But first, some news you probably didn't miss: On Feb. 14, 17 students and teachers were killed after a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County. Follow our coverage on orlandoweekly.com, and turn the page for our columnist Jeffrey C. Billman's take on politicizing the tragedy.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina is running for Orange County Sheriff: Mina, who was sworn in as OPD's chief in 2014, is running to replace Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who's running for Orange County mayor. Filing as an independent, Mina is the third candidate to enter the race after Florida Highway Patrol Major Jose Lopez, a Democrat, and retired Orange County Sheriff Capt. Thomas Stroup, a Republican. Mina has worked in various departments at OPD since joining in 1990, including the patrol unit, criminal investigations, community policing, drug enforcement and as a commander of the SWAT team.
Civil rights groups issue warning for immigrants traveling through Florida: In the wake of recent high-profile raids and detentions, Florida civil rights groups are issuing a travel warning for immigrants passing through the state. The Sunshine State saw a 76 percent increase last year in arrests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, the highest percentage jump in the country, according to the Pew Research Center. Earlier this year, two viral videos showed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detaining people on Greyhound buses and removing them in handcuffs. "In light of these facts, all immigrants are urged to reconsider visiting Florida and especially recommended to avoid high risk areas, including ports, airports and Greyhound stations," the organizations said in a statement. "While a boycott is not being recommended at this time, travelers to Florida are being asked to use discretion, understand their risks and seek legal advice."
Robert Mueller charges Russians for holding pro-Trump rallies in Florida: Special Council Robert Mueller indicted 13 Russian nationals and three organizations last week for interference with the U.S. elections process. Specifically in Florida, the indictment alleges Russian agents tricked Trump campaign members into working with them and sent money to pro-Trump Florida groups. They helped organize political rallies and in one case, even paid for an actress to pose as Hillary Clinton in a prison uniform inside a giant cage.
Orlando commissioners will allow some short-term rentals in the city: In a 6-1 vote, the Orlando City Council voted last week to allow short-term rentals in all residential neighborhoods with certain conditions. Short-term rentals, usually booked through online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, are defined as the rental of a residential property for periods of less than 30 days. Previously, most short-term rentals were considered a violation. The new ordinance goes into effect July 1 and allows residential homeowners to rent out one space at a time for a short period, as long as the owner is on site to "host the guests."
No Central Florida chefs nominated for 2018 James Beard Awards: Local chefs and restaurateurs were surprised and disappointed to get no recognition in the Best Chef: South category. In previous years, Orlando and surrounding cities have fielded multiple semifinalists. So far there have been no winners, but a nod from the Beard Foundation is a valuable acknowledgment of the culinary destination Orlando has become.