct that the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means that it is considered a greater concern than either fentanyl or cocaine, which are classified as Schedule 2 drugs."

• WFSU-Tallahassee: Cracks begin to emerge in an ongoing debate over Florida defamation laws. "The bill is a multi-year effort aimed at setting up a challenge to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. Sullivan—a key precedent that undergirds First Amendment freedom of speech and freedom of the press rights."

• PolitiFact FL: Have there been more shootings in the U.S. in 2024? Common stats needs context. "One issue, from a fact-checker’s perspective, is the lack of a universal definition for a 'mass shooting.' Politicians often cite reliable sources for this claim, but the organizations that track mass shootings use different criteria."

• Miami Herald: A colorful new hurricane cone of uncertainty is coming, Florida. Take a look. "Infamously, the relatively minor shifts in the hurricane center’s predictions for Hurricane Ian’s path in 2022 led to entire counties in Florida exiting the cone’s shaded area — and, in some cases, delaying or avoiding calls for evacuation in response."

• WFSU-Tallahassee: Prominent nature photographer and author says inland development is destroying Florida's coastal freshwater wetlands. "But as Florida’s population has grown, the size and condition of those wetlands seems to be on the decline. That’s the subject of a new book by noted naturalist and photographer Benjamin Dimmitt."

• WUSF-Tampa: This tiny butterfly was thought to be gone in Florida. Gardeners and naturalists brought it back. "Atalas are small butterflies with inky black wings that are speckled with iridescent blue spots, and a bright red body."

From NPR News

• Law: Supreme Court will hear challenge to EPA's 'good neighbor' rule that limits pollution

• Politics: Red states that have resisted Medicaid expansion are feeling pressure to give up

• Health: How Alabama's ruling that frozen embryos are 'children' could impact IVF

• World: Humanitarian crises abound. Why is the U.N. asking for less aid money than last year?

• Business: Boeing ousts the head of its troubled 737 Max program after quality control concerns

• Business: Why Capital One wants Discover

• Health: E-bike head trauma soars as helmet use falls, study finds

• Animals: China says it plans to send more pandas to the San Diego Zoo this year

Kristin Moorehead curated today's edition of The Point.