Document dump reveals former UCF President Dale Whittaker was aware of misspent funds: In January, after $38 million in operating funds were used to build Trevor Colbourn Hall, former UCF President Dale Whittaker announced he would fire four high-ranking university employees. Whittaker said he had no knowledge of the spending. But a document dump last week revealed testimony by current and former UCF employees who said they didn't understand the implications of using the operating funds to cover construction costs, and many of them said they've been used to help protect Whittaker. Whittaker was appointed UCF president last year, following longtime UCF President John Hitt's retirement; Whittaker resigned last week.
Orlando Fire Chief Roderick Williams resigns following federal investigation of sexual harassment of a female employee: Orlando Fire Department Chief Roderick Williams submitted his resignation last week after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that he and two deputy chiefs discriminated against a female colleague. The EEOC's investigation found evidence that supported the woman's allegation that she had been subjected to discriminatory harassment, misconduct and differential treatment by both deputy chiefs. The report also noted that Williams subjected the employee to sexual harassment and "continuous retaliatory conduct." It remains unclear whether the two deputy chiefs will also resign.
Legislature moves closer to ending ban on smokable medical marijuana: The House and Senate moved closer to agreement on the issue of allowing patients to smoke medical marijuana, after the House Appropriations Committee eliminated a proposal last week that would have restricted medical marijuana dispensaries to selling pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes with filters only. After making the change, the committee approved the House version of the smokable-marijuana bill (HB 7015). But unlike the Senate's bill – which requires medical marijuana operators to sell at least one type of pre-rolled, filterless cigarette as well as allowing them to sell other whole-flower products – the House version would prohibit dispensaries from selling other whole-flower products. The legislative session starts March 5.
Self-driving buses roll into Orlando, a growing testbed for 'smart city' technology: Autonomous vehicle company Beep's miniature, self-driving bus will hit the streets of Lake Nona in the coming months. Executives and local officials convened for the announcement last week and said that Beep will plant its headquarters square in Lake Nona – a burgeoning neighborhood in South Orlando billed as one of the fastest-growing tech-heavy "smart cities." The company plans to deploy its first two autonomous shuttles this spring.
Florida lawmakers sponsor bill that would keep guns from domestic abusers: Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani and Sen. Lori Berman sponsored legislation last week that would keep guns from convicted domestic abusers. Federal gun laws protect women from domestic abusers by prohibiting firearm possession by individuals convicted of a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" or subject to a final domestic violence restraining order. But officials say the "Gun Safety for Women Act" will close any potential gaps in the system by requiring a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence offense to surrender all firearms and ammunition to law enforcement.