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Michael Van Sickler, Tampa Bay Times

Michael Van Sickler

Michael has been with the Tampa Bay Times since 2003. A Cleveland, Ohio, native, he graduated from Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa., and got his master's degree at the University of Florida. He has worked at the Ledger and the Palm Beach Post. For the Times, he has covered everything from mortgage fraud, growth and development in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg City Hall and state government in Tallahassee. After a stint as assistant metro editor for the paper, he is now the government and politics editor.

Phone: (727) 580-9650.


Twitter: @MikeVanSickler

  1. Frank Brogan to retire as Pennsylvania's chancellor


    Nearly four years after he left his job as chancellor of Florida's state university system, Frank Brogan shocked Pennsylvania's state university system by announcing this week he'll retire Sept. 1. 

    According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Brogan informed the board of governors about his decision just before a report was to be released about a restructuring of the 105,000-student, 14-university system that Brogan manages. ...

    Frank Brogan is leaving his Pennsylvania job
  2. South Florida protesters keep up healthcare pressure on Rubio


    From the Miami Herald's Sydney Pereira:

    The Republican replacement bill for Obamacare seems dead, at least for now. Even so, protesters showed up Tuesday outside the Doral office of Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been firmly in the party’s repeal-and-replace camp.

    Despite the apparent victory for the Affordable Care Act supporters, many in the group of about 40 people said they remain concerned about the uncertainty of the ACA’s future — particularly the protections for people with preexisting conditions....

    Protesters outside Rubio's Doral office.
  3. NYT: Trump's voting commission like no other


    The New York Times' Michael Wines has an interesting story today about the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

    He points out that of the other federal commissions on elections that have been convened since 2000, none of them have debuted under the legal cloud that this one has. Not only does it face a legal challenge in Florida from the ACLU and other groups, but Donald Trump's commission faces at least six other lawsuits, along with two more complaints against two of the commission's 12 members. ...

    This is not getting off to a good start
  4. Miami-Dade mayor says new rail lines are too costly


    From the Miami Herald's Douglas Hanks:

    Miami-Dade can’t afford to build more rail lines and should invest millions in transit dollars creating modernized express bus systems running north and south, Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Monday.

    “I look at this as part of my job: Be realistic, bring us down to earth,” Gimenez told members of a county transportation board. “I know there’s going to be push back. I know there’s going to be a lot of people who have different ideas about what we should do. But we’ve been looking at this for some time. And these numbers are real.”...

    Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez
  5. We're all Keynesians now: Curry unveils 'stimulus' for Jacksonville


    Jacksonville's proposed $1.2 billion "stimulus-style" budget is a "windfall the city hasn't seen since the economy soured late in the last decade, and that city leaders could have only dreamed of during the nadir of City Hall's financial struggles," according to the Florida Times-Union.

    The budget, among other things, includes 100 more cops, employee raises, 42 additional Jacksonville Fire and Rescue employees, $8 million for dormitories and a community field at Edward Waters College, $12 million for a backup communications center, and $1 million to retrofit five community pools....

    Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry
  6. Scott: Florida has no Zika outbreak areas, yet


    We're nearly a third of the way through summer, and so far at least, no Zika outbreaks.

    Last year, four people contracted the virus in late July when they were bit by mosquitoes in Miami, the first cases of it being locally transmitted in the U.S.

    Florida ended up with 1,093 cases of Zika picked up by those traveling abroad, with another 279 infected in Florida. ...

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott gives opening remarks at the Florida Department of Health's Zika Preparedness Planning Meeting in Miami on Monday. The Department of Health hosted the meeting with county health departments and mosquito control districts from across the state, as well as CDC officials, to discuss ongoing efforts to prepare for and combat the Zika virus.
  7. Caldwell, Grimsley raise more than $100,000 in June for AG commissioner race


    From the News Service of Florida:

    Preparing for a Republican primary in the race for agriculture commissioner, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, raised nearly $162,000 in June for his campaign and political committee, while Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, raised about $102,000, according to newly filed finance reports.

    Caldwell collected $123,049 for his campaign account and $38,500 for the committee “Friends of Matt Caldwell.” He had about $214,000 in cash on hand in his campaign account as of June 30 and about $617,000 available in the committee. Grimsley, meanwhile, raised $81,829 for her campaign account in June and $20,000 for her “Saving Florida's Heartland” political committee, according to the reports posted this week on the state Division of Elections website. Grimsley had $309,000 in cash on hand in her campaign account and nearly $420,000 available in the committee....

    Sen. Denise Grimsley
  8. Florida's citrus harvest dries up


    From the News Service of Florida's Jim Turner:

    The final forecast of the 2016-2017 season for Florida's struggling citrus industry shows the orange crop falling 16 percent from the previous season --- which, itself, had been at a five-decades low.

    And after a season of severe drought, combined with the continued fight against a deadly citrus disease and the expansion of residential development, the news wasn't any better for grapefruit farming, where production dropped 28 percent from the prior year....

    Florida's citrus industry has seen better days
  9. Watch Aramis Ayala ask two cops why they stopped her (w/video)


    Aramis Ayala, Florida's first African-American elected state attorney, has been no stranger to racially charged insults, especially after she declared in March that she's not pursuing the death penalty for violent felony cases. For instance, in April, she received a noose in the mail....

    Footage posted online by the Orlando Police Department shows Ayala in her car.
  10. Scott vows to crack down on Venezuelan government


    From the Miami Herald's Alexandria Bordas:

    Gov. Rick Scott, appearing in Doral on Monday at a rally against the government of Venezuela, said he plans to move ahead with a proposal that would ban any organization that does business with the Nicolás Maduro regime from doing business with the state of Florida.

    The governor did not explain how such a ban would work or what companies it would affect. His press office said they could not release specifics about the proposal....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott has his photo taken with Pastor Gabriel Aemosthene after Scott talked to members of the Venezuelan community at El Arepazo restaurant in Doral, July 10, 2017.
  11. ACLU files lawsuit against Trump voting commission


    From our friends at the Associated Press:

    The American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights leaders have filed a lawsuit in Miami federal court challenging President Trump's commission on election fraud

    The lawsuit filed Monday is the latest legal challenge to the commission over its request that all 50 states submit information about voters. The Florida lawsuit asks a judge to halt the commission's work until it complies with federal laws and to stop transmission of voter data. ...

    Trump and Kobach
  12. Florida's richest lawmaker is from Citrus County


    From the News Service of Florida's Jim Turner:

    Florida likely has a new richest lawmaker as the part-time Legislature prepares to return in September for committee meetings in advance of the 2018 session.

    With a 22.3 percent jump in his net worth to $32.8 million, Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto dermatologist, has surpassed Sen. George Gainer in wealth, according to newly filed reports with the state Commission on Ethics....

    Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto dermatologist, saw his net worth jump by 22.3 percent in 2016
  13. Moody touts growing war chest in bid for attorney general


    It might be her first statewide campaign, but former Circuit Court Judge Ashley Moody is raising big bucks in her bid for Florida Attorney General.

    The 42-year-old Plant City native has already received the endorsement of the current Attorney General Pam Bondi, but today is the day Moody was to show everyone just how much she raised in her first month on the campaign trail....

    Ashley Moody
  14. Unflattering 2012 arrest report of Alex Diaz de la Portilla surfaces in Senate race


    From the Miami Herald's David Smiley:

    A former Miami lawmaker hoping to return to the state Senate this summer was arrested in Boston nearly five years ago after police say he and a guest ignored orders by hotel security to stop smoking cigarettes in their room and then became “belligerent” when told to pack their bags and leave.

    Alex Diaz de la Portilla was charged with trespassing and taken into police custody, according to an incident report and booking form obtained by the Miami Herald. Police also arrested Tania G. Cruz, the daughter-in-law of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, on the same charge....

    Alex Diaz de la Portilla
  15. Mike Pence comes to Florida, defies NASA sign


    Vice President Mike Pence was in Florida on Thursday visiting NASA's Kennedy Space Center, which celebrated its 55th birthday on Saturday.

    After a tour of the space center, Pence spoke about his "passion for the space program" and talked about its future.

    Of course, after he left, all that most people wanted to discuss was a photo of him touching some apparently sensitive equipment, despite a sign warning him not to....

    Mike Pence is his own man