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Cabinet fishing tournament tomorrow in Panama City

Monday, April 18th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will be angling for some positive PR in the Panhandle tomorrow – literally.

Scott has set up a fishing tournament in Panama City after the Cabinet’s meeting there ends tomorrow afternoon, according to his spokeswoman Amy Graham.

Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater will go out on the water in charter fishing boats late tomorrow afternoon and have a weigh-in back at the docks to see who’s the best with a rod and reel.

They’ll be competing for a $5,000 grand prize sponsored by the Northwest Florida Tourism Council, one of the seven counties that just received $20 million from BP to market the region. The money will go to the winner’s choice of a charity related to the oil spill, Graham said.

Scott to hold Cabinet meeting, tour Panhandle on oil disaster anniversary

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will hold their next meeting in the Panhandle on Tuesday, the eve of the one-year anniversary since the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Scott will spend two days touring the region to promote Northwest Florida’s beaches and seafood, his staff said today.

His trip coincides not only with the BP oil disaster anniversary but comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week that the oil giant is giving $30 million to seven Panhandle counties for marketing as the area’s summer tourist season kicks up.

Scott has not yet decided whether to join in a federal lawsuit, as Alabama has done and Mississippi and Louisiana are considering, against Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The state has until Wednesday, the date set by a Louisiana federal judge, to join the lawsuit. Lawyers involved in the case say Florida could lose out on recapturing millions of dollars in lost tax revenues by not joining the case.

Stay tuned for more details about Scott’s Panhandle swing.

BP pledges $30M in marketing money for Panhandle, state seeks more for lost tax revenue

Monday, April 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

BP officials agreed to give $30 million over six months to seven counties in the Florida Panhandle hardest hit by last year’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the agreement with the oil giant this morning, calling it a “very small step on the road to recovery.”

Flanked by BP officials and Northwest Florida lawmakers and tourism officials at a press conference this morning, Scott praised BP for the money aimed at giving the region a boost after a dismal tourist season last year as Panhandle beaches and waters were despoiled by oil.

“This is a great day for Florida. I’m very comfortable that my discussion so far with BP is that they’re going to continue to do the right thing,” said Scott, who did away with the oil spill task force created by Gov. Charlie Crist.

The latest funds – which will be distributed over six months in $10 million increments starting in about two weeks – brings to $62 million the company has given to Florida for tourism marketing. BP also gave another $20 million for testing and marketing the state’s seafood industry.

“We recognize how important tourism is to the economy of Florida and especially North Florida,” said BP senior VP Luke Keller. “We’ve worked very hard with local officials there to make sure the beaches are being cleaned up…I can report the beaches are cleaned up and ready for the tourist season.”

Clean-up efforts continue in the Pensacola area, still impacted by tar mats and tar balls.

Scott’s staff said the state will seek money from BP to cover lost tax revenue resulting from the April 20 disaster that unleashed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico just at the onset of the Panhandle’s tourist season. Details about how much money the state wants were not available.

The state has until April 20 to file a federal lawsuit against BP. Louisiana officials have already filed their claim, and Florida U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, sent Scott a letter today urging him to follow suit.

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