Listed below are summaries and links to a selection of the most read stories published by Tallahassee Reports in 2016.
1. Are Sandy White Beaches Coming to Tallahassee?…..Maybe
After discovering a lobbyist registered with the City of Tallahassee to represent a foreign company named Crystal Lagoons, TR did some investigating. We found that Crystal Lagoons is an international company with offices around the world that has developed and patented a state-of-the-art technology which allows building and maintaining crystal clear lagoons worldwide at very low costs, offering idyllic beach lifestyle anywhere in the world. Why Tallahassee?
2. City, County to Consider $300,000 Study that Supports a New Tax on Vehicle Miles Traveled
This report generated controversy about a potential transportation tax on vehicles miles traveled. As a result of the report, most elected officials disavowed support for such a tax even though they had supported a pilot program through a state industry group.
3. Elected Officials to Hear About “Killearn Corridor” in Study Update
TR discovered the Florida Department of Transportation was considering a four-lane road extending from Bannerman Road to Centerville Road, which would run through Killearn Estates, to relieve traffic on Thomasville Road.
TR was the first to write about the project and the story resulted in elected officials voting to remove the proposed road as an option for relieving traffic congestion.
4. Outage Update, Governor Scott Frustrated, and FSU Closed Until Wednesday
As reports began to leak that Governor Scott was frustrated with the pace of recovery efforts by the City of Tallahassee after Hurricane Hermine, TR was the first Tallahassee based media outlet to write about the impending political back and forth that was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
After a Saturday morning update by Governor Rick Scott on the aftermath of Hurricane Hermine, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Governor Rick Scott is “frustrated by slow restoration of North Florida electricity.”
5. Two Assistant City Managers Pull Down $49K and $46K in Raises
Tallahassee Reports was the first to write about two assistant city managers who were promoted under newly appointed City Manager Rick Fernandez and received substantial pay raises.
Cynthia Barber, who was being paid $125,084 in January of 2016 received a $49,916 increase. Subsequently, it was discovered that other employees also received raises. In the end, approximately $1,000,000 in raises were awarded to select management staff.
Skip Foster, the publisher of the Gannett owned Tallahassee Democrat, banned Preston Scott, the host of the Morning Show with Preston Scott, from posting comments on Tallahassee.com stories.
Foster informed Scott by writing in an email, “We are going to permanently ban you from commenting on our site. I say “we” but really, it’s me.” Foster went on to explain his decision in a 380 word email. TR obtained a copy of the email and wrote a story.
TR’s Karen Murphy wrote a story about a police officer’s view on why crime has increased in Tallahassee over the last three years. The story generated 931 Facebook likes.
After nearly 30 years patrolling the Tallahassee streets, Mike Blackburn provide a unique perspective on the city and how it became the highest ranked for violent crime in Florida.
As much as the capital city has changed over the years, Blackburn, who retired from the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD) in May, thinks one of the big reasons for the increase in crime is something that hasn’t changed in all those years – the number of police officers patrolling its streets.
The City’s annual budget process became controversial in 2016 when a group called Citizens for Responsible Spending (CRS) became engaged.
During one City Commission meeting, the group made presentations asking the City Commission to roll back the 13% increase in property taxes that was adopted last year.
The presentations addressed the rosy outlook presented by City staff weeks earlier at a budget workshop and raised questions about information provided to City Commissioners.
After the presentations City Manager Rick Fernandez told City Commissioners, “We were ambushed.”
Mr. Fernandez explained to Commissioners that the group had never talked to him about this new information despite his willingness to meet with anyone at anytime.
Great stories, not covered in TDO. Thank you Steve Stewart and the staff of TR.