Florida economy: Finally on the mend?

During a press conference in Orlando on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott talked about improvements in the state and local economy. (Photo courtesy of the governor's office.)

During a press conference in Orlando on Friday, Gov. Rick Scott talked about improvements in the state and local economy. (Photo courtesy of the governor’s office.)

ORLANDO — The state of Florida, once a post child for skyrocketing home foreclosures and double-digit unemployment rates, may now be outpacing the rest of the nation when it comes to job growth.
And more than any other part of the state, it’s the Orlando area that seems to be leading the charge, the office of Gov. Rick Scott announced on Friday.
During a press conference in Orlando, the governor noted that statewide unemployment in September was at 6.8 percent, then dropped to 6.7 percent in October. Since the national unemployment rate is 7.3, that puts the state below the national average — where, the governor noted, it has been since March 2013.
The reason for the drop, Scott said, is that Florida has created 440,900 private sector jobs since December 2010.
‚ÄúThis is our eighth month below the national average,” the governor said. “Over the last two months, the state has added more than 67,000 private sector jobs. This is great news for Florida families.” Continue reading

Former “talent judge” gets 25 years on child porn charges

John Baker will serve a 25 year prison term for producing child pornography.

John Baker will serve a 25 year prison term for producing child pornography.

ORLANDO — Throughout the course of his career as an actor and photographer in Central Florida, John David Baker served as a talent judge for a local talent competition, a position that gave him the opportunity to meet young people — including children in search of mentoring and a career in the performance arts.
On Thursday, Baker, 30, of Celebration, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for abusing that position and using children to produce child pornography over the Internet.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell handed down that sentence to Baker, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom. Baker was also ordered to serve a 15-year term of supervised release following his years in prison, and to register as a sex offender.
He had been arrested by the United States Marshals Service on Sept. 7, 2012, and has been in federal custody ever since. He was arrested after a forensic examiner did an analysis of Baker’s computer and discovered images and a video of an underage boy engaging in what the authorities called “sexually explicit conduct.” Continue reading

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