Gov. Rick Scott wants tax measure on next year’s ballot

Florida Gov. Rick Scott wants to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would make it harder for state legislators to raise taxes or fees.The Republican governor will announce his proposal Monday.Scott, who is considering running for the U.S…

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Woman accused of writing fake letter from deputies to boyfriend’s employer after his arrest

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a woman who they said wrote a fake letter from their office to her boyfriend’s employer to excuse him from work while he was in jail.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said employees at Reddy Ice contacted authorities after reading the letter written under the PCSO’s letterhead.

“If you’re going to dummy up a letter from the Sheriff’s Office, I highly recommend that you spell correctly (and) that you use a real deputy, so that you’re not embarrassed when we come out and arrest you,” Judd said in a video posted to the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. “Because this has got to be some of the worst spelling and the worst sentence structure that I have ever seen.”

Martisha Wilson, 46, has a Polk County warrant out for her arrest on a charge of criminal use of personal identification. She also has an Orange County warrant for her arrest on a theft charge.

She is believed to be in the Orlando area.

Wilson’s boyfriend, Marco Sullivan, 32, remains in jail on charges of possession of cocaine, fleeing or attempting to elude police, resisting an officer, driving with a suspended license and using another person’s identification.

Anyone with information about Wilson’s whereabouts is asked to call the PCSO at 863-298-6200.

Those who wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward can call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-TIPS. 

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Woman accused of writing fake letter from deputies to boyfriend’s employer after his arrest

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is searching for a woman who they said wrote a fake letter from their office to her boyfriend’s employer to excuse him from work while he was in jail.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said employees at Reddy Ice contacted authorities after reading the letter written under the PCSO’s letterhead.

“If you’re going to dummy up a letter from the Sheriff’s Office, I highly recommend that you spell correctly (and) that you use a real deputy, so that you’re not embarrassed when we come out and arrest you,” Judd said in a video posted to the Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page. “Because this has got to be some of the worst spelling and the worst sentence structure that I have ever seen.”

Martisha Wilson, 46, has a Polk County warrant out for her arrest on a charge of criminal use of personal identification. She also has an Orange County warrant for her arrest on a theft charge.

She is believed to be in the Orlando area.

Wilson’s boyfriend, Marco Sullivan, 32, remains in jail on charges of possession of cocaine, fleeing or attempting to elude police, resisting an officer, driving with a suspended license and using another person’s identification.

Anyone with information about Wilson’s whereabouts is asked to call the PCSO at 863-298-6200.

Those who wish to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward can call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-TIPS. 

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Florida’s flood insurance market is full of perils

With sea levels rising, insurance companies and government regulators are tracking flooding reports in South Florida and are adjusting to the changes to stay in business.

This could mean the increased reports of property damage could result in higher costs for residents. Miami Beach is ground zero. Seawalls and drainage systems in Tuesday’s failure of the pumps in South Beach was a warning. 

Miami Beach areas are among the highest-risk flood zones in Miami-Dade. Tony Gallo, a Miami Beach restaurateur, said he has been struggling with flood insurance rules designating his property, which is below street level, as a basement. 

“That’s the issue we are fighting to take that off insurance and hopefully get paid for damages,” Gallo said.

Increasing competition in the flood insurance market, which would favor consumers, will depend on what lawmakers will be doing to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program. But experts believe that more regulation could increase costs dramatically for the 6 million homeowner policies in Florida.

Truly Burton, the executive vice president of the Builders Association of South Florida, is among those who are worried about what the costs could do to the affordability of housing. Burton estimates a new regulation asking builders to increase height will cause about 150,000 families not to be able to afford a home in South Florida. 

“They will see an increase somewhat in their flood insurance, but also at the state level the Florida building code as of Jan. 1 will require any one or two-family dwellings to be elevated an additional 12 inches above current FEMA requirements,” Burton said. 

There are insurance companies that are still not willing to offer flood insurance in Florida, where the risk for storm surge is higher. Florida accounts for about 37 percent of NFIP policies. Former Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty has complained about Florida residents paying “disproportionately higher rates.”

The private market will likely not insure properties in areas dealing with repetitive losses. Its support also depends on the reinsurance market. Experts believe is up to the government to figure out how to deal with properties with repetitive losses in high-risk flood areas. 

Florida’s private flood insurance market’s growth became a model, after 2014 Florida legislation allowed for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to distribute flood certification allowing insurers to offer four types of flood coverage. 

The Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology was required to revise flood loss projections at least every four years. This was one of the many rules released this year that are meant to attract more private insurance companies. 

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said late last year the OIR will continue to focus on helping lower costs for Floridians, according to an interview with the Insurance Journal

“We are continuing to work collaboratively with other state insurance regulators and the NFIP to evaluate available data and identify barriers to the facilitation of a private flood insurance market,” Altmaier said. 

 

 

 

 

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Trump fights nearly $5.8 million owed to former golf club members

The Trump Organization won’t pay back its former golf club members without a fight.

The company is appealing a judge’s ruling that required it to pay more than $5.7 million to about 65 former members of its club in Jupiter, Florida.

The plaintiffs claimed that when The Trump Organization bought the club from Ritz-Carlton in 2012, it changed the rules and terminated their “resigned” or “refundable” status. They also said the club continued to collect dues but barred them from the property.

The members had paid between $35,000 to $210,000 for initiation fees to join the club but had begun the process of giving up their membership.

“As the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues,” Trump wrote to the club’s members in December 2013, after buying the club, according to the suit. “In other words, we are committed to seeing Trump National Golf Club – Jupiter on the list of the best clubs in the world and if you choose to remain on the resignation list, you’re out.”

In their 2013 class action suit, the members said barring them from the course entitled them to an immediate refund of the fees. They claimed, under Ritz-Carlton rules, that members who had resigned were still able to access the club while waiting for other members to take their slots as long as they continued to pay dues.

In February, a federal judge agreed with the former members and ordered The Trump Organization to reimburse the membership fees, with interest. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said in his ruling that because the club “revoked or canceled their memberships” they were entitled to refunds within 30 days.

On Monday, The Trump Organization filed arguments appealing that decision.

The appeal argues, that under the Ritz Carlton contract, members had to keep paying dues while they awaited refunds of their membership deposits but that the deposits would have been refunded once five new members joined.

It also says there was nothing in its agreement with members to suggest they’d continue to have full access to the club while waiting to leave.

Many country clubs use a “refundable” membership model where those who want to leave must continue to pay dues until new members join and take over payments.

Members who are waiting to leave a club are put on a “resigned” list until their membership is transferred.

Neither the Trump Organization nor the Ritz-Carlton immediately responded to requests for comment.

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VIDEO: Driver dumps pit bull in the middle of traffic in Florida city

Video that appears to show a dog being dumped from a car in Tampa is going viral.

The footage was recorded about 6:40 p.m. Monday near West Martin Luther King Jr. and North boulevards, according to a driver who filmed the incident and posted the video to Facebook.

In the video, a Chevrolet Cavalier can be seen stopping abruptly in the middle of the road. Then a driver’s side door pops open and an arm appears to push a dog out of the car before it drives off.

The person filming can then be seen trying to coax the dog over to him, but after wandering around, the dog races after the Chevrolet and disappears into the distance.

“So this sorry piece of [expletive] thought he was going to throw this dog out and get away with it,” Jerrit Gaddis wrote. ” … I tried to catch the dog but he kept running after the car.”

Afterward, Gaddis notified police and handed over the video in the hopes of tracking down the person responsible for abandoning the animal.

The dog is described as a male fawn red nose pit bull terrier weighing about 60-80 pounds.

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