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My Florida C F O
Weekly eNewsletter from Florida's Chief Financial Officer

Dear Fellow Floridian:

Medical research and advancements in innovative technology have led to some of the world’s most significant scientific breakthroughs. There is no doubt that medical research has a tremendous impact on the quality and health of a society, but there is an impact on the economic development and prosperity as well. Here in Florida we are fortunate enough to lay claim to the 650-acre health and life sciences park known as Lake Nona Medical City.

This Medical City, which many have come to call Miracle City because it is where great minds meet to collaborate on medicalCFO and Cabinet members tour Medical City research and innovation, is made up of six medical centers, research institutes and academic centers. On Wednesday, the Florida Cabinet held its first May meeting in Medical City and we had the opportunity to tour five of the centers that make up the complex: Nemours Children’s Hospital, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, the VA Hospital, the University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine, and the University of Florida’s Research Center.

By cultivating the role that innovation and research play in economic development, we will strengthen the health of our society, develop a community of cutting-edge technology and research hubs, and provide the needed economic diversity that will make Florida a global leader in the 21st century.

To learn more about the research going on at Lake Nona Medical City visit: http://learnlakenona.com/medical-city/.

 

Jeff Atwater
Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

Operation S.A.F.E. Workshops Scheduled

In honor of Older Americans Month in May, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is launching Operation S.A.F.E., a new initiative to “Stop Adult Financial Exploitation” and turn the tables on fraud artists who target Florida’s seniors. CFO Atwater is seeking to combat statistics which estimate that at least one in five seniors Operation S.A.F.E.has been a victim of financial fraud.

Initial workshops will be held this month in Cape Coral, Venice, Delray Beach, Clearwater, the Villages and Miami, with other locations to be scheduled throughout the year.

“Our seniors contribute greatly to Florida’s economy, and as a result many have built nest eggs that make them targets for fraud,” CFO Atwater said. “It is my mission to ensure that they can better enjoy their retirement knowing they are armed with information to safeguard their finances.”

The workshops, titled Be Scam Smart, are part of CFO Atwater’s On Guard for Seniors initiative that he launched last year to educate seniors on specific financial products such as annuities, identity theft, reverse mortgages and long-term care insurance. Operation S.A.F.E. will focus on frauds and scams, such as fake lotteries and repair scams, and how these scams work on the psyche to convince seniors to take a chance on something that is too good to be true.

The Operation S.A.F.E. workshops are being provided by the Department of Financial Services, which CFO Atwater oversees, and will be presented by representatives from the Department’s Division of Consumer Services, Division of Agent and Agency Services and Division of Insurance Fraud; U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s office; the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office; the Lee County Sheriff’s Office; the Miami-Dade Police Department; the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office; and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

To learn more or to register for a workshop, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Safe.

Tune In to a Small Business Disaster Preparedness Webinar

Florida CFO Jeff Atwater and the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) invite you to attend a disaster preparedness webinar to learn how to protect your business from a natural disaster.

Small Business Disaster Preparedness Webinar

As a small business owner, you wear many hats and are often pulled in many directions. When it comes to your business, you want to make sure you have every base covered. That is why CFO Atwater wants to give you the tools you need to insure, secure and recover from a natural disaster.

This webinar will include ways to ensure that your business has the proper insurance coverage in place before a disaster strikes and how to secure important documents and materials for safekeeping. We will also discuss ways to recover after the storm hits so you can get your business back up and running quickly!

For more information and to register for a webinar, visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/YMM.

Dates and Times: All times eastern.

  • Tuesday, May 21st - 10 a.m.
  • Wednesday, May 22nd - 12 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 23rd - 5:30 p.m.

Got an Insurance Claims Story to Share?

Florida’s Insurance Consumer Advocate and the Division of Consumer Services invite you to an Insurance Consumer Forum to share your experiences and voice your concerns with the homeowners insurance claim handling process in Florida. Insurance Consumer Forums

Both the Insurance Consumer Advocate’s office and the Division of Consumer Services work with consumers daily via Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater’s toll-free Helpline at 877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) to find solutions to insurance claim issues. Policyholders’ testimonies gathered during the workshops will be used to push for improvements to the insurance claim handling process.

For more information, please visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Consumers, call 877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236) or visit www.MyFloridaCFO.com/ICA.

Printable Forum Flyer

Forums scheduled in May:

MAY22WEST PALM BEACH 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches
3200 N Military Trail, Suite 102, Boca Raton, FL 33431

MAY22FT. LAUDERDALE/BROWARD 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Realtors East
1765 NE 26th Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305

MAY23MIAMI/DADE 9:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Miami Association of Realtors®
700 S. Royal Poinciana Blvd, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33166

MAY23FT. MYERS 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Realtor® Assn. of Greater Ft. Myers and the Beach
4081 Center Pointe Dr, Ft. Myers, FL 33916

News of Interest

Florida Weekly: For the Love of Mom

Tampa Bay Times: Florida boasts 15 companies large enough to make 2013 Fortune 500

Ft. Myers News-Press: Hertz relocation a defining moment in Lee County history, commissioner says

Florida Today: Inmate-trained dogs bring comfort to veterans in need

Associated Press: Coke plans major expansion of Fla. orange groves

Sarasota Herald-Tribune: On jobs, Florida again sets the pace

Bay News 9: Space Florida budget increases, includes space tourism marketing

Florida's Bottom Line Shows Transparency

Florida's Bottom LineTechnology has revolutionized government accountability by enabling the public to have unprecedented and easy access to government data.

Florida has taken advantage of this opportunity by publishing state spending data online. Whether taxpayers are looking for information about past budgets, proposals for this year’s budget, or the state’s payroll, it all can be accessed via the Internet. Additionally, since 72 percent of the state’s budget is spent in the form of a contract, it is critical that taxpayers can inspect public contracts.

The Department of Financial Services began publishing the details of contracts online last year through the Florida Accountability Contract Tracking System (FACTS), and you can use this tool to take a critical look. Because of this commitment over the past two years to increasing accountability and transparency in government for Florida taxpayers, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) gave Florida an A-minus this year for overall transparency based on the DFS Transparency Florida website, which houses FACTS.

In this edition of Florida’s Bottom Line, you will also find information about ongoing efforts to continue making government in Florida more open and ethical. This includes articles from Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford, who discuss their initiatives on page 8. Additionally, the Florida Foundation for Government Accountability and the First Amendment Foundation provide commentary on how Florida can continue improving in the future.

SFM Recognizes Arson Awareness Week

Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater has recognized May 5-11, 2013, as Arson Awareness Week. The theme of the week is Reducing Residential Arson. Last year, the Florida Division of State Fire Marshal investigated State Fire Marshal badge3,720 fires that caused $166 million in damage. More than 1,500 of those fires were classified as arson and caused an estimated $69 million of property damage.

“Floridians' lives are put at risk and their property is destroyed senselessly by this preventable crime,” CFO Atwater said. “By this annual designation, we are focusing public attention on residential arson and working to prevent it through education, public information programs and aggressive investigations.”

Arson Awareness Week is part of a nationwide initiative by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) partnering with the International Association of Arson Investigators; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); USAonWatch; National Association of State Fire Marshals; National Volunteer Fire Council and the Insurance Committee for Arson Control. The purpose is to educate the public on the important role of community arson awareness in preventing this dangerous crime.

For more information about Arson Awareness Week 2013, visit the USFA website at http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/fireservice/subjects/arson/arson_awareness.shtm.

To report arson, call 877-No-Arson (877-662-7766) or visit http://www.facap.org/. A reward of up to $5,000 may be paid by the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention for a tip that leads directly to an arrest and conviction.