John Davis

John Davis has been a full-time Reporter/Producer for WGCU since 2009. He is the local host for NPRââââ

Docs vs. Glocks

Sep 1, 2015

Physician groups are requesting that a federal appeals court reconsider a ruling that upholds a Florida law restricting what doctors can ask patients about guns. On July 28, a federal court lifted an injunction on the law filed by a consortium of physician groups representing some 11,000 medical providers after the bill was signed into law in 2011.  The law, which has been dubbed, “Docs. Vs. Glocks,” prevents doctors from asking patients about gun ownership or recording such information in a patient’s medical record.  The law contains exceptions including instances in which gun ownership would be relevant to a patient’s medical care, safety or the safety of others.

Same-sex marriage became legal in Florida in January following a U.S. District Court judge’s ruling that the state’s marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection and due process requirements. Then in June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling for LGBT advocates, finding that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.  To some, these high profile decisions have created a perception that the fight for LGBT equality has been won.  Advocates, however, say plenty of barriers remain in a broad range of categories from legal guardianship of children, to employment and housing discrimination.

The Fort Myers Police Department’s Semi-Annual Uniform Crime Report released this week shows a 9.7% reduction in overall crime for the first six months of 2015.  However, unsolved shootings in recent months have raised concerns among Fort Myers communities.

An independent report by the Florida auditor general into the state’s voting system last month criticizes the Department of State over security concerns with Florida’s nine-year old voter registration database and questions whether the state will be ready for the 2016 presidential election.  We’ll explore what voting officials are doing to prepare and to reduce the risk of a security breach.  Plus, August 6 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Voting Rights Act which was designed to protect voters from racially discriminatory laws. We’ll explore the civil rights law’s history and impact in Florida.

Florida fared poorly in a recent analysis and ranking of U.S. states when it comes to social and economic conditions for children.  The 2015’s Best & Worst States for Underprivileged Children report, from the personal finance website, WalletHub.com, ranks Florida 45th in the nation overall.  The report ranks Florida 43rd when it comes to the rate of children experiencing food insecurity and 47th for the percentage of children without health insurance.  As August marks National Child Support Awareness Month, we’ll take a closer look at the report’s findings as we explore conditions for underprivileged kids in the Sunshine State.

U.S. Coast Guard officials recently announced the suspension of an aggressive eight-day search for teenagers Perry Cohen and Austin Stephanos who went missing off Florida’s Atlantic coast after embarking on a fishing trip July 24. The search involved a variety of aircraft, boating vessels and hundreds of people stretching as far north as Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. We’ll explore boating safety as we take a closer look at what goes into Coast Guard search and rescue operations as well as other local efforts to spot stranded boaters.

Guests:

Bob Belliveau, Senior Navigator/Instructor (retired) United States Power Squadrons

Clint Dawson, President of Sundown Patrol of Lee County

Music of Frankie Colt

Aug 4, 2015

We’ll hear from Fort Myers singer, songwriter and guitarist Frankie Colt who the Naples Daily News has dubbed “a rising musical star.”  Colt performs regularly at venues around Southwest Florida and her 13-track album, “Howl” is set for release later this summer.  She’s performed at a variety of festivals around Florida and earlier this year performed at the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.  Colt will perform an acoustic set at the release of the new music video for her original song, “Lions Heart” Aug. 5 at 7:00 p.m. at Howl Gallery/Tattoo in Fort Myers.  We’ll talk with Colt about her music and hear her perform live in studio.

The campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour has been gaining traction in recent months in New York, California and elsewhere in the country.  Last week the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) held a series of rallies in cities around Florida advocating for a $15 minimum wage. State Senator Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, has reintroduced a proposal for Florida’s 2016 legislative session calling for the state’s minimum wage to be raised from the current $8.05 to $15 beginning in 2017.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV Surveillance Report ranks the Cape Coral-Fort Myers metropolitan area 16th in the nation in 2013 when it comes to the number of new cases of HIV.  We’ll explore what’s behind the area’s startling increase in HIV infections, the scope and status of HIV/AIDS treatment options in Southwest Florida and public education outreach efforts encouraging prevention and targeting at-risk communities.

Earlier this month, President Barak Obama commuted the sentences of 46 inmates serving long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses including 11 people in Florida and one in Fort Myers.  In a video statement from the White House, Obama said, “These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years.  14 of them had been sentenced to life for non-violent drug offenses so their punishment didn’t fit the crime.”

Last week the Florida Supreme Court invalidated boundaries for eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts.  In the historic 5-2 ruling, justices ruled the maps violate the anti-gerrymandering amendments approved by voters in 2010 that prevent lawmakers from drawing political maps to favor incumbents or political parties. 

On July 2, the federal government and the Gulf Coast states of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas announced an $18.7 billion dollar settlement for claims against BP related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.  If approved by a judge, it would be the largest environmental settlement and the largest civil settlement with any single entity in U.S. history.  Florida’s share of the settlement totals $3.25 billion. Florida’s $2 billion allocation for economic loss claims is more than any other state received with the additional $1.25 billion going toward addressing environmental damage.

We delve into the national conversation over the Confederate Battle Flag.  Following last month’s mass shooting at the historically African-American Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, by alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, a heated national debate about displaying the Confederate Battle Flag picked up steam.  

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 2.7 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic Hepatitis C.  Between 2012 and 2013, the number of reported acute cases of hepatitis C increased from just over 1,700 to more than 2,100. 

The nation’s largest union for public school teachers kicked off its annual meeting June 26 in Orlando.  About 9,000 education leaders from across the country will converge on the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista hotel for the National Education Association’s 153rd annual meeting and 94th Representative Assembly

Gov. Rick Scott recently declared March as Bike Month in Florida, but when it comes to safety for bicyclists sharing our roadways, the Sunshine State is the deadliest in the nation. Southwest Florida in particular consistently ranks among the top ten most dangerous regions in the state for bicyclists. Following a recent special investigation by the News-Press, we’ll explore what’s behind the dangerous conditions Florida bicyclists face from driver aggression and a lack of safety education to ill-designed roadway infrastructure and a lack of effective legislation to protect cyclists. We’ll also discuss what’s being done to make Florida roads safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. 

Florida lawmakers closed this month’s special legislative session Friday with a $78.7 billion spending plan and Gov. Rick Scott signed the budget Tuesday. The special session was called after state lawmakers closed the regular spring session early over a budget impasse on healthcare and healthcare spending. The final budget passed without the Senate’s proposed plan to expand Medicaid to an additional 800,000 low income Floridians.

Rates of homelessness around the country have generally been on the decline. Nationally, homelessness has gone down about 9% since 2007. Here in Florida, though, a 2013 report from the State Department of Children and Families’ Council on Homelessness finds that between 2007 and 2012, homelessness statewide increased by an estimated 14.8%. Public officials and law enforcement agencies in the city and county of Sarasota have been working to tackle the difficult and politically complex problems associated with chronic homelessness. 

Big Sugar Summit

Jun 16, 2015

The Sierra Club will hold a day-long Summit on Big Sugar June 20 in West Palm Beach. Ahead of the summit, we’ll take a closer look at the history and growth of Florida’s $500 million a year sugar industry. We’ll also explore the industry’s impact on the health of Floridians and the Everglades Ecosystem through nutrient-laden runoff, the regular burning of cane fields, and the altered natural flow of water south from Lake Okeechobee through the glades. We’ll also explore opportunities state lawmakers could take to boost Everglades restoration efforts through the purchase of sugar land as well as the sugar industry’s political influence. 

Black Bears represent a successful come-back story in Florida. Driven to the brink of extinction in the early 1900s, black bears were placed on the state’s threatened species list in 1974, and since then their population has rebounded to an estimated 3,000 animals in the wild today. Now Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are looking to introduce the first recreational black bear hunting season in more than 20 years. FWC officials will take a final vote on the proposal at their meeting in Sarasota later this month.

A 2013 report from the United Kingdom’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers finds that between 30% and 50% of all food produced worldwide ends up wasted every year. Now, researchers with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are working to extend the shelf life of some of Florida’s harvested produce such as tomatoes and strawberries as well as improve nutrient and taste retention of the fruits.

Fire crews in the Big Cypress National Preserve have been battling a number of wildfires that make up the Mud Lake Complex since May 8. The fires are believed to have been ignited by lightning strikes. As of June 2, the fires had burned more than 35,000 acres and were about 75% contained. Will get the latest update from fire crews at the scene. We’ll also explore the risks and benefits associated with wildfires in Florida and what residents can do to reduce the risk of dangerous wildfires. 

Florida’s 20 day special legislative session began June 1st and while much of lawmakers’ focus will be on healthcare spending and negotiating a balanced budget, environmental advocates also see opportunities for increased spending on land and water conservation efforts. Last fall, nearly 75% of Florida voters approved Amendment One, which allocates 33% of documentary stamp fees to a land acquisition trust fund to be used for land and water conservation. 

Elder Fraud Task Force

May 26, 2015

Officials with the State Attorney’s Office along with State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, announced the creation of a new elder fraud task force earlier this month.  Financial abuse and exploitation of the elderly is a growing problem in the region, and this new task force will connect law enforcement and other governmental agencies in their efforts to identify, investigation and prevent such crimes.   We’ll learn more about how these crimes are committed and how the task force will operate.  Plus. Rep. Passidomo joins us for a look at her legislative efforts to crack down financial abuse and exploitation of Florida’s seniors.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as five million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and that number is projected to increase to about 14 million people by 2050.  The cost of care and treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia will rise to $226 billion this year according to the Alzheimer’s Association, and that’s expected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2050.

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