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Mary Ellen Klas, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

Mary Ellen Klas

Mary Ellen Klas is capital bureau chief for the Miami Herald and co-bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau. She is a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and a graduate of the University of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. Before she became bureau chief for the Herald in 2004, Mary Ellen was Tallahassee bureau chief for Florida Trend magazine and also served as a senior writer for the Palm Beach Post. She was bureau chief for the Palm Beach Post from 1990-94, after which she worked part time for 10 years while her daughters were young. She is married to John Kennedy, senior writer for the Palm Beach Post's Tallahassee bureau. They have two daughters.

Phone: 850-222-3095

Email: meklas@miamiherald.com

Twitter: @MaryEllenKlas

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  1. Governor talks tough on Venezuela but his ability to follow through is limited

    Blog

    To show his solidarity with Venezuelans, Gov. Rick Scott held a rally in South Florida and repeatedly promised to punish companies that do business with the Nicolás Maduro regime.

    But Scott has offered no details as to how that will work and, although the governor and two other members of the Cabinet oversee the Florida Retirement System and its $150 billion in assets, their options are limited. Additionally, a 16-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling may bar him from telling state agencies to boycott companies that do business in Venezuela....

    Florida Gov. Rick Scott speaks to the media as he holds a Venezuelan ‘Freedom Rally’ at El Arepazo 2 restaurant on July 10, 2017 in Doral. Scott called on the Venezuelan government to free Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner from house arrest, as well as those that have been wrongly imprisoned by Nicolas Maduro's government. 
  2. Gov. Scott's tough talk on Venezuela may not turn into economic action

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — To show his solidarity with Venezuelans, Gov. Rick Scott held a rally in South Florida and repeatedly promised to punish companies that do business with the Nicolás Maduro regime.

    But Scott has offered no details as to how that will work and, although the governor and two other members of the Cabinet oversee the Florida Retirement System and its $150 billion in assets, their options are limited. Additionally, a 16-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling may bar him from telling state agencies to boycott companies that do business in Venezuela....

    Gov. Rick Scott held a rally July 10 at El Arepazo restaurant to show solidarity with Venezuelans. Scott has said he wants to punish companies that work with the Nicol?s Maduro regime.
  3. Florida prisons have toilet paper, but they're not supplying it to some inmates

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The four wings of Florida's Tomoka Correctional Institution's E cell block is home to some of the prison's most menacing inmates. They have arrived there because of administrative and disciplinary problems but, in addition to restricting them to confined, two-man cells, the prison also deprives them of society's most basic necessities.

    Toilet paper.

    In prison after prison over seven months, Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, reported that toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pillows, sheets, shirts and soap were often withheld from inmates, especially those in confinement. ...

    Rep. David Richardson, D- Miami Beach, continues to find shocking lapses in how state prisons treat inmates.
  4. In Florida, prisons withhold more than freedom. Inmates often don't get toilet paper

    Blog

    The four wings of Florida's Tomoka Correctional Institution’s E cell block is home to some of the prison’s most menacing inmates. They have arrived there because of administrative and disciplinary problems but, in addition to restricting them to confined, two-man cells, the prison also deprives them of society's most basic necessities.

    Toilet paper.

    In prison after prison over seven months, Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, reported that toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pillows, sheets, shirts and soap were often withheld from inmates, especially those in confinement....

    Inmates wear threadbare shirts, pants with holes and rips and often aren't given basics like toilet paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste, state Rep. David Richardson has found.
  5. Gov. Scott's ability to reshape SCOFLA could depend on Monday or Tuesday

    Blog

    The future of the Florida Supreme Court could all come down to Monday or Tuesday.

    Gov. Rick Scott argued Wednesday in a late-afternoon response to a challenge by a group of left-leaning voting groups, that he alone has the power to appoint the next three justice of the state's high court because their terms expire on a Monday, while his expires on a Tuesday....

    Gov. Rick Scott wants to appoint the next three justices of the high court. A challenge awaits.
  6. Bill Nelson says public pushback has Senate healthcare bill on the ropes

    Blog

    U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was approaching the dugout at Tropicana Field to throw out the first pitch at the Tampa Bay Rays game against the Red Sox on July 7, when a woman shouted his name.

    "She came down the aisle to tell me: Please don't let them take my health care away," Nelson recalled. "I hear that all the time. People come up to me on the airplane, street corners, public buildings, ballgames -- where ever I am. Some people have told me 'I would be dead without my healthcare.'''...

    Bill Nelson at his Tallahassee office on Friday.
  7. Constitution panel assigns committees, Beruff keeps rules panel close

    Blog

    Constitution Revision Commission chair Carlos Beruff on Friday released the assignments of the committees that will shape the ballot initiatives approved by the powerful board. 

    He named 10 substantive committees and two procedural committees, Rules and Administration and Style and Drafting. In keeping with his effort to have the governor's appointees have the most influential control over what makes it onto the November 2018 ballot, Beruff named the two commissioners who drafted the controversial rules adopted last month to chair those potentially powerful procedural committees....

    Constitution Revision Commission met in Miami for a public hearing April 6
  8. What does Rick Scott want from Obamacare repeal? Not the new Senate Medicaid plan

    Blog

    What exactly does Gov. Rick Scott want in return for repeal of Obamacare?

    That's an answer that's been rather difficult to discern judging by the governor's public pronouncements. On Friday, the governor's office released an op-ed that gave us a hint that the governor's not happy about the Medicaid reimbursement rates in the Senate's rewrite of the Better Care Reconciliation Act. He says, the bill is "rewarding inefficient states" like New York and punishing what he considers more efficient states like Florida....

    Gov. Rick Scott announces budget deal at Miami International Airport on Friday, June 2.
  9. Auditors find millions in 'questionable costs' at water district, but will it matter?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Officials in charge of the smallest water management district in Florida were making a big mistake: they appeared to be keeping millions of dollars acquired from land sales instead of returning it to the state's general fund — and they had no paper trail.

    The Suwannee River Water Management District, which oversees land and water resources in a 15-county rural swath of north-central Florida, failed to properly account for more than $26 million, according to a critical audit recently released by the Florida Auditor General. ...

    Noah Valenstein got the job as secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday May 23rd, on a unanimous vote by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. His previous job?  Executive director of the Suwannee River Water Management District, which was flagged by state auditors for $22.5 million in "questionable costs". The audit covered the time Valenstein led the district. He oversees the district in his new job.  [Special to the Times]
  10. Auditors find millions in 'questionable costs' at Suwannee water district

    Blog

    Officials in charge of the smallest water management district in Florida were making a big mistake: they appeared to be keeping millions of dollars acquired from land sales instead of returning it to the state’s general fund — and they had no paper trail.

    The Suwannee River Water Management District, which oversees land and water resources in a 15-county rural swath of north-central Florida, failed to properly account for more than $26 million, according to a critical audit recently released by the Florida Auditor General....

    This is a view of the Suwannee River near White Springs from 2010.
  11. Governor returns to Tom Grady, another loyalist, to fill opening on constitution commission

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott returned to his circle of loyalists again on Thursday, appointing former state Rep. Tom Grady to fill the post on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission vacated when he named another of his early supporters, Jimmy Patronis, as state Chief Financial Officer....

  12. Florida Supreme Court says 'no' to overruling governor's citrus canker veto

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Homeowners in Broward and Lee counties who lost their citrus trees to canker or the state's eradication program were told by Florida's highest court Thursday that because of the governor's veto, they'll have to go back to court to get the money they are due.

    The 6-1 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court continues the legal limbo that has trapped homeowners for the last decade as they try to get redress after the state destroyed their healthy citrus trees as part of its ailed Citrus Canker Eradication Program between 2000 and 2006....

    The Florida Supreme Court's ruled Thursday that residents who want the state to pay damages for lost citrus trees must go back to court for the money they are due.  [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  13. Court rejects appeal by homeowners to reject Scott's veto over lost citrus trees

    Blog

    Homeowners in Broward and Lee counties who lost their citrus trees to canker were told by Florida's highest court Thursday that because of the governor's veto, they'll have to go back to court to get the money.

    The 6-1 ruling by the Florida Supreme Court continues the legal limbo that has trapped homeowners for the last decade as they try to get redress after the state destroyed their healthy citrus trees as part of its ailed Citrus Canker Eradication Program between 2000 and 2006....

    Crews removing citrus trees in 1997
  14. Legislators quietly dish no-bid $3 million contract to private prison group

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones was visiting Graceville Correctional Facility, the private prison in North Florida run by The Geo Group, when she spotted a paperweight with a picture of handcuffs imprinted on it and the words "Continuum of Care."

    She was startled, and a bit angry, to learn that the company had started branding an idea developed by a member of her staff, Abe Uccello, and was using it to promote a new line of business....

    Julie Jones, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, said she wanted to avoid sharing information with The Geo Group, the state's prison contractor, after she says she was convinced the vendor had taken one of her department's ideas and branded it as its own.  [SCOTT KEELER    |  TIMES]
  15. Legislators agree prisons need more $ for rehab, so give no-bid contract to private prison group

    Blog

    Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones was visiting Graceville Correctional Facility, the private prison in North Florida run by The Geo Group, when she spotted a paperweight with a picture of handcuffs imprinted on it and the words “Continuum of Care.”

    She was startled, and a bit angry, to learn that the company had started branding an idea developed by a member of her staff, Abe Uccello, and was using it to promote a new line of business....

    Department of Management Services oversees the contracts of the state's seven private prisons