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Sat-Sep-2020 Florida Gov. DeSantis plays to his base again

As Floridians start to receive ballots in the mail for the Nov. 3 election, Gov. Ron DeSantis spent the week unleashing a string of policies that could bolster the campaign of his close ally, President Donald Trump.

The Republican governor kicked off the week with an appeal to law-and-order voters by releasing a legislative plan aimed at crushing “disorderly” protests.…

Fri-Sep-2020 Percussionist and Atlantic Center Master Artist Billy Martin announces virtual Community Outreach event in October

Famed percussionist Billy Martin – known for stints with Medeski, Martin & Wood and more experimental solo adventures – is returning to Central Florida's Atlantic Center for the Arts in October to be a Master Artist-in-Residence.

Martin will be joining artist Dora Garcia and playwright/actor Ain Gordon on Oct.11-31 for the 179th iteration of the ACA's Master Artist program.

Martin plans to instruct a lucky group of musicians "on strategies that help develop our own sound vocabulary and how to develop personal ways of composing and/or improvising. We will also work together using visual cues, graphic scores, musical game pieces and listening exercises."…

Fri-Sep-2020 Swedish metallers Dark Tranquility announce Orlando date in October 2021

Who knew that death metal bands would be optimists?

Swedish melodic death metal legends Dark Tranquility have bravely penciled in a full round of North American touring set for autumn 2021. The band will be promoting new album Moment, out in November on Century Media.

The tour kicks off in September of next year and includes three Florida dates, including one at Winter Park metal haven, the Haven Lounge.

"It's hard to even imagine this happening," said DT frontman Mikael Stanne to Blabbermouth earlier this week.…

Fri-Sep-2020 Despite Amendment 4 passage, only a small fraction of Florida felons will be able to vote in November

With Florida’s Oct. 5 voter-registration deadline looming, convicted felons and their advocates are scrambling to clear up outstanding court-related debts or take advantage of special programs so that people who have served their time behind bars can cast ballots in this year’s presidential election.

The race against the clock intensified after an Atlanta-based appeals court this month upheld a controversial Florida law requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” —- fees, fines, costs and restitution —- associated with their convictions before they can be eligible to vote.

The 2019 law was aimed at implementing a constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to felons “upon completion of all terms sentence including parole or probation.”

Backers of what appeared as Amendment 4 on the state’s 2018 ballot maintain that it affects more than 1 million Floridians who lost their voting rights after felony convictions and who have completed their time in lock-up.

But just a fraction of the so-called “returning citizens” targeted by the measure will be able to participate in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Fri-Sep-2020 Florida Gov. DeSantis removes COVID-19 restaurants rules and masks penalties

Despite Florida logging nearly 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and almost 200 new deaths yesterday, Governor Ron DeSantis now says he will allow restaurants and other businesses to operate without restrictions.

While speaking to reporters in St. Petersburg, DeSantis said he will sign an order today moving the state into a phase 3 reopening, which would allow bars, restaurants and gyms to operate at full capacity, and will also limit local governments from enforcing stricter rules.
According to the order, bars, pubs, nightclubs and breweries that derive 50 percent of sales from alcohol can operate at full capacity with limited social distancing protocols.

"Every business has a right to operate... you can’t just say no after six months and have people twisting in the wind,” said DeSantis.…

Fri-Sep-2020 Florida's school voucher program reaches 34,000 students

After a change made during this year’s legislative session, a Florida school-voucher program has expanded to nearly 34,000 students, a state official said this week.…

Fri-Sep-2020 Leslye Gale's O-Town Lowdown on Magic 107.7 for Friday, Sept. 25, 2020

Every morning on Magic 107.7 FM, Leslye Gale discusses the most interesting Orlando Weekly stories of the day on "Chad & Leslye."…

Fri-Sep-2020 Florida Gov. DeSantis plans to roll back COVID-19 restrictions on restaurants statewide, regardless of local rules

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants to prohibit local governments from being able to close restaurants and bars, as some locals did to slow the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year.

DeSantis, appearing ready to ease state restrictions that place a 50 percent indoor occupancy limit on restaurants and bars, believes a “preemption” of local government authority can be enacted through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees licensing.

"I don't think it's as much of the state having restrictions as much as it's, we may need to provide some level of assurances for people against some of the local restrictions that we're seeing,” DeSantis said after a health-care event Thursday at the Capitol.

DeSantis said he wants to eliminate any uncertainty that restaurants could be shut down if there is another surge of COVID-19 cases, as people are now becoming more comfortable in dining out.

“It isn't like these restrictions are in front of the Legislature or in front of local legislative bodies,” DeSantis said.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Full appeals court to take up case of Central Florida ex-congresswoman Corrine Brown

In a partial victory for former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a full federal appeals court agreed Thursday to take up her challenge to a conviction on fraud and tax charges in a charity scam.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a January decision by a three-judge panel that upheld the Jacksonville Democrat’s conviction and agreed to rehear the case as a full court, a move known as holding an “en banc” hearing.

The Atlanta-based appeals court did not explain its reasons Thursday, but the three-judge panel was sharply divided in January on whether the conviction should be withheld.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Swamp Sistas to go 'Inside the Creative Mind' of Orlando musicians in October

Local femme musical collective Swamp Sistas will be spending Sundays in October picking the brains of some of Orlando best musicians with their new, virtual "Month of Sundays: Inside the Creative Mind" series.

Head Sista Beth McKee will interview one of a fearsome quartet of performers across genre each Sunday: folk luminary Terri Binion, hip-hop rising star E-Turn, Americana powerhouse Hannah Harber Wynn, and indie-rock polymath Tierney Tough,

Terri Binion kicks off "Month of Sundays: Inside the Creative Mind" broadcasting on the Swamp Sistas Facebook Live on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m.

Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Central Florida 7-Eleven stores will give away free whole pizzas on first Sunday of October

On Sunday, Oct. 4, Orlando-area 7-Elevens will give away a free whole pizza to anyone who wants one.

In order to take advantage of the deal, you must eat the entire pizza while standing in front of the cashier, never breaking eye contact.

Because shame on you! You know exactly what those places will be like on that Sunday and you have no business being there.…

Thu-Sep-2020 WUCF to pay tribute to legendary 'Jazz on the Beach' DJ Jack Simpson on Saturday

The FM airwaves will have a little less swing after the passing of WUCF 89.9-FM mainstay and "Jazz on the Beach" host Jack Simpson at 96 last weekend. But this Saturday, WUCF will be airing a special tribute to the DJ.

The tribute show will air on Saturday, Sept. 26, at noon – you can listen in on the radio or through the WUCF website – and will combine listener memories with a compilation of favorite moments from the show.

“For those of us who were fortunate to know Jack Simpson, we have lost a dear friend and legend in the Jazz community,” said WUCF Director of Radio Kayonne Riley in a press statement.…

Thu-Sep-2020 The Original Anthony's Pizzeria is coming to College Park, replacing Due Amici

Guess what, College Park? Due Amici, the Italian joint that aroused mixed feelings in me, has closed and is about to get replaced by ...

... another Italian joint.

Yes, the Original Anthony's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant has moved into the space that was long occupied by Kingfish Grill on Edgewater Drive and will serve the same dishes that all the gazillion other Original Anthony's Pizzeria & Restaurant outlets from DeBary to Kissimmee serve.

There are no less than five Italian restaurants along Edgewater Drive, three – Trevi Pasta, Armando's and Adriatico – within mere feet of Due Amici Anthony's; Ragazzi's and Tornatore's are about a mile away.

Oh, there's a Papa John's too.

Anthony's will open this Monday.

— Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Florida vote-by-mail ballots go out Thursday

Potentially millions of ballots could hit the mail starting Thursday for the Nov. 3 general election in Florida. County supervisors of elections are required to send out their first big batches of vote-by-mail ballots between Thursday and Oct. 1.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Orlando's Desmond Meade says his 'resolve' is strengthened after Gov. DeSantis' pardon decision

After his bid for a pardon was blocked Wednesday, Florida felons’ voting-rights leader Desmond Meade said the decision made him even more committed to continuing his work.

Meade, a former drug dealer who has garnered international accolades after leading the drive to pass a 2018 constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for felons, said he’s been waiting two decades to have his civil rights, which include the right to sit on juries and run for public office, restored.

“If a person with my record would have to wait, what does that say for everyone else?” said Meade, who has been able to register to vote thanks to the constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 4.…

Thu-Sep-2020 Leslye Gale's O-Town Lowdown on Magic 107.7 for Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020

Every morning on Magic 107.7 FM, Leslye Gale discusses the most interesting Orlando Weekly stories of the day on "Chad & Leslye."…

Wed-Sep-2020 Elton John announces rescheduled Amway Center show in 2022

Although currently serving as the WWE's ThunderDome, the Amway Center will eventually get back to the usual slate of concerts, games and other special events. And Wednesday's announcement of Elton John's rescheduled Orlando date is a tantalizing glimpse of concert normalcy … in 2022.

Originally set for late May of this year, the Florida dates of John's "GoodBye Yellow Brick Road" tour all got the axe because of the coronavirus pandemic, but road warrior John announced the rescheduled dates and a host of news ones Wednesday.

Sir Elton will resume the "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" worldwide trek in Sept. 2021 with a string of European dates, before returning to North America (knock on wood) in early 2022.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Uber Eats will now pick up your groceries from Orlando Winn-Dixie stores

Jacksonville-based Southeastern Grocers, which owns Winn-Dixie and Fresco y Más, has partnered with the restaurant delivery app Uber Eats to deliver groceries in the Orlando area, as well as Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville.

While it is certainly a convenient option, especially for those of you who are avoiding grocery stores, know that purchases come with a 10 percent service fee, as well as a separate delivery fee.

“Our customers and communities count on us to adapt quickly to their shifting needs, and right now they need easy and safe access to their groceries more than ever before,” said Adam Kirk, senior vice president of marketing for Southeastern Grocers, in a news release.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Gov. Ron DeSantis blocks pardon request for felons' rights leader Desmond Meade

Desmond Meade graduated from law school, made it onto Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people and was at the forefront of a successful crusade to restore voting rights to convicted felons in Florida.

But the former drug dealer who was tossed out of the Army three decades ago hasn’t redeemed himself enough to be pardoned for his crimes by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.

Accompanied by his wife and a daughter Wednesday, Meade told DeSantis, Patronis and the other members of the state Board of Executive Clemency, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, that he has “emerged from a very dark place” to become “a beacon of hope and inspiration to so many people.”

“Not only in this great state of Florida, but across the country, just showing that we can overcome obstacles, that we can overcome the mistakes that we’ve made and do something great and become an asset to our community, to our state, to our country, to the world,” he said.

But the stain still lingers from his years-long cocaine addiction, which he said led to crime, domestic violence against his ex-wife and a three-decade-old court martial that landed him in the brig and resulted in a dishonorable discharge from the military.

DeSantis and Patronis on Wednesday blocked Meade’s request for a pardon, with DeSantis saying the panel should take the issue “under advisement” until it can gather more information.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Anniversary virtual performance of 'Jesus Hopped the A Train' set for this weekend

Central Florida theater luminaries will be marking the 12th anniversary of their performance of the play Jesus Hopped the A Train with an exclusive weekend Zoom reprise.

The cast and crew of this performance will feature returns from Lawrence Benjamin, Alexis Jackson, Dennis Neal, Jeremy Wood, new actor Hector Sanchez Jr, as well as John DiDonna (director), Meghan Pelfrey (stage manager), and Troy A. Jackson (assistant producer).

Jesus Hopped the A Train, a gritty look at life in Rikers Island written by Stephen Adly Guirgis, premiered Off Broadway in 2000 – with Philip Seymour Hoffman directing – to widespread acclaim.

In 2008, DiDonna and his Empty Spaces Theatre Co. cohorts staged the work at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center to similarly positive reactions.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Gatorland brings back 'Gators, Ghosts and Goblins' all-ages Halloween event in October

Gatorland has announced the return of its all-ages Halloween event 'Gators, Ghosts and Goblins' in October.

The (kinda) scary daytime shindig – included with regular park admission – encourages park visitors to come in costume ("nothing scary or gory, please") and promises costumed character meet and greets, a trick or treat trail, a spooky train ride, and Frank and Stein’s Octoberfest, complete an “undead” polka band. (We predict a polka-fied "Monster Mash" on the hour.)

And of course here will also appearances from cryptozoological legend and park health ambassador the Social Distancing Skunk Ape.

Face masks are required and updated park safety procedures are in effect.

“We are beyond excited to give our guests a way to celebrate Halloween safely,” said Gatorland CEO Mark McHugh in a press statement.

Gators, Ghosts and Goblins goes down on weekends from Oct. 10-Nov. 1.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Leslye Gale's O-Town Lowdown on Magic 107.7 for Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020

Every morning on Magic 107.7 FM, Leslye Gale discusses the most interesting Orlando Weekly stories of the day on "Chad & Leslye." Check out Leslye's picks today.

It's Taco Week Ya'll!…

Wed-Sep-2020 Michael Bloomberg to back returning felon voter effort in Florida

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a former New York mayor and onetime Democratic presidential candidate, is the latest celebrity to join in the effort to help Florida felons pay outstanding legal financial obligations so they can register to vote in November. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition has collected more than $20 million for a “Fines and Fees” fund established in response to a state law and a recent court ruling requiring felons to pay “legal financial obligations” — fees, fines, costs and restitution — to be eligible to vote.…

Wed-Sep-2020 Gov. DeSantis defends Florida agencies' response to coronavirus

With Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried calling for a coordinated response by statewide elected officials to the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended the actions of agencies under his control.

DeSantis added that Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, who along with Fried make up the state Cabinet, have been able to get information from agencies when needed during the “difficult times.”

“I know Jimmy and Ashley … they meet with whoever they want to meet with, and they obviously have been able to do that,” DeSantis told reporters after a Cabinet meeting Tuesday that marked the first time since Feb. 4 that the four statewide elected officials gathered in person.

DeSantis and the Cabinet also held a conference call on May 28.

Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat, has repeatedly called for Cabinet meetings and more coordination amid the pandemic.

She didn’t bring up the coordination issue during Tuesday’s briskly held meeting, which lasted about 90 minutes and mostly stuck to items on a lengthy agenda.

Tue-Sep-2020 Op-ed: Mask-free Christian gatherings that claim 'freedom to worship' are in fact a demonstration of self-centeredness

Over the weekend, nondenominational Christian praise musician Sean Feucht made a stop on his current revival tour in Orlando. At Lake Eola Park, "thousands worshipped in the rain" (headcount unconfirmed).…

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