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ICYMI: Anna Eskamani’s ‘fake primary’ opponent drops out, Orange County schools are spending millions on security and more



Paul Paulson sued for running 'sham charity':
Former Orlando mayoral candidate Paul Paulson is being sued after six states and the Federal Trade Commission accused him of running his nonprofit Help the Vets Inc. as a "sham charity." The lawsuit was settled before it was filed, with Paulson agreeing to pay $1.75 million to legitimate veterans charities, which is more than double the amount he personally received from Help the Vets, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's office said. Help the Vets received $11 million from 2014 to 2016 from donors who were promised their contributions would help wounded and disabled military veterans, according to a federal lawsuit. But more than 95 percent of that money almost entirely benefited Paulson and the for-profit fundraisers he hired. Paulson, a Republican, ran against incumbent Mayor Buddy Dyer in 2015, ultimately losing by 30 points despite spending about $800,000.

Anna Eskamani's opponent drops out of the race for Florida House:
Lou Forges, an Ocoee Democrat running against Anna Eskamani in House District 47, dropped out of the race last week. Forges' resignation comes after a Leon County judge agreed to hear a lawsuit filed by Eskamani, which claimed he was unqualified to run as a candidate because his wife notarized the paperwork submitted to the state Division of Elections. Brenden Boyle, Forges' treasurer and consultant, told Orlando Weekly he didn't feel right about continuing with the campaign after their attorneys said there was just too much of a chance that he could be disqualified. Eskamani has stated the opinion that Forges was "exploited by the Republican party," whose sole purpose was to set up a "fake" primary to stop Democrats from flipping the seat.

Orange County schools will spend more than $11 million to ramp up security efforts:
Orange County Public Schools are set to spend an additional $11.6 million to boost security measures on campus in the coming year. The district said last week it would remain mum on the details for now, citing a state law. OCPS has spent $20.3 million on security measures since 2014 and is currently in the process of spending the additional funds to hire more school police officers and focus on "hardening school facilities, emergency preparations, preventative measures and mental health services."

Judge extends FEMA hotel vouchers for Puerto Rican evacuees until Aug. 6:
A federal judge has again ordered FEMA to extend its hotel voucher program for Puerto Rican evacuees, this time until midnight Aug. 6. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Timothy Hillman directed the federal agency to extend its Transitional Shelter Assistance Program until July 23 for about 1,200 Puerto Rican households displaced from the island by Hurricane María. About 600 of those families were staying in hotels across Florida. The initial extensions from the court came after LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed a lawsuit against FEMA, alleging the federal agency "arbitrarily, capriciously and unlawfully" cut off the hotel voucher program for Puerto Rican evacuees after eight months, unlike its response to victims of other natural disasters. The new deadline would allow Puerto Rican families to stay at hotels until checkout time on the morning of Aug. 7.

The Center will open Kissimmee location on Aug. 15:
The LGBT+ Center of Orlando will open its new Kissimmee location at 21 W. Monument Ave. with a grand opening ceremony on Aug. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. George Wallace, executive director of the LGBT+ Center of Orlando, told Orlando Weekly that he wanted to build a place that's welcoming and friendly, whether guests are looking for resources, health screenings or to use a computer lab. About 30 percent of people coming to the Center in Orlando for free HIV and hepatitis C screenings are from Kissimmee, which shows there's a clear demand for a Center in Osceola County.


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