Home FloridaPolitics.com "Takeaways" Takeaways from Tallahassee — Midtown’s still popping

Takeaways from Tallahassee — Midtown’s still popping

Nikki Fried is calling for cannabis equity. Image via Colin Hackley.

Book report

Despite reports that Amazon, Costco and big book retail chains have destroyed the independent bookstore, many are doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. And none quite so well as Midtown Reader, Tallahassee’s own indie bookstore owned by former politico/chicken farmer Sally Bradshaw.

Sally Bradshaw credits much of Midtown Readers’ success to booklovers in the community.

The shop is planning a day full of activities to celebrate Independent Bookstore Day and highlight all the things that make shopping at a local bookstore better than a box on the front porch.

For starters, booksellers at the shop read and promote local Tallahassee and Florida-based authors and books. With a five-year history of knowing what locals like to read, the shop has curated a collection of 12,000 books and oodles of greeting cards (many on the sassy side) and giftables.

Faith Based Events

Midtown Reader also hosts popular book signings. Never Trumper Rick Wilson and Craig Pittman, an environmental writer and expert on “Florida Man,” filled the house when they appeared. But some are so big they have to be held off-site. Canadian crime writer Louise Penny attracted 800 fans, while 300 showed up to meet the prolific producer of thrillers, James Patterson.

“If it is a New York Times bestselling author who is widely known, we can pack them in,” Bradshaw said.

Midtown Reader kicks off its celebrations with an early bird “Bookstagrammer Breakfast,” with free coffee and eats for social media mavens who have Instagram and TikTok accounts dedicated to their love of books. Everyone is invited to share the book-fandom by snapping a pic at the selfie station.

The first 100 customers through Midtown Reader’s doors will get a cookie from Tasty Pastry Bakery, another locally owned icon that has been in business for nearly 60 years. At 11 a.m., the Kidtown Story Hour will feature a reading of the Florida Book Award-winning “Isabel and Her Colores Go to School.” Written in English and Spanish, it will be read in both languages.

Make a purchase and you get a discount card at the in-store Argonaut Coffee shop or the just-around-the-corner brunch/lunch restaurant Jeri’s Midtown Café. Take advantage of the 35% off sidewalk sale or bring a book and take one too from the bookstore’s new Little Free Library.

There are three other indie bookstores in the capital city (My Favorite BooksFat Cat Books and Cosmic Cat Comics) and all are invited to participate in Saturday’s Tallahassee Bookstore Crawl. Grab a passport at the first one you visit and get a stamp from all four stores to be eligible for raffle prizes.

Bradshaw gives much credit to the book lovers in the local community.

“It’s such a joy for us to share our love of reading with Tallahassee,” she said. “Reading, thinking and sharing have always been valued by Tallahassee readers, and our community’s deep appreciation for the power of stories means we are here to stay!”

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Coming up, the usual assortment of news, intel, and observations from the week that was in Florida’s capital city by Peter SchorschDrew WilsonRenzo DowneyJason DelgadoChristine Jordan Sexton, Tristan Wood and the staff of Florida Politics.

The “Takeaway 5” — the Top 5 stories from the week that was:

Take 5

Gov. DeSantis signs bill for election police — Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed SB 524, which contains numerous changes to state election laws, including setting up a police force dedicated to voter fraud and increasing the penalty for ballot harvesting to a third-degree felony. The new law sets up the Office of Election Crimes and Security within the Department of State to investigate reports of election irregularities. Assuming DeSantis OKs an accompanying budget line item, the office will get 15 positions and $1.1 million this fiscal year. During Session, Democrats argued the bill was meant to suppress their voters, particularly African American voters.

DeSantis shuts the lights on FPL — DeSantis killed a bill Wednesday that would’ve ended net metering in Florida. The Republican Governor cited inflation as he issued his second veto of 2022. “Given that the United States is experiencing its worst inflation in 40 years and that consumers have seen steep increases in the price of gas and groceries, as well as escalating bills, the state of Florida should not contribute to the financial crunch that our citizens are experiencing,” DeSantis wrote. The veto is a loss for Florida Power & Light, which reportedly penned the legislation.

DeSantis calls for property insurance Special Session — DeSantis officially called the Legislature back for a Special Session to stabilize Florida’s rickety property insurance market. Between May 23 and May 27, lawmakers will discuss property insurance, reinsurance, changes to the Florida building code, the Office of Insurance Regulation, civil remedies and appropriations. DeSantis’ proclamation notes the industry has experienced two straight years of at least $1 billion in underwriting losses, and several companies have gone bankrupt or refused to renew hundreds of thousands of policies. That has led to massive increases in rates, which have hit homeowners at the same time as rampant inflation in pinching pocketbooks.

Manny Díaz named Education Commissioner — Sen. Díaz is now Florida’s Education “Commissioner-come-June-1,” inheriting changes to testing, a teacher shortage and the national spotlight. The State Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint the Hialeah Republican to lead the Department of Education a month after current Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran steps down Sunday, with Public Schools Chancellor Jacob Oliva leading in the interim. Díaz said his top two priorities will be adopting progress monitoring and addressing the teacher shortage, but he will also take over the battles over critical race theory, textbooks and parental rights in education. Despite the cultural flashpoint, Board Chair Tom Grady said the Board received no complaints about Díaz.

DeSantis promises Constitutional Carry measure — DeSantis vowed Friday to eventually sign Constitutional Carry legislation, which would remove the need for Floridian to acquire concealed weapons permits. The Gunshine State would join a growing list of roughly two dozen other states, including Texas and Alabama, if he makes good on the promise. DeSantis’ remarks on the issue rank among his strongest endorsements yet after months of teasers, including a video snippet on the issue. “I can tell you that before I am done as Governor, we will have a signature on that bill,” DeSantis said Friday.

Above and beyond

Ashley Moody has been an advocate for crime victims. Image via Colin Hackley.

Attorney General Ashley Moody honored victim advocates and law enforcement officers during the 2021 Distinguished Victim Services Awards ceremony this week.

The annual event recognizes those who go above and beyond to assist crime victims. It coincides with National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, which was established in 1981 as a way to help citizens and advocates reflect on commitments to serving victims of all crime.

“Victim advocates and law enforcement officers provide life-changing support and services to those in need. They help victims through their darkest hours and sacrifice so much time and energy to help people heal and recover. I am honored to present a few of these great public servants with our Distinguished Victim Services Award for their outstanding work over the past year,” Moody said.

Victim advocates selected for the Attorney General’s Distinguished Victim Services Award included Belinda Darcy of the Clearwater Police Department, Debbie Geller of the Plantation Police Department and Hilda Sagastume of the Coral Springs Police Department.

Law enforcement officers receiving awards included Detective Christopher Bulman of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Brittany Tatum of the West Palm Beach Police Department, Lt. Thomas Tompkins of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Agent Justin Wood of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

The Attorney General’s Division of Victim Services and Criminal Justice Programs serves as an advocate for crime victims. Information on crime victim services offered by the Attorney General’s Office is available online.

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