Breweries Get Support from Lawmakers

For drinkers, good news from Tallahassee: Florida lawmakers have passed a bill granting more freedom to craft distilleries and breweries. Small-scale beer and spirit producers are seeing more opportunities for growth and exposure, according to a story on WJCT News.  The St. Augustine Distillery occupies the bottom floor of a 1920s-era ice plant that once produced huge frozen slabs for shrimp boats and homes. Amid the steampunk-lookingcopper stills and barrels of aging bourbon, co-founder and Chief Financial Officer Mike Diaz says business has blossomed since its grand opening just over a year ago. Diaz said, “We have about 9,000 people through here each month. We sell product to about 35 percent of those.” Diaz says he expects to extend the distillery’s reach thanks to a bill just passed by the Florida Legislature. Soon craft distilleries will be able to sell four … [Read more...]

Florida lawsuit calls Digital Domain ‘de facto Ponzi scheme’

South Florida Business Journal -- The State of Florida filed a lawsuit against Digital Domain calling it a “de facto Ponzi scheme” and seeking to recover $20 million in state incentives granted to the company before it failed. The lawsuit, filed in St. Lucie County Circuit Court by Fort Lauderdale attorney William R. Scherer on July 22, could draw attention in this year's governor’s race. Charlie Crist approved the incentives for Digital Domain while he was Republican governor in 2009. Crist is now running as a Democrat seeking to unseat Governor Rick Scott, who authorized this lawsuit. Read more about Digital Domain here   … [Read more...]

How Would Medical Marijuana be Sold and Controlled?

TAMPA BAY.COM -- Four years ago in Colorado, pot trounced latte in a head-to-head storefront count. Starbucks had 209 franchises in the state. Denver alone had 390 medical marijuana dispensaries operating with no regulations. READ MORE HERE … [Read more...]

Hospital Agrees to pay $7 Million in Whistleblower Settlement

TAMPA BAY TIMES -- ST. PETERSBURG — All Children's Hospital has agreed to pay $7 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit alleging it violated antikickback laws by paying inflated salaries and bonuses to doctors so that they would bring in more patients and revenues. The suit was filed in July 2011 by Barbara Schubert, who was director of operations for the doctors' practice at All Children's for more than a decade. She claimed the hospital overpaid doctors by about $5 million in 2010 alone, violating laws regulating the financial relationships between hospitals and the physicians who bring in patients. All Children's, which denied any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, relies heavily on the state-federal Medicaid program. In 2010, the year it opened its new facility, 70 percent of its patient care revenues, or $370 million, came from Medicaid, according to an annual … [Read more...]

Florida Spent Millions on Flawed Fingerprint System

MIAMI HERALD -- The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s troubled 5-year-old automatic fingerprint identification system (AFIS) is experiencing technical problems that are causing delays in investigations and arrests across the state. It has also cost far more to maintain than it did to design and build. A former engineer for Motorola, the company that built the system, has come forward and claimed the company delivered a product riddled with problems. His claims are documented in internal Motorola reports that he said were never shared with the FDLE. Documents reviewed by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting detail a series of costly maintenance requests and upgrades needed to keep the fingerprint system functioning properly. The documents also include internal Motorola reports recording accuracy issues with the fingerprint system. If true, in addition to delaying … [Read more...]