Helping Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria is a top concern of 100 of Central Florida's most influential people. If you want to help, Maria Padilla of OrlandoLatino suggests Puerto Rico First Lady Beatriz Rosselló's Unidos Por Puerto Rico to help victims of Maria on the island.
María T. Padilla, Orlando Latino blog
HELP PUERTO RICO. Looking ahead: Solving a problem like Hurricane Maria takes rolling up your sleeves, and cleaning up and rebuilding the wreck in its wake. That’s what is happening as the Puerto Rican diaspora in Florida and elsewhere makes moves to send food, water and diapers to an island that's broke and needs fixing after two hurricanes in as many weeks. The images are devastating: no electricity or water and entire neighborhoods wiped out. Thousands of people are homeless on an island where uninsured losses are high. If it moves you, donate to unidosporpuertorico.com, an initiative of first lady Beatriz Rosselló. Help 3.4 million citizens in Puerto Rico recover.
Eric Jackson, president/CEO, Total Roof Services Corp.
SHOW THE LOVE. Last week: Puerto Ricans are Americans, and they need our help. When I really think about my days, I probably interact with five to 10 people from Puerto Rico or who have Puerto Rican heritage. I bet that many of you have a similar experience but may not realize that fact. Let’s show the people of this beautiful island commonwealth the love they will need in these dire times.
Andrae Bailey, founder/president, Change Everything
ANNA ESKAMANI. Last week: One important story that emerged during preparations for Hurricane Irma was the continued political rise of Democrat Anna Eskamani, who recently launched her first-ever campaign in an effort to win election to Florida House Seat 47. House Seat 47 is currently occupied by Mike Miller, who has announced his candidacy for the United States Congress. But the headline leading up to the hurricane was Mayor Buddy Dyer’s endorsement of Eskamani, and Dyer’s endorsements usually bode well for candidates. Combined with Eskamani’s early fundraising successes, Dyer’s endorsement has placed this political newcomer in a strong position leading up to the campaign.
Looking ahead: The NBA will vote this week on rule changes affecting its post-season lottery. The changes would eliminate the possibility of teams “tanking” during the regular season to improve their odds in the lottery. This is a huge development for the Orlando Magic because the current rules give an edge to teams that intentionally lose to earn top lottery picks. Only stars lead teams to championships. But stars are obtained through the lottery, and the top lottery picks are reserved right now for teams that perform poorly. So it will be nice when winning is again rewarded in the NBA.
Chris Carmody, shareholder, GrayRobinson
DUKE DESERVES BETTER. Last week: As of Wednesday night, virtually all of Duke Power’s customers had power restored. After Irma ripped through our region two Sundays ago, no one could conceive of the destruction they would wake up to that Monday morning. The damage included the complete gutting of Duke’s local energy system. Not just a downed line or a transformer. The grid. And yet, Duke restored power to virtually everyone within 10 days of the storm hitting. Anyone remember Charley? There were people without power for weeks. This was just 10 days. But the boo birds came out in droves, including the bomb threat birds. If Duke is guilty of anything, it was being ambitious with their goals. Communication could've also been better. But he power IS on. So, sorry Duke for the heckling. And thanks for restoring power quicker than after Charley.
A FORUM ON FLORIDA’S FUTURE. Looking ahead: Wednesday through Friday, the Florida Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Future of Florida conference. The governor, the Cabinet, most of the legislators and business leaders from across the state will converge on Orlando to network, discuss and plan Florida’s future. And isn’t timing everything? The conversation two weeks ago was very different. Hurricane Irma exposed some cracks in Florida’s glossy veneer. So, while the focus is on jobs (including Amazon), some of the discussion will also be how Florida can improve its utility, stormwater and transportation infrastructures that in many cases failed. So, if your schedule allows, head out to the JW Marriott. Your future may depend on it.
CHANGE THE COURSE. Looking ahead: Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. We must break the mold. On Tuesday, Seminole County will consider legally intervening against the Public Service Commission over its clear violation of state statute in rubber-stamping the outrageous rate increase Utilities Inc. requested. During Irma, Utilities Inc. once again proved incompetent with sewer overflows we still smell today. Also, our legislative priorities will include a request for a Florida Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness plan to include addressing flooding, stricter building codes and public utilities providing more resilient and reliable infrastructure. Duke Energy must be accountable and change its business practices.
ANDREA KUDLACZ. Last week: The community lost a true leader with the passing of a dear friend to many in Central Florida, Andrea Kudlacz. Andrea was involved in so many activities that she cared deeply for, which included serving as the president of the College Park Main Street group and the executive director of the politically bipartisan Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. She was a gem and always knew how to make people feel welcome and special. Her positive spirit reminded us that it is not always what you do or say in life that is important, but how you make others feel. She will be terribly missed.
NEVER AGAIN. Looking ahead: On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I visited the Anne Frank museum. It was a sad and sobering reminder of the evil that once threatened the very existence of Jewish people during World War II. Upon leaving, I was reminded of the anger and disgust I felt following a previous visit to the U.S. National Holocaust Memorial Museum in D.C. The Gettysburg National Military Park, where nearly as many souls lost their lives than in the Vietnam War, is a similar reminder of the Civil War and those who lost their lives fighting over slavery. As the country debates Civil War-era monuments, accurately preserving the memory of historic events in a museum may well prevent them from happening again.
Earnest DeLoach, lawyer, DeLoach Law LLC
LAST CALL WITH AT&T. Last week:
AT&T: Hello, may I help you?
Me: Yes, I live in Orlando and we lost internet service after power was restored following Hurricane Irma. Can you help?
AT&T: Well sir, Hurricane Harvey hit you last week ...
Me: Actually it was Irma...
AT&T: Right, Hurricane Maria ...
Me: Maria has not hit Florida.
AT&T: Well, whatever storm it was, we don't know when you'll get service back.
Me: OK, just cancel my service.
AT&T: You won't get service anywhere else.
Me: My next-door neighbor has service. I'll call that company. Just cancel my AT&T service.
AT&T: I can't do that from this department.
Me: Bye, AT&T.
Tom Dyer, attorney, founder of Watermark
PRIMER ON VIETNAM. Last week: Cable service in my neighborhood was restored last Monday, just in time to watch Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s monumental 18-hour documentary, The Vietnam War. The film, broadcast by PBS on 10 consecutive weeknights through this coming Friday, is anchored by often heart-wrenching testimony from 80 witnesses to the war. Riveting archival footage moves from the White House to war protests to Vietnam, where 3 million died, including 280,000 American soldiers. Secret audio recordings shed light on misguided decisions that escalated the war, often motivated solely by politics. There are important lessons from Vietnam. This documentary is a remarkable primer.
John L. Evans Jr., consulting unit chief for a global investment firm; former congressional staffer
HANGING 10 AT AGE 50. Last week: I turned 50. Which is not newsworthy, as you know. But with the milestone, a reminder emerged, about who's in charge. I had resolved to surf 10 glorious (not 50, mind you) waves at the Cocoa Pier to celebrate the otherwise depressing day. I prayed the Good Lord would get my fanny up on the long board for 10 waves. He obliged. But being He has the supreme sense of humor, He also saw to it that my fanny would be on display, fully, for a good part of one of those rides. On wave 7, I partially lost my britches from the tumultuous surf. Chuckles ensued promptly by cool surfer dudes, half my years ... Irma's gone; ain't life grand?
Rogue Gallart, president, Central Florida Disability Chamber
THE VIETNAM WAR. Last week: A must watch on television: Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s "The Vietnam War PBS.” Ten years in the making and 18 hours in length, it tells the story of a war begun in good faith by decent people, out of fateful misunderstandings, and a war prolonged because it seemed easier to drag through than admit that it had been caused by tragic decisions during five presidencies. The music is also composed by none other than Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails. Ken Burn’s documentary will absolutely break your heart on the loss of life on both sides.
'DR. STRANGELOVE.' Looking ahead: President Trump escalated his standoff with North Korea over its nuclear challenge on Tuesday, threatening to “totally destroy” the country of 26 million people and mocking its leader, Kim Jong Un, as a “rocket man.” I will leave it at this. Perhaps both these leaders should watch the painfully funny movie from 1964 called “Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb,” more commonly known as “Dr. Strangelove,” by the late great director genius Stanley Kubrick. Can you hear the end song by Vera Lynn? “We'll meet again, don’t know where, don't know when ….”
Tim Giuliani, president and CEO, Orlando Economic Partnership
ORLANDO PRIME FOR AMAZON. Looking ahead: The Orlando Economic Partnership is building a strong case for why our region is the best location for Amazon’s colossal second headquarters that will employ 50,000 people and offer $100,000 compensation packages. Orlando’s strong infrastructure — with rail, road, air and sea connectivity, along with the plentiful pipeline of talent with more than 500,000 students enrolled within a 100-mile radius of the city — make it a strong contender. Our culture of innovation, inclusiveness and commitment to sustainability also increase our chances. Some are calling Orlando an underdog, but Amazon is about to learn why Orlando is a great place to visit and a great place for business.
PUERTO RICO'S LOSS IS OUR LOSS. Last week: Central Florida felt the wrath of Irma just two weeks ago. Can you imagine getting slammed with a Category 4 hurricane right now? With winds topping 155 mph and the entire island out of power, our friends in Puerto Rico have been kicked while they were down. Orlando is home to one of the largest populations of Puerto Ricans outside of the island. As an interwoven part of our community, I mean it when I say that their loss is ours. What can we do as a community to pull together as we did for each other in the aftermath of Irma, to support our friends down south? We’re with you, Puerto Rico.
Jane Healy, former editorial page editor and managing editor, Orlando Sentinel
WINNER, LOSERS. Last week: Winner: OUC not only did a good job getting power back to its customers, it did a great job communicating it. By Tuesday, a call to OUC gave you an exact day that power would be back. Losers: Duke Energy was the obvious one, even telling one customer her power was back on when it wasn't — that it must be a bad breaker. Really? And Spectrum cable had its own lapses. It promised to give customers a credit for the days without cable if you reported it. But when you called customer service, it cut you off by saying it couldn't take any calls. Spectrum clearly is not as invested in customer service as Brighthouse was.
Ric Keller, lawyer, former member of Congress
NICKNAME GENERATOR. Last week: The nicknamer-in-chief is back. Remember “low energy Jeb” and “Little Marco”? President Trump was at it again by calling Kim Jong-Un (leader) “Rocket Man.” Could be worse, I guess. If he wanted to stick with Elton John’s songs, he could have called him “Tiny Dancer.” What I do like about Trump’s blunt language (“losers”, “suicide mission,” “totally destroy North Korea”) is that it shows he’s personally involved in writing his own speeches, and he’s talking over the heads of the U.N. elites and directly to the people.
Ken LaRoe, founder and CEO of First GREEN Bancorp
OFFENSIVE DENIAL. Last week: When Donald Trump was asked whether the recent hurricanes had made him rethink his views on climate change, he responded, “If you go back into the 1930s and 1940s and you take a look, we’ve had storms over the years that have been bigger than this.” Besides the fact that the statement is completely false, for the president of the United States to make that statement when millions of Americans were suffering the aftermath of the storm is just completely offensive.
FISH OR CUT BAIT? Looking ahead: Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of outdoor-clothing company Patagonia, recently capsulized the fallacy that anyone should claim climate change is not anthropogenic. He said, “Global climate change is happening, and whether you believe it’s human-caused or a natural occurrence makes a big difference. If it’s a natural cycle, then sit back and relax because there’s nothing we can do about it. But if we are the cause of any of it, we’re also the solution … what can we do? ... Don’t vote for dumb - - - climate-change-denying politicians. Go fishing, and take a kid with you."
Ricky Ly, entrepreneur/food blogger
CENTRAL FLORIDA -VIETNAM LINK. Last week: You may know Colonial Drive and Mills Avenue as the Mills50 District, but to many it’s known as Orlando’s “Little Saigon,” home to Florida’s best Vietnamese restaurants, markets and businesses. A new exhibition, “Leaving Vietnam: Building a New Life in Central Florida,” at the Orange County Regional History Center not only explores the roots of Central Florida’s Vietnamese community but also sheds light on the experiences of Central Florida veterans. The exhibition, which runs until Nov. 5, coincides with PBS/WUCF-TV’s presentation of “The Vietnam War,” the new documentary series from Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
SOUPER DOUPER. Looking ahead: On Sept. 28, local nonprofit IDignity is hosting its 8th Annual Souper Douper benefit event, where I will be judging, along with fellow esteemed judges, for Critic's Choice of Best Soup. IDignity was created to assist the disadvantaged in Central Florida to navigate the complexities and financial burden of obtaining the legal documentation that the state of Florida requires to obtain an ID or license. The documents IDignity enable people to apply for employment or school, obtain access to shelters, vote, seek help from social service programs, open a bank account or cash a check, secure housing, or overcome many other obstacles to becoming self-sufficient. For more info, visit https://idignity.org
A.J. Marsden, assistant professor, Beacon College
LEESBURG POWERS UP. Last week: Florida has suffered immensely since Hurricane Irma took out most of the state’s power grids. When Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light declared they’d restore most customers’ power within one week, Floridians cheered. But those cheers were short-lived when they failed to deliver on their promises, and thousands of Floridians remained without power. It was a different story in Leesburg for customers who get their power from the city. Every single customer had power restored less than one week after Irma hit. Therefore, a special thank you goes to the city for proper planning and speedy execution.
DIM LOGIC FOR BEST AND BRIGHTEST. Looking ahead: Giving bonuses for superior performance is powerful incentive for many employees, but only when the program is set up fairly. Unfortunately, Florida’s “Best and Brightest” bonus program for teachers is anything but fair. Bonuses should be based on a teacher’s performance in the classroom; however, the Best and Brightest program also takes into account a teacher’s score on SAT and ACT college-entrance exams. In some instances, it may have been years or even decades since the teacher has taken one of these exams. It is unacceptable for a bonus program to be based on biased standardized exams that were taken before the teacher even went to college.
Anna McPherson, president, Junior League of Greater Orlando
A LETTER TO OUR FRIENDS. Last week:
Dear Caribbean Islands,
We are so sorry to hear of the devastating losses your countries, territories and people have taken over the past few weeks. As we move stacks of branches and debris off of our yards, we know your islands have taken far worse when it comes to these storms. We’re thinking of you, we want to help you rebuild, and we send many prayers to your wonderful island people. May you all stay safe and secure.
Your friends in Florida
Muhammad Musri, president, Islamic Society of Central Florida
A KNOCKOUT BLOW TO FLORIDA ORANGE JUICE? Last week: For years, Florida’s orange farmers have been losing significant crops to a debilitating plant disease called citrus greening. Now Hurricane Irma left a trail of uprooted trees, downed fruit and flooded groves worse than growers could have expected. Recent estimates of the widespread damage to Florida’s orange trees put the statewide losses as high as 70 percent. Those lost harvests could lead to orange shortages and price hikes, all on top of a long-term national decline in orange-juice consumption. This catastrophic damage could be the knockout blow for Florida’s orange-juice industry, and a loss of its $1 billion annual harvest.
USE IMMIGRANTS TO REBUILD AFTER IRMA. Looking ahead: The construction industry relies heavily on cheap immigrant labor. After Hurricane Irma, which caused an estimated $100 billion in damages, Florida and other states need months of rebuilding. Immigrants, who make up 30 percent of the construction industry labor force in Florida, will be desperately needed for these recovery efforts, but many undocumented immigrants are wary of providing their construction services. Instead of spending money on arresting and deporting these workers, the Trump administration should issue an executive order for a temporary workers’ program to allow undocumented construction workers to speed up the recovery efforts and pay taxes on their earnings.
Pamela Nabors, president/CEO, CareerSource Central Florida
THE GREAT REBUILDING. Last week: I’d love to be able to say that Hurricane Irma is a distant memory. But we all know that’s not true, and won’t be for some time. Even two weeks removed, electric companies scramble to bring power to those still without it, and construction workers are busy rebuilding homes and businesses — in many cases, from the ground up. Even the Greater Orlando Builders Association has to rebuild its headquarters due to storm damage. Crews are working as quickly as they can, but with so much work, workers are scarce. More folks considering construction training would help fill gaps.
END-OF-YEAR JOBS. Looking ahead: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … at least on paper. Giant retailers Macy’s and Target announced plans to hire 80,000 and 100,000 seasonal workers nationally to work in stores, warehouses and distribution centers. That’s a lot of new, albeit temporary, jobs to boost an already growing economy. As big-box stores and smaller neighborhood businesses continue to struggle against e-commerce leaders, consumers might expect better deals this season. But those deals could come with a long-term price, like the demise of family and boutique businesses and less local talent to fill the increasing gap.
Brendan O'Connor, editor in chief, Bungalower.com
DO-IT-YOURSELF YARD-WASTE REMOVAL. Last week: Stop complaining about the branches in your yard and take them to the landfill yourself. There are 11 spots across Orange County that will take janky, broken tree limbs off your hands and grind them into free mulch for your hippie neighbors. Also, it's hard to feel bad for complainers when you have debris piled in the street like some twiggy town car. If I have another jogger jump in front of me when I'm listening to Real Radio 104.1, I'm gonna scream. Head to Bungalower.com to see where to bring that yard waste, y'all. I can't talk about it anymore.
HOURGLASS DISTRICT. Looking ahead: Did you see the plans for this new Hourglass District rigmarole? A husband and wife team bought up all these properties at the corner of Bumby Avenue and Curry Ford Road in Orlando, basically making their own sexy Main Street without the boring city red tape that requires generic banners everywhere. They’re planning super-cool curated businesses like a brewery (because, Orlando 2017), a wood-fired pizza place (because, Orlando 2017), a food-truck hub, and a full-service fancy gas station. They're building a whole uber-mod townhome development and a “cluster home” project, too, for people who pay normal rents but are trendy enough to like homes with smaller footprints and less parking. This neighborhood is one of the last affordable places to buy homes, so expect a big old boom in the market with a lot of flipping homes and white-painted shiplap (because Fixer Upper, 2016).
Kathleen Oropeza, co-founder, FundEducationNow.org
A TRAGEDY FOR SCHOOLS IN PUERTO RICO. Last week: It’s hard to face the damage Hurricane Maria has done to Puerto Rico, especially in light of the island’s dire debt crisis. As is often the case, public education is on the chopping block. Less than a year ago, the federal courts placed the island’s education system into receivership and named an outsider as secretary of education. With a shrinking population and a mandate to save $40 million per month, at least 200 schools will close. Teachers, who earn $21,000 per year, are leaving in droves, many to teach in Florida. Maria has put Puerto Rico’s debt crisis on steroids.
SAFER WITH PAPER. Looking ahead: For a long time, everyone from education “reformers” to politicians pushed us to “go paperless.” They convinced us that once data are entered, they’re practically foolproof. Parents and students are expected to accept high-stakes standardized test scores as real, even though nothing exists to prove a student’s work. Enter the Russian election-meddling scandal. Now the same politicians who told us to serve up our most personal data to the web are wondering whether we should return to verifiable paper ballots. Our personal privacy has been under attack for a long time, thanks to a failed cyber security system. Sadly, politicians don’t get it until an election is hacked.
Beverly Paulk, founding member, Central Florida Foundation and The Orlando Philharmonic
PIONEERING WOMEN. Last week: Recently the sex of a 1,000-year-old Viking military leader surprised professionals by being female instead the assumed male. The hilltop grave of this high-level warrior included a large assortment of weapons. Time Magazine’s current issue showcases American female pioneers in a wide variety of fields in “Firsts: Women Who are Changing the World.” Local women also have had breakthrough successes in traditional and nontraditional endeavors. Our girls and young women should have all opportunities open to them as they determine work that allows them to be happy and successful. For some, military uniforms, jeans or work boots might be required.
Matthew Peddie, host, WMFE's “Intersection”
IN PUERTO RICO, WHO KNOWS? Last week: Just over a week after Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean, Hurricane Maria arrived. In Puerto Rico the storm knocked down trees, destroyed roofs and flooded streets. Wilton Vargas told 90.7 that many of his neighbors in San Juan hadn’t got their power restored after Irma. “And now, who knows?” he said. “We have no idea how long it’s going to take for the electric power authority to restore electricity on the island.” Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello warns it could be months. Meanwhile organizations like CASA in Central Florida are collecting items to help Puerto Rico and other islands in the Caribbean recover
MC NIKO: ‘JUST GO DOWN TO I-DRIVE.' Looking ahead: Orlando’s MC Niko has a distinctive voice, blending the influences of American hip hop with the sounds of his birthplace, Brazil, and rapping in English and Portuguese. He honed his craft at Dr. Phillips High School, “rap battling in hallways and lunchrooms, having a good time,” and later signing to Talib Kweli’s Javotti label. Niko describes the mix of sounds in his recordings as “cooking with different ingredients,” and he says Orlando’s diversity gives this city’s music scene a unique flavor. “Just go down I Drive. You feel like you could see the whole universe,” he says. “And I think that shows in the music.”
Jim Philips, host, PhilipsPhile on WTKS-FM/104.1
EBB AND FLOW FROM PUERTO RICO. Looking ahead: Hurricane Maria slammed and punched Puerto Rico adding to the misery of an island already suffering from massive debt and unemployment over 10 percent. What kind of ebb and flow will we see? Will more Puerto Ricans head for the mainland? Will Puerto Ricans who have settled here head back to help relatives and friends re-build? Remember that 500,000 Puerto Ricans have moved to the mainland since 2005, mainly for financial reasons. Above all else, remember that Puerto Ricans are American citizens who have added a positive dynamic to our multicultural home.
Larry Pino, attorney and entrepreneur
COMMUNICATION AS LEADERSHIP. Last week: Hurricane Irma brought tragedy in part, relief in part and heroes. The heroes were those prepared to communicate. Kudos to Duke, Florida Power and Tallahassee. Spectrum? Not so much. Calls were transferred to a line that simply said, “Too many callers, call back, or check our website for updates.” Of course, we had no Internet. My issue is not necessarily with Spectrum; it’s with the simple corporate failure to recognize that a fundamental tenet of leadership is communication. Gov. Rick Scott shared his leadership by incessantly communicating. So did former Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty in 2004. Without communication, there is no leadership
AMAZON HQ2. Looking ahead: Big game hunting for Amazon’s HQ2 by economic development interests in Central Florida is not without value and should obviously be vigorously pursued. However, what we want to recognize is that the means-end relationship begins with a highly educated technology work force and a robust infrastructure. Economic development interests need to do their part by pitching our product, but the real win will lie with a focused collaboration between all Central Florida educational institutions and governments. Amazon is in our sights right now, but as market forces shift from manufacturing to technology, other opportunities will also be coming our way.
Rick Singh, property appraiser, Orange County
YOUNG ORLANDO. Looking ahead: In a couple of weeks, I’m scheduled to give a presentation to a consortium of individuals who have business and residential interests in downtown Orlando. I’ll talk about what’s driving real-estate growth downtown and what are the hot trends. But I’ll also delve into statistics that show how attractive Orlando is for young professionals. Did you know that our city’s population has jumped 16 percent since 2010 and that our most-populous age group is represented by women between 25 and 29 years old? We’re diverse, and that sundry is helping to drive new growth.
Michael Slaymaker, professional fundraising executive
MIAMI AT OUR DOORSTEP? Last week: Hyperloop One and Elon Musk have placed Central Florida on a list of 10 routes that have cleared an initial proposal review. This is big news: My grandmother never left the state of Iowa in her 83 years of life. I wonder what she would say if I had told her that, in 2021, I might be able to travel between Orlando and Miami in 26 minutes. The future is here.
Kannan Srinivasan, president, Asian American Chamber of Commerce
AMAZON-ORLANDO FOR HQ2. Last week: A place with a million people and strong job growth, a diverse population, good universities, an international airport, a high quality of life, room for up to 50,000 high-paid workers. Why not Orlando?
Looking ahead: MARIA AFTERMATH IN PUERTO RICO.
Tara Tedrow, attorney, Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A.
LIBRARIES ARE COOL. Last week: In a predominantly digital age, many discount the need for public libraries and don’t realize all of the services that a library can provide. Winter Park’s library, for example, offers weekly events ranging from language classes, book purchasing and rental, computer classes, learning series, film festivals and yoga. After Hurricane Irma, the library was home to those not just seeking air conditioning and power, but also entertainment for their families and a reprieve from the aftermath cleanup. Hopefully those who enjoyed the library received a welcomed reminder as to why public libraries still matter and should be supported.
MORE MARIJUANA RULES, REGULATIONS. Looking ahead: The Florida Health Department finally released the new medical marijuana treatment center license application and proposed rules for Florida’s industry hopefuls. No date, however, has been set for when applications are due. This new application is different from the first round in multiple ways. For example, preferential points can be awarded to certain citrus-industry applicants, a diversity plan for the operations is required, the applications are blind-scored, and new heightened requirements are imposed on the centers for production of edibles. Though statutory law requires these new licenses to be awarded no later than Oct. 3, that deadline is looking increasingly unrealistic.
ADDRESSING ‘FOOD INSECURITY.’ Last week: In Central Florida, one in six people don’t have access to food, and one in four children is at risk of going to bed hungry. Last week we joined the “Health & Hunger” panel alongside Orlando Health and Second Harvest Food Bank to discuss Central Florida’s growing hunger problem. At our hospitals, we see how hunger affects the health of our communities, so we’ve supported programs such as mobile farmer’s markets, created food banks and partnered with Second Harvest, to bring fresh foods to our most vulnerable communities. We are joining forces to make food security a given and not a privilege in our region.
HIGH-TECH TREATMENT FOR PREEMIES. Looking ahead: We're rolling out an exciting piece of technology to help our tiniest and most vulnerable patients. The Draeger Babyleo TN500 IncuWarmer is a bed for premature infants that's designed to mimic the conditions of the womb. With multiple heat sources and very low sound levels, the bed allows for better parent-child bonding and quicker recovery time. We're excited to be the first hospital system in the nation to deploy these new beds. It's our hope that they'll prove to be a real game-changer in neonatal care, not just for our patients, but for premature babies and their families around the country.