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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. Graham and Gillum urge rejection of Senate health care bill

    Blog

    As Gov. Rick Scott and other Florida Republicans scramble in D.C. today to try to understand the impact of the proposed Senate health care bill on the state, two Democratic candidates for governor offered their own feedback Tuesday. 

    Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham delivered a three-foot stack of petitions to the Tallahassee office of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, signed by 4,000 people, urging him to reject the proposal because it will hurt more Floridians than it will help....

    Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham delivered petitions to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio Tuesday, urging him to reject the Senate health care proposal this week.
  2. Don Gaetz on Jimmy Patronis - and the possibilities of Tom Lee

    Blog

    Former Senate President Don Gaetz joined the growing list of Republicans commending Public Service Commissioner Jimmy Patronis, whom the governor appointed today as the state's next Chief Financial Officer, replacing Jeff Atwater who is resigning to work in academia.

    "He would be eminently qualified,'' Gaetz said Friday, reached after a fishing trip in Canada. He noted that he has known Patronis 10 years, that his son, Matt, was positioned to run against him in the state Senate seat Gaetz was vacating and that he sees Patronis' skills as a restaurant owner and manager helpful to being the man in charge of overseeing one of the state's most important agencies....

    Former Senate President Don Gaetz
  3. Rick Scott eyes Patronis as CFO, but it may not help him in Panhandle

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's expected pick of Jimmy Patronis as the state's next chief financial officer would be a solid addition to the Republican Party ticket but may not do much to smooth some rough waters developing in the Panhandle over schools, area Republicans said this week.

    Patronis, a Panama City restaurateur and former state legislator who was named by Scott to the Public Service Commission, is the leading candidate to replace outgoing CFO Jeff Atwater, sources close to the governor told the Times/Herald last week....

    Former state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, left, is being considered by Gov. Rick Scott for the state’s chief financial officer. Patronis, seen with Scott in 2011, is considered one of the governor’s chief loyalists. (Associated Press)

  4. Panhandle politicians approve of Scott's CFO pick but warn that charter school bill will haunt him

    Blog

    Gov. Rick Scott's expected pick of Jimmy Patronis as the state's next Chief Financial Officer would be a solid addition to the Republican Party ticket but may not do much to smooth some rough waters developing in the Panhandle over schools, area Republicans said this week.

    Patronis, a Panama City restaurateur and former state legislator who was named by Scott to the Public Service Commission, is the leading candidate to replace outgoing CFO Jeff Atwater, sources close to the governor told the Herald/Times last week....

    Jimmy Patronis
  5. Corcoran's Watchdog PAC raises $608k in first month

    Blog

    Straight off a controversial session, House Speaker Richard Corcoran ignited his month-old political committee this week with $608,000 in contributions -- half of it in the form of generous gifts from the political committees of his two top deputies, Reps. Jose Oliva and Carlos Trujillo.

    But the other generous check to the Watchdog PAC came in the form of a $100,000 contribution from Miami auto magnate Norman Braman....

    Richard Corcoran
  6. Lawsuit aims at overturning Rick Scott's veto of citrus scare money

    Blog

    The legal saga of thousands of lost citrus trees took a new twist late Tuesday as homeowners in Broward and Lee counties asked the court to reverse Gov. Rick Scott's line-item veto of $37.3 million to compensate trees destroyed a decade ago.

    The unusual lawsuit, filed in the Florida Supreme Court, claims that Scott's veto of two specific appropriations -- $20.9 million and $16.4 million -- was unconstitutional because it undermines the state's obligation to make good on an illegal "taking" of private property....

    A work crew mulches a citrus plant in Hialeah in 1997, the early stages of South Florida’s canker war.
  7. Citizens Property blames abusive claims for statewide hike, Tampa Bay rates remain stable

    Blog

    The South Florida homeowners with Citizens Property Insurance Corp. will likely see their annual premiums rise by more than a 10 percent next year while rates remain stable or decline in Tampa Bay, if the insurer is approved for a rate increase as requested by the insurer's board on Tuesday.

    "The horizon looks really cloudy out there,'' said Barry Gilway, president and CEO of Citizens, the state-run insurer of last resort and largest insurer in Florida, at a meeting of the insurer's Board of Governors on Tuesday....

    Soaring water damage claims are cause of rate hike
  8. Richard Corcoran: The Legislature's most interesting man may be its most contradictory

    Blog

    If he were being cast for a television commercial, House Speaker Richard Corcoran would likely win the part this year as “the most interesting man in Tallahassee.”

    He behaves like a street fighter but operates like an Army general, marshaling a small platoon of loyalists to corner the adversary until concessions are inevitable.

    The proof came in a daylong victory tour with Gov. Rick Scott, whom Corcoran spent the last year accusing of being a crony capitalist in charge of an “absolute cesspool” known as Enterprise Florida, the state’s corporate recruitment agency....

    Richard Corcoran R-Land O'Lakes, addresses legislators and media at the end of the special session, Friday, June 9, 2017, in Tallahassee.
  9. Legislature's most interesting man is also its most contradictory

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — If he were being cast for a television commercial, House Speaker Richard Corcoran would likely win the part this year as "the most interesting man in Tallahassee."

    He behaves like a street fighter but operates like an Army general, marshaling a small platoon of loyalists to corner the adversary until concessions are inevitable.

    The proof came in a daylong victory tour with Gov. Rick Scott, whom Corcoran spent the last year accusing of being a crony capitalist in charge of an "absolute cesspool" known as Enterprise Florida, the state's corporate recruitment agency. ...

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes. [Scott Keeler | Tampa Bay Times]
  10. Was Gardiner scholarship used to gain support for charter expansion?

    Blog

    The setting chosen by Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran to sign the controversial HB 7069 school reform bill today is a telling example of how it doesn't matter how you get there in Tallahassee if in the end you can claim credit.

    The media advisory announcing the event highlighted the fact that the bill will be signed at 3:45 p.m., at "Morning Star Catholic School in Orlando, which serves many children who recieve the Gardiner Scholarship." (We assume the misspelling of "receive" was a mistake.)...

    Morningstar School
  11. USF's path to 'preeminence' is restored after Rick Scott vetoes higher education bill

    College

    The University of South Florida's quest to become "preeminent," an official status that could elevate the school's prestige and send millions of extra dollars its way, received a positive jolt late Wednesday as Gov. Rick Scott lifted a key barrier.

    Scott vetoed a sweeping higher education reform bill that was one of Senate President Joe Negron's top priorities of the 2017 session, saying that the measure "impedes" the ability of state colleges to provide access to low-cost, quality education. ...

    Florida Senate President Joe Negron, R- Stuart, greets Gov. Rick Scott on the floor of the Senate during the first day of the 2017 session. On Wednesday, Scott vetoed SB 374, which was a major priority for Negron. The bill would have ushered in reforms in the state's higher education system. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  12. Citing potential 'constitutional crisis,' voting groups ask court to tell governor he can't appoint more justices

    Blog

    The Florida Supreme Court is being asked to avoid a potential "constitutional crisis" and affirm that Gov. Rick Scott does not have the authority to appoint judges whose terms expire on the same day he leaves office in 2019.

    The request came in the form of a quo warranto petition filed late Wednesday by the Florida League of Women Voters and Common Cause, which argue that a governor cannot appoint the successors of three Florida Supreme Court justices who will be retiring on the same day he is out of office because the justices' terms "run through the last second of the evening of Jan. 8, 2019."...

  13. With expected signing of HB 7069, will it draw legal challenge?

    Blog

    With Gov. Rick Scott expected to sign the controversial charter-school friendly bill -- that incited a groundswell of criticism -- at a press conference somewhere in Orlando on Thursday, opponents are mounting a last minute effort to lay the groundwork for a legal challenge or legislative retooling of HB 7069. 

    In a letter to the governor on Tuesday, Sen. Gary Farmer, a freshman Democrat from Lighthhouse Point, urged the governor to veto the bill because it would "dramatically reduce the ability of school districts across the state to devote resources towards improving our public education" as well as allowing private management companies to profit off taxpayer dollars, and local communities to be cut out of zoning decisions relating to schools.  Download SenatorFarmerLetterRe7069...

    Sen. Gary Farmer
  14. Governor candidates Putnam and Graham pull in highest finance totals for May

    Blog

    The financial arms race for governor got off to a quick start in May, as Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam raised $2.2 million in hard dollars and Democrat Gwen Graham reported $1.5 million, according to reports from the campaigns or posted Monday on the state Division of Elections website.

    Putnam, the Florida commissioner of agriculture who officially launched his campaign in May after spending the last two years raising funds through his political committee, finished the month with a whopping $9 million in cash on hand. After he formally entered the race in May 1, his campaign raised $1,190,946 and his political committee, “Florida Grown,” collected $1,017,702....

  15. When Legislature faltered, Rick Scott took advantage

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The midnight phone call to Senate President Joe Negron from Florida Gov. Rick Scott on June 1st was not unexpected.

    Scott wanted the Stuart Republican to attend a press conference in Miami the next morning where the governor, Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran would announce a special session to redo the public education budget and an economic development bill the governor wanted to veto....

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, addresses legislators and media at the end of the special session on Friday as Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, left, and Gov. Rick Scott look on. [AP | Steve Cannon]