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Celebrity Frasch trial begins

January 23rd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Sex, guns, strippers and illegitimate children are all part of the allegations against the high profile defendant who is on trial in the State capitol this week for the alleged murder of this wife, who was a French model grooming her own children to be celebrities in their own right.

Samira Frasch was obsessed with dressing her daughters beyond their years. The former French model met her husband Adam Frasch during fashion week in Paris. Three years later, in 2009, they married. Fast forward five years. She had filed for divorce by the time her body was found floating in their upscale home’s  pool.

Here husband is facing first degree murder charges. Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman chose not

to seek the death penalty.

“I reviewed the case for the potential of the death penalty and thought the aggregators were not present, so I did not seek it,” says the veteran prosecutor.

Dateline and other major network news programs are following every nuance of the soon to be made for TV show. During a break in the trial, we asked the defendant

”Adam, how do you feel going into today?”

He responded “Fine.”

Defense attorneys say the case is circumstantial, but wouldn’t elaborate during a break.


“No comment” resp[onded Clyde Taylor to our question.

Adam Frasch claims the couple were reconciling, and that he spent the night before she died  with his wife.

Samira’s body was found several hours after Adam Frasch took the children to a home in Panama City. He was loading them into his car when police arrived and arrested him.

Only a dozen of the fist 50 jurors called said they knew about the case, even though it has been front page news and led the six pm newscasts here in the state capitol.

The trial is expected to last all week, with most of the witnesses coming from the ranks of law enforcement.

Defense attorneys told jurors today that the state can not prove Adam Frasch was in the same town when the murder was committed.

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North Florida officials worry South Florida taking their money

January 23rd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

A former congressman, a Jacksonville City Councilman, and other elected officials are voicing concerns over the proposed purchase of 60 thousand acres in the Everglades,to build a reservoir for water filtration. Congressman Steve Southerland says the plan takes too much money out of the budget and will hurt other parts of the state.

“If you look at the budget dollars that will be used to fund this plan, it takes money from North and North Central Florida” says Southerland. “If you look at the conservation dollars by this graph right here, you look at the money that goes to South Florida, how much is enough?

The land purchase is designed to stop water discharges from Lake Okeechobee which ar polluting sensitive water ways to the east and west of the lake. The plan is a key priority of the new Senate President.

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Pipeline Protestors come to the Capitol

January 23rd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

About sixty people carrying signs stood on the steps of the old State Capitol today to protest the Sabal Trail Pipeline under constriction north central Florida. They fear the petroleum the pipeline will carry will pollute water supplies. John Quarterman of the Suwanee Riverkeepers says they also hope to get the attention of state regulators, who they say aren’t doing their job.

“We need the public against this. There are many ways,a s I mentioned, that it can still be stopped and we need to stop it. One thing is their permit violations because they’re making them. A frack out, a sinkhole, there’s all sorts of things. Fine them.”

The pipeline, when finished, would move one billion cubic feet of gas to Florida,

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Weekend Storm Cleanup

January 23rd, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The killer weekend storm that left people dead in Mississippi and Georgia also left 34 thousand without power in the state Capitol. .Seven to ten thousand woke this morning still without power, Dozens of homes were damaged by falling trees. We found Tallahassee homeowner Dennis Michael Murphy cutting a large pine tree into pieces after it had fallen and blocked the road in front of his house.

“It was breezy and my neighbors did witness the tree fall. and fortunately it did not hit my house and cause any other property damage” says the thankful homeowner.

Most people have now had their power restored in the Capital city, where the mayor says lessons were learned after Hurricane Hermine left many without power for a week back in September.

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Marijuana legislation follows Constitutional Amendment language, intention

January 20th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Seeking to fulfill the will of voters who overwhelmingly approved medical marijuana last fall, a powerful state Senator has introduced legislation expanding the number of growers and dispensaries in the state, and the proposal also makes it easier for patients to get treatment.

The legislation allows as many as 20 new grow and dispensary licenses. The number increases as the number of patients grows. Jeff Sharkey of the Medical Marijuana Business Association calls the legislation a big first step to doing what voters asked.

“It expands the competition, which I think is good for patients, It’ll make the product more accessible and hopefully more affordable” says Sharkey.

Only a few hundred doctors have gone thought the required training course. The legislation would would cut the training from eight to four hours, which Sharkey says should make it easier for patients to find a doctor.

“The pipeline for getting doctors to be eligible to recommend medical cannabis has been slow inc coming, maybe four hundred doctors on the list now” says the founder of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida.

Gone in the legislation is the requirement that doctors see a patient for at least 90 days before they can receive marijuana treatments.

The legislation is in sharp contrast to rules proposed by the Department of Health earlier this week. Amendment two author Ben Pollera calls those rules restrictive.

“They’re basically just ignoring the text of the constitutional amendment in every step pf the way” Pollera told us by phone.

Under current law, licensee’s grow, distribute and dispense medical marijuana at retail. but lobbyists like Ron Watson will be working to allow more competition at the retail  level.

New Marijuana rules under fire00000004

“A larger distribution of different types of plants is going to be what’s best for the actual patients of Florida says Watson.”

While only a few thousand patients are currently registered, the number is expected to grow to over half a million.

A list of doctors can who have qualified to recommend medical marijuana can be found at the Department of Health web site under the Office of Compassionate Use. The list is updated weekly. (http://www.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/office-of-compassionate-use/_documents/completed-cme.pdf

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56 year old cast first ballot for Trump

January 20th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

As Donald Trump prepares to become the 45th President of the United States, it is in part because of voters like a woman restauranteur who owns a small diner just miles west of the state Capitol.

Pam Buchanan is the chief cook and bottle washers at Kendal’s Kitchen,  the restaurant she inherited it from her grandmother 8 years ago.

First time voter chooses Trump00000006Pam is 56. She was born the year JFK was elected. She was eligible to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980 but didn’t.

“I wasn’t interested. I never got interested in politics, until now” she told us.

Until this past November,, Pam had never voted for anyone, missing 9 straight presidential elections. Then Donald Trump caught her attention.

“What did he do?” we asked.

“He seemed like and honest man, he’s got a backbone.

First time voter chooses Trump00000002If anything, this sign sums up Pam Buchanan’s personality and outlook on life.

In other words, stand on your own two feet, pull your own weight, make something of yourself.

“Things need to turn around. You know, you need too work for what you got instead of having it handed to you. I’ve never had anything handed to me in my life” says Pam.

Most customers are regulars who come for the  set daily lunch specials.

But not Bo Lawrence,, who’s also  Trump voter. He came to meet Pam after hearing her story of being a first time voter.

“I’ve talked to people who I work with who are regulars here and know her, and I heard a lot of good stuff about the restaurant” says the first time customer.

And so, for someone who never voted before. Pam Buchanan feels pretty good about her vote,

”If he’s more of the same, how are you gonna feel” we asked.

”Kick myself in the butt” said Pam as she laughed.

Before inheriting the restaurant, Pam worked part and full time for her grandmother for more than a dozen years.

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Trump’s Court

January 20th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Donald trump has promised to name a nominee for the U-S Supreme Court within a week of taking office. Few doubt Trump will choose a conservative justice to replace Antonia Scalia, but Jeffrey Rosen, Director of the National Constitution Center says Trump could choose a justice who is willing to compromise or one who is a hard liner for their view of the constitution. Either way, Rosen says it will have an impact on the court.

“Some justices are more committed to getting it right to their own vision of the constitution, my way or the highway. Justice Scalia, the late Justice Scalia was hugely influential. He was not very into compromising into pragmatism, by contrast other justices like chief justice Roberts care a lot about the institutional legitimacy of the court and are willing sometimes to compromise to shore up the courts legitimacy. So basing on whether the president chooses an institutionalist like Chief Justice Roberts or let’s say a strict constructionist like Scalia, that could very much effect the outcome”

One Florida Supreme Court Justice, Charles Canady, is said to be on Trump’s short list. Canady is one of if not the most conservative justice on the Florida high court. He has also served in the state legislature, the Congress, and as a lawyer for Jeb Bush.

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Accused wife killer readies for trial

January 20th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

One hundred jurors are being summoned for a murder trial in the state Capital that is attracting national and international interest. Podiatrist Adam Frasch is accused of murdering his third wife, former French Model Samira Frasch with a gold club in February 2014. The trial is set to begin Monday and has attracted the attention of three major TV network shows (Dateline, 20/20, and 48 Hours). Judge James Hankinson says he wants jurors quizzed about their knowledge of the case first.

“Start out with some basic introductions but then go straight to publicity and we’;ll do that in the jury room, get rid of any there is a cause challenge on publicity” instructed the  Judge.

Samira Frasch had filed for divorce before she was killed.

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New marijuana rules under fire from advocates

January 18th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Will Florida voters get what they asked for when they voted to legalize medical marijuana? That’s the question tonight, because as Mike Vasilinda tells us, a proposed rule implementing voters intentions isn’t finding favor with the amendments authors.

Just 1800 people currently qualify for either low or high thc medical marijuana in Florida All come under the law approved before voters overwhelmingly said yes to Amendment two in November. During a legislative hearing Christian Bax, the Director of the Office of Compassionate Use said the state is trying to force amendment 2 regulations into existing law.

“We believe that there is a way the current framework can be wedded to Amendment 2.”

Advocates say the state is basically trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, trying to use an old regulatory scheme when voters asked for something completely different.

The proposed rule has two major problems say advocates. It attempts to keep just the seven approved growers who also distribute and sell without adding more. Marijuana lobbyists Ron Watson says thats a problem for consumers,

“Imagine you had a pharmacy, and the only thing you could get at the pharmacy was made by one manufacturer. you would have a Merck pharmacy and the only way to get Astrazeneca product is to drive across town and go to another pharmacy to get it” says Watson, who lobbies for the Sarasota based AltMed.

A second problem is the constitutional language that allows doctors to prescribe medical cannabis for unlisted debilitating diseases. The rule wants a medical board to approve those diseases, but constitutional author Ben Pollera says that’ s not what people intended,

“I think its pretty clear in black and that this is decision be made by the physician treating patients” said Pollera by phone.

New legislation  dealing with Amendment two could be filed as early as next week.

New Marijuana rules under fire00000007Five public hearings are scheduled for the week of February 6th and are being held:

— 2 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the Duval County Health Department, 900 University Blvd. North in Jacksonville

— 10 a.m. on Feb. 7 at Broward County Health Department, 780 SW 24th Street in Fort Lauderdale

— 9 a.m. on Feb. 8 at the Florida Department of Health, Tampa Branch Laboratory, 3602 Spectrum Blvd.

— 6 p.m. on Feb. 8 at the Orange County Health Department, 6102 Lake Ellenor Drive in Orlando; and

— 4 p.m. on Feb. 9 at the Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Room 148 in Tallahassee.



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Teachers union dealt loss by Florida Supreme Court

January 18th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida’s teachers union was dealt a blow, for the third time, a Florida court has rules they do not have standing to challenge the states corporate voucher program. Today’s ruling was from as high as it gets, the Florida supreme Court.  Under the voucher program, corporations give money to private organizations rather than pay taxes to the state, the money is then sent to private schools. Fl. Education Association spokesman Mark Pudlow says the state isn’t living up to it’s obligations when it comes to public schools.

“Why do parents sent their children to these voucher schools?” asks Pudlow.”They are sending them for smaller class size. They’re sending them there because they have a more sane testing system, and they’re sending them there for safety. These are all things we want in our public schools and the Constitution says we need to have a uniform system of public schools, so how about doing that.”

FEA says it will continue to look for ways to achieve standing to challenge the voucher funding scheme, but its options appear limited after the states highest court ruled against them.”

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Background checks top one million for first time

January 17th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

For the first time, the state department of Law Enforcement conducted more than one million background checks on people seeking to buy a gun. And as Mike Vasilinda tells us, 2016 also saw the biggest year to year jump in the number of people seeking to buy a gun.

State records show one million 37 thousand people had their backgrounds checked to buy a gun last year. It is the first time the number passed the one million mark. Brandon Long is the Gun Sales Manager at Kevin’s Guns and Sporting Goods in Tallahassee. We asked ”How would you describe the gun business this year?“ “It’s pretty good. It’s doing real well” responded Long,

152 thousand more people sought to buy a gun in 2016 than in the previous year, also setting a year to year record.

Not everybody who goes through a background check gets a gun. Rejections run about one percent.

The inauguration of a new president is expected to take some of the heat out of the retail gun market. “Together we will defeat the rigged system” said Donald trump during his October appearance in the state Capital.

Background Checks Top One Million00000007One dealer told us that everyone who was afraid of the government was coming for their guns already has all they need.

Stephen is a case in point. He’s trading rather than adding a gun. He asked we not show his face on TV.

“Trying to upgrade what I have because I’m not accurate with it, so why have a gun if you are not accurate with it” says Stephen.

And Manager Brandon Long  is expecting a shift in the types of guns he’s selling.

“We just don’t see as much of the freak out buying, you know, people prepper buying and stuff like that. You see sales in other places. Hunting guns and handguns. Background Checks Top One Million00000004

Passing a background check does not guarantee that a gun was actually sold. Nor does it mean the buyer purchased just one weapon.

Last year 13,603 is the exact number who did not pass the background check and who were refused the right to purchase a gun in Florida.

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Hundreds march through state Capital for MLK’s Dream

January 16th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Four to five hundred people marched in the streets of the state capital in honor of in Martin Luther King today. Marchers began at the city bus terminal, symbolic for a 1950’s bus boycott over segregation, and ended at a park, known as Cascades, which is one the original sites surveyors used in deciding Tallahassee should be selected as the Capital. FAMU interim President and Keynote speaker Dr. Larry Robinson noted that today’s march was not marred by the obstacles of civil rights era marches.

“We must consider ourselves extremely fortunate on this day in 2017. We did not have to face hostile mobs, vicious police dogs and even policeman themselves who did not welcome those who marched in decades past. Instead we were actually escorted by law-enforcement many of them joining us” said Robinson.

Several marchers wore shirts decrying the state’s clemency laws, which deny voting rights to convicted felons, even though they have paid their debt to society. The Florida Supreme Court will consider an amendment later this year for the 2018 ballot that would automatically restore voting rights in non violent cases.

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College Presidents agree with Gov’s call for tuition and fee freeze

January 13th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

The state’s 28 state and community college Presidents, meeting in Tallahassee, are embracing the Governor’s call to limit tuition and fees in the coming year. Governor Rick Scott called for a tuition freeze and for the first time, a freeze on fee increases, which are often tied to specific needs such as health care. Daytona  State College President Thomas LoBasso says the freeze helps fulfill the colleges mission of an education for all.

“Access is not just for an admissions policy it’s also can I afford  to go, so we support  an affordable higher education opportunity for citizens of our state” says LaBasso.

Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh says lower fees have been a hallmark of the college system, but says the colleges would like to see some increase in state funding this year.

“We’ve held tuition and fees down, we frozen tuition and fees now for a number of years” says the TCC President. “We are proud of that, I’m proud of that as an institution, we’re proud of that as a system. We hope that we’ll get additional state funding to help us improve and continue to improve the quality of what we do for students.”

In addition to a tuition and fee freeze, the Governor is also calling for an end to the sales tax on textbooks.

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Judicial term limits on Legislative agenda

January 12th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida could be the first state in the nation to have term limits for judges, if the House Speaker gets his way. Lawmakers face 8 year term limits, the Speaker wants to limit appellate judges to 12 years in office. Warren Husband, representing the Florida Bar, told house committee members looking into the idea that term limits of judges could result with less experience on the bench.

“And across the 64 appellate judge ships, almost 30% turned over on an ordinary course of business without term limits, so with term limits she was certainly expect that to increase probably significantly and the question is how does that impact the administration of justice going forward in the processing of cases” says Husband.

Florida first considered term limits for judges in 2016, but it did not pass. Statistics presented today suggest members of the judiciary server and average of 13 to 15 years, which is about as long as they could serve with term limits.

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Lawmakers to tackle gaming compact for third year in a row

January 12th, 2017 by Mike Vasilinda

A state House committee spent two hours this morning listening to a state economist on the details of the state’s deal with the Seminole Tribe. A deal to allow blackjack and other so called banked card games ended in October 2015, and for two years running state lawmakers have been unable to agree on what to do next. Committee Chair Mike LaRosa likens the struggle to a football game with lots of unanswered questions.

“You know, it’s incredibly difficult.” says LaRosa. ”It’s like playing football not knowing who your opposition is, having nine players and not exactly having a play book, or knowing what the pages in the playbook are going to say. So, its difficult, but we’re out here to navigate it. We’re here to bring in folks we can talk to, give is as much information and detail as we can, and navigate as best as we possibly can, but time is always of the essence and we’ll hopefully get it done before session.”

Late last year, a Federal judge ruled the Seminole tribe could continue the card games because  the state may have over reached what games it allowed horse and dog tracks to offer

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