Pam Bondi asked to probe – or stop – sale of classical stations

Harriet Howard Heithaus, (@NDN_HarrietHeit)

The treasurer of Classical South Florida Inc. has asked Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to investigate — and potentially stop — the sale of South Florida’s only classical music radio stations to a California company.

Those stations, owned by Classical South Florida Inc., include WNPS-FM in Naples, along with stations in Miami and Palm Beach.

Staffers in Bondi’s office said they have not yet considered the request.

Richard Rampell of Palm Beach, who also served on the CSF board from shortly after broadcasting started in June 2012 until the board voted to sell June 25, is asking Bondi to investigate what he called “improper activities” surrounding the sale. Those include, among others:

— That Jon McTaggart, CEO of American Public Media Group in St. Paul, Minnesota, signed an agreement to sell the stations’ licenses before notifying the Classical South Florida board of trustees. APMG had financed the purchase of the three Classical South Florida stations.

— That the agreement was reached without seeking additional bids, and, in fact, under a proviso that forbade shopping for additional bids. That meant supporters of any of the three stations involved could not produce a competing offer to keep their station license.

— Further, the board was given a 24-hour deadline to accept the agreement and bound, they were told, by a confidentiality clause not to discuss the agreement.

— That the $21.7 million sale price was $4 million below a recent appraisal of the stations. It is still below the approximate $30 million purchase price APMG says it paid for the stations.

— That APMG counsel Sylvia Strobel suggested there could be legal action against Classical South Florida trustees if they refused to ratify the sale agreement McTaggart had signed.

Rampell said Thursday he is not necessarily a champion of classical music. However, one of Classical South Florida’s licenses included an auxiliary feed for National Public Radio programming.

Read more

New state program helps families save for needs of those with disabilities

Michael Tulipano at the Special Olympics of Florida Aquatics Competition at River Park Aquatic Facility in Naples, Florida, on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Tulipano has autism and his mom, Stephanie, said she doesn't think he'll ever be able to live on his own. She said the Able Act, which allows families to create a tax exempt savings account for disability expenses, is a huge relief. (Calvin Mattheis/Staff)
Michael Tulipano at the Special Olympics of Florida Aquatics Competition at River Park Aquatic Facility in Naples, Florida, on Saturday, July 25, 2015. Tulipano has autism and his mom, Stephanie, said she doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to live on his own. She said the Able Act, which allows families to create a tax exempt savings account for disability expenses, is a huge relief. (Calvin Mattheis/Staff)

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

The wind started to pick up as Michael Tulipano readied himself for the first heat of the day.

The 16-year-old Special Olympian didn’t let the torrential downpour bother him as he jumped into the River Park pool. When the buzzer went off, he quickly swam the length of the pool, watching his competitor out of the corner of his eye, as his mother cheered from beneath a nearby awning.

“It’s amazing,” said his mother, Stephanie Dangler.

For Michael, who is developmentally delayed, growing up means dreaming about learning how to drive a car, finding a place of his own and getting a job. For Dangler, it means trying to navigate the do’s and don’ts of raising a child with special needs.

But this year, state officials took steps to make that process a little easier.

Michael is one of thousands of Floridians who might benefit from the Florida ABLE, or Achieving a Better Life Experience, Act. Signed into law earlier this summer by Gov. Rick Scott, the program aims to help people with disabilities save money without losing their eligibility for state and federal benefits.

“From my perspective, what’s made this country unique is it does not matter the circumstances of your birth,” said Rep. Ray Rodrigues, who sponsored the bill in the Florida House. “What we’ve done here is we’ve given this group of people (the ability) to participate in the American dream.”

The state law helps implement the federal ABLE Act of 2014, which authorizes states to establish programs to administer ABLE accounts, similar to college savings plans that can be used for disability-related expenses.

Read more

Mother of U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson dies

Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, (@Jenna_Buzzacco)

Cherie Marcil Clawson, the mother of U.S. Rep Curt Clawson, died Tuesday, according to the congressman’s office.

According a statement released by Rep. Clawson’s office, she passed away peacefully with her family at her side.

“Mrs. Clawson was Curt’s guiding light and a source of unwavering encouragement and support. She never missed any of Curt’s major events throughout his life, from attending every one of Curt’s basketball games, to being at his side as Curt took the oath of office in Washington, D.C., last year,” the statement said.

On Tuesday evening, the congressman took to Twitter to share memories of his mother, calling her his “heart and soul.”


Last week, the congressman asked Speaker John Boehner for an excused absence from voting to be with his mother.

Mrs. Clawson, a former schoolteacher, raised three daughters and four sons. She and her husband, Jack, moved to Florida from Indian in the early 1990s. Rep. Clawson visited frequently for about 20 years, before becoming a full-time resident in 2011.

She is survived by her husband, Jack, and Rep. Clawson’s six brothers and sisters.

Blackjack battle between Seminoles and state heats up

The battle over blackjack between the state and the Seminole Tribe got a little hotter after dueling demand letters on Monday.

The state’s top gambling regulator sent a letter to Tribal Chairman James Billie, asking when the Seminoles were closing down blackjack tables at their Florida casinos.

Tribune file photo
Tribune file photo

After all, Ken Lawson wrote, the two sovereigns have “enjoy(ed) an unprecedented amount of cooperation … and good will.”

The tribe fired back, asking for a formal mediation conference in the next month and a “mediator with expertise in Indian gaming.”

An agreement giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games expires Friday, and renewal talks were unfruitful earlier this year.

Without a new deal, however, the existing agreement says the tribe has to pack up the tables and put the cards away within 90 days.

The tribe has blackjack at the Seminole Casino Hotel in Immokalee, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and five other casinos.

A full story will be online later.

–James L. Rosica (@jlrosicaTBO)

Unopposed Lee incumbent building campaign war chest

Maryann Batlle, (@maryannbatlle)

Incumbent Lee Commissioner Larry Kiker is unopposed in his 2016 re-election bid so far, but plenty of people still are willing to write him $1,000 contribution checks.

Kiker, the ex-mayor of Fort Myers Beach who is running for county office for the second time, amassed $109,250 from April 1 through June 30, according to campaign finance records on the Lee Supervisor of Elections website.

The election is 471 days away as of Sunday.

Kiker said he’s overwhelmed but not surprised by the solid funding.

“What it represents is that people recognize my commitment to a healthy economy and creating jobs,” Kiker said. “I’m pro-business. I think that people recognize that commitment.”

In Florida, individuals or businesses can contribute up to $1,000 each to candidates for countywide office.

A review of Kiker’s campaign finance records shows 73 of his 212 listed donors from April 1 to June 30 hit state limits and maxed out. Their dollars account for about 67 percent of Kiker’s reported monetary contributions.

Kiker’s supporters are going to do everything they can — within state law — to help him stay on the county commission, said former state lawmaker Pat Neal, president of home building firm Neal Communities.

“People have friends,” Neal said. “And we at Neal are friends of Larry Kiker.”

Read more

We focus on all things politics in the Sunshine State. We are the joint bureau of Naples Daily News / Tampa Tribune / Treasure Coast in Tallahassee.