Axios Tampa Bay
September 14, 2021
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Today's newsletter is 949 words, a 3.5-minute read.
1 big thing: Tampa Bay’s mysterious link to 9/11
President Biden’s order to the Justice Department and other executive branch agencies to declassify documents related to 9/11 could help solve a mystery about a Saudi family who fled a gated community in Sarasota County just before the attacks.
What’s new: The FBI’s review was due Sept. 11, and additional documents, including reports with investigative findings, are to be reviewed over the next six months with an eye for disclosure, AP reports.
- "Information shall not remain classified if there is significant doubt about the need to maintain its classified status," the order reads.
- Those reports could shed light on what was happening behind the gates of a Sarasota community called Prestancia in the months before the attacks.
What we know: The family from Saudi Arabia — said to have ties to the Saudi royal family — fled two weeks before 9/11, leaving behind food, jewelry, clothes and cars, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune has reported.
- Gate logs show that three of the hijackers — who learned to fly in nearby Venice — visited the family frequently in Sarasota, a city with perhaps more strange 9/11 connections than any other place in America.
- Within two months, Manatee County sheriff’s deputies interviewed a man from Tunisia who was seen tossing items into a dumpster in Bradenton — including a terrorism manual, a map of an airport, and a last will and testament.
- The FBI connected the man to the vanished Prestancia family, a fact first made public by the Broward Bulldog in 2014.
Yes, but: None of that was included in the public 9/11 Commission Report.
What they’re saying: "As we relive the painful memories on the 20th anniversary, it is vital the federal government communicate all it has learned so we can do everything possible to protect Americans," Bob Graham, former Florida governor and senator, wrote to President Biden.
2. Fed-up school board bans criticism of members
The Sarasota County school board is sick and tired of hearing citizens complain, so it banned criticism of individual board members during meetings.
- At a meeting last week, Vice Chairwoman Jane Goodwin — standing in for Chairwoman Shirley Brown, who lost control of the meeting — directed police to remove citizens who criticized specific elected officials during the public comment period, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.
- "This is not McCurdy's Comedy Club," Goodwin told the Herald-Tribune. "This is a professional board meeting ... It has to be tightened up in terms of what people are allowed to say."
Yes, but: Even though board members explained that the open-ended verbal assaults were taking up time that could be spent on more productive debate, the move further riled some members of the public.
- One man told the board it had "single-handedly activated and motivated every single mom, dad and voter in this county."
3. The Pulp: Don't fear the riper
📈 Job postings increased by 6% in Tampa and Hillsborough County from 2015 to 2020, according to labor trend research company Economic Modeling. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)
🎊 Global retail media tech company CitrusAd opened its U.S. headquarters in St. Petersburg and plans to hire locally. (St. Pete Catalyst)
🎣 A man fishing at John's Pass broke a 19-year record by catching a 29.6-pound scamp. (WFLA)
🏔 Police are investigating the disappearance of a North Port woman who went missing on a cross-country trip with her fiancé and was last seen in Wyoming’s Grand Tetons. (WFLA)
Two Fort Myers middle schoolers are accused of planning a school shooting after police found a map, gun and other evidence of a violent plot. (WTSP)
4. The next pandemic battlefront
Florida will fine local governments $5,000 for each worker required to be vaccinated, Gov. Ron DeSantis declared yesterday.
Why it matters: That could mean millions of dollars in fines for Florida cities that choose to defy the state government.
The intrigue: A new state law prohibits Florida businesses and local governments from requiring proof of vaccination from employees or customers, but governments in Gainesville, Leon County and Orange County are making employees get a shot.
- It remains to be seen whether Tampa, which currently requires either a vaccination or a weekly test, will be fined.
The big picture: DeSantis also promised again to challenge Biden’s plan to require large businesses to confirm their employees are vaccinated or must submit to weekly COVID tests.
5. Screen Time with Jane Floyd
- She also volunteers all over the city, including the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay, Women In Action, Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and First Presbyterian of Tampa Bay.
How does a local powerhouse like Jane use tech?
- 📱 Device of choice: "My iPhone 11. It has all my favorite apps and it allows me to connect with my team and clients to build and foster relationships."
- 🙏 First tap of the day: "I typically start every day by sitting on my balcony and opening up my Jesus Calling app. It allows me to dive into my daily devotional before gearing up for the workday ahead."
- 🎧 Podcast of choice: "'The Ed Mylett Show.' ... I always learn so much and find key takeaways that I can not only apply to my own life, but then share with others."
- 🕺 On rotation: "I listen to a variety of music, but mostly 70s!"
- Reading list: "I’m an avid reader, always reading a few books at a time. ... This week, I have opened up 'Row The Boat' by Jon Gordon, 'Uncommon Leadership' by Ben Newman and 'Excellence Wins' by Horst Schulze."
Who should we feature next? Hit reply and let us know.
🎧 Selene is listening to the "You’re Wrong About" deep dive into “The McDonald’s Hot Coffee Case." ☕️
We’ll see you Wednesday.