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  • Revenge Porn Law Goes on the Books in Florida 1, October2, 2015
    Revenge porn, or the practice of sharing intimate pictures of someone without their permission, now has a penalty attached to it. As Matt Galka tells us, a former Florida State student who was instrumental in the bill’s passing says it’s about time. Former Florida State student Carly Hellstrom had limited options two years ago. She […]
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  • Conservative Group Challenges Governor Over Planned Parenthood 1, October1, 2015
    A conservative group that had supported the Governor in the past is now on the verge of turning on him over Planned Parenthood.  As Matt Galka tells us, the group is demanding that the Governor defund the program. A Governor ordered investigation into Planned Parenthood clinics in the state was not enough according to the […]
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  • Death Results in Diabetes Recognition Training for Police 1, October1, 2015
    The death of a Tampa man in police custody in April 2014 is the genesis of a new law taking effect today. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, from now on, police will be trained to know the difference between intoxication and a diabetic seizure. Arthur Green was stopped for driving erratically. Police though he was […]
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  • Money in Marijuana 1, September30, 2015
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  • Warning Shot Keeps Man in Prison 1, September30, 2015
    When state lawmakers passed a bill allowing warning shots instead of deadly force, they cited the case of a Polk County man, Orville Lee Wollard, who’s serving 20 years for shooting into a wall. Today, Wollard asked to be freed, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, you might be surprised by the decision. After a […]
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  • Dozier School for Boys Facing Uncertain Future 1, September29, 2015
    Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet listened today to pleas to save the former Dozier School for Boys as a monument to the kids that lost their lives there while in state custody.  A two year survey has yielded 51 bodies  buried on the campus, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a Dozier survivor […]
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  • Hospital Cost Containment Rick Scott Style 1, September29, 2015
    Governor Rick Scott wants hospitals to post their prices for procedures and annual financial reports on their web sites. Scott also wants to give consumers a place to complain when they feel they have been charged too much. Today Scott said hospitals want tax payer dollars, then taxpayers should know how they are using the […]
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  • Veterans Hall of Fame Nominees 1, September29, 2015
    Former Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell was one of eight names presented to the Governor and Cabinet today for inclusion in the Veteran Hall of Fame 2015 class. Campbell died last year after two decades as sheriff and four decades in law enforcement. Veterans Affairs Director Mike Pendergast says Campbell’s military service  and subsequent work […]
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  • Firefighter Pay Raises 1, September29, 2015
    Imagine putting your life on the line by battling wildfires, but only earning a few bucks more per hour than minimum wage.  As Matt Galka tells us, that’s the story for many state fire fighters, and the state’s Agriculture Commissioner wants to change that. The average Florida teacher makes around $46,000 according to the Department […]
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  • Plastic Bag Ban Proposed for Coastal Communities 1, September28, 2015
    Paper or plastic? The common grocery store phrase could be a thing of the past. As Matt Galka tells us, some environmentally conscious lawmakers have proposed allowing cities near the water the option to ban plastic bags. You won’t catch Kathleen Turner with a plastic bag. She was on her way into Whole Foods with […]
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Whistleblower says he Poisoned Trees

September 8th, 2011 by Anna Laura Rehwinkel

He worked for Floridas largest billboard company. His job, he says, poisoning trees that block signs. Robert Barnhart was let go last month. Yesterday he filed a whistleblower lawsuit in Federal Court. Whitney Ray brings us an exclusive interview with the former Lamar employee from our Tallahassee bureau.

This tree on Capital Circle near Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee is dying because Robert Barnhart poisoned it. According to a complaint he filed in federal court a supervisor at his job with Lamar Advertising, told him to poison trees blocking billboards.

Right above that branch is where we drilled the hole, said Barnhart.

Barnhart says he climbed the tree, drilled a hole above this branch and poured in poison.

Its definitely dying. Its a result of the chemical. And the reason why it was poisoned is because its in the way of the billboard, said Barnhart.

This elm should look the tree right next to it, green and full of life, but all of the leaves have fallen off and pieces of bark are all along the ground and pretty soon the city will come chop it down.

Barnhart filed a lawsuit against Lamar in Federal Court Wednesday. The suit claims, Barnhart was given a machete, told to hack at the root system, then pour poison on the cut.

I was drove around the day before and showed the locations to poison and told, come in an unmarked truck, dont wear a Lamar logo, wear dust mask and kitchen gloves and poison the trees, said Barnhart.

Killing large trees without a permit is a felony. In this written complain Barnhart told the company he want nothing to do with killing trees. The lawsuit claims he was let go after filing the complaint. His Attorney Steve Andrews says Lamar was trying to quiet Barnhart.

No one wants a whistleblower working for them in a big corporation, said Andrews.

Barnhart was given immunity by the state attorney. Hes suing Lamar for his old job back plus damages. Lamar says the claims are false and calls Barnhart a disgruntled worker.

Lamar Advertising didnt have anyone in Tallahassee today to speak oncamera about the lawsuit, but we were able to reach Barnharts former boss Danny Funderburgh on the phone. Funderburgh says he never received a complaint from Barnhart and hes still actually on the payroll. As for their policy regarding trees that block signs, Funderburgh said we do not have a policy to kill trees or remove any trees. Lamar Advertising follows city and state regulations.

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