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Top Florida state senator resigns in wake of affair

A Florida state senator, in line to become the Democratic leader in the Florida Senate next year, abruptly resigned Friday.

>> Read more trending news

State Sen. Jeff Clemens of Atlantis, made the announcement after Politico reported he had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

“I have made mistakes I (am) ashamed of, and for the past six months I have been focused on becoming a better person. But it is clear to me that task is impossible to finish while in elected office. The process won’t allow it, and the people of Florida deserve better. All women deserve respect, and by my actions, I feel I have failed that standard. I have to do better,” Clemens said in a statement.

He emailed a shorter statement to Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, saying “Please consider this email as my resignation from the Florida Senate.”

Clemens said his resignation was effective immediately. Under state law, Gov. Rick Scott must set the date for a special election to fill Clemens’ seat.

“It is clear to me Senator Clemens made a decision he feels is best for both his family and his constituents,” Negron said.

In his public statement, Clemens said, “Though they have been aware for some time now, I apologize again to my wife, my family and anyone and everyone that I have treated poorly in the past for putting you through this in such a public way. I will continue the therapy I began months ago, will seek to personally apologize to anyone I have wronged while seeking forgiveness, and will spend my time being a better husband and father.”

The resignation came less than 24 hours after Clemens sent an email apologizing to Senate Democrats on Thursday night as Politico was preparing to report that Clemens had an affair with lobbyist Devon West. West worked for the Martin County government and now works for Broward County’s lobbying office. Efforts to reach her on Friday were unsuccessful.

“I take full responsibility for my behavior, and I apologize for bringing any embarrassment to the Caucus,” Clemens said in the Thursday night email to his colleagues. “I have spent much of the past six months going to therapy, strengthening my relationship with my wife and my kids, and trying to be a better human being. I still have quite a ways to go. But I am unwavering in my resolve to get there.”

Rep. Betty Price says comments about quarantining HIV patients 'taken out of context'

A Georgia lawmaker now says she does not support quarantining HIV patients after she seemed to ask if it was legal to do so during a House study committee meeting last week.

>> Read more trending news

“I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge and dilemma of undertreated HIV patients,” Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R-Roswell) wrote in a statement.

Price, the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary and Georgia Congressman Tom Price, was at a meeting of a House study committee last week when she asked a state health official about HIV patients.“What are we legally able to do?” Price asked during the meeting. “I don’t want to say the quarantine word, but I guess I just said it. Is there an ability since, I would guess that public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxes and treatment of this condition. So we have a public interest in curtailing the spread. What would you advise? Or are there any methods, you know, that we could do that would curtail the spread?”

>> Previous story: Georgia Rep. Betty Price suggests ‘quarantine’ for HIV patients

Price said in the statement that her comments were “provocative and rhetorical” and “part of a free-flowing conversation which has been taken completely out of context.”

“I do not support a quarantine in this public health challenge,” she said.

Metro Atlanta’s LGBTQ community was quick to condemn the original statements.“The comments from Rep. Price were incredibly disturbing,” said Jeff Graham, executive director of LGBT organization Georgia Equality. “In this day and age, to be even mentioning quarantine around people living with HIV, there just really is no excuse for it. I was heartened to see that she made some recognition of this with the statement that she made over the weekend. I think that is a good start, but clearly, we need to go further than that.”

4 Michigan city council members take knee during Pledge of Allegiance

Four members of the 11-member city council in Ann Arbor, Michigan, took a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance before Monday night’s meeting, MLive reported.

>> Read more trending news

Sumi Kailasapathy, a third-term council member, took a page out of NFL players’ playbooks and decided to make a statement protesting social injustice.

Kailasapathy asked several City Council members to join her in the protest and Chip Smith, Jason Frenzel and Chuck Warpehoski agreed. MLive reported."People tell me to go back to my country and I don't know how to tell them that this is my country, this is my home, and I work very hard to take care of and support my community. If I leave, where am I going to go? " Kailasapathy told CNN.

In a blog post, Warpehoski wrote, "I can't speak to what is in each person's heart, but for me to 'take a knee' is an act of attention, of concern, and of respect," MLive reported. He also said he didn't mean to offend anyone by his actions, let alone dishonor those who have sacrificed for this country.Kailasapathy said she believes kneeling is not disrespectful."If you are someone who works hard to make your community and country a better place, you have the right to be treated with respect," she said.Kailasapathy said she does not plan on kneeling again at a meeting anytime soon, saying she just wanted to get her point across.

Since being elected to the City Council in 2012, normally stands silent during the Pledge of Allegiance , often with her head down, MLive reported. She does not recite the Pledge of Allegiance and said in March that she had no plans to do so in the future, stressing that no disrespect was intended.

Relatively shocking: Bernie Sanders, Larry David are distant cousins

For Bernie Sanders and Larry David, it’s all relative.

Sanders, the U.S. senator from Vermont, and David, the man who lampooned him on “Saturday Night Live” during the 2016 election campaign, found out they were distant cousins.

>> Read more trending news

The PBS show “Finding Your Roots” released a clip of its Season 4 premiere on Tuesday, capturing the moment when both Sanders and David discovered they were related, Mediaite reported.

“What the hell?!” yelled David, the co-creator of “Seinfeld” and the creator-star of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” 

“You’re kidding!” an equally surprised Sanders said. “This true?”

It was. On the show, which premieres Friday on PBS, series host Henry Louis Gates Jr. told both men that their DNA tests revealed they both had more than 97 percent Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, Variety reported.

Gates and his researchers were able to determine that the family of David’s mother came from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, with his grandparents having been born in the city of Tarnopol, Poland. In addition to information about David’s grandparents, Gates and his team also uncovered that David’s mother was also born in Poland, Variety reported.

Sanders learned that his family also had roots in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in a region known as Galicia, Variety reported. After World War I, Sanders’ relatives lived in what became part of what is now Poland. Most of the relatives of Sanders’ father remained in Europe and were killed by the Nazis during World War II, Variety reported. Sanders’ uncle was put to death for refusing to hand over a group of Jewish resistors.

Although it was supposed to be kept secret until the season premiere, David leaked the news that he was distantly related to Sanders over the summer, Mediaite reported. 

Reports: Florida GOP leader once beat female classmate with claw hammer until it broke

Florida GOP officials find themselves in an unusual position after they learned that a newly elected member of the Broward County executive board was once charged with attempted murder in connection with the brutal claw hammer attack of a female classmate at his California prep school.

Rupert Tarsey, 28, was elected secretary of the Broward County GOP chapter four months ago, according to the Miami Herald. His new position came into question after a fellow member made the discovery earlier this month. 

That member informed Broward County GOP chairman Bob Sutton about Tarsey’s past over the Labor Day weekend.

“We were blindsided,” Sutton told the Herald. “He’s a member of the Knights of Columbus, for Christ’s sake. And he came highly recommended by the former chair. We had no idea what his background is.

“We want him out, but he is refusing to resign. He deceived us. It looks like he even used a reputation management firm to make sure we wouldn’t find out who he is.”

Tarsey, who volunteered on President Donald Trump’s campaign, admitted that he has no intention of resigning his post. 

“Why should I resign?” Tarsey asked. “I did nothing wrong, and I was elected. This is just party politics.”

Sutton suspended Tarsey from party functions last week. 

Tarsey’s real name is Rupert Ditsworth, the Herald reported. He changed his name to Tarsey, his mother’s maiden name, when he moved to Fort Lauderdale two years after the 2007 incident, the newspaper said. 

Los Angeles Times story reported that Tarsey, then 17, was accused of attacking Elizabeth Barcay, an 18-year-old classmate at Harvard-Westlake School in L.A., on May 14, 2007, with a claw hammer, hitting her at least 40 times and splitting open her head. Barcay’s mother, Barbara Hayden, told the Times that her daughter also suffered a shattered leg and a broken nose in the attack. 

Tarsey’s parents admitted him to a psychiatric hospital immediately after the assault, the Times reported. He was initially charged as a juvenile with both attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.

The juvenile case was dropped, and he was rearrested in June 2007, the day after his 18th birthday, so he could be tried as an adult.

Prosecutors at the time told the Chronicle, the online newspaper of Harvard-Westlake School, that Tarsey was tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the victim. If convicted of the charges, he faced a possible life sentence.

The Times reported that the attack started after Tarsey invited Barcay to ride with him to a juice bar after a big Advanced Placement exam at school. After drinking smoothies and returning to his Jaguar, he grabbed a backpack from the rear seat and placed it between his legs, according to Barcay.

Barcay told police that instead of returning to school, Tarsey parked in a residential neighborhood in Studio City, not far from campus. Appearing anxious, she said he told her he was contemplating suicide.

When she urged him to return to school to seek help from a counselor, she said he told her, “It isn’t going to happen that way,” the Times reported.

Telling her he wasn’t going to kill himself alone, he pulled a claw hammer from his backpack and attacked her, the newspaper said. 

A witness walking nearby saw the struggle inside the Jaguar and called 911, the newspaper said. 

Tarsey got out of the car, pulled open the passenger-side door and pulled Barcay out by her hair, the Times said. He continued hitting her with the hammer until the tool broke.

He then choked her until she bit his finger, the Times reported. That’s when Tarsey got back behind the wheel and drove off. 

>> Read more trending news

Tarsey ultimately claimed self-defense in the case.

“In the end, I pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor,” Tarsey told the Herald. “It’s not the charges that matter, it’s what happens in court.”

He argued that he did not change his name to hide who he was, but did so after his parents divorced. He said he is estranged from his father. 

After moving to Florida, Tarsey went to college and earned an MBA from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale. He is now married with two children and a third on the way.

Barcay, who went to prom and graduation in a wheelchair following the attack, went on to study at Williams College. Her alumni information shows that she went on to earn a master’s degree in education from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. 

She is now an elementary school teacher in the Boston area. 

Springboro council OKs $380 million Austin South deal

The Springboro City Council gave the green light Thursday on development of the $380 million Austin South Springboro.

The council voted after developer Larry Dillin unveiled the project publicly for the first time.

With two members absent, the council approved a resolution 5-0 authorizing City Manager Christine Thompson to sign the development agreement with Dillin’s companies.

Those companies are VisCap - the company under which Dillin is developing and leasing on both sides of Austin Boulevard since taking over for developer Randy Gunlock and RG Properties - and Springboro Landing Associates - the company owning the 63.7 acres in Springboro city limits and 3.5 acres in Miami Twp.

“This is a wonderful thing for Springboro,” Mayor John Agenbroad said.

RELATED: Springboro ready to approve Austin South development

Now the city and Dillin’s companies begin a contingency period of 90 to 180 days expected to lead to arrangement of financing for the project. Annexation of the Miami Twp. land into Springboro is among the contingencies.

By late spring 2018, the project could be breaking ground.

It comes as Dillin concludes work at Austin Landing, a mixed-used development at Austin Boulevard across from the new project site along Interstate 75.

RELATED: Austin South could spur $350 million in development

Springboro is to finance more than $32 million to pay for roads and other infrastructure.

Dillin, his investors and the companies moving to the development are expected to put in as much as $350 million, according to the development agreement released this week.

Upscale senior and multi-family housing, a hotel and retail are among the uses anticipated in the first phase of the 67-acre development on the southeast corner of Interstate 75 and Austin Boulevard, in Springboro and Miami Twp.

RELATED: Council traveled 2.5 hours for meeting at Levis Commons

Dillin and the city reached agreement after setting aside terms of a settlement reached by the city and the prior developer, R.G. Properties, in a lawsuit about plans to build a WalMart there.

RELATED: Springboro ready to negotiate on property across from Austin Landing

The development agreement sets a schedule of payments to Miamisburg City Schools, starting in 2021. Payments of more than $3 million would be in lieu of taxes on the improvements that are to be diverted through tax incremental financing to help pay for the development.

The development is to be accessed off Austin Boulevard by an entrance across from one leading into Austin Landing and allowing no left turns for westbound motorists. A full entrance would be built off 741, Main Street in Springboro.

Dillin is also expected to be involved in redevelopment of Springboro’s central crossroads, Main Street and Central Avenue, Ohio 73 in Springboro.

RELATED: Architect hired to redesign former Springboro IGA shopping center site 

Trump EPA head praises Great Lakes program administration plans to eliminate

Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt may not be on board with White House plans to cut programs that directly affect the Great Lakes.

Pruitt defended the program before the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, in a report from the Detroit Free Press. Pruitt said cuts to the restoration program may cripple efforts to halt the invasive Asian carp, algae blooms that have become more problematic as agriculture has grown in the state, and efforts to protect drinking water.

STAY UPDATED: DDN’s Ohio Politics Blog

The Trump administration has proposed a 30 percent cut to the agencies budget along with eliminating 3,800 jobs. The budget isn’t expected to pass. 

Congressman Mary Kaptur and David Joyce of Ohio questioned Pruitt on whether there would be room for the program with the cut the administration planned. Both parties have been critical of the budget, which in early planning would cut funding to any geographically centered projects. That would affect funding for the  Great Lakes as well as other areas in Ohio.

Pruitt said he looked forward to working with Congress to make sure the funding remains in the budget for the Great Lakes. Kaptur invited Pruitt for a tour of the lakes. 

Glenn Jacobs, WWE star 'Kane,' officially announces his bid for mayor

When Glenn Jacobs' treasurer filed the necessary paperwork for a potential political campaign last month, it became national news that the World Wrestling Entertainment star known as “Kane” might run for mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.

>> Read more trending news

On Tuesday, Jacobs made it official. Speaking to a crowd at Sweet P’s Barbecue and Soul House, the pro wrestler announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for mayor.

>> RELATED: Libertarian Republican Eric Brakey, “Maine’s 28-year-old political wunderkind” announces U.S. Senate run

“As Knox County mayor I promise to keep taxes low and make Knox County a place everyone can be proud of,” Jacobs promised. “I see my role as that of a facilitator among the different communities in our area. And also I think that Mayor (Tim) Burchett has done a very good job with transparency in government and I would continue along those lines.”

The 2018 election for Knox County mayor will be for an open seat to replace Burchett.

Jacobs focused on the themes of jobs, education and smaller government, repeating a version of Ronald Reagan’s conservative mantra that “government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Glenn Jacobs announcing his bid for mayor

The WWE star told Rare on Tuesday that his belief in free markets and individual liberty were part of what interested him in becoming involved in politics, and he saw his Republican brand as being similar to that of libertarians like Sen. Rand Paul, Reps. Justin Amash and Thomas Massie, and also his own congressman, Rep. Jimmy Duncan.

Jacobs has lived in Knox County for over two decades, roughly the same amount of time his “Kane” character has endured as one of the top stars in the pro wrestling industry.

“For the past 22 years I’ve had the pleasure of living here in East Tennessee,” Jacobs said Tuesday. “Because my career with the WWE has taken me all around the world on a weekly basis, me family and I could live pretty much anywhere in the U.S.”

“We live here because we want to,” Jacobs said to applause. “We live here because we love it here.”

Jacobs and his wife Crystal own an insurance agency in the Knoxville area.

>> RELATED: WWE superstar puts libertarian charity first in dancing appearance back home

At least two other challengers for mayor are expected to run, including County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who has already announced, and Knox County Sheriff Jimmy Jones.

Though Jacobs wrestled under other monikers prior for a number of years, his “Kane” character was introduced to WWE fans in 1997.

Disclosure: Glenn Jacobs is a Rare contributor.

College student becomes youngest elected to Florida House of Representatives

Amber Mariano cut her four classes on Tuesday, but the third-year political science major at the University of Central Florida more than likely won’t be penalized by her professors. In fact, she might get extra credit.

>> Read more trending stories

Not only was she studying the political process, she was winning at it.

Mariano, a Republican candidate who turned 21 on Oct. 18, became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House of Representatives, winning District 36 by 719 votes over incumbent Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy. Before Mariano, the youngest person elected to the Florida House was Adam Putnam, who was 22 when he won in 1996 and is now Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture.

“It was honestly the best night of my life,” Mariano told WFTS.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that the margin was 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent out of 66,939 ballots cast in Pasco County, located north of the Tampa Bay area — according to final but unofficial results.

Mariano the youngest of any gender since 1996, when Adam Putnam, then 22, won his first statehouse race.

According to her website, Mariano gained experience on the issues of education and health care during her time working for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in Washington, D.C. During the 2016 Florida legislative session, she worked for state representatives Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and Scott Plakon. She received endorsements from Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Mariano, who plans to attend law school after graduation, is no stranger to politics. Her father, Jack Mariano, won re-election to a fourth term as a Pasco County commissioner.

“We didn’t expect this opportunity to present itself so quickly in her life,” Jack Mariano told WFTS. “But I will tell you at 6 years old she said she wanted to be the first woman president.

“So it’s been in her blood from way back when.”

“He says I’m leapfrogging him. He just wanted me to follow my dream,” Amber Mariano told WFTS.  “And this is my dream.” 

Wright State withdraws from holding first presidential debate

Wright State president David Hopkins announced Tuesday the university has withdrawn from hosting the first presidential debate in September.

He said Tuesday that Wright State is withdrawing as host of first presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 26, citing escalating costs for security and the inability to raise enough money.

Hopkins said in an exclusive interview that he was motivated in part by security concerns raised by the recent attack in Nice, France.

“I can’t assure the safety of our students and the community,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins informed the Commission on Presidential Debates at noon Tuesday, and hopes to recoup at least some of the $2 million fee that was paid to the commission in advance. Approximately $500,000 had been spent already on Nutter Center upgrades.

The university has raised about $3.5 million in contributions, state funding and in-kind pledges.

Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, was listed as the debate’s backup site.

The Commission on Presidential Debates posted this announcement on its website:

“In light of Wright State University’s announcement of earlier today, the September 26, 2016 Presidential Debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The Commission very much appreciates Wright State’s efforts. Hofstra University served very successfully as a presidential debate site in 2012. On September 23, 2015, the Commission announced that Hofstra University had agreed to serve as an alternate site this debate cycle if needed. The Commission looks forward to working with Hofstra once again.”

The president of Wright State’s faculty union, Martin Kich, said canceling the debate was probably for the best.

“I think It’s unfortunate we’ve gotten two months away from it and we have to pull the plug on it. I don’t think that makes anyone look good," Kich said. "But if the alternative is we would be left with a sizeable financial liability because of this, then I think it’s the smart thing to do,” he said.

Kich said he felt the university was low-balling what the debate was actually going to cost.

“Under ideal circumstances, I think it would be a nice thing for the university to host this kind of an event, but given the financial issues the university is grappling with, from the start this seemed like a kind of dubious proposition.”

Read more here.

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