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‘Next Generation Legal Summit’ motivates Orlando students

FLORIDA COURIER — Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law hosted its first “Next Generation Legal Summit” on July 1 at the law school. About one dozen Jones High School students participated in the one-day summit where they explored the legal system and learned how laws are made.

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Students from Jones High School in Orlando visit the law school.

By The Florida Courier

Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law hosted its first “Next Generation Legal Summit” on July 1 at the law school. About one dozen Jones High School students participated in the one-day summit where they explored the legal system and learned how laws are made.

In addition, participants were exposed to the various careers within the legal field. They also gained in-depth information on knowing their rights and how to effectively face tough situations.

“The Next Generation Legal Summit” also consisted of a mock trial where students practiced courtroom roles, critical thinking, writing and communications skills.

“FAMU Law believes in giving back to the community by motivating local students to achieve their full potential,” said FAMU Law Interim Dean Nicky Boothe Perry. “Spending the day around FAMU Law professors and administrators, touring the campus, and learning the law school’s history are all important parts of the students’ career growth and development.”

For more information about the FAMU College of Law, visit law.famu.edu.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Marti Johnson

    Marti Johnson

    July 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Excellent… The Legacy of Excellence will continue.

  2. Emma Williams

    Emma Williams

    July 12, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    CONTINUED BLESSINGS

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#NNPA BlackPress

Gov. Desantis: ‘It’s The Internet’

FLORDIA COURIER — The El Paso and Dayton shootings could help fuel debate in Tallahassee about gun-control issues and ideas for preventing mass violence, starting with a Florida Senate review of factors such as White supremacist terrorism. 

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Fans carry a sign that reads, “Pray for El Paso & Dayton” during a march before a pro soccer match in Orlando on Tuesday.

By Wire and Staff Reports

TALLAHASSEE – The El Paso and Dayton shootings could help fuel debate in Tallahassee about gun-control issues and ideas for preventing mass violence, starting with a Florida Senate review of factors such as White supremacist terrorism.

The shootings come after years of debate in Florida about gun-control issues, including whether to ban assault weapons. The Republican-dominated Legislature has rejected proposals by Democrats to ban the semiautomatic weapons, though a political committee, Ban Assault Weapons NOW, is trying to get a proposed ban on the November 2020 ballot.

“This weekend, we saw yet two more mass shootings in our country take the lives of 31 fellow Americans, with both shooters armed with military-grade assault weapons,” Gail Schwartz, chairwoman of Ban Assault Weapons NOW, said in a prepared statement.

“These events highlight the harsh reality: These killings will continue to happen, here in Florida and across the country, until we take action and do what our elected leaders have failed to do. We must ban these weapons of war.”

Legislative review

Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, on Monday directed Senate Infrastructure and Security Chairman Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, to lead efforts to determine if any further action is needed after laws were enacted in the wake of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

In the aftermath, the Legislature approved a wide-ranging measure that required schools to have safety officers, bolstered mental-health services and upgraded protections through school “hardening” projects.

The law also raised the minimum age from 18 to 21 and required a three-day waiting period for purchasing rifles and other long guns. The increase in the minimum age to purchase long guns drew a still-pending legal challenge from the National Rifle Association.

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation (SB 7030) that built on the 2018 bill. Among other things, it expanded the controversial school “guardian” program to allow armed classroom teachers, put $75 million into school mental-health services and strengthened reporting requirements for potentially threatening incidents that happen on school premises.

State ‘red flag’

Part of the 2018 law established what is known as the “red flag” law, which allows law enforcement agencies to seize firearms from people they believe may pose a threat to themselves or others.

“With committee meetings resuming just one month from now, our focus should be on steps the Senate can take to review and better understand the various factors involved in mass shootings, in addition to, and also including, school shootings,” Galvano wrote in a memo to senators.

“This includes White nationalism, which appears to be a factor not only with regard to these recent mass shootings, but also with other acts of violence we have seen across the country in recent years.”

‘Focus on solutions’

DeSantis pointed to “recesses of the Internet” where people can share “vile” views and a need to look at White nationalism – along with other causes – when asked Wednesday about tackling mass violence.

But he also said, after a Purple Heart dedication ceremony at Tallahassee National Cemetery, that it’s not productive to any gun-safety dialogue to focus on partisan politics, as Democrats continued to criticize President Donald Trump after two mass shootings over the weekend.

“I have no interest in being part of people’s political narratives. I understand the narratives. I’ve seen it for years and years,” said DeSantis, an ally of the president. “I’m trying to focus on solutions, and that’s why we’ve been forward-looking on our threat assessment strategy.”

‘Never blamed Bernie’

DeSantis said delving into every word said by a politician as a way to find fault for a mass shooting only makes it harder to have discussions about preventive measures.

While Democrats have focused on Trump’s rhetoric, DeSantis, a former congressman, brought up a 2017 incident in which an activist who had worked on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign shot four people, including Louisiana Congressman Steve Scalise, during a GOP congressional baseball team practice.

“Absent of someone saying, ‘Hey, go do this,’ to try to cherry pick someone saying one thing and saying this led to that, I don’t think that’s productive,” DeSantis said. “That’s why I never blamed Bernie for (the) shooting (at) our baseball (practice), because as much as I disagree with what he (Sanders) says, what that individual did was not justifiable, and there was nothing that was said that would justify you doing that.”

DeSantis said that while it may still be too early to determine the impact of the mental-health aspects of the 2018 law – about 1,600 orders have been issued – he supports a proactive approach by law enforcement.

Various threats

“You have the guy in El Paso, which obviously that was like an ethno-nationalist motivation. Obviously, the Pulse nightclub (mass shooting in Orlando in 2017) was militant Islam. And then you have some people who are just crazy, there’s not necessarily a clear motivation,” DeSantis said.

“I think you have to be familiar with all of those types of threats and have the warning signs identified and then do something about it.”

Another area he said needs to be addressed, even though the government is limited in what it can do, is the Internet.

“You have these recesses of the Internet where people who may not have a lot of common compatriots where they live, now they can all congregate in this community online and spread a lot of the vile stuff,” DeSantis said.

House may not follow

The Florida House isn’t expected to engage in a similar review before the January start of the 2020 session. House Speaker Jose Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, released a statement in which he said “Racism, including White nationalism, is a vile, disgusting, un-American ideology.”

“We cannot lose sight, however, that those who subscribe to those beliefs are few and their ideas so rejected that their words and actions unify all Americans -– left and right, Black, White or Brown – in abhorrence and condemnation,” Oliva said.

Oliva noted that as a Hispanic American, he’s seen more generosity and inclusiveness than discrimination and hatred.

“What we know is; evil exists, all of us play part in either expanding hatred or loving our neighbor, and despite what we see on the news, America is a great place, filled with kind people, always willing to help a neighbor in need,” Oliva said. “We must ask ourselves more than ‘what to do’ we must figure out, as leaders and as a society, ‘who we are.’ ”

‘Deranged’ and ‘evil’

Attorney General Ashley Moody on Monday pointed to a need to prioritize public safety. Moody said during a news conference in Jacksonville that everyone should be “horrified, shocked and saddened” by the recent attacks and more needs to be done to detect “those that are mentally deranged, that would seek to do us harm.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said on Twitter that “the ideology of White supremacy is evil.”

“It is the antithesis of what our country stands for and it offends God,” Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said. “It must be confronted aggressively so that it cannot metastasize further.”

‘Republicans won’t act’

Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale, urged Floridians to back the 2020 ballot proposal to ban assault weapons. Backers of the proposed constitutional amendment still need to submit hundreds of thousands of petition signatures and get a key approval from the Florida Supreme Court before the issue could go to voters.

“Republicans in FL won’t act on our epidemic of gun violence,” Farmer tweeted.

The details

The proposed constitutional amendment seeks to ban “possession of assault weapons, defined as semiautomatic rifles and shotguns capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition at once, either in fixed or detachable magazine, or any other ammunition-feeding device.”

The measure, which would not prohibit handguns, includes an exemption for military and law-enforcement personnel “in their official duties.”

The proposal would allow people who already own assault weapons at the time the constitutional amendment goes into effect to keep them, if they register the guns with state law enforcement.

Moody is asking the Supreme Court to block the proposal from going on the ballot and reiterated Monday that she thinks the proposal’s wording is “misleading,” contending the proposal would ban possession of “about virtually every self-loading long gun.”


Ana Ceballos and Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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#NNPA BlackPress

Study explores genetics of PTSD in more than 165,000 veterans

FLORIDA COURIER — A new genetic study uses information from an unprecedented number of U.S. veterans to probe a particularly vexing question: Why does posttraumatic stress disorder affect some, but not others? It is a particularly urgent question given that suicide rates are higher among veterans suffering from PTSD, which is estimated to affect between 11% and 20% of those who served in the military.

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Photo by: flcourier.com

By The Florida Courier

SAN DIEGO — A new genetic study uses information from an unprecedented number of U.S. veterans to probe a particularly vexing question: Why does posttraumatic stress disorder affect some, but not others?

It is a particularly urgent question given that suicide rates are higher among veterans suffering from PTSD, which is estimated to affect between 11% and 20% of those who served in the military.

Recently published in the journal Nature Science by collaborating investigators at the University of California, San Diego and Yale University, the study is the first PTSD analysis to draw upon genetic information collected by the Million Veteran Program.

Voluntary initiative

Created by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the voluntary initiative seeks to create a medical database large enough that researchers can see patterns of genetic variation capable of providing indispensable road maps for the future treatment of many diseases.

Though the program does not yet have its full sampling of 1 million records available, there is already enough data in place to allow the research team to study more than 165,000 veterans.

Using sophisticated computer modeling techniques, they were able to compare the genomes of those who experienced a key symptom of post-traumatic stress to those who did not.

Eight DNA locations

Common genetic differences were observed at eight different DNA locations among veterans who reported “re-experiencing” a PTSD symptom associated with nightmares and flashbacks that are sometimes triggered by events similar to those that were present when trauma first occurred.

Differences at three different chromosome locations were deemed to be most statistically significant and are thought to potentially affect the body’s hormone response to stress and, perhaps, to the function or structure of certain types of neurons in the brain.

Though mutations in these genes have previously been suspected to have something to do with PTSD susceptibility, science is increasingly finding it necessary to compare the genetic fingerprints of many, many real people in order to tease out which changes, among many possibilities, drive complex disorders such as PTSD.

Dr. Murray B. Stein, a UC San Diego psychiatry and family medicine professor who led the study with Dr. Joel Gelernter, a professor of genetics and neuroscience at Yale, was quick to note that this type of association study offers suggestions rather than clear answers.

But correlating genetic information on such a large scale, he said, provides the kind of signal in the noise that can help guide deeper investigations in the future.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Books

Dennis-Benn’s novel of Jamaican immigrant is magnetic, wrenching

FLORIDA COURIER — In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching. The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

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Dennis-Benn was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She holds a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She lives with her wife in Brooklyn, New York.

By Connie Ogle

In America, anyone can be anything. That’s what the dream assures us, right?

We live in the land of opportunity for anyone willing to work hard. Unless of course you get here the wrong way. Then there’s little opportunity, few choices, constant unease, quick despair. You don’t belong.

In her new novel, Nicole Dennis-Benn contrasts the deep chasm between the American dream and immigrant reality, and the result is magnetic and wrenching.

The story is a perfect fit for the author: Her first novel, “Here Comes the Sun,” laid bare the poster image of Jamaica as a tropical paradise, revealing the ugly truths behind the promises of sun, sand and sex.

Another mirage

Now, in “Patsy,” she exposes another mirage, returning to themes she explored with insight and empathy — sexism, racism, colorism, homophobia, motherhood and poverty.

What must women sacrifice, Dennis-Benn asks, to become their true selves? It’s not just a question for the privileged. Patsy, a civil servant in Jamaica, knows her answer.

In a fair world, her affinity for math would lead her to a desirable job.

Accounting, maybe. But such work is impossible to find, because dark-skinned, poor women like Patsy have little value in her town.

So Patsy has invested the little money she has saved and spent it on a visa application. She is going to America, she tells her 5-year-old daughter Tru, to “mek t’ings bettah fah you. Fall all ah we.”

A new life

This is a lie. Patsy hopes to find a better job — after all, she has taken two courses at a community college and once solved 100 math problems in a row at school.

But she won’t return to Jamaica because Cicely is in America. Cicely, her beautiful friend who emigrated and married for a green card.

Patsy and Cicely loved each other once, and Cicely still writes hopeful letters to Patsy, encouraging her to come to New York. And so Patsy leaves Tru to build a new life. But America is less a paradise than a treacherous illusion.

Hard choices

A mother who abandons her child is a monster in most cultures, but Dennis-Benn’s deep compassion for Patsy — for all women facing unthinkable choices — forces you to reconsider your own preconceptions.

She urges you to think about this woman’s desperation, her fear, her past, her yearning for connection. She never wanted to be a mother, and Tru’s father, a married police officer, can provide a stable home for the girl.

That rationalization doesn’t soothe Patsy’s guilt, nor does it comfort Tru, who clings to her mother’s promise to return for as long as she can.

Eventually, though, Tru has to grow up and make hard choices of her own.

Two views

“Patsy” is told from both points of view, mother and daughter, the voices raw, honest and haunting. Patsy faces the irony that the only options open to her are nanny jobs, caring for the children of others.

She hates being labeled “illegal” and “can’t understand why she’s deemed a criminal for wanting more.” She wonders: “What am I good at?” and simply doesn’t know.

As a teenager, Tru begins to reject the role her culture has carved out for her (Dennis-Benn has a lot to say about how girls are raised in her native Jamaica).

Both women suffer depression, a battle all the harder to win when you don’t have the means to fight it.

But reinvention and redemption are possible. The story ends on a note of hope, though it comes at a price. What are you good at, Patsy? Loving. Learning. Living. The most human strengths of all.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Florida Courier

CDC issues warning about ‘crypto’ in pools, water parks

FLORIDA COURIER — Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

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The fecal parasite can survice for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds (Photo by: Dreamstime | TNS)

By Stephanie Sigafoos

Outbreaks of “crypto,” a parasite found in swimming pools that causes long-term diarrhea, are on the rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC says outbreaks of the summertime parasite increased an average of 13% each year from 2009-17.

Cryptosporidium is spread through the infected fecal matter of humans or animals. The CDC says people have been getting sick after swallowing the parasite in contaminated water or food or after coming in contact with infected people or animals.

It is said to be the leading cause of disease outbreaks in the United States linked to water, specifically outbreaks linked to public pools or water playgrounds.

Kids susceptible

According to the report:

  • 35% of outbreaks were linked to treated swimming water in places like pools or water playgrounds
  • 13% were linked to contact with infected people in childcare settings
  • 15% were linked to contact with cattle, and 3% to drinking raw milk or apple cider

Young children are particularly susceptible to spreading the disease and experiencing severe symptoms, said registered nurse Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program.

“They don’t know how to use the toilet and wash their hands, or are just learning how,” she said. “But we as parents can take steps to help keep our kids healthy in the water, around animals, and in childcare.”

Tough to kill

The concern with crypto, according to the CDC, is that it’s tough to kill.

It can survive for days in chlorinated water in pools and water playgrounds, and even on surfaces disinfected with chlorine bleach.

Someone sick with crypto can have diarrhea for up to three weeks.

Outbreaks of crypto are most common in the summer, the report says, and anyone with diarrhea should not swim or enter public pools or playgrounds.

Children sick with diarrhea should stay at home and away from child-care facilities.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier

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Commentary

COMMENTARY: Meharry’s Juul grant is good news

FLORIDA COURIER — Should Meharry Medical College, a Historically Black College (HBCU) established in 1876 in Nashville, have accepted $7.5 million from Juul Labs, the controversial e-cigarette company that provides an alternative to smoking tobacco? Meharry says it will use the grant, the second-largest it has ever received, to study public health issues and African Americans, including the health effects of tobacco products. They will establish a Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health and according to its president, Dr. James Hildreth, “begin conducting fully-independent research into the health conditions and issues related to tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.”

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Photo by: mmc.edu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux

Should Meharry Medical College, a Historically Black College (HBCU) established in 1876 in Nashville, have accepted $7.5 million from Juul Labs, the controversial e-cigarette company that provides an alternative to smoking tobacco?

Meharry says it will use the grant, the second-largest it has ever received, to study public health issues and African Americans, including the health effects of tobacco products. They will establish a Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health and according to its president, Dr. James Hildreth, “begin conducting fully-independent research into the health conditions and issues related to tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.”

Should have passed?

Critics say that Meharry has made a deal with the devil since African American people smoke more and have a higher death rate from tobacco-related illnesses than other racial and ethnic groups. They think Meharry should have passed on the Juul donation because they don’t believe that the historically Black Meharry can’t take Juul’s money and continue to make a difference in Black lives.

I say nonsense! Juul will not be dictating the topics or terms of research with Meharry. Dr. Hildreth, who has been determined to increase the amount of research that Meharry students are doing, says the college approached Juul, not the other way around – and they did it with their eyes wide open.

He says he is confident that the new research center Meharry will establish will be independent of Juul. They won’t have input to the research topics that Meharry tackles, nor will they determine the course or direction of research.

A pause

Most medical colleges, including Meharry, turn down contributions from tobacco companies. As Meharry and Juul were exploring the possibility of the donation, Altria, a tobacco company, acquired 35 percent of Juul. Should that have killed the deal?

It caused Meharry to pause. But eventually, they decided to accept the money because they believe they can use it for the greater good. I agree.

President Hildreth has been a biomedical researcher for more than 36 years. In a letter to the Meharry community, he reminded them that “The bodies of Black Americans have historically been the subject of scientific experimentation with no control on our part. If it takes an unorthodox partnership to change that dynamic, then let the research begin.”

Government approval

I can’t read that part of Hildreth’s letter without thinking of the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where the federal government-funded research on the effects of untreated syphilis on Black men. Medicine to cure syphilis was withheld from the men in the experiment. The federal government did this!

The commercial use of Black bodies included the harvesting (and reproduction) of the cells of Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman whose DNA is still being used today for medical research. And, when we think of experiments on Black bodies, one must think of the odious J. Marion Sims, who was called the “father of modern gynecology.” He earned his fame by conducting painful experiments on enslaved women. Thank goodness New York City removed his statue from Central Park!

Meharry doesn’t aim to hurt the six million African Americans who are smokers or to profit from them. They aim to have a seat at the research table, a place from which Black researchers, and Black research institutions, have often been excluded.

Juul’s contribution allows Meharry to pull up a chair to the research table and participate in the scientific inquiry about the health effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products – critical investigation given the fact that African Americans are more likely to die from tobacco-related illnesses than others.

Some questions

Dr. Hildreth’s letter to the Meharry community outlines several research questions. What is the long-term impact of e-cigarettes? Does vaping cause developmental health issues? Are vaping devices effective as smoking reduction or cessation devices?

Will laws prohibiting tobacco sales for those under 21 improve health outcomes? San Francisco recently passed legislation outlawing the sale of vaping devices. How effective are such laws? These are questions worth answering through research.

From where I sit, Meharry should have negotiated for a much more substantial contribution from Juul, and perhaps they will. After all, according to Dr. Hildreth, the tobacco industry “has taken our money and delivered sickness and death in return.

“We at Meharry intend to advance the fight for better health and longer life by turning that insidious relationship on its head.”

The right thing

Bravo, Dr. Hildreth. If Meharry’s research can help us learn more about addiction, and if the research can be used for tobacco use prevention, then Meharry is doing the right thing. I don’t see others lining up to fund Meharry’s research, and fundraising for HBCUs is extremely challenging.

I look forward to the work that the Center for the Study of Social Determinants of Health will produce.


Julianne Malveaux is a Washington, D.C.-based economist and writer. Her latest book, “Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy,” is available at www.juliannemalveaux.com. Click on this commentary at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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Community

Israel running again for Broward sheriff’s job

FLORIDA COURIER — Ousted Broward Sheriff Scott Israel took another step on his comeback campaign Monday when he filed the paperwork to launch a reelection bid.  Israel, first elected in 2012 and again in 2016, lost his job as Broward’s top cop in January when newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from office and blamed him for the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s botched response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

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By David Smiley

MIAMI — Ousted Broward Sheriff Scott Israel took another step on his comeback campaign Monday when he filed the paperwork to launch a reelection bid.

Israel, first elected in 2012 and again in 2016, lost his job as Broward’s top cop in January when newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended him from office and blamed him for the Broward Sheriff’s Office’s botched response to the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Israel, 63, is challenging his removal.

Filed paperwork

But regardless of whether he’s reinstated by the Florida Senate — which under Florida law has the power to overturn a governor’s suspension — Israel would need to be elected in 2020 in order to run the agency going forward.

He began that process Monday when he walked into the Broward Supervisor of Election’s office and submitted paperwork to open a campaign account.

Israel did not respond immediately to a text message seeking comment.

Accreditation revoked

Last week, a state panel voted unanimously to revoke BSO’s accreditation, citing the agency’s mishandling of the response to shootings in Parkland and the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport as the grounds for its decision.

Israel will presumably run against Gregory Tony, the former Coral Springs sergeant DeSantis appointed to run BSO upon Israel’s suspension.

Tony, who owns a firm specializing in mass casualty incidents, has not yet filed paperwork but has said he will run to keep his job in 2020.

Israel, a Democrat, joins a crowded field. H. Wayne Clark, Willie Jones, Al Pollock, David Rosenthal, Andrew Maurice Smalling, and Santiago C. Vazquez Jr. have already opened campaigns, though none of the candidates has raised much money to date.

This article originally appeared in the Florida Courier.

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